History (work in progress - last update 2000)

Norris, SC



As far as churches go in this region of the country, First Baptist Church of Norris, is comparatively new. It was in the spring of 1908 that discussion took place as to the need for a church and the type that it should be. It was decided to build a church for the Baptist faith. J. C. Garrett, I. D. Rice, and R. E. Bowen were given authority to draw a plan for the building and to select a site, as well as to solicit subscriptions for financing the project. The lot was deeded to this committee by the heirs-at-law of the P. Whitten estate. The church was built by D. P. Montgomery and the Rev. W. G. Mauldin.

The church was organized September 9, 1908 by a presbytery of Rev. W. C. Seaborn, pastor, Praters Creek Baptist Church, moderator; Rev. J. P. Crawford, pastor, First Baptist Church of Liberty; Rev. B. C. Adkinson, pastor, Six Mile Baptist Church; Rev. R. F. McClannahan, pastor, Enon Baptist Church; Deacon J. C. Garrett of Cateechee Baptist Church; Deacon J. M. Garrett; J. D. Littleton, of Salem Baptist Church; and Deacon A. B. Riggins of Praters Creek Baptist Church. Mr. E. C. McWhorter served as presbytery clerk and Mr. Riggins as reading clerk. The first sermon in the new church was preached in September 1908 by the Rev. J. P. Crawford. A revival was begun October 24, 1908 by the Rev. W. M. Walker. Until 1948 church was held one Sunday a month. From 1948 to 1952 church was held twice a month. In 1952 services began meeting every week.

Charter members were - Deacon and Mrs. J. C. Garrett from Cateechee Baptist Church; Miss Mary Jo Garrett from Cateechee Baptist Church; Deacon and Mrs. I. D. Rice, Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Littleton from Salem Baptist Church; Mr. and Mrs. J. H. Chapman, from Six Mile Baptist Church; E. C. McWhorter from Enon Baptist Church; Mrs. Lola McWhorter from Praters Creek Baptist Church; W. N. Maddox and Miss Mattie Maddox from First Baptist Church of Central; Mrs. W. N. Maddox from Flat Rock Baptist Church; Mrs. M. T. Phillips from Pendleton Baptist Church; and Mrs. E. W. Tate from the First Baptist Church of Easley.

During the first eight years, Norris Baptist Church was affiliated with the Pickens Association. Since 1916, it has been a member of the Piedmont Association.

Norris Baptist Church
and Grade School
(ca. 1948)

In 1914 when the community was about to lose a new public school building for the lack of a suitable site, the church offered to move the church building to a new site and give the church site for school purposes. This offer was accepted, the church was moved about 75-100 feet to the north and the school building was built on the original site of the church. As stated in the original deed, the church did however, reserve "hitching rights." The church and the school shared a set of outhouses located in the woods behind the buildings. When the school was discontinued in 1958, the property was deeded back to the church. The school was torn down in late 1960 or early 1961. You can still see signs of the old school around Norris since several people in the area obtained the old bricks to make walls and walkways around their homes.

A group of our youth with
Rev. Alfred Woolbright on the right
in front of the old
sanctuary.(ca. 1949)

Note the brick veneer that was not
in the picture above taken a year earlier.

Our first church had french doors with glass panes. One of the glass panes on the bottom of the door was accidentally broken by children playing ball. As was common in those days, neighbors living next to the church had chickens. The chickens invited themselves to church through the broken pane. One of the chickens must have felt guilty because they "laid" a peace offering of eggs on the pastor's chair. The pastor was ceremoniously presented the eggs prior to service that morning.

This same building was furnished with a blackboard for a registry, a pump organ, and a pot-bellied stove. The pot-belled stove became overheated one cold Sunday morning. Two young girls walking to church that morning saw that the roof was on fire. The burst into church exclaiming, "Mr. Church, the Borroughs is on fire." The girls calmed down and explained to Deacon C. C. Borroughs that the church was on fire. The fire was put out quickly with a bucket brigade that used water from pump and well at the nearby school house. No substantial damage occurred to the church.

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In April 1948, contracts were let to brick veneer the original building and to add a Sunday School wing. The building committee for this project included: C. C. Burroughs, Chairman, W. E. Dalton, and H. G. Gaines. Fund raising for the project included one man lending the church a field, several other members each buying a sack of fertilizer, and another member buying cotton seed. All the members worked the cotton patch. After harvesting, the cotton was sold to help finance the building. We were certainly proud of this building and thought that it would be adequate for many years to come. We were wrong and soon the building was too small.

Our Sanctuary today
built in 1963.

In 1958 a building fund was started to enlarge our facilities. A building committee composed of J. W. Smith, Chairman, J. W. Dorsey, Cecil Hendrix, and B. D. Johnston, Jr. was elected to select a plan that would meet our needs. On July 21, 1963, the ground was broken for our new church building on the location of the old grade school and construction started the next day. The first service in the new church was December 22, 1963 and the dedication was held February 9, 1964.

Rev. Wade H. Hale was our first full time pastor in 1952. It was then that we built our parsonage on Hill Street (now Winding Creek Road). Since then our church has steadily grown, and every year surpasses the last both in attendance and finances. Jim Wilson came to us in 1958 as our first Minister of Music. Before then the pastor or a member of the congregation lead the singing. We also added our organ in 1958. The year 1963 saw us get a new piano for the sanctuary.

At conference on December 1, 1963, it was voted to establish a library in our church. We were the 10,000th church to register a library with the Library Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. We were honored as such by having a plaque stating this fact, an autographed book, and other valuable library aids presented to our church commemorating this fact. Rev. & Mrs. Owen were given a trip to Nashville by the board to celebrate this having reached one of their goals. Mrs. Janie Swords was elected as our first librarian.

The name of the church was changed in 1967 from Norris Baptist Church to the Norris First Baptist Church.

In 1971 the Fellowship Hall was built. Up till this time, there was an old screened-in shelter that stood about where today's Fellowship Hall is today. From the time we moved into the new sanctuary till 1971, the old sanctuary was used as the Fellowship Hall. In the mid 1970's more classroom space was needed so the old sanctuary was partitioned off adding 4 large class rooms. Also, at this time 2 rest rooms were added, one for the nursery and one for the men. (The ladies restroom already existed down the hall.)

The church sold the parsonage on Hill Street (now Winding Creek Road) in 1974 and built a nice brick veneer parsonage on Tate Circle. The Rev. J. Alvin Crooks family was the first pastor to live there.

In 1973 the first Sound System was installed in the auditorium and dedicated in memory of Rev. J. P. Harmon, Jr.

Around 1979, a Senior Citizens fellowship group was started for church members over the age of sixty. The group was called the Jolly Sixties Group.

In 1982, a new church sign was constructed. In its construction was incorporated the bell from the original white frame church. This bell had been rung each Sunday morning till the late 1960's, calling all people of this community to worship.

In the early 1990's, ramps were added to the old sancturay, both inside and out, to allow better handicap access. In July 1992, the parking areas were asphalted and striped. No money was borrowed - praise the Lord. Concrete curbing was placed along the pavement edges to control stormwater runoff and improve aesthetics. Parking spaces were dedicated to visitor and handicap uses.

In October 1994, we purchased a house and additional land along Highway 93. The house was moved from the site in 1995 and the lot was graded and grass was sown.

The year 1995, was a year for significant changes to the interior of our church. The sanctuary was painted and carpeted. The pews were refinished and padding was added. A sound room was constructed and new mixing board was purchased to enhance the audio quality in the sanctuary. The new sound equipment was purchased to honor the memory of Sherry Howe Kelly and Elua Mae Howe. A new Schimmel piano was purchased for the sanctuary to honor the memory of Deacon Cecil Hendrix. The downstairs Sunday School rooms were painted and carpeted. The wall separating the two Library rooms was torn out to provide more space. A new program during morning worship was started in August. It was geared towards children between age 2 up to second grade. The program is now called Children's Church.

In 1996, the men and women's restrooms were upgraded to make our facilities more "user friendly." The women of the church were ecstatic about the renovations. No more old wooden doors - "pretending to be walls" and no more shower curtains "pretending to be stall doors." Besides having the modern conveniences of real stalls and doors the restroom was decorated with pink sponge paint and hand-painted ivy borders.
One of our nurses
giving a flu shot.
One child visiting our church after the renovations were complete, exclaimed, "It is truly a Cinderella-like Bathroom." A 15-passenger Ford XLT Van was purchased for church organizations to use. A computer was purchased to help keep records, publish newsletters and bulletins, and improve the efficiency of the church office. A Wellness Committee, composed of nurses from our church, with financial support from the Baptist Medical Center, Easley, was formed to encourage our church to become healthier.

The middle lot on Jameson Street was purchased by the church in March of 1997. Norris Fire department used the house for training before it was torn down.

In the ninetieth year of our church history, (1998) an ambitious Master Plan for the church was presented by Neal, Prince, and Partners Architect. Spawning from this Master Plan an equally enthusiastic fund raising project was begun. The Building and Steering Committee alnog with the Long Range Planning Committee are meeting to guide this master plan. Additionally, another lot on Jameson street was acquired. This lot along with the other one on Jamison St. will be the site of a family life center.

In 1999, a new lighted sign was added between the road and the bell sign.

In 2001, construction began to enlarge the fellowship hall.

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Pastors provide for the spiritual growth and leadership of a church. Our church has had its share of wonderful pastors. Pastors who have served the church are:

Rev. J. P. Crawford 1908-1909
Rev. W. M. Walker 1909-1910
Rev. D. W. Hiott 1910-1916, 1925-1927
Rev. J. L. Willis 1916-1918, 1920-1921
Rev. F. S. Childress 1918-1919, 1933-1940, 1941-1944
Rev. C. D. Boyd 1919-1920
Rev. F. T. Cox 1921-1923
Rev. J. W. Guy 1923-1925
Rev. J. A. Rodgers 1927-1929
Rev. H. E. Stephens 1929-1931
Rev. E. A. Edwards 1931-1932
Rev. Phil Jenkins 1932-1933
Rev. J. S. Graham 1940-1941
Rev. Coman Brown 1944-1947
Rev. T. A. Woolbright 1947-1949
Rev. H. F. Wright 1949-1950
Rev. Carl E. Ellison 1950-1951
Rev. Wade H. Hale 1952-1953
Rev. J. N. Kimbrell 1953-1955
Rev. Jimmy Crenshaw 1955-1957
Rev. Carl Patterson 1957-1961
Rev. Allen Owen 1961-1966
Rev. Gerald R. Lawton 1966-1968
Rev. W. E. Tisdale 1968-1969 (Interim)
Rev. J. P. Harmon, Jr. 1969-1972
Rev. Kenneth Ridding 1972-1973 (Interim)
Rev. J. Alvin Crooks 1973-1977
Rev. A. E. Osborne 1977-1978 (Interim)
Rev. Bill Humphries 1978-1980
Rev. Fred W. Pittman 1981-1986
Rev. John Tollison (Interim)
Rev. Timothy D. Elder 1987-1990
Rev. Royce E. Addis 1991- present.

Our church has ordained Alfred Woolbright, Charles Hopkins, and Brad Haynes as ministers to preach the gospel. In addition, several of our former members have been called into the ministry including Jimmy Dale Head who has served as a missionary in France.

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Deacons help to provide stability and maturity to a church. They help the pastor make leadership decisions concerning the church. The Deacons are to be humble servants forming the backbone of a church. Those who have served the church as deacons are: M. B. Garrett, T. M. Garrett, T. M. Garrett, Jr., Terp Harris, Hoke Galloway, W. N. Maddox, Ben Cook, H. G. Gaines, E. W. Gilstrap, H. C. Shirley, B. O. Owens, C. B. Owens, W. E. Dalton, W. R. Dalton, R. M.Baker, C. C. Burroughs, J. W. Smith, Cecil Hendrix, Lloyd Cater, B. D. Johnston, Jr., W. E. Wooten, R. C. Boggs, H. M. Maddox, John M. Cook, Sr., Lee Chastain, H. C. Sherriff, Jack Coffey, David Patterson, Don Haynes, Frank Galloway, John Landers, Wayne Swords, Stan Yates, Bobby Albertson, Colie Harrison, Jerry "Bud" Crawford, Charles Hopkins, Guy Hood, George Whelchel, Roger Brooks, Roger Smith, Ken Simpson, David Yates, Mack Kelly, Shaun Thomas, Mark Holder, Brian Boggs, Brett Bolin and William Melton.

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First Baptist Church of Norris, has always been known as a church that loved music. We have been blessed with wonderfully
Children's Choir

gifted leaders to direct and lead our congregation and choirs. During the early years, the pastor would usually lead the congregation in singing unless one of the church members felt lead to get up and lead.

The music program has grown and expanded to the point were we have had 4 or 5 choirs at a time including the Children, Youth, Adult and the Golden Nuggets. On special occasions, we have had an all men's or an all women's choir. Several quartets have formed and blessed us with their singing along with many soloists and instrumentalists.

Music Ministers that have served our church include: Jim Wilson, Elton Luffy, J.P. Harmon, Jerry "Bud" Crawford, Jerry King, Charles Martin, Dennis Williams, Keith Dover, Karen Fletcher, Fred Riggins, Tony Bowen, Phillip Jewel, Edgar Alexander (Interim), Linda Simpson (Interim), Don Haynes (Interim), and R. C. Boggs (Interim).

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The youth are the future leaders of our church. During the late 1980's it was decided that we needed someone to help lead our Youth - someone that enjoyed working with and participating in Youth activities. It was decided that we need to establish a position on the church staff - a Youth Minister. Youth Ministers that have served our church include: Karen Fletcher, Keith Dover, Tina (Cook) Kelly, Kevin Porter, David Henderson, and Tony Bowen.

In 1998, when Tony Bowen joined the staff, the position of youth minister was combined with the minister of music to form a full time position of "Minister of Music and Students / Associate Pastor".

We solicit the prayers of our friends and our fellow Christians that we may do God's will in everything that we undertake. We are fully aware that we are a light in a sin darkened community and must continue to shine that the lost might hear the greatest story ever told.

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(Update of Norris First Baptist Church history edited by Melinda Lesley, Church Historian and Church Librarian and Mack Kelly, Church Clerk, October 25, 1998 - with contributions from various individuals and sources.)(Updated January 22, 2000 by John M. Cook, Jr. for the web site.)(Last update May 11, 2000)

Reference document and sources from Lib Howe, Jeri Cook, Janie Swords, and Stan Yates.

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