|Bethlehem Baptist Church (1852)||Fairfax Baptist Church (1932)||First Baptist Church of Fairfax (1944)|
BAPTIST BEGINNINGS IN CAROLINA
In 1607, John Smythe, Thomas Helwys and John Murton of England led a small group of followers from the Persecution then taking place In England to the freedom of religious beliefs and practices offered in Holland. This group advocated "Believer's Baptism Only" and rejected the accepted practices of infant Baptism. History dates the modern emergence of the people now known as "Baptists" back to this group which sought to restore the actual New Testament beliefs and practices, often obscured and violated by the established government-supported churches. This group later returned to England in 1612 and organized the first Baptist Church known by that name just outside of London. In 1613 a small booklet of Baptist beliefs and principles was published, and when King James I of England read these (the same King James who authorized the King James Translation of the Bible in 1611), he immediately began persecuting and imprisoning Baptists.
Migration from England continued by religious groups not allowed freedom. In 1631, Roger Williams was banished from England because of his religious beliefs and came to America. Even in America, he found that the government was taxing all the people to support the state-approved church (Anglican or Episcopalian). Banished from Boston, Roger Williams succeeded with the help of Dr. John Clark in obtaining a charter for Rhode Island colony and established the first settlement in the new world where there was complete freedom of worship, freedom of speech and freedom from slavery and oppression' by any group.
In 1639, the First Baptist Church was established at Providence, Rhode Island. Lack of historical data leaves many vacant spots in early Baptist history, but we know of scattered churches which began as far up as Kittery, Maine.
In 1682, William Screven organized a Baptist church in Kittery, Maine. Between 1683-1693 persecution grew to such proportions that Mr. Screven and his entire congregation disposed of their possessions and fled to South Carolina. These religious refugees made a settlement which they called Somerton. By 1699 a church was In Charleston at the site of 1st Baptist Church.
BAPTIST GROWTH IN S. C.
Following 1699 and the growth of a large Baptist congregation at the site of the present First Baptist Church of Charleston, Baptist congregations slowly arose across the state. In the early colonial days, 98% of all who be1onged to churches in South Carolina were Episcopalian, or "Anglican," the established church of England. Due to problems of transportation and a small population, growth was slow. In 1751 several churches united to form the Charleston Association, to make this the first association of Baptist churches in what is now the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1802 the Charleston Association dismissed six churches to Join the newly organized Savannah Association (just organized In 1800). These six churches were: Coosawhatchie (Beech Branch), Black Swamp, Pipe Creek (Lawtonville at Estill), Bethesda and Lower Three Runs. In 1813 the Georgia and South Carolina churches decided to have separate associations and the South Carolina churches organized under the name of The Savannah River Association.
By 1821, Baptists were strong enough to organize into a state convention and did so at the First Baptist Church of Columbia.
While there had been an organization of a general convention of all Baptist churches In America, around 1845 the pressure of the slavery issue, the distance to be traveled, and other problems caused the Baptists of the South to withdraw from the national convention and organize the Southern Baptist Convention. This was done 60 miles from Fairfax at the First Baptist Church of Augusta, Ga.
Added organization and activity brought about the beginning of the church at Fairfax. Seven years after the Southern Baptist Convention was organized, in 1852 to be exact, a few families who lived at what was then called "Owens' Crossroads" felt the need of a Baptist church. The community was literally a dirt "cross roads" with only a few scattered homes and a very small school house. The site of Owens' Cross Roads, the school house, the main store and center of what activity there was, is located where our Fairfax cemetery is located today.
Only a few people lived here, but they wanted to build a church.
1852 THE BEGINNING
In 1852, A.R. Stokes, who lived near Owens' Cross Roads, made a trip to Colleton county to discuss with Rev. W. G. M. Williams the possibility of organizing a church in this community. At that time, there was a country store located at Owen's Cross Roads near the site of the present Fairfax Cemetery operated by Mr. Albert Youmans. It was only natural that this location be chosen for a church site.
Rev. W. G. M. Williams organized and established a church here in 1852 and the church was given the name Bethlehem Baptist Church. There were only ten charter members, but the growth was rapid. The charter members were:
|Mr. and Mrs. A. R. Stokes|
|Mr. and Mrs. John Stokes|
|Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Rouse|
|Mr. and Mrs. J. J. Brunson|
|Mr. and Mrs. Jesse Sanders|
Thomas Youmans united with the church soon after this and served as clerk faithfully for many years. The first deacons were W. W. Bryan, J. J. Rouse, and Jesse Sanders.
Rev. Williams and his family moved nearby to Brunson and services were held at first under a "Brush Arbor" located somewhere close to Owens' Cross Roads.
FIRST HOUSE OF WORSHIP
In 1853, a House of Worship was constructed on land belonging to A. R. Stokes. Work on the building was done by members of the community and their slaves. The trees, were cut and needed material hand-hewn, and put together with wooden pegs, hand-made also. Mr. Stokes and probably others gave money to buy needed materials.
In 1854, Bethlehem Baptist Church applied for membership in the Savannah River Association. There were only 25 members of Bethlehem Church at this time. On February 28, 1859, for the sum of $10.00, A. R. Stokes conveyed a title that tract of land, containing two acres more or less whereon the church stood. The title of this property was recorded In Barnwell County on April 28, 1862, and J. J. Rouse and Jesse Sanders were serving as deacons at this time.
Rev. Williams served the church faithfully for about six years. He served Beech Branch, Sandy Run and Salkehatchie the same time.
There were great revivals in all of his churches. The special meeting at Bethlehem In July was held under "Brush Arbor." At the close of the services, forty-four converted members were baptized. Twenty-three others soon followed making a total of 67 baptisms.
Rev. Williams was born in Colleton County on February 1818. He was educated in private schools and as a young man was sent to school in New York where he met Miss Esther Cohen whom he married.
Mrs. Williams was a converted Jewess and a dedicated Baptist. At her suggestion, the Savannah River Association was invited and held its annual session here in 1857. Her son, the late Captain Ben Williams, gave an interesting account of the meeting many years ago, stating that delegates filled the church and magnificent carriages and horse thronged every home and that his quota to "Look After" in his father's lot numbered twenty-two besides his own. Mrs. Williams not only served efficiently in the work of the church but also taught school in the little log schoolhouse near the church.
In 1859, Rev. Williams accepted calls to Georgia, but soon after the war was declared, In 1861 he was sent as delegate to the Georgia Secession Convention and was made Colonel of the famous Forty-Seventh Regiment. On September 1, 1863, after an honorable tour of service, he died of "camp fever" in the home of Dr. I. T. Tichenor, then Baptist Minister at Montgomery, Alabama and later Executive Secretary of the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board. Rev. Williams was memorialized at Laurel Grove Cemetery, Savannah, but buried at Ludiwici, Georgia. Mrs. Williams lived for many years after this with her son, Captain Ben Williams of Brunson, S. C. She died in 1903 and is also buried at Ludiwici, Georgia.
(In our church library there is a large Bible In excellent condition from which he preached and in which are still notes he made for his sermons.)
Following the ministry of the first pastor, Rev. W. G. Williams (1852-1859), the Bethlehem Church was served by Rev. M. R. Suares, a converted Jew, an Author of books, poems, and sermons. Since no records of the first years are available, the work accomplished by the church during the years cannot be accurately recorded.
Rev. J. S. Lawton of Old Allendale was pastor from 1861-1865 and he was assisted by Rev. J. A. Lawton. There is no available information for the period from 1866-1868.
Rev. W. B. Wells served as pastor from 1869-1871 and again from 1873-1876. Rev. G. D. Kinard came in 1872. Rev. H. C. Smart from 1876-1877. There is no record of 1878-1879.
In 1872, the Charleston Western-Carolina Railroad was completed and the town grew as stores were built away from Owens cross roads and nearer the railroad.
Little is known about the pastors or historical events for some time. The pastors who served were:
|1880 - Rev. J. D. Simmons|
|1881 - Rev. B. F. Whilden|
|1883 - Rev. J. J. Getsinger|
|1884 - Rev. John T. Morrison|
|1885 - Rev. J. M. Bostwick|
|1885 - Rev. F. J. Sanders|
|1888 - Rev. John G. Williams|
Some information has come forth regarding these last pastors. Rev. Morrison is well remembered around Estill where he taught in a private school, and is credited with the enlightenment of many young people throughout this community.
Rev. F. J. Sanders was the son of James and Mourning Sanders, served in the C. S. A. as Captain, began preaching in 1862 and preached for thirty years in the Barnwell, Edisto and Savannah River Associations. An extensive farmer, self-educated, a man of quick and retentive powers, he devoted a great deal of time to study, and that mostly of the Bible. He was a preacher of force right up to the time of his death.
Rev., John G. Williams, born September 3, 1832, on his father's plantation in the western part of Colleton County some ten miles from Yemassee. He was educated at Mercer and Furman Universities where he was a member of the first graduating class (Furman) In 1855. Licensed to preach at 18 at Black Creek Church, he preached his first sermon standing on a box behind the pulpit because of his short stature. Following graduation, he served Robertville Church, then as a chaplain in Colcock's 3rd S. C. Calvary. After the war he entered a long and fruitful ministry serving as pastor of Springtown, Friendship, Blackville, Salkehatchie, Ghent's Branch, Double Pond, George's Creek, Allen's Chapel, Philadelphia, Bethlehem,. (Fairfax), Smyrha (Smyrna?), Brunson, Hampton, Ridgeland, Walterboro and Allendale. While serving the Fairfax church from 1889--1890, Rev. Williams rode the distance from Allendale to Fairfax on horseback or by buggy. He was a writer and contributed often to the Baptist Courier. He died In Allendale 4-22-1898.
Rev. E. M. Peeples was called as pastor in 1890 and served for five years. It is Interesting to note that during his ministry, in 1894, the name of the town was changed from "Campbellton" to "Fairfax." Another great event during this time was the completion of the Seaboard Railroad in 1890. With two railroads intersecting, the town grew In population and business houses. The church experienced much spiritual progress under the able leadership of Rev. W. W. Peeples. Rev. Peeples was born June 26, 1845, was educated in private schools and Wofford College. He prepared many young men for college. He is remembered as a genteel man and minister, a master in officiating at baptisms, Lord's suppers, funerals and weddings as well as the normal duties of preaching and teaching. He died 10-21-'12.
Rev. Jefferson Sandifer of Bamberg served as pastor from 1895-1899. Little is known of him or his ministry.
Our first accurate records of any Sunday school organization date around 1890. Mr. Gilmore Simms O'Neal, Sr. was active In the church and served as superintendent of the Sunday school for a number of years. Mrs. Virginia D. Young, wife of Dr. W. I. Young, was an inspiring leader in these early years. It is believed that she organized the first Sun-day school and was the only teacher at first, teaching all ages in the one room at the same time.
The first organ was bought in 1864 at a cost of $70.00. Mrs. W. J. Sanders was the first elected organist. Mr. Tom Youmans is recorded as being the first elected Sunday School superintendent.
THE WOMAN'S MISSIONARY SOCIETY
A Missionary Society functioned during the early history of the church but became inactive for a number of years. It was reorganized in 1904 and has been active consistently since then.
THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
During this period of fifty years, the vicissitudes and events could only be chronicled in a book. Today a beautiful town stands near where the old log school house, brush arbor and country store alone could be seen fifty years before. In 1899, a combination of churches consisting of Bethlehem (Fairfax), Harmony, Bethel and Salkehatchie was formed into a pastoral field being served by the same pastor at the same time, with services in most of these churches either twice a month or only once a month.
Rev. R. W. Sanders served the church as pastor in 1900-1901. Born September 12, 1847, son of William Seaborn and Piety Peacock Sanders, he joined Mt. Olivet Church at the age of 13 and was elected Sunday school superintendent there at 18. Ordained by Rev. J. A. Lawton and Rev. William Brooker August 1879. Educated by private teachers, at Furman University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary which was then located at Greenville. He married Emmie R. Addison of Greenville in 1874 and later served the following churches: Chester, Florence, Blackstock, Greenville, Honea Path, Pendleton, Clemson, Kline, Steel Creek, Bethlehem, Columbia and Charleston. He had the distinction of being elected president of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
Rev. J. W. Bishop became pastor in 1901 and served until 1904. It was during his ministry that the Woman's Missionary Union was formally organized in 1904.
No records available in this era.
Rev. W.H. Simpson came In 1911 and served until 1915. During his ministry the location of the church was changed from the cemetery area to the present location as the brick church was completed. Serving Ulmers as well as Bethlehem, he led the congregation in 1911 to vote to build a house of worship "in town" and land was secured from Mr. G. D. Sanders. On January 26, 1910, Mr. Sanders conveyed to the church titles to lots 1, 2, & 3 for the sum of $200, and November 9, 1912, titles to lots 4, 5 and 6 were conveyed to the church for the sum of $5.00. This was in consideration of the wishes of his father, W. J. Sanders, and the high regard in which the family held the work of the church and Christ. From this family also came a generous donation to the building fund to greatly expedite the building of a new church to replace the wooden frame building which had served for 60 years.
During Rev. Simpson's ministry, the fine brick church was constructed at a cost of $8,000. Mr. J. J. Knopf, Sr., was the contractor and Mr. G. D. Sanders was chairman of the building committee. Now treasured in the church records is a paid-up receipt which reads as follows:
"Received of N. B. Loadholt, Treasurer Bethlehem Baptist Church, thirty-seven-hundred-ninety-seven-and 26/100 dollars as payment in full for contract building Bethlehem Baptist
Church. August 5th, 1914.
(signed) J. J. Knopf
Rev. Simpson was born 1-18-1862 in Jonesboro, Georgia. United with Poplar Springs Baptist Church, Ware Shoals, S. C., and ordained there in 1892. Educated at Honea Path High School and Furman University, then at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky.
He held pastorates in Saluda, St. Matthews, Latta, Norway, Fairfax, New Prospect, Pamplico and Lake View.
Rev. Simpson retired In 1925 from the active ministry and established a home in Greenville where he lived until his death in 1929.
In 1914, the sunbeams were organized for the first time and Miss Edna Kearse was the first leader.
Having re-located from the cemetery area to the present location and having constructed a fine brick church, the church proceeded to pay for the building by August 5th, 1914. Following the ministry of Rev. W. H. Simpson, who lead the church during this relocating and building experience, Rev. E. A. McDowell was called as pastor In 1915 and served the church until 1918. Born April 6, 1859 In Kershaw County, he was converted at Camden in the First Baptist Church. The Grandson of a pioneer Baptist preacher, Archibald McDowell, E. A. McDowell was educated at Furman University and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky. His health failed and he was forced to leave the Seminary before finishing his work. He served the following churches: Mt. Zion Church, Monticello, Long Run Baptist Church, Ninety-Six, and there he organized Duke Street Church, Ehrhardt Baptist Church, Bethlehem (Fairfax), Kingstree Baptist Church. He moved to Florida in 1920 and served Eustis, Mt. Dora and Lake Butler Churches. Retiring at Lake Butler, he died January 1, 1938 in his 79th year and is buried at the Quaker Cemetery in Camden, S. C.
During Rev. McDowell's pastorate, the Fairfax Church enjoyed a great revival, resulting in one hundred accessions to the church, including 56 by baptism. Every dollar of indebtedness to all causes was liquidated.
This phase of the history of our church enjoyed a refreshing resurvey recently when Dr. E. A. McDowell, Jr., of the former pastor, returned in 1962 to lead the church in a January Bible study. Dr. McDowell was a source of great joy to his father as he entered the ministry and was called to be a teacher of preachers at two of our greatest seminaries. For 17 years, Dr. McDowell, Jr. was head of department of New Testament studies at the first and most famous of our seminaries, Louisville, and left there to go as head of the New Testament department at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. At the time of this writing, he is in his twelfth year there to make twenty-nine years of "teaching preachers" who have gone literally around the world with the good news. On Dr. McDowell's return to Fairfax, he remembered and was remembered by, many of our present members. His several brothers and sisters are also remember well.
In the Spring of 1918, Rev. Charles W. Smith was called as pastor. Born in N. C. in 1889, he attended the public schools of North and South Carolina, united with the Cherokee Baptist Church of Gaffney, was ordained at Saffney (Gaffney?) in 1910 and finished Furman Fitting school, Furman University, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville Kentucky. He served a number of churches near Greenville during his college days and was beloved by them all. Following the Seminary and his serving in several churches in Kentucky as a student pastor, he came directly to Fairfax in 1918.
A young, dedicated pastor, he was just realizing his life's ambition when stricken by the influenza epidemic of 1918 and became one of the many victims of our community nation as he died in that first year, having served only some five months.
The church was without a pastor until the Spring of 1919 when Rev. Wendell White came as pastor, serving until 1923. The church minutes state that Rev. White was given permission to visit other churches on the fifth Sundays in behalf of the seventy-five-million-dollar-campaign, a special program designed to put Southern Baptist on sound financial footing. Mr. J. B. Brunson was treasurer of this fund. At this date, too, the church appointed a committee to revise the rules and regulations of the church and gave $25.00 to help rebuild the colored church of the community which had been torn down. The church has on file a booklet printed at this time which includes a "Declaration of Faith" or "Church Covenant" and the names of all members of the church.
The minutes of the clerks reveal that annual revivals were held each year. It is also recorded that Rev. White attended the Southern Baptist Convention in Washington, D. C. Rev. White, well beloved, resigned in 1923 to move to Summerton, where he served for seven years, and later served at Elloree, the Westside Baptist Church of West Columbia, and retired from there to make his home in Virginia. At the present date, Rev. White is the earliest pastor still living. A native of Virginia, educated at Richmond College (University of Richmond) and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary at Louisville, Kentucky, he was ordained at Meadow Home Baptist Church while serving as a student.
The loss of a child and much family illness did not prevent a fruitful and well-remembered ministry.
It is of interest to note- several groups of deacons who served at various times in important phases of the church's history.
G. S. O'Neal, Sr., J. T. Wilson, and Brooks Jenkins.
B.F. Thomas, Sr., Chairman, J. A. Gray, J. T. Wilson,
J. L. Brant, 0. J. Youmans, M. A. Moye; J. E. Johnston
was Sunday school superintendent. The finance committee in 1923 was composed by G. D. Sanders, chrm., J. A. Gray, J. E. Johnston, B. F. Thomas, C. H. Hammond, Q. B. Lynes, R. R. Speaks, W. J. Speaks, J. L. Brant, Laurens Youmans, J. T. Wilson, E. G. Connelly, J. B. Brim-son, N. B. Loadholt, C. H. Sanders, O. J. Youmans, and Rev. White.
ROYAL AMBASSADORS ORGANIZED
In 1924, the first records of the organization of the Royal Ambassadors, a missionary organization for boys, is found. Mrs. Francis G. Craddock was the first Royal Ambassador leader.
Rev. J. G. Wilson served as pastor of the church from 1923-25. Born in Georgia in 1879, he united with Oak Grove Baptist Church near Gainesville in 1898, was educated at Newberry College, Furman University and Theological department of Colgate University. He was ordained at Princeton, S. C. on April 29, 1906 at the request of the Pendleton Street Baptist Church of Greenville. After the Seminary he served the Baptist Church at Barrington, New York for two years and returned to South Carolina where he served Ninety-Six, Cross Hill, Lebanon, Central First, St. Stephens, Bonnean and other rural churches. He retired from the active pastorate in 1948 and resides in Greenville. During Rev. Wilson's ministry, all debts were paid and a new carpet was purchased for the church. This carpet committee was composed of Mrs. Hattie Harter, Mrs. B. F. Thomas, Mrs. O. B. Lynes, (Mrs. Minnie Jenkins Lynes).
John R. Loadholt, O. J. Youmans, J. A. Gray, J. L. Brant, F.G. Craddock, and B. F. Thomas comprised the deacons. Rev. J. A. Cave of Olar, S. C., a ministerial student at Louisville Seminary, served as supply pastor in 1925. Rev. Cave was also connected with the school here and is well remembered though he served only a short while. Ills son recently served as pastor in Denmark, S. C.
Rev. R. K. Corder was called as pastor in 1925 and served from October 1925-February 1932. Born in Aiken county, converted at the age of 13, he attended time S. C. public schools and was graduated from the Baptist Theological seminary at New Orleans, Louisiana. He served as educational director of the First Baptist Church of Winnfield, La. and also at Helena, Ark. His first pastorate was at Fairfax. During his pastorate there were 278 members added to the church and all organizations reached a high standard of efficiency.
The present educational building on the north-west corner was constructed during his ministry, the money donated by individuals and organizations in such generosity that at the completion of the building, it was paid for in full. The building committee was: Q B. Lynes, Chr., R. R. Speaks, Mrs. A. C. Fitts.
The church budget plan of financing the church's program was begun during Rev. Corder's ministry, and it has been used to the present day.
Deacons were: John R. Loadholt, J. L. Brant, U. D. Sanders, Arthur Williams, G. S. O'Neal, Sr., C. C. Hammond, W. W. Cope, R. L. Lightsey, B. F. Thomas, L. R. Thomas, J. L. Augley and O. B. Lynes.
In 1927 a committee was appointed from the three churches to discuss the possibility of having union services on time fifth Sunday night in each quarter, rotating the services among the three churches and letting the collection go to a charity fund. A committee, which was composed of one member from each church was given the authority to use these funds whenever the occasion arose for such needs.
Rev. Corder resigned in February of 1932 to accept work in Picayune, Miss. It was with deep regret that the church accepted this resignation in that Rev. and Mrs. Corder had served faithfully and fruitfully in all interests of the church. Rev. Corder served the following churches: Picayune, Missippi, First Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Mississippi, Allendale, Smoaks, Lamar, Leesville, and has contributed a great service even since his retirement as supply pastor in a number of churches and missions.
The Corders, now retired, dwelt in Allendale, where they both are still active and very much a part of the associational and local work.
NAME CHANGED AND TRAINING UNION BEGUN
During the ministry of Rev. Corder, the name of the church was changed from Bethlehem Baptist Church to the Fairfax Baptist Church. The Training Union was begun under the ministry of Rev. R. K. Corder.
In March of 1932, Rev. George B. Bobo came to serve as pastor and served until 1934. Born in Clinton, S. C., educated in the Clinton Schools, Presbyterian College and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rev. Bob served the following churches: First Baptist of McCall, Wateree Baptist of Camden, served as chaplain on active duty with the CCC as 1st Lieutenant, served as pastor of Lake View and Bennetsville churches before going to Florence to become chaplain of the Industrial School for white boys for the State of South Carolina. He is now living in Loris, S. C.
The records tell of a severe hail storm occurring during Rev. Bobo's ministry which led the church into a great revival with some thirty additions to the church. Mrs. Bobo was an efficient worker In all organizations.
Rev. J. B. Neil, served as pastor from May 1934 until October 1943, which was the longest pastorate of the church. Born in Niota, Tennessee in August 1892, educated In the public schools there, converted at 18 years of age, attended Carson-Newman University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He also served the following churches: First Baptist of Benton, Tennessee, First Baptist of Great Falls, S. C., and Landrum Baptist Church were he died.
During Rev. Neil's pastorate, some repairs were made on the pastorium walls and floors and kitchen. The roof of the Educational Building was painted and the church made marked progress. Mrs. Neil worked in the Intermediate Department and took an active part in Training Union, Women's Missionary Union, and served efficiently throughout. In 1943 Rev. Neil became pastor of the First Baptist Church of Landrum and served there until his death in 1949, being buried in Tennessee.
Lloyd Neil, a son of Rev. J. B. Neil, felt the call to the ministry and to missions. He married Annie Lee Thomas of the Fairfax Church and together they are serving with the Foreign Mission Board In Nigeria in Hospital Administration work, teaching and preaching.
Rev. H. D. Gober came in January 1944 and served for five years. Born in Commerce Georgia, educated in the public schools there and at State Normal College, Athens, Georgia, at Mercer University. He has been pastor in three states, Georgia, Florida and S.C.
Rev. Gober served churches in Brunswick, Adairsville and Stone Mountain, Georgia, Fort Pierce and Orlando in Florida, Loris, Green Sea, Nichols and Lake View in South Carolina. In all of the churches the work was organized and put on a full-time basis. Improvements were made and new buildings constructed, too.
Rev. Gober appointed a building committee in Fairfax of L. R. Thomas, Bruce Harter, H. G. Williams, Mrs. C. L. Lewis and Mrs. O. B. Lynes. This committee investigated plans, for a new pastorium and time present pastorium was constructed in June 1948 at a cost of $16, 000. Gas heat was installed in the church auditorium, the Educational Building and the pastorium.
NAME CHANGED AGAIN
The Church voted in April 1944 to change the name from Bethlehem Baptist Church to First Baptist Church of Fairfax.
A full time secretary was employed by the Church and Mrs. J. H. Hutto was elected and served time church efficiently for several years. The kitchen in the Educational Building was equipped, and pianos, chairs, tables, and maps were bought to fill a great need. Venetian blinds were installed in the Educational Building and the pastorium. During this ministry, all departments of the Church grew. Numerous study courses were held and many certificates were awarded. A school of missions was held and state workers conducted the school. The Church held a daily Vacation Bible School each summer just prior to the annual revival services (revivals evidently until this time held once a year, if that often, and most generally in the summer time).
Rev. Gober resigned the work here to enter Evangelistic work. He moved to Rock Hill and was pastor of Sharon Baptist Church there. Mrs. Gober was a faithful worker in all phases of the work. She served as Superintendent of the Primary Department and as teacher of the Men's Bible Class. Rev. Gober was killed while crossing a street in Rock Hill as a pedestrian, being struck by an automobile.
In 1949, while without a pastor, the W. M. U. purchased a Baldwin Electric Organ for the Church at a cost of $3,000. The money was raised by gifts from individuals and funds from the Missionary Society. This same organ is in use in the Church today.
Rev. R. G. Bennett was called as pastor and with his family moved to Fairfax April 1, 1949. Born in Neoga, Florida, educated In the Green Cove Springs Grammar School, Consolidated High School, Stetson University and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, he was converted at 17 years of age and felt called to preach. He was ordained soon after this at the age of 18 by Pierson Baptist Church. He held his first pastorate at Deleon Springs, Florida. He has served since then pastorates in Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina. During part of this time he taught school for six years.
Decided progress was made in every area where he has served. Each Church has broken missions gifts records, general attendances, and every Church has shown marked progress in members received, Sunday School and Training Union work.
During his ministry in Fairfax, time Baptistry was covered and used for additional choir space, time auditorium redecorated, anew bulletin board erected in the front of the Church, abus purchased and used for transportation to Sunday School and other events, tables placed in the different departments, electrical improvements all around, repairs and painting of all portions of the Educational Building, new choir robes purchased at a cost of $400.00, extra gas heaters purchased amid installed around, new water heating for the Baptistry, Love and Welfare Fund set up in the Church, a new building fund and building committee established, time remaining debt on the pastorium liquidated, the furniture in the auditorium refinished or varnished, new song books and chairs added as well as many improvements around time grounds. The first full time janitor was hired.
A great event was the celebration of time hundredth anniversary of the Church in 1952. A history of time church was prepared by Mrs. Lenice Lynes (most of which is the subject matter for this history) and was read in time services that day. Detailed pictures of this great event are on hand in time Church Library. Dr. Charles Sims, then executive secretary of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, was the guest speaker for this occasion. A meal was served at time Community House to all members and guests that day.
It is noteworthy that during this time gifts to missions rose to $7,200.00 a year to set a new record.
Also extremely noteworthy is the fact that for time first time in the history of the Church, according to all known records, several were led to give themselves to full-time Christian service, to be licensed to preach, later ordained, and one led into full time Church Educational and Music Ministry. Earl Behr, James C. Byrd and David Thomas were licensed to preach. Later Earl Behr and James C. Byrd were ordained here in the Fairfax Church.
NEW EDUCATIONAL BUILDING
The building fund having grown to around $15,000.00, a building committee was appointed, plans were received from the Department of Church Architecture of the Sunday School Board in Nashville, Tennessee, and in 1954 the building was begun. The committee that guided the construction of the new Educational Building was Mr. B. F. Thomas, Jr., chairman, Mr. Bruce Harter, Mrs. 0. B. Lynes, and Mrs. C. L. Lewis, Mr. M. D. Alexander was the building superintendent. In that the original contract bids were around $80, 000 to contract the building, these bids were rejected and Mr. Alexander as building superintendent constructed the building at an estimated cost of $35,000.00. It was completed In 1955. A picture of the ground breaking ceremony is available in the Church Library.
Rev. Bennett resigned in 1955 to accept a call to the First Baptist Church of Cayce, S.C. At present he Is pastor of Riverbend Baptist Church, North Charleston. Mrs. Bennett was superintendent of the Junior Department in Sunday School, and took an active part in the total program of the Church.
Rev. Wyatt Garrett was called as pastor in 1955 and served from July 1955 until April of 1958. Born in Peizer, S. C. March16, 1818, educated in the public schools there, and at Furman University, North Greenville College and Erskine College. Rev. Garrett has served the following churches:
Cedar Grove, Woodruff, S. C., New Hope, Pelzer, S. C., Neals Creek, Belton, S.C., First Baptist of La France, First Baptist of Fairfax, Beech Branch and at the present time is serving Southern Bleachery in Taylors, S. C.
In the fall of 1955 just after arriving, Rev. Garrett led in the installation of an excellent heating and air conditioning system for the New Educational Plant.
Seldom is any church favored with a pastor and family as well beloved and well received as were time Garretts. A warm, sincere and talented man of God, Rev. Garrett inspired a high morale and excellent participation among the membership and led immediately In cutting down the church indebtedness, raising the number of worshippers and new members to new heights, and inspiring time church in all areas. It was with great sadness that the church accepted his resignation in 1958 that he might accept a call to Southern Bleachery Baptist Church, Taylors, S. C. Mrs. Garrett served as superintendent of the Young People's Department and together timey will always hold a cherished place In the hearts of the people of Fairfax.
Rev. Robert E. Cuttino was called as pastor and began his ministry In August, 1958. Born In Sumter, S.C. , August 27, 1929, educated in time schools there, a graduate of Wofford College and Yale University Divinity School, Rev. Cuttino came to Fairfax from Williston where for six years lie and his family had served in the First Baptist Church and Win field Heights Baptist Church. Mrs. Cuttino, the former Molly Leatherwood of Atlanta, Georgia, an able musician and teacher, has contributed greatly to the effectiveness of the ministry of this family.
In September of 1958, following a plea from time pastor for the organization of a Men's Brotherhood, 70 men came forth to form one of the most effective, active and dedicated brotherhoods in South Carolina. This group was written up as a prime example of Brotherhoods in time national Brotherhood Journal.
The organization of new classes and departments in the Sunday School and Training Union, starting a Youth Choir of Intermediates and Young People and Junior and Primary Choirs has been a source of inspiration to the Church. These new groups organized helped time church to break all attendance records in Sunday School, Training Union and Vacation Bible School.
In August of 1959, there was "fire on the altar" as the indebtedness for the new educational building was paid in full and the mortgage burned in Church that Sunday morning.
By 1960 plans were well on the way for the new auditorium with the church in agreement that $25,000 should be in hand before actual construction took place. Mr. Arthur Hazard of Augusta, Georgia was selected as the architect, continuing with plans actually first begun some eight or ten years before. The plans were adopted by the Church to build a Colonial structure and the momentum increased each month.
By March of 1962, the $25,000 in hand, the Church voted to begin construction and the last services in the brick church were held March 18th, concluding that evening with a Baptismal Service and the Lord's Supper, with ten being baptized and one man coming on profession of faith. The last moments of the service will ever be held as one of the truly great moments of worship in that building as the entire congregation knelt for the final prayer which was concluded with the Youth Choir singing "The Lord's Prayer."
The men of the Church, and other volunteers from other Churches, began Monday, March 19th, removing and salvaging the old Church. In one week the Church was completely down and by another week removed and cleared. The men helped the Church not only in expediting time, but the brick was sold for $1,000 and other portions of the building were sold for some gain to the Church. Some of the steel of the old building was able to be used In sections of the new building.
In March of 1962 it was also voted to purchase the entire block in front of the Church property, the block containing two dwelling houses and six fine lots, this area to be used primarily for parking and one home for whatever use the Church will have need.
Harmony and complete unity marked the decisions of the Church through all this progress with6ut one dissenting vote being recorded to any major or minor proposal. Time church was built definitely under the kind providence and approval of our Heavenly Father, as not one person was injured in construction and all work progressed even better than we had anticipated.
A beautiful House of Worship now stands to beckon sinners who seek the Saviour and saints who would seek a place of service now and for generations yet to come. God, who has been our help In ages past and through every event of our history now opens the future for time fulfillment of our dreams as we seek anew adequately to worship Him, to invite all who will to know and serve Him, and ever to be the instrument of spreading the "Good News" that a Savior has come.
(We are endebted to Mrs. O. B. Lynes for most of this history)
|M. R. Suares--1859-l86O|
|W. B. Wells--1869-1871|
|H. C. Smart---1876|
|J. J. Getsinger----1883|
|F. J. Sanders--1886-1888|
|John C. Wil1lams--1889|
|E. W. Peeples--1890-1894|
|* served together|
|** supplied during summer of 1925|
|C. H. Turner--1908-1909|
|J. D. Timmons--1910|
|W. H. Simpson--1911-1915|
|W. A. McDowell---1915-1918|
|C. W. Smith--1918 (5 mos.)|
|J. G. Wilson---1923-1925|
|**J. A. Cave--1925|
|R. K. Corder--1925-1932|
|C. B. Bobo--1932-1934|
|J. B. Neil---1934--1943|
|H. D. Gober--1944-1948|
|R. C. Bennett---1949-1955|
|R. E. Cuttino--1958-196-|
Provided by Mickey Smith. Copyright ©2000, First Baptist Church of Fairfax, Fairfax, South Carolina, all rights reserved. Please do not download this document without permission of the church. Scanned and proof read by Dr. Frank O. Clark. Errors are mine alone. Please notify me of errors.
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