Great Swamp Baptist Church in Ridgeland formed in 1845. Members first met in a brush arbor beside Great Swamp Creek, seen here, which served as the congregation’s namesake. Soon afterwards, a frame structure was built to house the congregation, which formed when 17 people left Sardis Primitive Baptist Church. Though the new church had a place of worship, baptisms still took place in the creek behind the sanctuary. People from Great Swamp Baptist Church as well as other neighboring congregations continued to be baptized in these waters until the 1960s.
Today the site is commemorated with the statue of an angel, a marker denoting the site’s historical significance. It provides a place to sit and pray, meditate, or simply enjoy the sylvan sanctuary.
In 2009 the family of Royce Malphrus dedicated the marker seen below along the creek bank. It reads, Jesus said, All power is given unto me in Heaven and in Earth. Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
The congregation of Great Swamp Baptist Church remains active today. The present sanctuary was built in 1909 with modifications and updates subsequently added.
Reflections on the Great Swamp Baptismal Site
Contributor Stephen Michalski says of his experience discovering the site, “Crossing a small bridge on a secondary road in the country, I almost wrecked the truck when I saw an angel out in the woods. I found the trail, walked back, and took it in. I wonder how many people have been baptized here since 1845.”