During the two hundred plus years of existence, Philadelphia Baptist Church has served as a beacon to the faithful, a bulwark of stability for the community, and a signpost for the steady traveler as one comes to the fork in the road. Upon this rock of salvation, a number of key individuals have stepped forward to serve as ministers to the congregation of Philadelphia Baptist Church.
The first minister for the members of Philadelphia Baptist Church was Reverend Augustine Clayton. On July 30, 1803, he opened church service with an eye-opening, ear-catching sermon drawn from Matthew 16:18, "Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." From that early Sunday meeting day, the church elected its first Deacon - Elijah Smith. But, as time and distance became the norm, the church had to set aside two Sundays and even a Saturday in the month for church meeting days. Churches in the Piedmont had to depend upon circuit-riding pastors to bring God's message to the sparely settled areas of upper South Carolina. In fact, it was almost December before the good Reverend Clayton could make his rounds to Philadelphia again.
Between 1809 and 1820, there were a number of circuit ministers who performed services at Philadelphia Baptist Church. In 1815, one of these circuit-riding ministers just happened to be a slave, called Brother Titus. It seems that Brother Titus had an ability to preach God's word and scriptures in a far superior manner than his white counterparts of the cloth. His services were greatly admired by a good number of churches in the upstate. Since Brother Titus had a gift of God's teachings, the members of Philadelphia Baptist Church attempted to buy his freedom, but failed.
By the late 1850's, the issue of slavery had created ominous storm clouds on the horizons for the country. It was during this ear, that Reverend M.C. Barnett found himself preaching to an ever decreasing congregation. Most of the men folk and young boys, had answered the call to arms to defend the South from the aggression of the North. True to southern families and faith, the women folks of the area tended to the needs of the fields, farms, and livestock, what few were left. They too kept the faith and attended when they could to hear God's word and messages from Reverend M.C. Barnett. It was during these war years that over thirteen men and boys lost their lives during the War Between the States.
By the late 1880's, South Carolina was attempting to overcome the ravages of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Many families in the Pauline area continued to make a go of farming. Over time, textile mills started springing up throughout the Piedmont. With this influx of business and a new hope for a brighter future, the members of Philadelphia voted on building a new church at a cost of $2,600.00. This undertaking was led by Reverend W.P. Smith, the deacons and a building committee, and supported by the congregation. Within a few years, their faith in the Lord and in themselves was fulfilled with a new church building, dedicated on July 29, 1888. Within two years the members were blessed when they paid off their debt on the construction of the church.
Another minister who stepped forward to lead the congregation during the dark years of war was Reverend Boyce Coates. There are but a few members left today who can remember what they were doing on December 7th, 1941. Our nation was a war after the dastardly sneak attack upon the U.S. Pacific Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Once again, young men from the Pauline area answered their country's call to arms and joined or were drafted into the armed forces. Reverend Coates realized that as a God fearing nation, Americans still needed to hear the truth of God's words and messages from the scriptures. Families in the Pauline area turned to the church during these dark days and Philadelphia Baptist was there to help in presenting a beacon of hope and light against the oppressive forces of Nazism, Fascism, and the tyrannical beliefs of Japanese militarism. Eventually, the young men of Pauline, Spartanburg County, the state of South Carolina and the other forty-seven states helped in bringing peace and freedom to the world stage, as the war was brought to a close with an ominous cloud in August of 1945.
In 1948-49, the church was led by Reverend D.O. Davis. During this short period of time, the church voted to turn the building. This allowed the front of the church to face the fork in the road where highways 56 and 215 converged. The church decided to add a few more rooms for Sunday School. Also, this change would not interfere with members parking their Chevy's, Ford's, or Dodge's under the many oak trees lining the parking areas on the 56 and 215 sides.
Between 1956 and 1986, the church was led by two outstanding ministers who supported the idea of a new educational building being constructed. These fine Christian leaders were Reverend R. Dewitt Clyde and Reverend J.C. Highsmith. This new structure provided new educational rooms along one hallway, as well as upstairs. Also, the building added a large recreational-dining area for special occasions, especially for Homecomings. It was during this time that the church celebrated its 175th anniversary on July 30, 1978. In morning service, Reverend Highsmith brought the sermon message based on the same passage as used by Reverend Clayton - Matthew 16:18.
From 1987 to 1995, Reverend Edgar Boles became the 33rd pastor for Philadelphia Baptist Church. Reverend Boles brought God's word and scripture messages in a variety of ways. Some of these ways were through the regular Sunday morning sermon or through role-playing, as Edgar would dress the part of someone from the Bible. Reverend Boles was assisted by his wife, Miriam, and two sons Jonathan and Paul.
In July of 1989, Edgar led a Youth Mission group to Dauphin Island, Alabama for a six day mission trip. It included conducting a three-day Bible study for a summer day care recreational center. In the fall of 1989, hurricane Hugo hit the shores of South Carolina. With this calamity, hitting close to home, Edgar organized a group of men from the church to undertake a different type of mission. This mission to Myrtle Beach included using a large truck loaded with needed items for fellow Carolinians, who had lost nearly everything. The church congregation rallied to the cause and helped in bringing the needed water, food, and needed supplies for fellow Christians.
During the early 1990's, Reverend Boles laid the foundation for members to step out on faith to undertake the idea of building a new sanctuary. On August 11, 1991, the Building and Finance Committee, made their final presentation for the new sanctuary and the church voted to go forward with this idea. On November 21, 1993, the new sanctuary was dedicated. In 1995, Reverend Boles was called to another ministry. Reverend Gideon Long became the interim minister and served Philadelphia Baptist Church from 1995 to 1997, and again in 2006 to 2008. Gideon was assisted by his wife, Lois.
In the summer of 1997, Reverend Roland Dry was introduced to the congregation of Philadelphia Baptist Church. The church accepted Roland and his wife, Alison, along with their two children, Josh and Lauren into the membership of Philadelphia Baptist Church. Reverend Dry served Philadelphia Baptist Church from 1997 to 2006 and during this time several staff positions were added to Philadelphia Baptist Church. Tina Vaughn was hired as Minister of Education and Scott Mason became Minister of Music.
On Saturday, July 26th and Sunday, July 27th, 2003, Philadelphia Baptist Church celebrated the 200th anniversary. The Family Life Center came to the forefront on February 15th, 2004, when Chairman of the Building and Planning Committee, Donald Bolton made the motion to proceed with the FLC to accept the bid by Solesbee Construction and Brown Grading. The motion carried as the Church made another commitment to step out on faith. The FLC, which is located on Highway 215 side, was completed on June 5, 2005.
On June 8, 2008, Reverend Josh Jennings was called as our next Senior Pastor. He and his wife, Shannon, along with their three children, Caleb, Eli, and Anna Grace were accepted as members of Philadelphia Baptist Church.
During his tenure, Pastor Josh stayed true to the scriptures and the vision God gave him to share with PBC. Moreover, he encouraged members to get involved in God's Church at PBC and to become active in reaching the surrounding community as well as the world with The Gospel Message, even leading PBC to missions in Costa Rica. In 2012, Pastor Josh and his family answered the call to become church planters in
In October of 2008, the deacons made two presentations, one to a pastor and one to a deacon. On the Saturday of October 11, 2008, Reverend Gideon Long was presented by Jerry Smith, Chairman of the Board of Deacons, with an Honorarium and a resolution making Gideon 'Pastor Emeritus' at Philadelphia Baptist Church. On Sunday, October 12, 2008, prior to the morning worship service, Jerry Smith, Chairman of the Board of Deacons, presented Mr. Frank P. Hayes with a resolution for 'Deacon Emeritus' as the oldest deacon in Philadelphia Baptist Church, as it was close to his 90th birthday.
In the spring of 2010, the church voted to accept Reverend Charles Eaton as an Associate Minister of Administration and Education. Reverend Charles Eaton and his wife Connie, are faithful residents of Pauline. Pastor Charles has shown his leadership within the church and throughout the community of Pauline and continues to be an exceptional and faithful servant to His Lord and to His Church at Philadelphia Baptist Church.
In 2013, Reverend Michael Cooke was called to serve as interim Pastor. During his tenure, his gifts as an evangelist cultivated the church family to become spiritually prepared for the next shepherd. He and his wife and children loved us all when we needed it the most and our church family will forever be grateful for his faithful service!
On July 27th 2014, Dr. Gregory A. Butler, "Pastor Greg", after a fruitful twelve year tenure on Johns Island South Carolina, accepted the call to serve as Senior Pastor. In 2018, "PG" accepted the call to serve at another church closer to family.
In May 2019, the church voted to accept Pastor Kiah Graves as senior pastor. He brings his wife Tori, and four boys: Jensen, Liam, Tatum, and Theo.
As Philadelphia moves forward in the years to come, we know that we we will continue to "smile at our past", "sing for today", and "shout for tomorrow"! Although our mission has never changed, our vision has, as we now realize that Philadelphia Baptist Church belongs to no man, only God Himself. As such, faith, hope, love, and unity will be our goal, God's Word will be our guide, and His Mercy and Amazing Grace will be our heart, as we will strive always to be known as the Church of brotherly love to the entire region!
After over two hundred years, Philadelphia Baptist Church continues to serve as a beacon, in the forks in the road for the traveler and residents in the community of Pauline, South Carolina, so that all will hear...
Ben Lineberry - Historian