The present Mars Hill Church of Christ began meeting in the 1860s. Christian families met in a chapel in one part of an old foundry that was used to make cannon balls during the Civil War.
T. B. Larimore preached often for the Mars Hill church. He held a meeting at Mars Hill every August for 40 years. He was baptized July 10, 1864, on his 21st birthday and married Esther Gresham of Florence on August 30, 1868. They settled in the Mars Hill community about 1870. He began Mars Hill Academy in January, 1871 and operated it until 1887. At one time, several buildings were on the campus, on the same site where Mars Hill Bible School has operated since 1947. Larimore preached for the church during school sessions and conducted meetings throughout the nation for many months each year. Many future ministers and church leaders attended Larimore's school, including F. B. and F.D. Srygley, E. A. Elam, F. C. Sowell, and J. C. McQuiddy.
Larimore eventually moved to California where he died March 18, 1929, but his influence on many families in the community and the congregation is still felt. The Finley, Moore, and Blalock families were largely responsible for keeping the congregation meeting through the years. Because of growth, the Mars Hill church built a new building in 1904. The old building has been maintained and is still used for singings, weddings, and special services.
Mars Hill Church History by Rion Golden
The history of the Mars Hill church of Christ is a long and interesting one. The church has run continuously since being established in 1871 by a group of Christian men and women previously worshipping at the Stoney Point community. These 139 years have been full of changes both for the church and this nation. This paper will only tell a very brief portion of the history of the Mars Hill congregation.
Throughout the mid-1800’s, individuals from the Mars Hill community would travel to Stoney Point to worship. During the Civil War, Union soldiers captured the road between the two communities and would inspect the wagons of all who were traveling the road, harassing those traveling to worship; the congregation couldn’t continue traveling to Stoney Point. They decided to meet in an old foundry used to make cannonballs for the South. The foundry was located near the current church location. Brother T.B. Larimore began preaching for the congregation, though he was never a full-time pulpit preacher because he was gone so often preaching at meetings. He was essential in the survival of the congregation during its early years.
The church continued meeting in the foundry until 1903, when they had simply outgrown the small chapel. Brother Larimore and several others in the congregation helped to buy the land for a new building. The congregation then built a new church building (the old building on the current Mars Hill church campus) which was ready for use in 1904. The church then began having regular services there.
The church would continue to worship there until 1969, when the current building was completed.
Over the years, the Mars Hill church would have several wonderful men preaching God’s word. These were: T.B. Larimore, Paul Simon, Kenneth Byron Davis, Robert Waller, Kenneth Odell Davis (no relation to Kenneth Byron Davis), Larry Gooch, Randy Baker, Jack Wilhelm and Cory Collins. The congregation currently has two wonderful men serving as the pulpit preachers: Chris Moran and Bill Bagents. They also have a youth minister, four elders and six deacons proudly serving the Lord. The church now has over 150 regular members, many of which have attended the church for years. The long, rich history of Mars Hill has spanned over many years – and looks to continue for many more.