Our History

Celebrating 230 Years of Ministry


A. B. Woodruff wrote in 1887, "The early history of Bethel Church is enveloped in clouds and uncertainty."  Our oldest surviving record dates from September 16th, 1787.  Sometime prior to that, believers came together to organize a church under the Lordship of Jesus Christ for the glory of God.

Our church has had five names, including The Church of Christ on Jamey’s Creek, Woodruff Meeting House, and Shackleford’s Meeting House.  From 1798 until 1911 our church was called Bethel, and since 1911, we have been known as First Baptist.

The first meeting places were log houses located in the present Bethel Cemetery.  In 1849 a spacious wooden building was completed and was used until a brick structure was built on Main Street in 1911.  Our church began meeting in its present location in 1962, first in the fellowship hall and then in 1973 in the sanctuary.

The first and longest pastorate was that of Richard Shackleford, who served for 27 years.  Among the early pastors were Dr. James C. Furman, who became president of Furman University, and Dr. John A. Broadus, who became president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  During most of the 1800’s, our church provided the only school in the area—"The Academy"—until a public school could be provided by the state.  In 1802, a revival broke out inspired by the prayers of a young girl who was a student at The Academy.  188 people were baptized.  Thirty years later, at another revival, there were 2,000 people in attendance.  In 1926, our church had the largest Vacation Bible School in South Carolina with 528 enrolled.

First Baptist has a rich heritage and tradition for sending out ministers, missionaries, and mission teams.  Many of the churches in our area trace their beginnings to the "First Church."  Throughout our history, God has blessed us so that we could be a blessing to others.

Thus far hath God brought us, thus far have we come; We praise Your name, O Father, for all that You have done.  And in Your holy name, we seek to do Your will, and in Your strength alone we press on, we press on.


Our Pastors

Richard Shackleford 1789-1816
Henry Hitt 1816-1823
Miles Rainwater 1823-1826
Thomas Ray 1826-1833
William Rhodes 1834-1835
Berryman Hicks 1835-1836
Samuel Gibson 1837-1838
Thomas Ray 1838-1844
Drury Scruggs 1845-1853
John G. Landrum 1854-1859
James Clement Furman 1859-1860
Toliver Robertson 1860-1865
John Albert Broadus 1866-1868
Warren Drummond 1869-1871
Micajah C. Barnett 1872-1873
Landrum Cicero Ezell 1873-1888
Charner Terry Scaife 1889-1905

J. F. Carson 1906
H. M. Fallaw 1906-1913
John Henry Boldridge 1914-1920
H. L. Riley 1921-1924
C. F. Pittman 1925-1929
J. H. Simpson 1930-1941
W. Wardlaw Long 1942-1948
W. J. Bradley 1949-1960
Victor A. Greene 1960-1962
Joe A. Roberts 1963-1968
M. B. Morrow, Jr. 1968-1973
Stanley D. Webb 1974-1975
Ryan B. Eklund 1975-1979
Robert L. Deaton 1980-1987
Ronald D. Vaughan 1988-1994
Charles Andrew Shull 1995-