History of Seneca Baptist Church
Organized in 1873, Baptists in Seneca, SC worshipped for several years in the Union Church where four denominations worshipped at that time. It was a large frame building with a spire pointing heavenward, located on the corner of East North Second and North Fairplay Streets.
Seneca Baptist purchased lots on the corner of South Townville and East South Second Streets. Our first church, a wooden frame building with an attractive steeple and four-faced town clock was erected on this lot. It was constructed so that by raising the floor of the pulpit area a baptismal pool was available. Several present members of Seneca Baptist Church remember being baptized in this pool.
In the mid-twenties, Seneca Baptist Church moved into a new building erected on the corner of South Fairplay and East South Second Streets. The Rev. L. H. Gardner was pastor at this time.
The Rev. J. A. Estes came as pastor in 1951, and it was during his pastorate that the pastorium of the church was constructed. The Rev. James P. Stokes assumed the pastorate of the church on September 2, 1956.
In May 1957, ground was broken for the educational building. In addition to the new plant, plans were made for remodeling the sanctuary.
The church continued to grow in the 60's and 70's. A full Kindergarten Program was added and also a thriving Day Care Center.
A lot was purchased adjoining the church building for a new sanctuary and plans were made for renovation of educational and office space. The project was completed in 1975 and a dedication service was held April 11, 1976.
In 1985, the record-keeping, financial and other, were advanced to a computer system. The church established a website in October 2002. Also, our weekly Seneca Baptist News, which was started in 1961, kept us informed about church family and all organizational activities and preserved historical information.
The Reverend Dr. C. Von Reynolds became the twentieth Pastor of Seneca Baptist Church in July 1990. He previously served as Associate Pastor for four years.
The Intercessory Prayer Ministry was started in May of 1993. This vital ministry of Seneca Baptist has ministered to thousands of people through intercessory prayer.
In 1993, our church purchased two additional properties. The Macaulay property located across from the church was purchased for parking space. This property which joined our parking lot doubled our parking area. In October of 1993, we purchased the Fred McCracken property (17+ acres) on Highway 59 South for future expansion. On November 13, 1994, the New Building Fund was established.
On March 31, 1996, Seneca Baptist Church voted to relocate our facilities to the new property on Highway 59 and to begin promoting the New Building Fund. The Building Steering Committee was elected on April 27, 1997. Those serving on this committee included: Mr. Sam Thrift, chairman; Mr. Lewis Jernigan, vice-chairman; Mrs. Evelyn Jordan, secretary; Mr. Theo Cox, Mr. Joe Hughes, Mr. Clayton Land, Mr. Wallace Peebles, Mr. Eric Rothell, and Mr. Bob Stewart.
In the meantime, a debt-free Activity Center was constructed on the new property by funds given by various members of the church and was dedicated on June 13, 1999. The Activity Center houses a gymnasium, a commercial kitchen, and an upstairs area.
On October 25, 1999, Seneca Baptist Church celebrated her 125th Anniversary with special services and a fellowship dinner. Many guests enjoyed a trip to the past as they toured the Historical Room which was filled with memorabilia from the church's history.
The Building Steering Committee worked diligently making plans for the construction of our new facilities and promoting the New Building fund. On June 27, 1999, the church voted to hire A. Dale Gilliland- Architect as the architect for the new sanctuary and educational building. On March 18, 2000, the architectural drawings and scale model were revealed to the church at a banquet. The church gave its unanimous approval for the architectural design on March 26, 2000.
After a vigorous building fund campaign, the church was poised to begin construction. On March 16, 2003, the church voted unanimously to hire Marsh & Bell Construction to serve as general contractor. Ground-breaking for the new facilities took place on May 3, 2003. The closing service at the old sanctuary took place on Sunday, January 16, 2005 at 10:30 a.m and the first services in the new buildings were held January 23rd. A community-wide dedication service for the new facilities was held Sunday, February 6, 2005 at 3:00 p.m.
Seneca Baptist Church has ordained five members into the Gospel Ministry: Dr Davis M. Sanders, Reverend Joe Moss, Reverend Tony Moore, Reverend Jeffrey Vickery and Reverend Ken Holliday.
We are deeply grateful that God has blessed Seneca Baptist Church with over 130 years of uninterrupted ministry of witnessing and proclaiming the work of God.