History of New Prospect Baptist Church
The two-hundred-year anniversary of the formation of New Prospect Baptist Church was June 3, 2020. An elaborate celebration was planned. However, because of the Covid 19 Pandemic the celebration was rescheduled several times and an abbreviated form of the original planned celebration was finally held on October 1, 2021.
The cover of the history of New Prospect Baptist Church, The Gold at New Prospect, written by June Gardner in 2020 in keeping with the 200th Anniversary of the church appears below. Many excerpts from that book are included in the above information. Hard and soft copies may be purchased from the author, June Gardner at 864-641-9984 or through the church office.
Because of fires, many details of the history of New Prospect Baptist Church and the earlier Baptist Church at New Prospect were lost. A copy of the earliest minutes, New Prospect Baptist Church Minutes, 1820-1835 Cemetery Surveyed by Larry Vehorn is also available from June Gardner.
The Early History
No Baptist influence was to be found in the area when Joseph Wilkes and his wife Delphia moved from Halifax, Virginia to the upper part of Spartanburg District in the early part of the nineteenth century between Fingerville and McMillan’s. During this time conditions of the settlement were crude and underdeveloped.
Anxious for a church of her faith to be formed in the area she located a Baptist preacher in the Union District and arranged for him to preach whenever he was in the area and urged the people of the community to assemble for a religious service.
These meetings continued for a period of time and several persons were baptized. The group was first organized as a branch of the Boiling Springs Baptist Church and called the Mount Vernon Baptist Church.
A meeting was called on June 3, 1820, for the purpose of officially organizing a Baptist church at the fork of the Pacolet River. It was named New Prospect Baptist Church of Christ. With twenty-six charter members.
The church elected Thomas Howard to serve as pastor, Robert Bullington and Joseph Wilkes to serve as deacons and William Wilkins as church clerk.
The minutes of the church were preserved from 1820-1855 and include names of the first members.
At first, there were few men available who were called and ordained to serve as a pastor. As a result, one pastor served multiple churches at the same time.
· For the first twelve years the church met in a small log house located on or near the site of the present building.
· With a membership of 49 in 1837 a new house of worship was erected. The old log building was sold and later used as a barn.
· In 1856 another building was erected on the site where the log building had stood. Also of frame construction, it was 50 x 70 ft. in size.
· In 1913 this building was remodeled and became an elegant house of worship. The building erected in 1837 was given to be used as a schoolhouse known as the New Prospect Academy. This building burned in 1900.
· In 1922 the church building built in 1856 burned. Soon thereafter another building was erected on the same site.
A total of 26 men have served as pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church in the 201 years she has been in existence.
Because of the fifty years he served as pastor of New Prospect Baptist Church and his many accomplishments, much is included here about the ministry of John G. Landrum who served as pastor of New Prospect from 1832 to 1882. During the same time, he started First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, and the Bethlehem, Mount Zion and Wolf Creek, (now Landrum First Baptist) Baptist Churches.
The church had dwindled to seventeen members when J. G. Landrum became pastor in 1832 and in the fifty years he served as pastor it grew to a membership of 427, baptizing over fourteen hundred converts.
Land for the church cemetery was donated in 1850 as noted in the church minutes. The last survey of the cemetery was completed in 2020 and the listing is found in The Gold at New Prospect.
New Prospect Baptist Church was a leader in providing quality education for the community.
New Prospect Academy, a school for young men of high academic standards, was built near the New Prospect Baptist Church. It was in existence in 1825, but the exact date of its establishment is not known. Noted as one of the best in the upcountry, it was attended by some who went on to become the great leaders and pastors of the day.
When the War Between the States started, both students and teachers left to serve in the war and the New Prospect Academy closed and never reopened.
official records of the schools have not been located, it is known that New
Prospect Baptist Church provided school for all ages before public schools were
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