New Light Beulah Baptist Church
New Light Beulah Baptist Church
New Light Beulah was organized in December of 1867 when some 565 African Americans opted to withdraw and worship on alternate Sundays from the white members of Beulah Baptist Church. Both congregations worshipped in the same sanctuary. The eleven-member White Beulah Baptist Church worshipped on the first and third Sundays. The Black congregation of New Light Beulah worshipped on the second and fourth Sundays of each month. Prior to the organization of New Light Beulah, one other Black congregation had been organized out of Beulah Baptist. That congregation was Shiloh Baptist Church when 40 Black members withdrew on May 14, 1866. Shiloh's pastor was Reverend William Weston Adams, a former slave and member of Beulah Baptist who had been ordained November 12, 1865. Reverend Adams along with two other former slaves were ordained by Beulah's Pastor James Lawrence Reynolds shortly after the Civil War.
New Light Beulah Baptist Church extended the call to Reverend William Weston Adams to serve as her first pastor in 1867. Reverend Adams accepted the leadership of the church as a supply pastor initially. Within one year, Reverend Adams became the permanent pastor on New Light Beulah Baptist Church, about the same time that Reverend James Lawrence Reynolds resigned as the pastor of the small Beulah Baptist Church. The Beulah Baptist Church elected Reverend Thomas Mellichamp as pastor who had a cordial relationship with Reverend William W. Adams.
The two congregations continued to share the same sanctuary for three years until the White congregation dispersed in 1870. The Black congregation continued to flourish. Spiritual leaders of the church included Preston & Eliza Moody Richardson, John & Ann Reese Dinkins, Pharoah & Racheal Ward Smith, Robert & Hagar Green Jones, Lewis & Suckey Smith Tucker, Paul & Matilda Hopkins Sims, Simon & Mariah Tucker Jenkins, Charles & Leah Reese Howell, Ned & Phyllis Brevard Middleton and James & Tansy Smith Taylor. These leaders guided the church through its transitional period. Beulah's Black congregation desiring to assert its independence, changed it's name to New Light Beulah Baptist in 1870.
Shortly after the White members ceased using the sanctuary, questions about legal ownership of the church property began. The members of the New Light Beulah claimed ownership, as well as former white members of Beulah Baptist Church. The continuing dispute and the distance traveled by some members resulted in more than half of the membership securing letters of dismission in 1871 to organize the Zion Benevolent Baptist Church, Hopkins, S. C. Complicating the issue of ownership even more was a dispute between Anthony Morris (Black), a member of New Light Beulah and Jesse Reese (White), a former member of Beulah Baptist Church. December 2, 1871, apparently Brother Anthony Morris purchased a cow from Mr. Reese for $34.00 placing $21.00 down with a promise of possession with payment of the balance. Brother Morris later came prepared to pay the balance, but was told by Mr. Reese that the cow was sold and there would be no refund. Consequently, conflict arose between Reese and Morris, along with several members of the New Light Beulah Baptist Church who supported Morris. Subsequently, one of Mr. Reese's cows was maimed resulting in accusations of several New Light Beulah members who were eventually tried in General Sessions Court. Tense relationships developed in the Grovewood-Congaree community between Black and White citizens.
Animosity within the community intensified when Mr. Jesse Reese's nephew Jesse Reese Adams moved himself and family into the sanctuary formerly shared by Beulah and New Light Beulah. This was the same sanctuary that was being used by the Black members of New Light Beulah Baptist at that time. The following Sunday when New Light Beulah members arrived for worship, they found Jesse Reese Adams armed and were forced to leave the premises. The land that the sanctuary sat on was originally purchased from the Reese family in 1832.
Pastor William W. Adams and the New Light Beulah Baptist congregation decided to build a bush arbor on land of Deacon Pharaoh Smith. Deacon Smith's land was rented from the Reese family. Shortly after the bush arbor was built, another segment of New Light Beulah Baptist opted to withdraw to form a new church. In 1873 Zion Pilgrim became the second church organized out of New Light Beulah Baptist. Zion Pilgrim called Reverend Jonas Ancrum, the pastor of Red Hill Baptist, as her first pastor.
Strained relationships within the neighboring community prompted New Light Beulah members to no longer consider themselves as members of the Fairfield Baptist Association. Pastor William W. Adams and the leadership of New Light Beulah affiliated with the Gethsemane Baptist Association, Upper Division in 1873. Delegates to the Association included Pastor Adams and the church clerk Brother George Washington Taylor. Taylor reported 154 members having been affiliated with the church that year.
Pastor Adams resigned in 1875. The church elected Daniel Boyd, a former slave of Robert Adams, as its second pastor. During 1876, the Spirit of the Lord moved mightily on the church when 56 souls were baptized. It is believed that no other year in church history can match the number converts made in 1876. Some 161 converts were made during the pastorate of Reverend Boyd. It was during Reverend Boyd's pastorate that the Sunday School was reorganized in 1874 with Deacon Preston Richardson serving as Superintendent. Brother George Washington Taylor, the church's clerk was ordained as a missionary in 1880 during Reverend Boyd's tenure as pastor. Taylor was appointed association missionary during the same year. Brother Andrew Richbourg then assumed the role of church clerk. Richbourg reported the church's membership at 556 in 1881. During that same year, the Sunday School had 120 scholars, four teachers and 120 books in its library. The church membership roll would have exceeded 600 members except for some disgruntled members who left to organize St. James Baptist Church without proper letters of dismissal. The Executive Board of the Pee Dee Association (formerly Gethsemane Association, II Division) of which Beulah was then a member instructed them to return to New Light Beulah Church. Those members refused to return to New Light Beulah and subsequently joined the newly formed Wateree Baptist Association in 1881. Other charter members of the Wateree Baptist Association included New Light Beulah and some 47 other churches. Reverend William W. Adams, New Light Beulah's first pastor, served as St. James Baptist's first pastor.
New Light Beulah's membership dropped to 424 in 1881 because additional members transferred to St. James Baptist Church. With the organization of the St. James Church, it appeared that no other church would be formed out of New Light Beulah. However, thorny issues like the changing political climate and issues relating to constructing a new sanctuary caused a split in the congregation. Pastor Boyd and Deacons John Dinkins and Lewis Tucker left the church and illegally formed Siloam Baptist Church without proper letters of dismissals. The Executive Board of the Wateree Baptist Association instructed the members of Siloam to secure proper letters of dismissal and report back to them in 30 days. This was done, and Siloam was accepted as a member of the Wateree Baptist Association in 1885.
New Light Beulah elected Nazareth's Reverend Isom William Simons as her third pastor. Just prior to Reverend Simons arrival, the church had elected Brother Frank Smith as church clerk to replace Andrew Richbourg. However, Brother Richbourg was reelected church clerk in 1885 for 1 year. Burrell J. Goodson was elected church clerk in 1886. Isom Harrison Goodwin was then elected clerk in 1887. Frank Smith served as clerk again in 1887. New Light Beulah's clerks Smith, Goodson and Goodwin were all at one time students of Benedict Institute.
Pastor Simons having been familiar with the Pee Dee Association while pastor of Nazareth Baptist recommended that New Light Beulah affiliate with the Pee Dee Baptist Association. In 1886 New Light Beulah began an 18-year affiliation with the Pee Dee Baptist Association before reaffiliating with the Wateree Baptist Association.
The church purchased two acres of land from the Kaminer brothers on December 26, 1886 for $25.00. Trustees signing the deed were Abram Weston, Jacob Gallman, Pompey Smith, Thomas Stocker, Warwick Howell, Hampton Jamison and Julius Goodwin. Immediately afterward, members of the congregation started construction on their new sanctuary. The new sanctuary was completed in 1889. Within two years, the Beulah school was completed. The Beulah School was constructed adjacent to the newly built church. Brother Spencer Adams was the first teacher at the Beulah School. Brother Adams was the son of Rev. William W. Adams, New Light Beulahs first pastor.
During the same period of time, William Dinkins was the church's Sunday School Superintendent. Brother Dinkins assumed the Superintendent's office after Brother Frank Smith's tenure beginning in 1885 and ending in 1888. Again in 1891 Frank Smith served as superintendent.
Pastor Isom William Simons resigned his pastorate in 1891. With Reverend Simons departure for Bethesda Baptist in Georgetown, S. C., New Light Beulah called Reverend George Washington Taylor as pastor. Reverend Taylor was also called to serve St. James Baptist Church during the same time being called to New Light Beulah. It was during the latter years of Reverend Taylor's tenure as pastor that the church hosted its first associational meeting. New Light Beulah hosted the Twenty Sixth Annual Session of the Pee Dee Baptist Association.
Andrew Richbourg assumed the pastorate in 1897 and served a relatively short time. Richbourg was a dynamic preacher and a leader in both the Pee Dee and Wateree Baptist Associations. Pastor Richbourgs wife was Ms. Grace Hopkins, the daughter of Robert and Phyllis Hopkins, charter members of New Light Beulah Baptist Church. Pastor Richbourg served as pastor until 1899 when he resigned to serve another congregation.
New Light Beulah's sixth pastor was Reverend Jesse William Neal. Pastor Neal was enthusiastically supported by the church and Deacons Preston Richardson, Burrell Goodson, George Tucker, Paul J. Taylor, English Hopkins, Sr., Frank Middleton and Moses Laney. Under Pastor Neal's leadership the church grew spiritually and numerically. He served faithfully until 1909 when he tendered his resignation to accept another call. Pastor Neal was ordained in 1897 by the Wateree Baptist Association.
Womens Working Society 1905-12
The Reverend John B. Barber succeeded Pastor Neal. He began his pastorate in 1909 and served for forty-eight years. It was during Pastor Barber's tenure that disaster struck New Light Beulah Church. In 1916, a fire caused by a fallen stovepipe consumed the 28-year-old structure. Under Pastor Barber's leadership, the church returned to the role of the "Mother Church" of lower Richland Black Baptist churches. In 1957, Pastor Barber became ill and resigned.
Immediately after Pastor Barber's resignation, the Reverend Westberry H. Neal opened his pastorate at New Light Beulah Baptist. Under Reverend Neal's leadership, the church continued to flourish. During his pastorate, the church voted to relocate and move north above the current location. New Light Beulah purchased 6 acres in 1978 to start construction on a new sanctuary. Upon 22 years of service, Dr. Neal submitted his resignation in 1978. The church elected Dr. Neal as Pastor Emeritus after his resignation. In its search for a new pastor, New Light Beulah selected Reverend William C. Henderson as her ninth pastor. During Pastor Henderson's tenure the church began tithing, worship service every Sunday and began construction on its new edifice. The new sanctuary was nearing completion when Dr. Henderson closed his pastorate in 1982.
The Reverend Lawrence Thomas David, a retired army chaplain, then accepted the call to the pastorate. January 4, 1982 was the date that Reverend David assumed his pastorate. Pastor David was installed on August 15, 1982. As pastor, Reverend David began to implement objectives to move the church forward. On May 23, 1982, Women's Day, members proudly entered their new sanctuary, debt free and valued at more than $170,000.00. Shortly after moving into the new sanctuary, several ministries were initiated. Those ministries included orientation & disciple making classes, a bus service, child development program, meals on wheels, clothing bank, athletic league, tutorial program and the family ministry headed by Mrs. Henrietta Davis.
The 1984 budget was proposed by the Budget Committee and approved and adopted by the Deacon Board on December 13, 1983. The budget for 1984 was $62,160.00. The budget report was received and adopted by the Church on January 3, 1984. Adopting annual budgets was initiated during Pastor David's administration.
Through the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Children's Ministry came into existence on January 5, 1986. Deacon John A. Middleton observed that the children needed additional spiritual training. They needed to be taught on their level because they were not relating to the message as presented from the pulpit. Therefore, Deacon Middleton presented numerous objectives relating to a children's ministry under the direction of the Sunday School Department. These objectives were presented to Pastor Lawrence T. David and the Deacons for approval. Approved projects included the Children' Ministry and a Bus Ministry, that were designed to work together.
Deacon Tally Adams, Jr., Superintendent of the Sunday School announced that he would be resigning June 26, 1984. Deacon John Allen Middleton acknowledge interest in the position. Deacon Middleton accepted the position of Superintendent and gave up the position of Young Adult Class teacher and Athletic Commissioner of the "Neighboring Christian Athletic Association".
The church's first constitution and by-laws were adopted on February 18, 1988. This document called for officers within the Board of Deacons, a church council, a kitchen committee, an educational society, church library and athletic department.
An additional 4500 square foot classroom wing was added during the pastorate of Reverend David. This wing was added to accommodate the Sunday School Department and expanded Child Care Development Center. This addition was dedicated on September 10, 1989. The church also completed its parking lot in September of 1990. The value of all church facilities exceeded more than a half million dollars by the end of 1990.
During the December 1990 church meeting Reverend David Anderson was elected assistant pastor of the church. The church welcome Reverend Anderson with open arms. Deacons serving the having served the church between 1920 and 1990 included David Ward, English Hopkins, King Adams, Boston Myers, Dozier Brown, Willie James Goodwin, Frank Williams, Lowman Jumper, John A. Taylor, Joel Adams, Henry T. Hopkins, Tally Adams, Pelham Myers, John Albert Middleton, Wayne Adams, Roosevelt Hampton, Herbert Glisson, Thomas Jones, Joseph Hampton, Sr., Joseph Hampton, Jr., Green Middleton, James Middleton, Dock Ward, George Brown and John Allen Middleton.
Reverend David recommended Mr. Horace Gilins, Mr. Albert Richardson and Mr. Richard Ramsey as Trustees January 8, 1991. The Church voted to accept these brethren as Trustees.
Pastor David T. David announced his retirement in late 1992. Pastor and Mrs. David were recognized for their faithful service with a "Retirement Banquet" on February 27, 1993. Reverend David's retirement came forty years after his ordination by the Pee Dee Union Baptist Church, Cheraw. S. C.
During a special call meeting on March 4, 1993, a seven member pulpit commitment was elected and Assistant Pastor Anderson was called as Interim Pastor. Reverend Anderson's tenure guided the church through some turbulent times. Interim Pastor greatest challenge was to hold the flock together during the time it sought a permanent pastor. Reverend Anderson and the Board of Deacons recommended new rules of order be added to the constitution as section VI during the one of the many church meetings.
Deacons Tally Adams, Jr., George Brown, Herbert Glisson, John Allen Middleton, along with Mrs. Alberta Robertson, Ms. Yolanda Myers and Trustee Willie Stevenson were elected to serve on the Pulpit Committee. This committee spent endless hours in prayer and search for the right pastoral candidate. August 26, 1993 the committee and Board of Deacon recommended changes to the by-laws to avoid dividing the fellowship. The by-law change reading was "The Church shall elect the pastor by an affirmative vote of a least 2/3 majority of those present and voting". The candidate recommended by the Pulpit Committee November 23, 1993, fell two votes short of the needed two thirds majority needed to be elected. Two additional candidates received fewer votes than the first candidate.
Subsequently, the original Pulpit Committee was disbanded on January 27, 1994 and a second committee was called. Members of the second Pulpit Committee were Deacons Pelham Myers, Henry T. Hopkins, Roosevelt Hampton and Thomas Jones, along with Barbara Simons, Hector Taylor and Sharon Brown. During the time of this committee's work, Interim Pastor David Anderson resigned on March 27, 1994. The Church selected Reverend Frank Woods as Interim Pastor beginning the first Sunday of April 1994. Pastor Woods lead the Church through a difficult period. During Pastor Woods tenure, the Deacons elected new officers. Officers elected for five year terms (April 1, 1994-March 31, 1999) were Pelham Myers, Chairman; Henry T. Hopkins, Vice Chairman; Joseph Holiday, Ward Leader; John Middleton, Secretary; and Herbert Glisson, Fellowship Leader. Interim Pastor Frank Woods and the Deacons supported the Pulpit Committee in whatever way possible. This Committee sought God's Guidance in the selection of a new pastor. After several months of searching, the Committee presented Chaplain Jeremiah Tillman as its pastoral candidate.
September 29, 1994, Chaplain was elected pastor. Reverend Tilman's priorities included unifying the church, establishing a nursery, developing pastoral writing correspondence with disciples and visitors, strengthening the Stewardship Ministry, instituting a special baptismal preparation class, replacing the drum on the copier and securing better equipment for his teaching ministry.
Brother Richard Furman was invited to take part in the Deacons Ministry. Brother Furman received a warm welcome from the brethren. Deacon Furman had been ordained as a Deacon by New Horizon Baptist Church, Clinton, Maryland on November 8, 1994.
New Light Beulah Baptist has been affiliated with the Baptist Education and Missionary Convention of South Carolina since 1877. Despite that affiliation, the church affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention during November of 1994. Pastor Tilman and Deacons determined to have the church dually affiliated with both the Baptist Education and Missionary Convention and the South Carolina Baptist Convention.
December 29, 1994, the New Light Beulah congregation approved the following persons Pastor's Aide Committee members. Those individuals were Dian Alston, Sara Bracey, Gloria Brown, Sharon Brown, Harriet Furman, Evelyn Ramsey and Alberta Robertson. Mrs. Roberta Ward was later added as a result of the merger of the Pastor's Appreciation Committee with the Pastor's Aide Committee. The Committee continued to grow and three (3) additional persons joined. They were Glyceria Wimberly, Jerri Strudwick and Lurideen Sumter. The Committee secured a door knocker for the Pastor's Study, name plate and business cards for the Pastor. The Committee rigorously planned the Pastor's first anniversary. The occasion occurred on October 28, 1995 at Fort Jackson's NCO Club. Several months later, March 5, 1995 Reverend Tillman was installed as pastor of New Light Baptist Church.
Pastor Tillman strongly supported purchasing the adjacent 14.5 acres for future church ministries. Those ministries would include outdoor sports facilities, convalescent care center and family life center. December 1994 loans were sought from member to initiate the purchase of the land.
Prior to Reverend Tillman, the church employed Mrs. Betty Taylor as a part-time secretary. Pastor Tillman requested a full time administrative assistant to replace the part-time secretary. This position was advertised and filled by Mrs. Veretta Tillman. Mrs. Harriet Moody assumed the position when Mrs. Tillman resigned to spend more time with her family.
The Church's first radio broadcast was carried on Station FM 95.3 on the first Sunday of February 1995. Listeners from the Midlands of South Carolina tuned in to enjoy Pastor Tillman's teaching ministry. Much of the growth experienced by the church was attributed to the radio ministry.
Recommendation for new Trustees were presented by the pastor on April 10, 1995. Recommended for Trustees were Carletta Taylor, Otis Wingard, Jimmy Lakin, Stacey Hampton, Powell Myers, O. C. Evans and Hubert Ward. These candidates were accepted by the church. Other recommendations made by Pastor Tillman and other officers were to construct a gazebo at the cemetery, secure funds from the to purchase land, purchase a fax machine and select an automate church finance system software. July 20, 1995 Pastor Tillman was authorized to select a building committee to draw up plans for the convalescent home and family life center.
New Light Beulah's Health Care Guild was established under the leadership of Pastor Tillman on July 25, 1995. The Church also accepted Katherine Reese as assistant Clerk on that same date.
The church's successful Child Care Director, Margaret Hampton, resigned in 1995 to devote more time to her family and responsibilities as financial clerk of the church. Mrs. Hampton left the Center with surplus cash on hand and an enrollment of about 65 students. Pastor Tillman and the Officers recognized Mrs. Hampton for her many years of service and dedication. Mrs. Hampton continue to serve faithfully until Pastor Tillman and the Personnel Committee selected Mr. Joseph Eadie to serve as the new Child Care Center Director.
Pastor Tillman supported larger scholarship payments to members of the church seeking higher education from the Educational Society of the Church. Every member of the church enrolled in a higher school of education is eligible to apply for scholarships and loans once every semester. This ministry is designed to benefit every member desiring to further their education. Occasionally, the church aids individuals on special missions.
Shown below is the maximum semester scholarship or book reimbursement thru 2003.
|1994-1995||$ 500.00||$ 200.00|
|1996-1997||$ 625.00||$ 250.00|
|1998-1999||$ 750.00||$ 300.00|
|2000-2001||$ 875.00||$ 325.00|
Pastor Tillman recommended and instituted New Light Beulah's first noon day Bible Study and Prayer Warrior Service. Pastor Tillman strongly believed in the power of prayer and the necessity of constant and fervent prayer. Pastor Tillman sought his Doctorate Degree with the help and support of the church.
Other spiritual initiatives of Pastor Tillman included beginning two worship services on Sundays. The church began services at eight and eleven each Sunday morning. Disciple training classes and other teaching ministries of the church resulted in an additional 100 disciples affiliating with the New Light Beulah Baptist Church.
February 13, 1996, Brother Tally O. Adams noted that Pastor Tillman had requested that the Superintendent of the Sunday School visit the various classes every Sunday. Consequently, Superintendent Adams, recommended that a new Superintendent be appointed to replace himself because he was very interested in continuing to teach. Deacon Richard Furman was appointed Sunday School Superintendent and Deacon James Taylor as Assistant Sunday School Superintendent. Deacon Taylor, along with Hector Taylor, Tally O. Adams, John Castor and Chivis Adams were newly ordained Deacons during the tenure of Pastor Tillman.
Pastor Tillman mentored at least six associate ministers. During a three month span, three of the church's Deacons were licensed to preach in 1996. Deacon Herbert Glisson did his initial message in July. Deacon Thomas Jones did his initial message in August 1996. The final initial message done by Deacon John Allen Middleton was on September 15, 1996.
Reverend Gregory Benjamin Cunningham was called as Pastor of New Light Beulah Baptist on May 15, 2000. Pastor Cunningham was accepted as pastor with a very positive affirmative vote of 143 to 10. Pastor Cunningham calling made him the twelfth pastor of New Light Beulah. Prior to coming to New Light Beulah, Reverend Cunningham was a chaplain in the military stationed at Montgomery, Ala. Pastor "C", as he was affectionately called, his wife Lizzie "Ms. Mamma", along with daughters Shaundra and Britany made the transition from Montgomery, Ala. to South Carolina. Pastor Cunningham and his family resided at 6 Archdale Road, Columbia, S. C. 29209, while he was Pastor of New Light Beulah Baptist.
The New Light Beulah Baptist total membership as of June 30, 2000 is 641 members. We pray that God will continue to bless her and give her leaders after God's own heart.
Please send notification of all errors and corrections to Frank O. Clark, Ph.D., webmaster. Thanks.
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