Through the cookbook that shares recipes and church history, Old Friendship Missionary Baptist Church endeavors to raise funds for a new church steeple.
“It’s important to support (the church’s) efforts because of the historic preservation of the old slave church. That church has been on the same plot of land since the 1850s,” said Susan Aikman Miles, a long-time friend of the church who helped compile the history in the cookbook.
In 1854, slaves founded the church at 731 Old Friendship Church Road in Powder Springs. According to the history of the church in the cookbook, Marietta Daily Journal reporter Pat Cariseo wrote in 1975 that the church was “Cobb’s oldest predominantly black congregation.”
Known as the “Old Ship of Zion,” the church building succumbed to disasters but its small congregation has always remained steadfast.
“(The members) built several (church) buildings because two were destroyed by fire and one by tornado. They just keep rebuilding,” said Miles, a resident of west Cobb who grew up in Marietta. Married to Shelton Miles, she retired from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. She also worked at the Journal as news editor from 1977-86.
Miles’ longtime family friend and church member Louise McCleskey McMurtry was instrumental in fundraising for the church during several rebuilding efforts. She and her daughter, Lois McMurtry Brock, led the church’s efforts with the cookbook publication.
“(The church) keeps sailing on through disasters — fire and tornados — and it just keeps on course,” Miles said. “Their spirit is unstoppable.”
The spiral-bound cookbook was designed, edited and published by Jennifer Dickey, coordinator of the Public History Program at Kennesaw State University, and Catherine Lewis, professor of History and executive director of KSU’s Museum of History & Holocaust Education. Church members provided the recipes.
“It’s a small congregation. But the spirit there is absolutely wonderful. It’s a true church family. They love each other. They worship together. They celebrate together. They grieve together and everything a church family is supposed to do. It’s a wonderful church,” Miles said.
To order a copy, send your name, address and a check for $20 to Old Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, P.O. Box 735, Marietta, GA 30061. Allow four weeks for delivery. ($20 covers the cost of the book and shipping, plus a small donation toward purchasing the steeple.)
To learn more about the church visit oldfriendshipmbc.com.