Our Story

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Springfield Baptist Church was organized by former slaves in 1867. A state marker was placed outside the Church on July 14, 2013, acknowledging Springfield as the oldest historically black Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. Throughout its 150-year history, Springfield has experienced both triumph and temporary setbacks—including a major fire in 1972, which completely destroyed the Church building. Nonetheless, with the hand of God pointing the way, Springfield has continuously moved forward. Following is a brief accounting of our rich spiritual heritage.

On April 21, 1867, in a Greenville Baptist Church meeting, the Church moderator announced that the colored members of Greenville Baptist wanted to organize a new Church. Following is a copy of the letter submitted on their behalf.

“We the undersigned members of the Greenville Baptist Church, believing that we can be more widely useful, if organized into a separate and independent Church, request that letters of dismission be granted us for this purpose. In making this request, we desire to keep our continued confidence in those with whom we have so long united in Church fellowship and in our affection for them. And we request that we may continue to receive from them counsel and aid, such as they have hitherto readily given us.

“Resolved that we further request that we be permitted, until we can procure a house of our own, to use for worship the basement of this Church building on Friday night of every week, and on such Sunday afternoons as will not conflict with your own services.”

The letter was signed by sixty-five (65) persons. In response, Greenville Baptist passed a resolution assuring the colored people of the pleasure with which their promises of continued Christian affection and confidence had been received and offering the continuance of counsel, sympathy, and assistance, together with prayer that God would guide them in their undertaking. A second resolution granted them use of the basement and requested that they continue to occupy seats in the gallery until they secured their building.

The few Negroes who, at that time, continued affiliation with Greenville Baptist soon afterward also asked for letters of dismissal, which were also granted. The two Churches, Greenville Baptist (now being First Baptist Greenville) and Springfield have continued their friendship and association throughout the years. During the years 1975 through 2012 a joint worship service was planned and held annually—with each Church serving as the host Church every other year.

The Springfield Pastors

God has given Springfield the following 15 pastors and 1 interim pastor to lead and care for the Church. Each new pastor has bonded a greater Church legacy to the chronicle of the pastors there before him. With God directing the ministry (teaching, leadership, vision, character, and resolve) of each pastor’s pursuit of his calling, Springfield has stood strong and triumphant for 150 years.

1st PASTOR: Rev. Gabriel Poole (1867 – 1872)
2nd PASTOR: Rev. Fred Brown (1872)
3RD PASTOR: Rev. Richard Carroll (1873 – 1877)
4th PASTOR: Rev. E. M. Brawley (1878 – 1891)
5TH PASTOR: Rev. Harrison Watkins (1892 – 1899)
6TH PASTOR: Rev. J. C. Tobin (1900 – 1906)
7TH PASTOR: Rev. P. F. Malloy (1907 – 1909)
8TH PASTOR: Rev. R. B. Watts (1909 – 1911)
9TH PASTOR: Rev. Dr. George Goodwin (1911 – 1913)
10TH PASTOR: Rev. J. A. Carey (1913 – 1914)
11TH PASTOR: Rev. C. F. Gandy (1914 – 1956)
12th PASTOR: Rev. J. S. Hall, Sr. (1957 – 1963)
13th PASTOR: Rev. David C. Francis (1963 — 1973
Interim PASTOR: Rev. Daniel C. Butler (1973 –1974)
14th PASTOR: Rev. Dr. John H. Corbitt (1974 – 2011)
15th PASTOR: Rev. Kippie C. Brown (2012 – Present)
 

The Church’s Worship, Work and Outreach

From the beginning, Springfield members have always wanted to be helpful or “useful” to others. This was first expressed in the organizers’ 1867 letter to the Greenville Baptist Church which stated in part that they “believed they could be more widely useful, if organized into a separate and independent Church.”

Setting out to meet this objective the members understood that preparation was a fundamental step necessary to accomplishing this task. The people were willing to work and learn. With faith in God, they placed much trust, confidence, and expectation in the hands of the pastors who led them in this work. As the pastors preached and taught God’s Word, the members heard, absorbed, and acted according to that Word. Along with the aspiration to be useful, they recognized that their first mission was to spread the Gospel. As this was done, Springfield membership grew significantly as others heard the Good News and were converted. According to stories passed down from generation to generation Christian love, fellowship and unity within Springfield was highly regarded and protected.

Many auxiliaries and ministries have been established to continue to get God’s Word out to the community and to minister to those in the Church. Additionally, Springfield has been at the forefront of local human rights endeavors. Examples of such activities are denouncing segregation at the Greenville airport following the 1959 mistreatment of baseball player Jackie Robinson, fostering development of the subsequent New Year’s Day (1/1/60) March to the Airport, and the 1960 sit-ins to advocate integration of the Greenville Public Library System and area lunch counters.

Some of the other outreach ministries include: a Children’s Nursery, Day Care, Kindergarten, Child Care, and Child Development Ministry; Vacation Bible School; a Radio Ministry; a short-lived TV Ministry which, at its inception was the first of its kind in the area); Missionary Ministry; Brotherhood Ministry; Scholarship Ministry; Deaf Ministry; Bus Ministry; Recreation Ministry; Angel Tree Ministry; Humane and Social Concern Ministry; and an After School Tutorial Ministry.

The work of the Church continues under the leadership of our current pastor, Reverend Kippie C. Brown. A strong advocate for community outreach, he is also leading the Church in a more active evangelism program.

The Worship Sites

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From the outset, God has always provided Springfield a building in which to worship. In essence, Springfield has had five (5) worship sites:

The basement of Greenville Baptist Church on West McBee Avenue.

The first Springfield Baptist Church building with its subsequent renovations, remodeling and restructuring built on the East McBee Avenue lot given to Springfield by descendant(s) of the Vardy McBee family.
Gower Hall, where worship services were held during one renovation of the old Church.
Hayne Elementary School on Toy Street was used by Springfield for administrative needs, teaching, training and child care services.
Beck Middle School, where worship was held after the Church was destroyed by fire.
Current Springfield Baptist Church on the corner of McBee and McDaniel Avenues.

A baptismal pool was placed in the old Church during Rev. Richard Carroll’s pastorate (1873 – 1877). Prior to this, baptisms were held in the Reedy River. A new parsonage was built in 1950, and a lot across the street from the Church was purchased. Ground breaking ceremonies for a long-sought educational building were held on Sunday, August 10, 1958. Included in it were twenty-four Sunday School classrooms, several conference rooms, a choir room, a library, an assembly room, a Church office, and a pastor’s study.

Springfield was a source of pride to its members and a beacon of hope to the community at large.

It was devastating when, on Tuesday night, January 25, 1972, the Springfield Baptist Church building, the Education Building, the parsonage and everything the Church had at that location were destroyed by fire. This was one of the darkest times in the life of Springfield.
 
Encouraging themselves in the promises of God, plans and work for the rebuilding of a new Springfield Baptist Church building began shortly after the fire. While waiting for the new building, Springfield Church worship services were held at the Beck Middle School on McAlister Road. The Church office, Church meetings, kindergarten, and nursery ministries were housed in the old Hayne Building on Toy Street.

On Sunday, August 18, 1974, groundbreaking ceremonies for the new building were held. And on October 17, 1976—after 26 months of waiting and watching as the new Springfield was being built—a day of jubilation was realized as the congregation worshipped in the new sanctuary of their new Church. Surely, God watches over His children.

The Future

Situated on the corner of McBee and McDaniel Avenues, the 150-year Springfield Baptist Church symbolizes the faith and hope of its current membership. It harbors the legacy of Christian perseverance of our forefathers, and the hope of future generations as a leader and innovator for the cause of Christ.
God has guided the destiny of our great Church. We are thankful to Him for all the wonders He has wrought. In retrospect, we are humbled by the trials, endurance, and fortitude of former Springfield members; and we are grateful for their many successes. We embrace the present with a sense of indebtedness to them and to all who walked with them. We are ever mindful that the same God who protected and guided them now watches over us. We look to the future with hope, praying for continued strength and guidance as we go – “Onward, Ever Onward.” Our prayer has been well expressed by James Weldon Johnson:
 
“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by thy might Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray…”