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The Jordania Baptist Church
In Beaverdam Association, South Carolina
      Organized about 25 years ago at Jordania, in the suburbs of Seneca, this new, promising and growing body of believers has had a struggle for existence during the years and has overcome many obstacles in its growth. Its annual reports to the Beaverdam association show many rises and falls in membership, indicative of the transient population of the mill sections in the Piedmont. Reporting 59 members in 1906 and having at that time no house of worship, the little church yet gave a donation to state missions, showing that it had the elements of a vigorous life.

      The officers of the church in 1906 were S. A. McDaniel, pastor, and W. W. Snead, clerk. A small number of additions was received annually, but many of the members removed later to other places of work. By 1909 the membership had declined to 38, and a Sunday school which had formerly numbered 80 pupils had languished for lack of interest and competent oversight. Brother W. J. Jaynes, however, took up the work of the Sunday school about this time and soon saw the work begin to prosper in his hands. The church did not prosper in all respects, however, during the year 1910, and it was apparently not represented in the association of that year.

      Rev. D. C. Williams came next to the pastorate of the church, increasing the membership to 45, and the Sunday school enrollment to 120. Brother Jaynes was beginning to see some results in the Sunday school. A new building helped him to enroll quite a strong Sunday school. A meeting that year resulted in a number of additions. In the following year, 1912, 27 were received into the church, 15 of whom were by baptism and the constituency came to number 68. The Sunday school grew to 135.

      Rev. W. B. Fallow was the next pastor, N. A. McGuire and J. L. Brock being associated with him as clerk and superintendent. Thirty-two additions to the church brought the membership to 98.

      Nominal growth continued during the pastorate of Rev. Z. I. Henderson in 1916. J. E. Phillips was clerk of the church at that time and W. W. Fowler served as superintendent of the school.

      With the coming of Rev. W. M. Thompson to the leadership of the church as pastor, the body seems to have taken on new growth. The membership increased, but the Sunday school fell off in attendance. C. L. Ledford and W. W. Abbott were earnest workers in the church and aided the pastor materially. The pastor's salary about this time was $300 per annum, quite an increase over the $75 per annum reported to the association in 1906. The little church gave annually to missions and was struggling upwards.

      In 1919 there was no report sent to the Beaverdam association, and for a time there was a lapse in the activity of the church. Mrs. Thomas Henderson had organized a band of R. A. boys and the training of youth had begun in the church. Mrs. C. W. Corbett soon gathered a number of Sunbeams, and Mrs. W. P. Leister soon came to the leadership of the W. M. S. forces. Rev. A. T. Ingle was pastor in 1922, and W. P. Leister was superintendent of the Sunday school. Martin England, now a student in the seminary at Louisville, was president of the B. Y. P. U. Mrs. Leister soon came to lead the W. M. U. forces of the association, and Martin England promises to be a strong preacher of the gospel.

      The membership of the church dwindled at times and fell off in numbers. This has been the case with all cotton mill churches and missions. This has been the case with many growing organizations. Purpose, perseverance, prayer and piety will, however, win in the end always.

      With the coming of Rev. J. A. Brock to the pastorate there was fresh growth and the membership reached 116 in 1923. Thirty-six were received in that year, 17 of whom were by baptism. Mr. and Mrs. L. J. Denning came to the aid of the working forces, and by the time Rev. W. M. Thompson became pastor in 1924 the church began to be in better shape for continued growth. The church gave liberally to the $75,000,000 campaign.

      The pastor's salary had been increased to $600 per annum. Mrs. O. W. Kelly led the women of the church to an A-I condition in W. M. S. work. Fifty-nine additions to the church, 35 of whom were by baptism, gave added strength to the body. The Sunday school enrollment went over 200. Mission gifts continued to be liberal.

      When Rev. C. B. Garrett took charge of the church it had about passed through its formative stages of growth. There has been remarkable growth in the church in the past two years. The W. M. S. of the church is admirably organized with its auxiliaries.

      The B. Y. P. U. work of the church is growing in organic strength and power, the Sunday school is increasing in attendance, and the spiritual condition of the body is promising. The alert pastor leads his forces to victory in all the young people's work. A loyal and prayerful board of deacons assist the pastor in his work. The increase in the population of the mill district has brought many additions to the church. The church has had a most prosperous season of growth during the last two years.

      The cotton mill officials have sustained a most courteous and favorable attitude toward the church and have aided it in paying the salary of the pastor and in every way possible. There is no church in the state that has been assisted more by the mill where it is located. The mill has doubled its capacity, its housing room and its working personnel, and the streets are well kept and patrolled by officers. Every attention is given to making the mill village spiritually and morally clean and healthy. There is a bright future for the Jordania Baptist Church, and its working forces are to be congratulated for their past progress and their promising prospects.

      The excellent and ambitious corps of workers among the young people of the church is a feature of the organization. A great rally of the young people of the association was held with the church last fall, and at the rally held later at Immanuel in the spring of 1927 the Jordandia unions took the banner for the best attendance. Proper and thorough training for the young members of the church will gradually bring the church to a high degree of efficiency and power. Brother Garrett is beloved by both old and young, and is very popular on the mill village as boon companion to all types.

      Among the members who have held some degree of prominence in the associational work of ulation is its the church during the years have been R. B. Owens, Frank Rochester, C. F. Sorrels, John Martin, W. M. Thompson, T. M. Long, W. H. Abbott, C. L. Ledford, Lee Abbott, W. D. Veal, Earl Williams, T. H. Henderson, J. H. Vickery, Mr. and Mrs. W. P. Leister, W. W. Abbott, Ed McKern, T. W. Prathern, B. T. Underwood, M. Morgan, L. B. Pressley, J. F. Sanders, Mrs. O. W. Kelly, Grady Graham, C. B. Garrett, J. F. Sanders, B. R. Franks, C. W. Simpson, etc. On many occasions during the early history of the church it was not represented at the association, indicative of weak organization and faltering strength. Yet this has been true of other churches of this type before, although they later developed into strong and competent bodies. The constituency of cotton mill churches is not always stable, but on the other hand it is usually of a transient and changeable character. This prevents a steady and unified leadership, and housing frequent changes of pastors prevents the adoption of a permanent and consistent program of growth. Leaders come and go, members come and go, and policies are changed annually. In spite of all this, some of the cotton mill churches of the state are among the strongest and most their evangelistic bodies in the convention. Mill authorities avoid a patronizing attitude toward the churches, as a general thing, and this is advisable. The proper policy to pursue is to give encouragement and assistance when needed and asked for, and permit the churches to select their own leaders and maintain their own democratic order. This always conduces to ultimate development and permanent strength. The Baptists are the most numerous denomination in the Piedmont and in the state. Baptist churches in the cotton mill villages have had a halting, hesitating growth, but when they have had time to find themselves, they have usually become strong and competent, self-governing bodies.

      The chief difficulty with the mill village population is its transient character. Careful, sympathetic and judicious thought is given on the part of the mill authorities as a general thing to the solving of the problems incident to the transient character of the population.

      With the passing years it is believed that many of the problems of today will find a solution. Cotton mill social life is but a segment of general social life. The day is coming when we shall have a stable, substantial and worthy type of people who give their talents and energies to the valuable and educative labor of cotton manufacturing. The world waits on our spindles and looms. Their products are in universal demand. Operatives must be had for this work. The sifting process continues from year to year. A worthy product will be produced in the end. Many of our problems will vanish with the passing years. The Jordania Baptist Church is helping to solve them.


[From Walter M. Lee, editor, Baptist Historical Record, Westminister, S.C., June, 1927, p. 1, 4 & 5. Document from Boyce Digital Library On-line, SBTS Archives, Louisville, KY. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]

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