TRUE VINE MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH HISTORY
The rich history of True Vine Missionary Baptist Church is deeply rooted in the original document which was signed on August 6, 1894. Horry County, Grahamsville, South Carolina
August 6, 1894
Preamble and Constitution
“We, the ministers from the various Baptist churches of the Kingston Lake Association met together on the 6th of August at Grahamsville. Elder R.B. Hunter from Triumph. Elder William Graham from Oak Grove and Elder R.J. Davis from Cherry Hill. The Rev. Hunter called the house to order. The meeting was opened by signing hymn #58. Prayer was offered by Elder William Graham. On a motion, the Elder Hunter was elected as clerk. The moderator stated the object of the meeting was to constitute a church known by the name of True Vine. On a motion that the door of the council was opened to ministers of the same faith and order, to take a seat with us and to participate with us. Elder John M. Croslin came forward and was welcomed to a seat with us and to participate with us and motioned the candidates be examined by Elder John M. Croslin, Elder R.J. Davis and Frank Vereen. The candidates were in good standing and adopted. On motion that the candidates were joined together by joining right hands together.
Bro. Will Hill Bro. Ben Wilson Bro. Beney Graham
Bro. Samuel Graham Bro. Antey Graham
On motion the covenant was read and the right hand of fellowship was extended by the council. Afterwhich the moderator declared the church was properly organized. On a motion that the church be known as True Vine Missionary Baptist Church. Elder Graham clearly states in this document that our church was properly organized on August 6, 1894”. (This is directly quoted from the original document).
This document along with other church materials was found by the late Timothy Dewitt whose father, Bro. Matthew Dewitt was the clerk of our church for many years.
The following is a beautiful account of history which was given to Dea. Major H. Booth, Sr. by Rev. Frank Gore. Rev. Gore stated that he copied this account from his father’s (Rev. J.S. Gore) minutes.
“It was in the early spring of 1905 when Rev. Patrick Dewitt rode across the Waccamaw River in his paddling boat and each Sunday afternoon organized a Bible Study with young people. After a period of time, the adults aroused by the great success so much that Rev. Patrick Dewitt put on a three night meeting that was extended to five nights and at the close of the meeting seven people were baptized.”
Rev. Patrick Dewitt served as pastor for a number of years. When he became Missionary of the Kingston Lake Association, Rev. Solomon Chestnut was elected as pastor. In 1911, Rev. A.T. Graham became pastor.
The next written account of our church was found in the minutes of December 7, 1913. The minutes were as follow:
“A meeting of the building committee of True Vine met to build a church. The male is to pay one-dollar and the female is to pay what they can.”
The following names were listed in the minutes in 1913: F.V. Vereen, S.F. Dewitt, D.O. Dewitt, Joe Pierce, Richard Faulk, Walter Dewitt, Richard Dewitt, George Cox, Stacy Vereen, John Vereen, Henry Vereen, Thomas Vereen, Sam Vereen, George Bellamy, George Wilson, George Galloway, Moses Galloway, Joe Bratcher, Heck Vereen, Henry Gore, Flander Polite, Robert Wilson, Jack Vereen, Donnie Grant, Dock Galloway, Gerbert Green, Frank Campbell, Joe Vereen, Sam Galloway, Everlene Pierce, Fannie Bellamy, Ola Cox, G.G. Green, Mary Bellamy, Martha Dewitt, Lottie Galloway, Betty Galloway, Mary Wilson, Lizzie Vereen, Sally Green, Carrie Dewitt, Ida Bellamy, Lue Vereen, Ola Dewitt, Becky Dewitt, Mary Dewitt, Drusey Dewitt, Seare Cox, Tenie Pierce, F. Bellamy, E. Vereen, Lizzie Polite, G. Faulk, Nellie Dewitt, Edie Dewitt, and Homer Dewitt.
As recorded in the books at the courthouse in Conway on October 12, 1907, Burroughs and Collins granted 53/100 of an acre of land to the True Vine Colored Church. In one of our history meetings, Bro. Donnie Grant and Dea. D.L. Galloway stated that a building was constructed near the entrance of the Hickory Hill Circle on Highway 90. The next location of True Vine was on the former Black Creek Road which has since changed to Burroughs Road, then changed to International Drive, and now presently named Loretta Grant Court.
As the result of an interesting interview that I had with Dea. Bethea Galloway, I discovered that during World War II the right hand side of the road coming from the direction of Conway was declared as a Bombing Range for target practice by the Armed Forces. All of the families living on that side of the road had a certain period of time to leave or move their homes. Some of the people who were involved in the move were Mr. & Mrs. Matthew Dewitt, Dea. And Mrs. Stacy Vereen, Dea. And Mrs. Howard Hughes, Dea. And Mrs. Dock G. Galloway, Mr. and Mrs. Ned Dewitt, Mrs. Fannie Weathers and Mr. Berkley Pierce. Some of these families moved to another part of the county and some of them moved their houses on the other side of the road. Dea. Bethea Galloway said that his father, Dea. Dock G. Galloway, moved some of their furniture to a house in the Homewood Community but he soon went and got it and returned to his home in this community.
The members of the True Vine Community had a very important decision to make. They had to decide whether the church should be terminated and the members join Chesterfield or some other church or move the building to the other side of the road. A group of members, Sis. Fannie Bellamy, Sis. Fannie Weathers Dewitt, Mr. Henry Campbell, Bro. Flemmie Wilson, and Dea. Dock G. Galloway persuaded the congregation to keep the church and move it to the present side.
Dea. Dock Galloway asked Mr. Bill Gore to move the wooden structure. Some of the men of the community who helped Mr. Gore with the move were Dea. Dock G. Galloway, Dea. Howard Hughes, Dea. Wilbur Bratcher, Sr., Mr. Henry Campbelll, Mr. George Bratcher, and Bro. Flemmie Wilson. The structure was placed on logs and drawn by a team of mules. This took time because the present Highway #90 was not constructed. Dea. Bethea Galloway believes that the State of South Carolina moved the schoolhouse.
Before they were able to move the church, the soldiers had taken the church’s bell and had begun ripping boards from the back of the church. On September 16, 1943, Thomas E. Nixon granted us a lot of land for three dollars to the church. Of course, this is where they placed the structure – at our present site.
We have had very strong ministers to guide our congregation. Rev. H.H. Wilson was the pastor until October 1918. At this time, according to the minutes of the conference, Rev. J.S. Gore was elected as pastor. He served until 1919. During the 1920’s, Rev. S.R. Eagles, Rev. E. Butler, and Rev. James Brandon served as pastors. Bro. S.F. Dewitt and Bro. Matthew Dewitt served as clerks. During the 1930’s, Rev. F.C. Chestnut, Rev. F.A. White, Rev. A.W. Haze, Rev. E. Dewitt, and Rev. Simm Chestnut served as ministers.
Other ministers who served included Rev. Godbolt, Rev. Buck Sherman, Rev. S.V. Riggins, Rev. Rob McCray, and Rev. Ford. The deacons were Dea. Stacy Vereen, Dea. Dock G. Galloway, and Dea. Empy Gore. Dea. Dock G. Galloway also served as the Superintendent of the Sunday School.
Other ministers who served were Rev. John H. Keel, Rev. Luther Graham, and Rev. Elijah Patrick. Rev. George P. Windley served as an assistant pastor and Rev. James T. McCray was our interim pastor after the passing of Rev. Patrick. Rev. Smart Smalls was elected in 1979 and Rev. Lemaroris Goff who was elected as pastor in 1983 and preached his first sermon in January 1984.
Rev. John H. Keel was instrumental in initiating the idea of a new church building and had fundraisers to begin funds for the new building. Many of us can remember the Captain Rallies that he had and perhaps still have one of the watches that he used to reward for being the winner of the Captain Rally. Rev. Joe Keel and Rev. Elijah Patrick worked hard to complete the existing building. Rev. Patrick was also responsible for tearing down the old church and constructing the Fellowship Hall to the present building.
Dea. Bethea Galloway, his son and nephews, Edward Galloway, Lucius Campbell, Jr., Mr. George Bratcher and Dea. Major H. Booth Sr, were very helpful in giving their time to complete the inside of the building. Popular AME Church, Chesterfield MB Church and many other churches supported us financially. Mr. Brinkley Vereen and Mrs. Laura Livingston and other members of Popular AME Church would encourage their members to attend True Vine’s Choir parades. The finances from these programs would be used for building funds.
In November 1971, the congregation marched from the old building to the adjacent new building for Sunday School and Worship Service. Rev. Patrick will be remembered for organizing the Young Women’s Auxiliary, the Young Adult Choir, and many other organizations in our church.
True Vine M.B. Church
Est. Aug 6, 1894
Rev. Joe H. Keel - 1962
Rev. Elijah Patrick - 1971
Rev. Smart Smalls, Jr., Pastor
Major H. Booth, Sr. Howard Hughes
Dock L. Galloway
Trustees under the pastorship of Rev. Smalls, our Cornerstone laying ceremony occurred on December 12, 1982. The guest speaker was Rev. C. Glenn. The laying of the Cornerstone was under the direction of Bethlehem Lodge No. #327 and Horry County District Lodge. On January 1, 1983, the Cornerstone was placed in the allotted wall of the church. The inscription on the stone is as follows:
On December 22, 1982, Mr. J.C. Hucks with the help of the Bratcher Family granted us seventeen hundredths acre of land to be used as the True Vine Cemetery. Our stained glass windows were installed on August 7, 1982.
Rev. Lemaroris Goff who served as our pastor has been instrumental in having the congregation complete projects. The projects include the renovation of the front porch, the installation of the petition in the Fellowship Hall, new pews, an air conditioner in the fellowship hall, and a communion set. We will always be thankful to Mr. Theodis Bellamy and Mrs. Elizabeth Bellamy and family for the donation of the church’s steeple.
During the 1950’s three other deacons were ordained – Dea. Major Booth, Sr., Dea. D.L. Galloway and Dea. Howard Hughes. Dea. D.L. Galloway, Mr. Matthew Dewitt, Mrs. Oneta Hughes Deas, Mr. D. Vereen, and Mrs. Leola Galloway served as the church’s clerks. Mrs. Leola Galloway served in this capacity for many years. Dea. Wilbur Bratcher, Sr. and Dea. Bethea Galloway were added to the Board of Deacons in March 1985.
On May 1, 1996, the True Vine Family elected Rev. Tommy T. Shubrick, Sr., as our pastor. He preached his first sermon in the capacity as pastor on Sunday, May 5, 1996. In May 1997, Bro. Harold Bratcher was recommended to become a Deacon after a period of training. He became a Deacon after his training.
Bro. Edward “Olga” Bellamy, Mr. Carlisle Lewis (a Lee’s Landing Community Friend) refurbished the former Sam Wilson Cemetery located off of Lee’s Landing Circle. They furnished head stones for graves that needed them and Mrs. Edna Latimer of Latimer’s Funeral Home furnished placards with names and dates for many of the graves. The Trustees of True Vine Missionary Baptist Church are now in charge of the maintenance for this cemetery.
On April 4, 2004, Rev. Harris Wilson was called to shepherd the congregation of our church. Many projects for our church have been completed under his administration. As recent as June 2014, our new steeple was installed replacing the one that was donated by Mr. Theodis Bellamy and Mrs. Elizabeth H. Bellamy. Darrell and Irish Ann Eickhoff and others were very instrumental in initiating and donating to this project. On May 19, 2009, we received a letter from the Horry County Department informing us that our property has been added to the Horry County Historic Property Register. Deacon LaRue Galloway and Deacon Ronald Graham were ordained as Deacons at the Flagpatch M.B. Church on August 30, 2009. Minister Lynette Bratcher preached her Initial Sermon in November 2009.
December 2014, Dea. Harold Bratcher announced that we had purchased a parcel of land (located on the right-hand side of the church) from Dea. Bethea Galloway and it was ready for landscaping. Our Fellowship Hall/Kitchen was renovated in 2015. Our initial meal upon the completion of the renovation was November 15, 2015 during our Friends and Family Day. We purchased our Church van on December 4, 2016. Sis. Lenora Madison Burton (Deceased) and others prepared for us our Seafood Night on December 19, 2016. Sis. Burton was very instrumental in presenting several other dining experiences which promoted unity among our congregation. Deaconess Mary Colbert became a Deaconess under the new guidelines of the Kingston Lake Deacon’s Union. The Trustees are to be commended for their hard work including the front entrance gates, landscaping of the cemeteries, and many other projects. Sis. Shirley Smith was instrumental in obtaining the new United States and Christian flags which are displayed in the front of the church.
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