SABC’s History is Testimony of God Working Among Us
Farm Fields Fertile for Harvest
In the middle of the last century, Harry Truman was president, the Korean war was beginning, and Joseph McCarthy charged that Communists had infiltrated the U.S. State Department. Closer to home, the Dutch Square area was a sparsely populated rural community. No mall, no theaters, not even a four-lane road. The windmill that ironically stands tall over Boozer Shopping Center was still pumping water to irrigate crops. Broad River Road was the main route to Lake Murray and to the upstate. A family named Rush operated a new Dairy Queen.
God planted a vision among some in this quiet neighborhood that a new church could minister to the locals and one day, to people who had not yet come to the area. Prayer meetings were conducted in homes. Support was sought from area churches. Eventually, a two-week tent revival was held.
On New Year’s Day, 1950, a local Baptist association leader and not quite two dozen believers gathered to organize Broad River Baptist Mission. Shandon Baptist Church agreed to sponsor the mission and provided $20,000 to purchase property and construct a building by mortgaging its parsonage. That first year, this small band of missions-minded believers contributed $25 for world missions through the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program.
A young college student, Lacoste Munn, became pastor in April but the new fellowship would have to wait another year to move into the Seminole Road building (not far from the current Rush’s location). Rev. Munn left for seminary and J. T. Holland followed. Three years after the church occupied the original building, educational space was added.
After five years as a mission, about 150 members constituted Broad River Baptist Church in 1955. Alvin Bozard became pastor later that year and guided the new church into the early 1960’s.
God Gives A Miracle
John Kennedy was president in early 1963. That was the year the Washington to Moscow “hot line” was installed and 15,000 military advisors were deployed in a Southeast Asian country most Americans had never heard of, Viet Nam. Not convinced that they would sell, major record labels were declining to release recordings by a new British rock group, The Beatles.
Closer to home, Strom Thurmond switched parties. Clemson and USC admitted black students for the first time. Around Dutch Square, still no mall, no theaters and Boozer Shopping Center was six years away.
Trent Bruce had been pastor of Broad River Baptist Church for about six months when the membership voted to purchase eight acres on Bush River Road. This set in motion events that led to “Give of Your Best.” Several things had to happen before construction could begin. One was accomplished later that same year when a Pentecostal Holiness church purchased the existing church buildings on Seminole Road. The church arranged to meet again in another school and some nearby houses.
With the new location, a new name came — St. Andrews Baptist Church.
When the church sought a loan for the new buildings, a real crisis arose. It had to raise $25,000 in a very short time. That would be about $170,000 in today’s currency. Convinced that God had led them to this challenge and confident He would provide, church leaders announced a special Sunday when everyone was asked to give sacrificially. “Give of Your Best to the Master” Day was set. The church’s future was in the balance. They prayed. They invited. They encouraged. They came, 327 of them. And, boy did they give! When the offering was counted, they had met their goal. They had witnessed a miracle. Most of the offering was cash. The young church didn’t have access to a night deposit. So one member took the offering home and put it in his deep freezer for safekeeping until Monday morning when the bank opened.
Despite the hardships and special needs, SABC gave more that year than ever before to missions work.
Within 18 months the chapel and two educational buildings were housing a rapidly growing congregation. Two other educational buildings were constructed just a few years later and the church began to talk about a sanctuary that would seat 1,000.
A Pit, A Plum, and A Pipe
Southern Baptist Jimmy Carter, from Georgia, was president in 1977. A postage stamp sold for 13 cents. Charlie Chaplin, Bing, Groucho, and Elvis died. R2-D2 and C-3P0 were born. Closer to home, Jim Edwards was the first Republican governor since reconstruction and Spoleto Festival USA opened in Charleston. Boozer Shopping Center and Dutch Square Mall were thriving, while Rocky (the first one) was playing at the twin Dutch Square theaters.
Three years earlier, SABC watched a new ministry tool rise out of the pit on the backside of our property — the Christian Activities Center. Designed for basketball and other indoor recreation activities, the CAC became an attraction for members and prospects alike.
After more than a year of searching, SABC called Fred Miller as pastor in 1977.
Two years later the Church approved plans to build the sanctuary they had been talking about for years. By mid-summer, ground was broken. The congregation dedicated the new worship facility fourteen months later.
Ministries to youth, senior adults, apartment residents, and prisoners flourished. Missions trips became tradition for youth and adults.
In early 1987, a long range plan toward spiritual goals and a half-million dollar capital campaign were launched. Ministries expanded and dual Sunday Schools and worship services began. Faithful SABC members purchased a bus, improved parking areas, renovated the Christian Activities Building and began making plans for a pipe organ. The goal was exceeded, and at the same time, SABC passed the $1 million mark in missions giving. Former Music Minister Fred DeFoor began his ministry among us.
In the fall of 1992, the new 38-rank Schantz pipe organ was dedicated. The following summer, after sixteen years as pastor, Fred Miller retired.
From Serendipity to Prison
In 1993, Bill Clinton was president, and the World Trade Center was bombed for the first time. Arthur Ashe, Dizzy Gillespie, and Audrey Hepburn died. You could mail a letter for 29 cents. Closer to home, remodeling plans were announced for Dutch Square Mall, but Woolworths closed. Theaters like Jefferson Square, the last downtown theater remaining, couldn’t survive the new multiplexes and closed that year. The twin theaters at Dutch Square were also nearing their end even as blockbusters like Jurassic Park premiered.
Marshall Edwards became pastor that summer. In his trademark navy blazer and gray pants, he led SABC in a major building program with construction of the Administration Building, remodeling of existing educational buildings, and an Atrium to join it all together. Sermons were punctuated with serendipity illustrations and occasionally the congregation sang “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah.” Ministries to newlyweds and non-English speaking groups were begun. Like Fred Miller before him, Marshall Edwards retired when he departed.
Joel McCoy became pastor of SABC in 2002. Later that year, several distinct worship options were offered for adults and youth. A Futuring Group began work on long range plans and introduced the phrase Real Love in a Real World to SABC. After two years, Dr. McCoy resigned and accepted a pastoral position in Texas.
After a difficult interim period of almost 18 months, a near unanimous vote brought Greg Barr as pastor in the early summer of 2005. Within months he led the church to be more actively involved in the surrounding community, especially with H. B. Rhame Elementary School, Ashton Apartments, and other community service projects. Later that year, a new ministry opportunity literally blew in when victims of Hurricane Katrina came to our community for relief. Hundreds of volunteers united to show Christian love and concern to these displaced disaster survivors. Katrina Relief volunteer Sharon King proved so valuable that she became a full-time part of our ministerial staff.
After the church studied The Purpose Driven Life and its applications to both individual and congregational life, SABC led a coalition to purchase more than 35,000 copies of the book to provide one for every prisoner in the state prison system. Dr. Barr resigned after five years of ministry, accepting a pastorate in Kentucky. As he was leaving in the fall of 2010, Trinity Whitley was moving in to be Minister of Students.
Growing Into God’s Future
Several gifted church members, along with guest speakers, shared pulpit leadership during the initial months of this interim period. Minister of Childhood Education Sharon Simpson retired in December after more than 20 years on staff. The dawn of a new year began the interim ministry of Dr. Gerald Keown, who served until November. In May, the church called Katie Vance (Lucas, upon her marriage to Jared, in October) as Minister of Children. Then, in November, the church called Dr. Ronald D. “Dee” Vaughan to be Senior Pastor, and he began his ministry on December 4. The interim time proved to be ripe for future-thinking, for the church body made several important and far-reaching decisions with regard to location, organization, and staffing. Dr. Vaughan, a gifted preacher, writer and pastor, brings to his ministry a distinctive love for people and the ability to engage them at life’s great points of need.
In March 2012 SABC recognized the 25th anniversary of Minister of Music Fred DeFoor’s service with a trip to New York for him and wife Cindy, and a choral anthem commissioned in his honor and written by composer Milburn Price. The anthem, “The Music of Creation”, was premiered by the Sanctuary in worship on Sunday, September 9, and was published by Shawnee Press in 2013.