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One family, eight generations at Georgia church

Anna Gail Hammack’s baptism on Aug. 15 continued a line of involvement for her family at First Baptist Church of Americus, Ga., stretching back to 1850.

AMERICUS, Ga. (BP) – George Hooks says his granddaughter’s baptism points to a heritage of faith in their family, but also a commitment to the ministry at First Baptist Church.

As tends to happen in many families, Hooks’ extended family “is scattered to the four winds” today in churches across the South. Nevertheless, a remnant has remained at First Baptist.

Anna Gail Hammack’s baptism on Aug. 15 continued a line of involvement at the church that began when brothers Bardin and Harmon Hooks joined the congregation by letter in 1850. Bardin Hooks’ son, William, also moved his letter of membership before his son, Thomas Bardin Hooks Sr., became the first of the family to be baptized at First Baptist.

Baptisms continued among the following generations with Thomas Bardin Hooks, Jr., and Thomas Barden III, George Hooks’ father, who was baptized as a 13-year-old in 1927. George’s daughter, MaryAnn Hooks Hammack, became the 5th generation baptized at First Baptist and seventh to be a member.

In addition to being First Baptist’s historian, Hooks also served in the Georgia State Senate from 1991-2013 in District 14. He estimates that dozens of members from his family have been saved at First Baptist over the years.

“Our roots go deep,” he said. “It’s a testimony to faith, endurance and commitment through the good and bad times. We have faith, dedication and commitment to our Lord and our church.”

Pastor Keith Parks echoed that observation.

“Every church goes through times of trouble, but to see they’re still here says a lot about them,” he said. “Anna Gail made her decision public this summer during Vacation Bible School, and of course, she didn’t know about being the eighth generation here. No one in the family told her about it.

“Her decision was her own and a total act of faith and commitment on her part.”

Over the years members of the Hooks family have served the church in numerous roles. George is among the ones who have been a deacon.

Before his last six years as pastor, Parks served the congregation as minister of music for 26 years. He baptized Anna Gail, 9, and was a witness to the baptism of Anna Gail’s mother and uncle.

Hooks said First Baptist started in 1831 as Bethel Baptist Church and later changed to Americus Baptist Church before becoming First Baptist in 1897. Bardin and Harmon Brooks, he said, served as messengers to the General Association of Georgia Baptist Churches that later became the Georgia Baptist Convention.