Collins Springs Cemetery: a Primitive Baptist Church cemetery off Atlanta Road

Collins Springs Cemetery (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

[This is an expansion of an article and slideshow we originally published in 2018. We’ve added information and a few photos from a later visit to the cemetery. Be sure to scroll through the slideshow at the bottom of the article]

If you’ve driven on North Church Lane you might have noticed the moderately-sized well-kept cemetery opposite a brick former church building.

Collins Springs Cemetery is near Atlanta Road just outside the Smyrna city limits in Cobb County.

It was the cemetery for congregants of Collins Springs Primitive Baptist Church. The brick church building is still across the street from the cemetery but is now the home of Atlanta Freethought Hall.

The church was founded in around 1850, rebuilt as a wooden structure in the 1860s, and had a brick facade added in the 1960s. In 2001 the congregation disbanded the church, and the building was bought by the Freethought Society.

Some of the oldest cemeteries in Georgia are either Primitive Baptist Church or Methodist, for similar reasons. It was easy to set up either with a small congregation.

In the case of Methodist churches it was because of the circuit riding ministers. A congregation could set up that four or five weeks in a row only had Sunday School, with a minister riding a circuit of multiple small churches.

The Primitive Baptist Churches were easy to set up because they had no formal ordination system. A member of the church could “get the calling,” and become a self-declared minister (or from the point-of-view of the church, God would declare the person a minister).

So consequently hundreds of little Primitive Baptist churches were set up across the southeast, usually with a cemetery.

The Primitive Baptist Churches believed in predestination, the belief that a person’s salvation was determined before they were born, so they formed in opposition to the missionary work of the mainstream Baptist churches.

To read about the Primitive Baptist churches in Georgia follow this link to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

Scroll through the slideshow of the cemetery below.

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