Crane Eater has a long and eventful history in this community and in the Church of God. In the hot summer of 1913, the Rev. E.J. Bohemer and his faithful wife moved to the Crane Eater community in Gordon County from Blairsville, Georgia. They moved here on faith, since they did not have a place in which to live. Lodging was provided to them in the smokehouse of Jess Silvers located on the west side of the present day parsonage.
Rev. Bohemer began preaching the gospel here in a brush arbor and established the Crane Eater Church of God on January 13, 1914. The land located around the church today was then owned by Sam King, which was our Brother Sammy King’s great grandfather. He sold it to the trustees of Crane Eater for one dollar.
From the brush arbor a wooden tabernacle was built which provided protection from the sun and rain, but also had open sides with a cupola on top that allowed for better air circulation through out the building. Later in that year a timber and wood church building was begun with wood cut from the farm of J.L.B. Poarch. This first permanent structure was located approximately where the present day parsonage is. Rev. Bohemer served as pastor of this fledgling church for four years and saw the church membership grow from seven charter members to more than one hundred. As the church grew so did the revivals that were held here. Some of the revivals held during this time numbered more than 1500 in attendance. Because most revivals during this time was held during the summer and the church would be completely full and hot, the revivals were held outside in the original wooden tabernacle which allowed for better air circulation and for larger crowds to gather around.
The wooden church was replaced in October 1938 under Pastor J.P. Greene, with the present stone and wood structure without any Sunday school rooms or fellowship hall. During that time the church purchased additional land from Sam King, again for one dollar, in order to build the new church without having to tear down the old one first. The lumber and millwork was donated by E.J.Baxter and the stones came from the Poarch farm. The building was erected by Stonemason Bud Hardy with the assistance of members and friends of the church. The present church originally had two coal burning stoves in the front of the church, one on each side, and part of the brick chimney’s are still in the attic today! The original wooden church was then torn down and some of the wood was used to build the first parsonage around 1940. Rev. Jim E. Davis was the pastor during the building of the first parsonage. Later on, in 1960 the brick parsonage was built with most of the construction cost paid for by the late Sister Ragsdale, who was the last surviving charter member of the church.
Sometime around 1950 the church added a concrete block structure for Sunday school rooms with restroom facilities. In 1984, the church began a building campaign to add a new fellowship hall and new restroom facilities for the growing church. The church borrowed $50,000 to construct the fellowship hall with Bro. Ricky Coggins overseeing the construction effort. The fellowship hall was completed $10,000 under budget and the church set out immediately to tear down the block Sunday school rooms and build a new Sunday school complex with a pastor’s office, a nursery, and Sunday school superintendent’s office. Before the construction could be completed, again Sister Ragsdale paid off the note and the church was debt free before we could even finish the building! Later on changes were made to the front porch area, new carpet was donated and the pews were padded and covered. After this time the church was again blessed by the donation of a new grand piano and organ.
Our church has been blessed by many outstanding and prominent Church of God pioneer ministers and wives. Because of their self sacrificing efforts we feel it is not only appropriate but with great honor that we read them now. Along with Rev. Bohemer, the list includes: M.P. Cross, E.M. Ellis, T.J. Looney, W.E. Rainey, S.C. Chambers, J.R. Davis, T.J. Underwood, John Burke, Y.E. McNear, S.S. Cantrell, L.P. Shaw, Charlie Price, J.W. Heaton, J.H. Nix, L.H. Griffith, Paul Brady, J.P. Green, Jim E. Davis, Frank Black, Don Tatum, A.W. Hall, R.L. Stancel, J.R. Sanders, F.S. Smith, Gordon Mize, David Manning, Luther Raines, Herman Timms, A.W. Brummett, Fred Sylvester, and Dan Beasley. Crane Eaters current pastor is Dr. Howard A. Strickland who was appointed to Crane Eater in 2005.
Our church has a vision of growing God’s kingdom in this community. It is a vision that God has given to us to reach out to lost souls both locally and abroad. Crane Eater has built mission churches in South America and has led the state several years in mission offerings for YWEA. In keeping with the vision an opportunity was presented in May of 1993 for the church to purchase nine acres of land from Pine Chapel road to the other side of the fellowship hall. The church borrowed $50,000 to purchase the land with plans to pay it off in 10 years. Because of the Lords help and your contributions, we were able to pay it off in March 1998, five years early. Our vision was to fill this church and to build a new sanctuary on this site. Today, May 16,2010 this vision has come to pass.
We are ready for this next level of growth for our church. We want you to be an integral part of that growth as the Lord leads and guides. As our church grows, so does the kingdom of God. Our next goal is to expand this building, build a new family life center and more classrooms. We know that this is the will of the Lord; that Crane Eater is to continue in its ministry to this community, it is to outgrow its present structures, it is to grow in the number of new converts for the kingdom of God.