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
MOUNT CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY
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
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 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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
B. J. Allen
Bennett Allen, Jr.
J. H. Allen
T. R. Belche
C. F. Bowen
D. W. Bowen
J. R. Bowen
J. W. Bowen
J. E. Brown
J. W. Bryant
W. R. Butler
J. A. Campbell
J. E. Campbell
N. C. Cooper
T. H. Cottingham
F. D. Herring (Fredinard)
J. Arthur Herring
J. W. Herring
W. H. Hyatt
Warren Hyatt, Jr.
J. A. Lock
W. D. Lock
J. H. Moody, Sr.
W. R. McCormick (Ross)
G.C. McDaniel (Gilbert)
T. B. McDaniel (Thomas)
A. J. McKenzie
Cary McKenzie, Jr.
J. A. Owens
W. S. Owens (William)
T. J. Walker
E. P. Wiggins (Elias Pearl)