Hog Mountain church votes to change name

LAWRENCEVILLE - For nearly 153 years, Dacula's Hog Mountain Baptist Church has hosted weddings, funerals and Sunday services.

In the coming months, the historic church will continue to do so - but under a new name.

With a 22-7 vote, church members decided Sunday to change the congregation's name from Hog Mountain. A new name has not yet been chosen.

Church member Claudette Miller, who voted against the change, said she thought the move was intended to attract more people to the congregation. Miller, an on-again, off-again member of the church for 37 years, said she was surprised by the announcement that a vote would be held and was taking the decision to change the name of the church very hard.

"It's one of the last pieces of Hog Mountain that hasn't been bulldozed and cemented over," Miller said. "I seem to be the only one who's really upset."

The church's building dates to 1905, but the congregation was founded in January 1854. Miller said between 50 and 75 people generally attend Sunday morning services and she didn't think the church was hurting for members.

The Rev. Barney Williams, who Miller said voted for the change, did not return messages left at his home or office seeking more information about the decision.

For Miller, the loss of a name is part of a receding history. It's another step away from the tales she heard as a child of the pigs that were driven to market through the intersection of Ga. Highways 124 and 324 and were the area's namesake.

"It was a major thoroughfare," she said. "That's what I've always been told."

The church does not have the authority to change the name of the street it sits on - Hog Mountain Church Road - so some remnant of the past will remain, Miller said. But as more new residents move into the area, she is afraid that they will not have the same interest in and respect for Hog Mountain's past.

Earlier this year, the church tried to sell some land that abuts its cemetery for a shopping center. That deal fell through, despite Williams' support, because county commissioners were unwilling to encroach upon the 1840s burial ground.

Miller said because the vote has already been taken, the church's name will definitely change. But with so many churches in close proximity to each other, she wonders if it is the Hog Mountain name that is keeping membership from growing, or the fact that everyone already has a church to call their own.

"I think if someone is coming because of the name of some place, they're coming for the wrong reason anyway," she said. "People are under the impression that a fresh new name will attract more people. ... I hate to see one of the last pieces of history be changed."