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Church to restore old name

Photo by Tori Boone

Photo by Tori Boone

DACULA -- Hog Mountain Baptist Church has been resurrected.

Christened under that moniker more than 150 years ago, its congregation voted in 2006 to be reborn under the name Hamilton Mill Baptist Church, a controversial move that angered older church members and drew the ire of the Gwinnett Historical Society.

Two Sundays ago, though, the congregation opted for a reconversion, voting to honor its heritage by restoring the Hog Mountain designation.

"The Lord kind of placed it on my heart to do that from a history and a heritage point of view," Pastor Scott Tanner said, "and the more I prayed about it the more I felt that's what we needed to do."

Tanner was named the leader of the Dacula church in the summer of 2007, just a few months after beleaguered Pastor Barney Williams resigned following the initial name change.

Dissenters at the time accused church leadership of "trying to fit in" with the growing suburban sprawl of the Hamilton Mill subdivisions and abandoning the roots of the historic church, founded in 1854 before moving to its current building in 1904.

The change was even covered by the New York Times, under the headline, "A Rural Church Loses Its Old Moniker to Atlanta's Growing Suburbs."

Tanner said Monday that any lingering divisiveness was "not my reason" for going back.

The pastor said he did not have an exact count from the church's recent vote, but that there were only two votes against the change back to Hog Mountain Baptist, an homage to the area that was once a crossroads for frontiersmen driving their pigs to market in Atlanta.

"Everything that I've gotten has been positive," Tanner said. "I've talked to several of our older members in the church and they were real excited about it being changed back."

"I think everything's kind of been positive, rather than negative when they changed it before."

Paperwork has been filed with the Secretary of State's office and the name change is expected to be official by this Sunday, Tanner said. Meanwhile, "Hamilton Mill" has already been taken down from the church's sign, and phone systems once again welcome callers to Hog Mountain Baptist Church.

"We're moving forward with getting those things taken care of," Tanner said.

Leaders not having the legal authority to change at least one name, the church has sat on Hog Mountain Baptist Church Road all along.