Kirkland Church (Smyrna Baptist Church)
Smyrna Baptist Church, located on Bluff Road in Allendale County, is an antebellum frame
structure of meeting house design set on a low brick foundation that gained prominence in the
early 19 th century. It was called Kirkland Church for the Reverend Kirkland and evolved from
Kirkland’s Chapel, founded in 1815. Local tradition maintains that the present structure was
erected in 1827, the year the church was organized. A central Palladian window flanked by
balancing nine-paneled entrance doors with transoms characterizes the front entrance. Both
side facades feature the 9/9 windows with louvered shutters with eyebrow type windows
located above each window. The original roof was covered by metal in the 1970s. Symrna
Baptist Church was organized in 1827 and was then called Kirkland Church, a member of the
Savannah River Baptist Association. Early in the history of the church, a heresy trial on charges
of heterodoxy against Dr. W.R. Erwin, his wife, Julia Robert, and her sister-in-law, Rachel
Robert. The trial was held when the parties asked for an official ruling on their views about
communion. In July 1833 the three were excommunicated from Kirkland Church and later
formed Antioch Christian Church. In 1836, the name was changed to Smyrna Baptist Church.
The land was conveyed in 1849 by William J. Mixon. In 1882, additional land was given by
Thomas H. Willingham in order to extend the church property to Mathew’s Bluff Rd. (now Bluff
Rd.) The surrounding cemetery is a who’s who of the community. The church was listed in the
National Register May 28, 1976.