Mount Calvary Baptist Church
Dillon County, SC

Mount Calvary Baptist Church, c. 1900
(Photo courtesy of David Moody)

The central portion appears to be the original church building, a one room structure about twenty feet wide and thirty feet long, built by the brethren of rough boards.

Mr. Moody's scan was made from a copy of the original print loaned to him by Mrs. Winnie Stanton of Dillon. David's grandfather was a member of the Mt. Calvary Baptist Church around the time this photograph may have been taken. David's grandfather's uncle, John H. MOODY, was the founder of the church.
-- Victoria

Mount Calvary Baptist Church School, 1940's?
(Photo courtesy of The Dillon Herald)

Mount Calvary Baptist Church, 2001
(Photo courtesy of Jane Moody Randall)

Brief history by Victoria Proctor

Located 2.5 miles east of Dillon on Mt. Calvary Road. Organized September 17, 1887 by J.H. Blanton with some members from Pleasant Grove and Rev. J.H. Moody with some members from Piney Grove. J.H. Blanton was elected moderator of the conference and N.D. Hayes clerk. Rev. Moody preached a sermon and the following sixteen charter members were enrolled: H. Butler, T.J. Walker, N.D. Butler, J.A. Butler, James Butler, B.J. Allen, James Bryant, George Rowell, A.J. Rowell, Mary Bryant, Mary E. Rowell, A.J. Campbell, John Bryant, W.E. Squires and wife, and Nancy Rowell.

The first church was about a mile south of where the present church now stands and was not a building at all but a brush arbor type of shelter. These early worshippers planted tall forked poles in the ground at four corners with cross poles at the top. On this they piled brush, cut from the nearby forest, and formed the shelter. Under this simple shelter they placed hand-hewn boards on other poles for pews.

--Stokes, "The History of Dillon County, South Carolina"
--The Dillon Herald

Article below submitted by Linda Christenburg Moody Brown

The first 100 years

On the eastern bank of the Little Pee Dee River directly opposite the town of Dillon, South Carolina, lies a strip of countryside known as the Mount Calvary Community. As families banded together to form a community, they thought not only of their physical welfare, but their spiritual welfare as well.

According to the history of the Pee Dee Baptist Association, the Mount Calvary Baptist Church owes its origin to influences, which developed from song and prayer services held from house to house in the community. The date of organization was September 17, 1887. On that day J.H. Blanton with some members from Pleasant Grove and Pastor John Henry Moody with some members from Piney Grove, met with those interested in forming a church. J.H. Blanton was elected moderator of the conference and N.D. Hayes clerk, Pastor John Henry Moody preached the sermon. The following sixteen charter members were enrolled: H. Butler, T.J. Walker, N.D. Butler, J.A. Butler, James Butler, B.J. Allen, James Bryant, George Rowell, A.J. Rowell, Mary Bryant, Mary E. Rowell, A.J. Campbell, John Bryant, W.E. Squires and wife, and Nancy Rowell. Several of these were received by baptism.

The first church was about a mile south of where the present church now stands and was not a building at all but a brush arbor type of shelter. These early worshippers planted tall forked poles in the ground at four corners with cross poles at the top. On this, they piled brush cut from the nearby forest and formed the shelter. Under this simple shelter, they placed hand-hewn boards on other poles for pews.

Sometime between the organization and the year 1890, a small but more permanent church house replaced the brush arbor. This building was constructed entirely by the labor of the brethren and out of materials they furnished. It was a one-room structure about twenty feet wide and thirty feet long. It is said that the walls were of rough boards nailed vertically to studs and the cracks stripped with more boards in what was called "shanty" style. Some of the same rough boards were used for pews or seats as they were called.

Little is known about the actual growth and other affairs of the early church. The oldest available records include the Articles and Constitution. The fifteen articles (rules) given as a prelude to the constitution tell much about the way the church was run. The book of minutes that has been kept over the years begins with the January, 1902 conference. Strict parliamentary procedure was followed at these church conferences which were held on Saturday before the first Sunday in the month. The roll of male members was called at the business sessions, and any brother absent three months in a row without excuse was visited by a "committee" to determine the reason for his slackness. If the brother came to the next meeting and asked to be excused, the church would forgive him and the matter would be closed. If on the other hand he did not seek the forgiveness of the church and did not show a sincere desire to be excused, a charge could be brought against the brother resulting in his exclusion from the fellowship.

Mount Calvary Baptist Church was admitted into the Pee Dee Baptist Association in 1890 and at that time reported thirty-one members. Pastor John Henry Moody served several times as pastor of the church. He resided approximately one mile from the church. He assumed an active role in the church and community for many years. It is said that the Pastor John Henry Moody often walked to church. He died February 21, 1917. His body was taken to the graveyard at Mount Calvary in a horse-drawn wagon.

Several pastors are listed in the history of the Pee Dee Baptist Association for the early years of the church. The name of John Henry Moody occurs frequently. The following men served during the early years along with J.H. Moody: D. B. Bow 1890; T.J. Walker 1892; L.C. Tart 1893, 1899, 1900, 1905; J.M. Fleming 1897, W.C. Wallace 1901-1903; J.H. Blanton 1904, J.H. Moody is last listed as serving as pastor from 1906-1912.

First mention of a building fund is found in the minutes of the conference for November 1903. W. Bowen, W.R. McCormick, and W.C. McKenzie were appointed to "solicit subscription (money) for church purposes." In the May conference of 1904, mention is made of two acres of land originally given by George McDaniel. The land was divided with one acre going to the church and one to the school. The deed is dated October 11, 1887 and reads as follows: ( George McDaniel to Mount Calvary Church. A lot for School and Church. Two acres sitting on the river road on the east side of Little Pee Dee River in Carmichael Township. North by George McDaniel. East by public road. South by estate lands of J.C. Allen. West by George McDaniel. This deed is to remain in full force forever.) The patrons of the Mount Calvary School (Dillon District II) requested that the church sign and release all claims to the one-acre of ground at Mount Calvary Church.

Plans for building continued as revealed in the November 1904 conference. J.H. Moody and W.C. McKenzie were appointed as building committee. In July 1906, W.R. McCormick and B. J. Allen were added to the building committee. At this conference, Pastor J. H. Moody was called to preach.

Finally in the September 1908 conference, the motion was made and carried to build a new church house at Mount Calvary. T.J. Walker and Zack Butler were added to the building committee. At the following October conference, the pastor's salary was increased to $50.00 per year. The first cemetery committee was elected at the December conference of 1908. I.H. McKenzie and E. Pearl Wiggins were appointed to "look after the graveyard." Also at this conference, the building committee was instructed to dispose of the old church house to make way for the new church building, which had been in the planning stage since 1903.

E. Pearl Wiggins moved the old church house to his home. He used it as a feed barn. Corn was stored in one side of the structure.

Old church records indicate the men who worked on the new church building were paid about ten cents an hour. If they had a mule that would pull a wagon to haul lumber, they were given an extra five cents per hour for the mule. The accounting for the building shows that on February 1, 1909, a mill cut 8,200 wooden shingles for the roof of the church at a total cost of $16.40. A refund of $2.42 was given to the church for the "culls and saps" which could not be used. The total given at the end of the accounting period for building the church was $172.21. This included much of the material and labor for erecting the building.

The Sunday school was organized in 1888 with just a handful of scholars as they were called. Levi Harrelson was elected as the first superintendent. J.H. Moody, Jr. served Mount Calvary Baptist Church as Sunday school superintendent for thirty years, the longest tenure in the history of the church. The record book for the year 1917 tells that on May 6, there were 49 present for Sunday school and 94 cents received in offering. Also in this year, the church appointed Zack Butler to assist the trustees in securing a deed for the church property. According to a note dated May 26, 1920 one deed of George McDaniel to Mount Calvary Church was secured.

In 1922 Sunday school enrollment was 112. Approximately 60-70 Attended each week. Offering ranged from a low of 21 cents to a high of 75 cents. There was an exception. On April 30, 1922 a special collection for the 75 Million Campaign was received. Total offering was $6.23.

The year 1930 was a tragic year in the history of Mount Calvary Baptist Church. In January 1930, according to some who were members at the time, fire destroyed both the community school and the church located on the present property. It is said that a man was burning a field located behind the church property. The fire spread out of control into the church cemetery. Here, tall weeds gave the blaze more intensity. The school caught fire first. As winds blew sparks, leaves which had gathered over the years in the church steeple caught fire. There were no ladders and thus no hope for extinguishing the fire. Witnesses of the fire, some of whom were regular church attenders, collected themselves enough to save some of the church furnishings. The church organ and pulpit stand were pushed to the doors and saved. Pews were handed through windows and several were spared destruction, which seemed inevitable that sad day.

What contents could be saved were taken to the Knights of Pythias Lodge No. 171 just a few yards down the road from the church. This building was the site for services until the school and church buildings could be replaced. The county was responsible for rebuilding the school. It was finished much earlier than the church. The church building was ready for services at least by 1935. Men of the church continued to work on the church as time allowed. During the intervening years of rebuilding, funeral services were conducted at the school or under the oak trees.

According to the minutes, no conference was held in November or December of 1930. There were few conferences held in 1931-32-33-34 and whatever minutes were made were stolen from the church by "unknown parties".

In December 1935 the church voted to send produce to "the orphanage." A committee was appointed to collect the produce. The following year, the church voted to send money to the orphanage. Those who were members during this time remember collecting food goods that were taken to the orphanage. Today the church continues to support the Connie Maxwell Children's Home in Greenwood.

Musical instruments were an important part of the early worship. In August 1936, there was a report from the committee on musical instruments. The piano was to be received and paid for. Then in November of 1936, the motion was made and carried to sell the organ at not less than $5.00 and to use the proceeds as payment for the piano. It appears that funds were still needed to complete the August transaction.

In March of 1938, the church building expense and painting was finished. A motion carried to raise money to start "the second coat of paint," Minutes from the October, 1938, conference indicate that the church was "painted and appreciated." According to associational records, value of church property in 1938 was $3,000. The pastor's salary was $200.00 per year. During this time, worship services were on Sunday afternoon at four O'clock. During the 1940's and early 1950's, services were held on the second and fourth Sundays of the month.

As time went by Mount Calvary grew as the community developed. Around 1950, the first Sunday school rooms were built. These were located around the rear and sides of the sanctuary. As had been the custom, most of the work was done by those in the church. According to associational records, Training Union began in 1954 with Mrs. Margaret Rogers serving as director, followed by Clarence Arnette.

In 1954, Dillon District II discontinued using the old community school located on the present church property. It had been in use since 1908 on the present church property. It had been in use since 1908 or thereabouts without any cost to the school district. The school building and one acre of land on which it stood were sold to Mount Calvary Baptist for $100.00. The school was moved and attached to the Sunday school rooms on the left of the sanctuary. Isaiah McKenzie gave Land to the church at this time so that the school could be moved. This new space allowed more classroom space. It has been remodeled since that time and is still used for Sunday school rooms. Carpet has covered much of the floor area since 1954. The "creak" of the wooden floor underneath can nevertheless still be heard.

ACCORDING TO ASSOCIATIONAL RECORDS, THE FIRST Woman's Missionary Union was organized in 1950. Mrs. H.B. Ivey served as president. Total enrollment for the W.M.U. and for the Y.W.A. was 42. The men's organization, Brotherhood, was organized in 1960. The first president was Roy McCormick. Total enrollment including the R.A. boys was 45.

After sharing a pastor with the other churches in the area, the Mount Calvary Baptist Church called its first full-time pastor, Pastor Jack Rowan. Jack lived with his family in Latta and also attended seminary while serving at Mount Calvary. At this time, the church did not own a parsonage. The next pastor, Gary E Smith, lived in a home on the Mount Calvary Road. On July 30, 1961 a special building fund offering was received to raise $2,900 so that construction on a parsonage could begin immediately. Marion McKenzie, Sr, gave Land for the parsonage. Groundbreaking was held on February 18, 1962. The debt on the parsonage was retired in December 1963 due to the generosity of Admiral A.F. Carter who was a friend and supporter of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church. The parsonage was dedicated February 16, 1964.

During the 1960's and 1970's extensive remodeling and building programs were completed. In August of 1964, work began on enlarging the sanctuary. Nurseries were added on the left and right of the church entrance. During this time, the church was bricked. On May 7, 1967, a dedication service was held for a new educational building. Land for this building was given by Cary McKenzie. The new building was of brick construction and housed classrooms, kitchen, fellowship hall, and the pastor's study. A brick wall that fronts the cemetery was constructed by Paul Bowen. In October 1962, in memory of his wife Christine Wiggins Bowen.

According to The Outreach, the weekly church newsletter, three oak trees were removed in January 1974 from the parking lot. These were moved to make room for a new sanctuary. Work on this project began March 4, 1974, following the Groundbreaking on March 3. The beautiful new sanctuary was dedicated July 28, 1974. Its interior walls were constructed of white Spanish brick above a dark walnut wainscoting. Crosses were used in the front and rear wall designs along with a large cross in the baptistery. This sanctuary is used today and seats approximately 650. It is approximately 90 feet long and 61 feet wide. The former sanctuary was the same length but 34 feet wide.

As soon as the sanctuary was completed, work began August to remodel the former sanctuary into Sunday school classrooms. Volunteers, working at night and on Saturday did much of this work. Work was completed September 1974. In 1975, the church celebrated its eighty-eighth anniversary. An attendance record of 1106 was set on this Sunday. Also in 1975, restrooms were added to all church buildings.

Another building project began in January 1976. Construction on the present office area was completed in March 1976. This building houses Sunday school rooms, three offices, and a workroom for printing and preparation of mail-outs. The weekly newsletter, The Outreach, keeps church families informed of news and upcoming events. The church also publishes a monthly newsletter; Kids' Stuff that is mailed monthly to the children. During these years of improvement and expansion, the parsonage was enlarged. Two bedrooms and a bath were added in the summer of 1977. The most recent building project was completed in July 1978. Construction of a Fellowship Building allowed space for church fellowships and receptions. It is located away from the main church complex at the right of the parking lot. Land for the Fellowship Building was given to the church by Leslie McKenzie.

According to church records, the peak in average Sunday school attendance thus far is 405. In church training, the record average attendance thus far is 135. Present church membership is 872. From a very humble beginning with sixteen people in a brush arbor, our church has grown over these hundred years.

Thank God for all those who sacrificed to write the history of Mount Calvary Baptist Church and the members who gave their time, talent, and treasure to make the work of God possible in Mount Calvary community.

The majority of this information came from the "Mount Calvary Baptist Church 100th Anniversary 1887 - 1987 book". I am truly thankful for the ones who took their time and efforts in putting this Mount Calvary History together for the 100th Anniversary of the church, so it would be possible for us today to have this written history.

(Submitted by Linda Christenburg Moody Brown the Great granddaughter of George M. McDaniel)

Mount Calvary Baptist Church 1907 Church Roll

Contributed by: Linda Christenburg Moody Brown (

B. J. Allen
Bennett Allen, Jr.
J. H. Allen
Lawson Allen
Shell Allen

T. R. Belche
Raymon Berry
Russell Berry
Cam Blackman
John Blackman
C. F. Bowen
D. W. Bowen
J. R. Bowen
J. W. Bowen
J. E. Brown
J. W. Bryant
James Bryant
John Bryant
Lonnie Bryant
Willie Bryant
W. R. Butler
Willie Butler

J. A. Campbell
J. E. Campbell 
Tobe Campbell
Thomas Christenburg
N. C. Cooper
Bonnie Cottingham
T. H. Cottingham

Frank Gray

W.S. Harrelson
Allen Hays
Charley Hays
F. D. Herring   (Fredinard)
J. Arthur Herring
J. W. Herring
W. H. Hyatt
Warren Hyatt, Jr.

Dudley Ivey
Gaston Ivey
Henry Ivey
Lacey Ivey
Webster Ivey
William Ivey

J. A. Lock
W. D. Lock

Calvin Moody
J. H. Moody, Sr.
Johnny Moody
Robert Moody

W. R. McCormick   (Ross)
G.C. McDaniel     (Gilbert)
Luther McDaniel
T. B. McDaniel     (Thomas)
Ernest McDowell
Fuller McDowell
John McDowell
Kemper McDowell
Pink McDowell
A. J. McKenzie
Cary McKenzie
Cary McKenzie, Jr.
Isaiah McKenzie
W.C. McKenzie
Whit McKenzie
Lonnie McQueen 

J. A. Owens
Oscar Owens
W. S. Owens     (William)

Willie Parham

Bennie Rouse
Eddie Rouse
Henry Rouse
Isham Rouse

Joe Sanderson
Tom Scott
W.E. Squires

T. J. Walker
E. P. Wiggins    (Elias Pearl)

For a list of burials at the church cemetery, see Mount Calvary Baptist Cemetery Transcriptions

Back to Dillon County Baptist Churches
Back to Dillon County Churches
Dillon County Cemeteries
Dillon County History and Genealogy

Copyright 1996-2011 Victoria Proctor. All rights reserved.
This WEB page is intended solely for the private, non-commercial use of researchers, and may not be copied, altered, converted or uploaded to any electronic system, BBS, Message Board, Mailing list, or web site, nor included in any software collection or print collection of any type without the express written permission of the author. These electronic pages may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by other individuals or organizations.