History of Our Church

church

In June, 1701 a company of Welsh Baptist arrived desiring more feedom in worship and in the practice of their religious beliefs, sailed from England on the ship "William and Mary," and landed at Philadelphia.  Their group was only 16 in number, but had organized into a church of Baptist faith before leaving Wales.  They settled in a part of Pennsylvania which afterwards became Delaware.

Thity years later, wishing a milder climate and a larger land grant, the Welsh group now increased to thirty, again emigrated. They stopped briefly in what is now Marion County, South Carolina; but almost immediately, they moved again, traveling up the Great Pee Dee River where they settled on the east bank, in the section called the Welsh Tract.  At that site in 1738 they erected their rude meeting house, the first of the Batist faith in upcountry South Carolina.

In 1782 the Cheraw Hill Baptist Church was formed from Welsh Neck Baptist Church.  Beginning in these troubled times following the Revolution, it occupied old St. David's Episcopal Church building for 30 years.  The "Mother Church," Welsh Neck, moved in 1798 across the river to higher ground which is its present site. The members of Cheraw Hill lived on both sides of the river, and due to the great inconvenience of travel for those on the east bank, it was apparent that another church was needed.  Therefore, in 1820 some of the Marlboro members were dismissed to form a church adjacent to Philip Pledger's saw mill.

Philip Pledger had given two acres of land by deed date October 30, 1785, "in Marlborough County on the northeast side of Pee Dee River on Naked Creek at the end of Philip Pledger's Saw Mill Dam."

Joshua Lewis was among the first who preached at the Saw Mill church.  He is buried there.  Of some interest is the fact that in those days following the Revolution, the Reverend Lewis always signed his name: Joshua Lewis, V.D.M.  No one know what this meant, but it is thought to have been a self-appointed title:  "Vicar of the District of Marlborough."

After Mr. Lewis, came Daniel White, described as a "splendid gentleman from Scotland."  He and his successor, William Dossey, served Saw Mill and Welsh Neck at the same time.  Mr. Dossey had compiled a hymnal entitled "Dossey's Choice" which was much used in that period.

The next two pastors, James Copeland, to 1826, and Clement D. Wallace, served both the Salem and the Bennettsville churches.

At the time Saw Mill Baptist  Church was organized, the decision had already been made to move the courthouse from the riverside site to its present location on higher ground, in the center of the county.  Governor Thomas Bennett had signed the deed for the land donated by John Sands Thomas, and the village had been named Bennettsville.  Naturally many of the citizens also moved to the new community surrounding the courthouse square.  The Baptist Church continued its worship at Saw Mill until 1832, when the new building in town was occupied.  At that time Campbell Stubbs (1829-1837) was pastor and John Sands Thomas was a deacon.

The move from the site near the river had been gradual for Baptist families as it had been for all the people.  For several years the pastors held services at both locations.  

The riverside site was later turned over to a Negro congreation, from which the present Saw Mill Baptist Church descends. Title to the land it occupies remained with the Bennettsville church until 1919.

Go
Thomas Memorial Baptist Church

SUNDAY  

10:00 AM  Sunday School

11:00 AM Morning Worship 

5:00 PM  Deacons Meeting

6:00 PM  In One Accord Concert

MONDAY    

 9:30 AM  Day Care Mission Friends

TUESDAY

 9:30 AM Day Care Chapel

WEDNESDAY      

6:45 PM Prayer Service    

6:45 PM  Youth Service  

THURSDAY

7:00 AM Emmaus Group