NEWBERRY — Enoree Baptist Church, Newberry, is the 12th oldest church in Newberry County and will celebrate 250 years during a Homecoming service on August 26 at 11 a.m. with Dr. Gary Hollingsworth, executive director-treasurer of South Carolina Baptist Convention.
According to the Enoree Baptist Church history book, Enoree was one of three of the earliest Baptist churches in Newberry County, those three are Enoree, Bush River and Duncan’s Creek, which is known as First Baptist Church of Whitmire, Enoree was first organized in 1768 and was a branch of Fairforest Baptist Church on Broad River, according to Leah Townsend’s History of South Carolina Baptists.
The church first started from Thomas Bauskett Wadlington who settled in 1767, he started the church the following year.
Enoree was first known as Bauskett’s Church, the first church building was originally erected at Littleton’s Ferry on Enoree River on Major Jesse Maybin’s Plantation in Maybinton and is believed to have been a log hut, it later moved to its current location near Keitt’s Crossroads in Newberry County.
It was also believed members worshipped in a tent from 1768 until 1771 when the first house of worship was built.
“We were on somebody’s plantation back there and then we moved to Keitt’s Crossroads when the Keitt’s got involved. Then we got a log hut, they called it,” said Polly Doolittle, church clerk.
In 1822 a new church building was built, located south of the present building and in 1859 another church building was built, the name was then changed from Bauskett’s Baptist Church to Enoree Baptist Church. This church had a slave gallery which was closed off in 1949 and is still intact in the fellowship hall of the church today.
The cemetery of the first church building on the land adjoining the present property is known as the Wadlington Cemetery, where some of the Keitt family, who owned the property and played a part in getting the church, and Wadlington’s are buried.
In 1968, the church remodeled the dam, the same time that the baptismal was moved behind the pulpit.
“In 1925 they were baptizing across the highway, my mom and her twin brother were baptized in a creek across the road and then in 1933 a brother and sister of hers were baptized there, too. In 1940, her youngest sister and brother, Senator Ronnie Cromer’s father was her brother, they were baptized at Molly’s Rock National Park in the fish pond,” Doolittle said.
On May 22, 1977 the new church building was dedicated with a sanctuary with a balcony, a two story educational building and reworking the old social hall for a nursery. According to the history book, money for the new building and reworking of the social hall was given by the Reese family in memory of Eber W. Reese, Argyle R. Reese and Roland E. Reese. The bank was in charge of approving all estimates and bills for the new building and when it was completed, they gave the balance of the estate approximately $20,000-30,000 to the church, the church voted to rework the old sanctuary to a social hall as the original social hall had been reworked to be a nursery. A new organ was also purchased in 1977 with money from the Reese estate, the original organ was sold to Molly Doolittle.
“Since we built that new church in 1977, we have not had a ‘no’ vote on anything in the church. We have church conference once a month, but it’s been our philosophy that if we spend $20 the church is informed, members are informed, there is nothing under the table and we have not had a ‘no’ vote, it has always been unanimous because we involve everybody in the church in the decision making and that means a lot to me,” said member Ted Waites.
Enoree Baptist Church Reverend George Leagans added if there is a need in their church, there is a gift.
“Somebody has the gift, she (Doolittle) has been tremendous with the history, Ted is a builder and he’s kept the building up, we’ve got good musicians, our Vacation Bible School, I could go down the list, if you have a need somebody is there. It has to be the history of the church or we wouldn’t be here for 250 years,” he said. “I look back and wonder what it was like worshiping under that tent, wonder what it was like 200 years ago, they said it’s the good ole’ days, maybe, maybe not, I don’t know.”
Enoree Baptist Church statistics
• In 1915 there were 44 church members, in August 2018, Enoree had 90 members on record.
• The first known budget was set up in 1961 in the amount of $3,325, in 1968 the budget was set at $8,245.
• Sunday School was organized in 1877 with W.W. Johns as superintendent, there is no record of the Sunday School until 1926 at which time George E. Cromer became Sunday School Superintendent serving until 1946. In 1946 S.E. Tyson was elected Sunday School Superintendent serving until 1966.
• The only record of the first Vacation Bible School was in 1952 with Rev. E.H. Thomas as principal, the church saw a steady increase in enrollment with the largest being in 1968. At the close of Bible School, the enrollment was 72 with six professions of faith.
• The Women’s Missionary Union, originally the Women’s Missionary Society, was believed to be organized in the 1900s, but the earliest record was in 1942 when Horace (Mary) Cromer was president, in 1968 the enrollment for WMU was 10 members, today there are about 15 members.
Reach Kelly Duncan at 803-768-3123 ext. 1868 or on Twitter @TheNBOnews.