MT. ARNON BAPTIST CHURCH
ALLENDALE, SOUTH CAROLINA
Churches were few and far between in 1835 in the sparsely occupied fertile land near the Savannah River. Since the forces of evil flourish more readily than those of good, the Reverend John Brooker, pastor of Columbia Church located at Patterson Hill, and the Reverend James J. Lawton, pastor of Smyrna Church, were among the ministers of those early days who felt impelled by zeal for religion to counteract the sinfulness of the community by preaching under a brush arbor, which they continued for several years. Since the brush arbors afforded so little protection from inclement weather, it was decided to organize and erect a building to house it, so on the first Sabbath in June 1839, a presbytery was organized and the Reverend Joseph A. Lawton was called as its first pastor. Some of the descendants of those charter members are still serving in the church. Before being admitted to membership, each individual was examined in the distinctive principals of Baptists.
In Mt. Arnon church, the relation of master and slave was based strictly on New Testament teaching, and in Sept. 1844 two women identified as property of one of its members were received into the church. Slaves were buried in the lower part of the church cemetery.
In 1857, a committee was appointed to look into the advisability of finding a lot and building a new church. Several times the congregation had to make a decision as to whether to disband or call a preacher, but by sharing a pastor the church was kept intact, at first having only two sermons each month. As the church continued to grow, preaching services were held every Sunday afternoon by 1952, and by 1955 services began to be held every Sunday morning and night. In 1952, Sunday school rooms were added: a Pastorium was built in 1956, and a Fellowship Hall was dedicated in 1979. Additional cemetery lots were given by Mrs. Ira E. Cullom in 1958. Again, in 1973, an extensive building program was begun.
Taken from material compiled by W. M Jones
Robert Edenfield Cullom
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