Through Christ all things are possible and for the past one hundred and thirty-one years the Lord has bestowed His many blessings on the Reedy River Missionary Baptist Church. Our beginnings started many years following the Emancipation of Negro Slavery. There were African Americans living in the Mauldin, Conestee and Ridge Road communities who desired to worship together. These dedicated Christians, after a period of prayer they united their efforts and organized the Reedy River Baptist Church on Parkins Mill Road. The Reverend Matt Moore was serving as the Shepherd of this Flock.
This location was somewhat central for the three communities to meet on Sunday to worship, praise and give thanks for their many blessings. Since these dedicated saints’ incomes were meager, they did not have the means to build a wooden structure, or sanctuary; therefore, they built a “Brush Arbor”, which is a clear area surrounded by brushes. Sometime later, from this humble dwelling, a church structure was built under the pastorate of the Reverend Albert Williams.
On September 30, 1879, the first structured building of the Reedy River Baptist Church came into fruition when a piece of land was purchased for seven dollars. The church members increased their land area on September 26, 1900 with a purchase of one and two-fifth acres. The first deacons were W.A. Garrett, H. Downs, J.A. Ashmore and W.M. Cureton.
The church continued to increase in membership under the leadership of the following ministers: Reverends Tom McElrath, Big Robinson, Hemp Hill, John Washington, Belver Earle, Tom Broadus and Luther Miller.
Deacons Riley Brockman, Ike Austin, George Johnson, Peter Hellams, Henry Williams and Frank Mayes were among the earliest deacons. As time passed, Deacons John Smith, Tom Abraham, T.M. Bates and S.A. Cureton were chosen at different intervals. They were still serving as deacons when the next pastor was elected, Reverend W. R. Martin, in 1923. Early in the pastorate of Reverend Martin, the membership had an urge to build another structure. In 1937, their dreams became a reality, and a structure was erected on the adjacent site.
Under the pastorate of the Reverend W.R. Martin, the following auxiliaries were organized: the Note Choir, Usher Board, and a Musical Choir. Deacons added to the Board were: Riley Pendergrass, Frank O’Neal, Roy Williams, W.R. Dixon, James Tolbert, John H. Harris, J.C. Lewers and Bobby Abraham.
On January 27, 1955, when the Laurel Creek Lodge of United Order of Old Fellowship was no longer in membership, it deeded one acre of land to the church. Riley P. Pendergrass, President, and Richard A. Hill, Secretary of the lodge, signed the deeds.
Later, the church made an exchange purchase of one and one-tenth acre from Hazel K. Williams on November 5, 1955. The membership continued to mount in numbers through the years, so much so, that in 1964 the old building was renovated into a more spacious and modern structure.
The Reverend W.R. Martin remained pastor of Reedy River Baptist Church until his death in June 1965. He was pastor for forty-two years! His death left the church without a pastor for approximately five months.
In November 1965, the Reverend Stewart C. Cureton became pastor of the church. Under his leadership much progress was made. He organized a Trustee Board and the first members were: Earl Lewers, Taylor Walker, McArthur Walker, Aaron Williams, Arthur Williams, Carl Lewers, James Young, Eugene Tolbert, Bobby Tolbert, and Manuel Lewers.
The church family rejoiced together on May 28, 1967 in the “Burning of the Mortgage” from the renovation of the church in 1964.
In 1975, the church family voted to build a new sanctuary and educational building so that God’s people would have a beautiful edifice in which to worship, and with modern facilities to teach God’s Word. It looked then as if the journey would be long and rough; however, the members had a mind to work and a desire to accomplish this goal. On July 24, 1977, the dedication service was held in the new building and the membership rejoiced in the fruits of their labor. The building, facilities and parking lot cost more than two hundred and twenty-seven thousand dollars. We had a twenty-year mortgage, but because of God’s many blessings, we were able to pay off the mortgage in seven years and ten months.
Under Dr. Cureton’s visionary leadership, the following organizations and auxiliaries were formed: the Girls’ Training Auxiliary (G.T.A.’s), Boys’ Training Auxiliary (B.T.A.’s), Brotherhood, Sunbeams, Men’s Usher Board, Human Relations Committee, Girl Scouts, Nurses’ Unit, Voyagers, Women’s Missionary Society II, Singles Ministry, Music Ministry, Newspaper Committee, Trustee Spouses, Save Our Sons (SOS), Sisters Saving Sisters (SSS), Report Card Committee, Doctrine Class, Christian Expedition Class, Golden Age Ministry, Family Night, and he reorganized the Pastor’s Aide and Deaconess Ministry. Appointments were also made for the Family Life Center and Youth Director, Directors of Missions and Christian Education, and a Music Coordinator. Choirs included: the Senior Choir, S.C. Cureton Inspirational Choir, Sunbeam Choir, Gospel Choir, Male Chorus, Frank O’Neal Voices of Faith, Sanctuary Choir, and the Young Adult Choir.
Since the church was growing physically, as well as spiritually, the membership felt the need for a full-time pastor. Dr. S.C. Cureton accepted the pastorate on November 1978. Under the leadership of Dr. Cureton, and with much prayer and financial commitment from the members and the community, the church family rejoiced together on October 27, 1985 in the “Burning of the Mortgage” for the new sanctuary and educational building.
July 2, 1989, was a glorious day for the church family. We had all hoped, longed and prayed for this day–a day that the Family Life Center would be a reality. The pastor, officers, and members believed that one of the ways of keeping young people in the church was by the means of recreation-believing that God is concerned about the whole person, body, mind and soul. It is mandated that the church must provide for the whole person, and if the Church fails to make provisions for the whole person, then the things of the world won’t draw our youth away from the church. The Family Life Center has allowed us to minister to the entire community through summer youth camps, tutoring programs, recreational activities, retreats, bible study, and many other activities. Our prayer is that the Family Life Center will be used for the building of strong bodies, creating keen minds, and making souls more conscious of how God leads and guides them in the path of righteousness. The Family Life Center was named in honor of the chairman of the deacon board, Deacon Riley Pendergrass, whose life had been as a beacon light over the years. His dedication and commitment to Christ and his fellow man will forever be cherished in the minds and hearts of those whose lives he touched directly and indirectly.
Reedy River Missionary Baptist Church continued to show signs of growth in the spirit, as well as in the community, and on June 2, 1985, a second service was needed to accommodate the membership. After a few years, it became necessary to build a new sanctuary-the fourth building at this same location.
In September 1996, the third church building was demolished. On May 1998, we moved into our new beautiful 32,000 sq. ft. edifice, which seats approximately eight hundred people. The building includes a balcony, educational rooms, kitchen, nursery, elevator, offices, and a conference room. This building has given us an opportunity to praise and worship the Lord together and thank Him for his many blessings. It allows us to continue to grow as Christians so that we can spread the word that the Lord is good and worthy to be praised.
The church has become active in local, state, national and international denominational bodies. The Reedy River Missionary Baptist Church was grateful for Dr. Cureton’s “contrite mind and baptized heart,” as well as his love and commitment to God and the community. We are appreciative that the Lord has bestowed grace and mercy upon the Reedy River Missionary Baptist Church to be around for 131 years and for this we will continue to uplift His name and give Him all the praise.