About Welfare Baptist ChurchWelfare Baptist Church had its beginnings in 1867, only five years after President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. Like many historically African American congregations, its organization came out of a predominantly white congregation, Neals Creek Baptist Church. By the help of our Lord and Savior, the freeing of who had worshipped under the figs tree of their masters had finally become a reality.
On September 5, 1867 thirty-three community leaders, including Catae Rice, Eli Greenlee, Samuel Geer, Ceasar Hammons, Milton Thompson, William Scott, Richmond Ellis, and Carolina Rice united themselves together to form a workable organization. During this meeting, the group invited Reverend F. S. Morris, Reverend H. R. Vandiver, and Reverend J. C. Horton to officiate. After carefully examining the cause for a new congregation with doctrinal principles as an independent Baptist church.
During the following months the first pastor, Reverend Phillip Morris of Anderson, South Carolina, was elected. At the same meeting the first deacons were also elected: Catae Rice, Eli Greenlee, and Milton Thompson.
On October 7, 1871, the church contacted Enoch Vandiver for the purchase of two acres of land, located between Belton and Anderson at a cost of $10.00. The amount of purchase was paid by a loyal member, William Scott.
Reverend Morris exhibited great leadership. Through his dedication and faithfulness of the members, the first building, a log cabin edifice, was built. Reverend Morris resigned in 1970 leaving a congregation exceeding 125 members.
Six pastors served from 1870 until 1890. Each pastor did his very best to teach, preach and lead the congregation to new challenges. In 190, Reverend J. A. Pinson was elected the seventh pastor of Welfare. Under his tenure, a community leader, James N. Anderson, deeded three acres of land to the church. Like many other African American churches, a school house was built. Professor Redman was hired as the principal and teacher.
After setting up an effective program, Professor Redman resigned. The second teacher was Lena Watkins, the daughter of Dr. Harrison Watkins. Upon Mrs. Watkins decision to leave, Professor Redman returned as principal/teacher. Upon his resignation, Clara McCullough was elected principal to fill the position. Upon completion of her education, Ms. McCullough, now Clara M. Boseman, returned as teacher. Mrs. Boseman was an active member in the Welfare family.
In the early 1930s, a two-room school house was built. Mrs. Boseman served as principal/teacher and Emma Thompson was hired as a second teacher. These two ladies taught until the school was closed in the 1950s.
In 1901, Doctor Harrison Watkins returned to Welfare as its eleventh pastor. This was the beginning of a new era in the life of the church. Under his leadership a new building was built at a cost of approximately $3,700.00. He urged the membership to become involved in local, state, and national Baptist bodies.
During the Watkins years the membership struggled but the church progressed. Different tasks were assigned. The Deacons were responsible for the preparation of wine for the Lord's Supper. Mariah Whitner baked the shew bread. Doctor Watkin's wife, Corrie Watkins, became the first organist. Mrs. Watkins organized the Senior Missionary Society, Sunbeams, Girl's Auxiliary (GA's) and the Royal Ambassadors (RA's).
Nancy Kaye was named Mother of the Church. Matlida Agnew, a mid-wide, was named the second Mother of the Church. Mrs. Agnew delivered many of the babies born in the church community. She often cared for the babies for their mothers. Maggie Brown was named the third Mother of the Church. During her lifetime, she pieced and quilted quilts, canned fruits and vegetables to aid young married couples.
During the late twenties, Doctor Watkin's eyesight began to fail. Soon he became blind. Doctor Watkins died in 1932.
Deacons ordained by Doctor Watkins were: Silas Jones, Michael Rice, Henry Dean, Andy Whitner, Henry Ellis, Perry Nance, Henry Peterson, Floyd Brown, Frank Brown, Washington Reid, Franklin Kay, and M. T. Boseman.
In 1934, Reverend Homer Brown of Williamston, South Carolina was elected as pastor. Reverend Brown served for two years. He died in 1936.
In 1936, Revered L. E. Daniel of Belton, South Carolina succeeded Revered Brown. After accepting a position on the staff of Morris College, Reverend Daniel resigned in 1944. During his tenure as pastor he ordained the following deacons: Joe Kay, James F. Dean, Walter L. Scott, Mack Smith, Fred Dean, Richmond Rice and Joe S. Brown.
In January 1945, Doctor H. W. D. Stewart of Greenville, South Carolina was elected the fourteenth pastor. Under his administration, the membership built its first brick building. The cost cannot be determined due to much donated labor. Doctor Stewart was the overseer of the building program. Elbert Patterson was named as foreman. The membership raised and saved to buy materials; the building process went on. Other workers were church members and a few paid persons. Due to many problems, Mr. Patterson quit. The membership was fortunate that Deacon W. L. Scott, Durant Agnew, and Willie Blassingame picked up the helm. With the help of other workers, such as J. S. Dean, Raymond Dean, Earl Williams, and Edgar Mattison, the building was completed in 1946.
The new building was tri-level, well lighted, and centrally heated. It was equipped with indoor facilities, a modern kitchen and many Sunday School rooms. The sanctuary was carpeted and a new piano and organ were purchased.
Doctor Stewart resigned in 1962. Deacons served under Dr. Stewart were: William T. Agnew, W. L. Scott, Joe C. Kay, Cecil Mattison, Ralph Rice, James Boseman, Sylvester Clinkscales, Elliott Boseman, James Dean, Joe Brown and R. M. Boseman.
In 1963, Doctor Moses Patterson Robertson of Pendleton, South Carolina was elected as the fifteenth pastor. Born in Fairfield County, South Carolina, Doctor Robertson successfully pastored several churches before coming to Welfare. Under his leadership the church was renovated with a number of interior and exterior changes.
In addition to the renovation, the yards were landscaped, concrete walkways were laid, parking areas were paved, a bulletin board was erected on the front lawn, a second well was bored and three acres of land at costs of $3,000.00 were purchased. The church also purchased two Bluebird buses.
The church witnessed the revitalizing of its program. The following groups were organized: Finance Committee, Trustee Board, Pulpit Aid Auxiliary, Boy Scouts, Young Men's Progressive Club, Children's Choir, Young People's Choir, Men's Chorus and the Inspirational Choir.
On October 19, 1980, the fourth church edifice was dedicated. This new modern brick structure was built at a cost of $385,000.00.
On October 2, 1984, Doctor Robertson retired as pastor. Deacons ordained under Doctor Robertson were: W. A. Bolden, Roger Boseman, A. C. Ellis, Clyde Evans, Mack Nance, William Hunter and Charles Smith. Transferred to Welfare were Deacons Donnie Gambrell, Sr. (New Hopewell), and Jone Blanding (Evergreen).
On Tuesday, June 25, 1985, a call meeting by the Board of Deacons, Reverend Samuel Bernard Neely, Sr. was elected the sixteenth pastor. Reverend Neely, a native of Fountain Inn, South Carolina was, at the time of his election living In Mauldin, South Carolina and was pastoring the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Laurens, South Carolina.
Rev. Neely's accomplishments have been many. Under his leadership the remaining mortgage of $86,000.00 was liquidated. The mortgage burning service was held on third Sunday in November 1988. During the annual conference in October 1986, Reverend Neely was asked to leave his public job with the South Carolina Regional Housing Authority and become fulltime pastor of Welfare. On January 1, 1987, he became the first fulltime pastor of the church.
In August of 1987, the existing sanctuary was renovated. The floor was recarpeted, pews were padded, new pulpit furniture was purchased, pulpit and choir area were redesigned, all at a total of $57,000.00. The church purchased 300 folding chairs at $5,000.00.
In February 1990, Reverend Neely hired the first fulltime secretary, Sallie Sargent from Laurens, South Carolina. In 1991, an office computer costing $6,000.00 was purchased.
In August 1990, 40 acres of land were purchased at a total of $115,000.00. This addition gave the church a total of 56 acres. In October 1989, a down payment of $5,000.00 was made on two 1990 Chevrolet 15 passenger vans. Ninety days later, the Lord blessed the church with the delivery of the vans. Upon their arrival, the remaining amount of $34,000.00 was paid.
Other than physical improvements, the church grew in its attendance and spiritually. The youth department held its first youth camp during the summer of 1986. The youth held its first retreat on Hilton Head Island in July 1990. The youth department was reorganized in 1990 to have its monthly youth services in the old sanctuary. The Young Men's Brotherhood was revitalized in 1986. In 1992, a special anti-drug support program was organized, Life Support Services.
A community walking track was designed along with a 40x80 picnic shed. A Family Ministry Complex was designed which includes a gymnasium, kitchen, fellowship hall and a child development center.
The following deacons were ordained under Doctor Neely's administration: Maxie O. Agnew, Sr., J. T. Boseman, Elijah Clemons, Frank Evans, Onice Gray, Jr., Calvin Henry, Sr., Avery James, Jr., Raymond James, Rodney Jones, Willie Lee, Jr., Thomas Ligon, Moffett Martin, Gannie L. McDavid, Sherwin M. Rice, Charles Scott, Undrea Walker, James Ware, and Mahlon Willis. Doctor Neely retired as Pastor of Welfare Baptist Church, February 2015.
In the fall of 2016, Reverend Ankoma Anderson, Sr., of Greenwood, South Carolina, became the seventeenth pastor. His focus is: Welfare, a Church Serving Four Generations. During one of our first conferences, he presented a plan to target Evangelism, Education and Economic Empowerment for the church as well as the community. We are currently planning a community effort to celebrate the 150th Church Anniversary. It will include the first gospel, light show, concert sponsored by our church in the S. B. Neely Auditorium.
It is evident that unrelenting efforts of the pastors and members were on one accord in establishing a church which meets the needs of its people. Certainly, if God had not been in the hearts and the plans of these people the fruit of WELFARE BAPTIST CHURCH would have never been met with success …and the gates of hell shall not prevail.