Personal Memoir: Joe Cox
Given to Pastor: 3/02
My great grandmother was a Primitive Baptist and died at age 93 in 1919. Only her oldest daughter became a member of Primitive Baptist faith. One son became a Methodist minister of renown in Mississippi and Arkansas…1890’s to 1930’s. He was a graduate of Emory U. My grandmother and one sister and three brothers became Southern Baptists.
The main thing I remember was them talking about all day meeting, and how tired they (children) were at days end. Also, laughing about shape note singing and foot washing.
Somewhere along the way great-grand maw forgot to instill in her children the wonderful doctrines and beliefs of the Old Baptist Church. After I joined Harmony in 1980 I did some research on great grandmother and found she joined Mt. Olive Primitive Church in Opalika, Alabama in 1854 and took her letter from the church 1878 but never joined at Farmersville, Texas Primitive Church where she attended occasionally with her oldest daughter Nannie (Mrs. Jim Jackson).
Due to lack of teaching of her children I was the first one in five generations to become a member of Old Baptist in 100 years.
Beulah Hawkins, my mother in law joined Primitive Baptist Church at Waldron around 1915. She was established in the faith but again failed to instill it in her children when they were growing up.
Ved became a Primitive Baptist at age sixty when she, Elaine and I joined Harmony in 1980. I flirted with Old Baptists for 30 years. I would go to Associations about once a year. That was the only time I thought Old Baptists had church. That was when mamaw went to services at the “sosation”. I loved the singing. I would say when I wanted to hear a good sermon I would go to Old Baptist, but I really didn’t understand what I was hearing, but it sounded good.
We went to the same church for 30 years where I was a Sunday School teacher and deacon for most of that time, but I was starving to death spiritually; I realized that I couldn’t give enough or do enough to get to heaven- I was miserable and so was Ved and Elaine.
Finally one Sunday morning, Elaine announced she was going to church at Harmony D in Donaldson- We could go where we wanted but she was leaving.
Elaine didn’t receive her revelation from preaching but from an unlikely place, Henderson State University, where she taught history, art and the humanities, all the different religions and she knew when she found what she was looking for in Primitive Baptist doctrine. We started coming to Harmony with her after two months and joined four months later.
I really didn’t understand completely what I was hearing, but when I read, particularly in John and Romans, where Christ said all that God has given me- I will lose none…sweetest sound I have every heard and the nicest congregation I’d ever met.
I hesitated for several weeks because I was happy with my baptism when I was baptized in my grandfathers (tank) pool when I was 9 years old. It was a hot Sunday afternoon in August. We buried up in mud at least to our ankles and my pet goat was there and chewed on the preachers shoe laces as he was reading the Holy scriptures. The other 9 year old boy that was baptized with me was saved the same night I was at the tabernacle behind little country church in our community. The invitation song was “Oh Why Not Tonight”.
But the one special event in Primitive Church to me is Communion and foot washing. It is the most humbling ceremony I ever experienced. I didn’t know you could wash another man’s feet, cry, and tell him that you loved him.
The twenty one years at Harmony has set me, Ved and Elaine free to enjoy our salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
The one person that influenced me to come to Harmony D the most was Arnold Sandage. I thought all Primitive Baptists were like Arnold… did I ever have a shock…but I love you all any way.
I’ve told Sonny one of the worst things wrong with Arkansas and Primitive Baptists is an inferiority complex. We have the most beautiful state and we have the best doctrine and the most wonderful people anywhere; but we failed in many instances to tell our friends and neighbors and children what we have.
The Church has many good traditions, which I love; but we also have some that need to be observed more closely, to see if they are biblical traditions or man made traditions.
I would probably come to Old Baptist 20 years earlier if some one had invited me back or come and visited, but no one did. I don’t mean you weren’t friendly, because you were. On the other hand, I’m sure I wouldn’t have come until the Lord showed me the light and Elaine carried the torch to Harmony D and a child shall lead them.
However I can’t talk, I’ve been at Harmony nearly 22 years and so far, as I know, I haven’t been responsible for any new members. I’ve tried, but again, I know that none of God’s children will ever be lost, maybe missed some blessings here on earth.
I’d always heard Old Baptists were narrow minded, but I have found them to be broad minded on whose going to heaven—thank goodness you let unworthy me in.
Sonny, this is just some of my thought about Primitive Baptists. Your sermons are very enlightening, and well delivered; and it is evident that you study a lot and are open to the Lord’s will in your life.