Duncan in Spartanburg County, South Carolina — The American South (South Atlantic)
Abner Creek Baptist Church
óSeptember 26, 1832 ó
1766 - 1842 † † † † † †1767-1849
Moved from original location
2180 Abner Creek Road
October 31, 2005
The Lord is My Rock, and My Fortress
and My Deliverer. Psalm 18:2
Dedicated September 30, 2007
Erected 2007 by Abner Creek Baptist Church.
Location. 34° 52.633′ N, 82° 8.928′ W. Marker is in Duncan, South Carolina, in Spartanburg County. Marker is on Abner Creek Road, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is located adjacent to the Hendrix Cabin, between the cabin and the Hendrix cemetery. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2461 Abner Creek Road, Duncan SC 29334, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 10 other markers are within 5 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Abner Creek Baptist Church (a few steps from this marker); a different marker also named Abner Creek Baptist Church (within shouting distance of this marker); Reidville Public School (approx. 2.3 miles away); Hugh Porter & Jane Baily McClimon (approx. 2.4 miles away); McClimons Memorial (approx. 2.4 miles away); Reidville Male Academy Flatwood (approx. 3 miles away); Theron J. Hendrix Memorial Highway (approx. 3.8 miles away); Cotton Mills (was approx. 4.6 miles away but has been reported missing. ); Pelham Mill (approx. 4.6 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Duncan.
Also see . . .
1. Abner Creek Baptist Church. Official website of Abner Creek Baptist Church. (Submitted on November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
2. Abner Creek Baptist Church celebrates 175th anniversary. In 1832, Abner Creek Baptist Church was organized and began meeting in the log cabin home of William and Sarah Hendrix. (Submitted on November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
3. Abner Creek Baptist Church Fire Photo Gallery. Photo gallery of the January 2008 fire that destroyed the church. (Submitted on November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
4. Sky 4 Video Of Abner Creek Baptist Church Fire. Overhead video footage of the Abner Creek Church fire, January 2, 2009. (Submitted on November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
5. Fire Levels Historic Greer Church's Building. Video report of the Abner Chreek Baptist Church (Submitted on November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.)
1. Fire destroys Abner Creek Baptist Church
January 2, 2008
Firefighters continue to investigate a blaze that ripped through a western Spartanburg County church shortly before lunch Wednesday, destroying the sanctuary and toppling the steeple.
Crews were dispatched to Abner Creek Baptist Church at 11:12 a.m. and arrived five minutes later to find a fire burning in the attic, said Assistant Reidville Fire Chief Tim Brady.
Fueled by fierce winds, the blaze quickly spread throughout the building, engulfing church offices, classrooms and the sanctuary. Firefighters continue to put out hotspots, and Brady said it appears the fire did not spread to an adjacent gymnasium, which is used as a meeting place.
The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation.
Members of the congregation and community gathered to watch the blaze, tears streaming down many of their faces.
A construction crew was working inside the church, located at 2461 Abner Creek Road, when they smelled smoke. Realizing a fire appeared to be raging
Congregation members said the current sanctuary was built in the 1960s, and the educational building containing classrooms was built in 1953.
The church celebrated its 175th anniversary this past September.
Church member Heather Smith, who has attended the church for more than a decade, stood in a graveyard across the street with her family and watched the blaze in shock.
“You know itís just a building,” Smith said as tears gathered in her eyes. “We, the people, are the church, and we can rebuild.”
— Submitted November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
2. Abner Creek Baptist temporarily homeless
January 3, 2008
Abner Creek Baptist Church members streamed into a nearby chapel for Wednesday night prayers as the rubble of their own house of worship continued to smolder only miles away.
The church sanctuary and offices were destroyed after fierce winds quickly spread fire throughout the church Wednesday morning, sending smoke and ash billowing through the air and toppling the steeple. Associate pastor Vernon Thornhill said the church,
"We'll definitely rebuild there and just call on the Lord to use this opportunity to strengthen us and just reinforce our efforts we want to continue to make in our community and use this as such, to tell people we understand what it is to go through hard times, and this will draw us closer together," Thornhill said as he prepared to hold Wednesday's services at Burnsville Baptist on Reidville Road.
The origin and cause of the fire remain under investigation, and firefighters continued to extinguish hot spots Wednesday night. Two employees inside the building and construction workers remodeling a nursery and office space were able to safely escape.
Crews were dispatched to the church, at 2461 Abner Creek Road, at 11:12 a.m. and arrived five minutes later to find a fire burning in the attic, said Reidville Assistant Fire Chief Tim Brady. Lack of proper water pressure at first hampered efforts to extinguish the fire, he said. Arson is not suspected, but agents with the State Law Enforcement Division and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will help investigate because the fire involved a church.
Abner Creek leaders hope to hold services within three weeks in a gymnasium adjacent to the church, which doubles as
Members of the congregation and community gathered to watch the blaze from the cemetery across the street, tears welling up in their eyes. Despite the efforts of six fire departments, onlookers stared in disbelief as the brick walls of the sanctuary, built in 1963, buckled and the steeple slowly tilted to one side, then fell into the burning roof.
Heather Smith, who has attended the church for more than a decade and whose brother planned to marry there this year, watched the blaze in shock alongside family. "You know it's just a building," Smith said, fighting back tears. "We, the people, are the church, and we can rebuild."
F.E. Hendrix, a sixth-generation Abner Creek member and church historian, talked with firefighters as he watched the blaze spread to the church library. Hendrix said he didn't know what the new year would bring, but he didn't expect the scene before his eyes Wednesday.
"I prayed that it would never would happen, but, you know, you have a sinking feeling when you see it, the flames coming out the top," Hendrix said. "It gives you a sinking feeling, and you think about all the memories that are in there, and historical things. As far as I know, nothing was saved at all."
Hendrix preserved many memories through a book he authored last year on the church's history. Written
The educational building, which houses offices and classrooms, has been undergoing a $700,000 renovation since March, and Jason Grant, one of eight construction crew members in the building Wednesday, said he and his co-workers were working on the first floor when they noticed smoke coming from the third-floor attic.
"We thought it was the jackhammer smoking, but it was actually the church smoking," Grant said. "We didn't even know it was on fire."
The workers attempted to extinguish the blaze but could not. They were able to leave the building safely and called 911.
Debbie Gresham, who has attended Abner Creek since childhood, stood across the road as she watched flames engulf the church nursery where her children and grandchildren spent many hours. The blaze brought back memories of the 2004 fire that gutted Lyman United Methodist Church, where her husband attends.
"I couldn't understand what he felt until today," she said.
Gresham's granddaughter, 7-year-old Haleigh, said she hoped a new sanctuary would be built as soon as possible. "When I heard this happened, I was, like, really sad that my church burned down Ö," she said. "This is where people get baptized and everything."
The educational building in back was built in 1953, Hendrix said, and the gymnasium was added in 1980. The old log cabin now sits on the edge of the church cemetery, a donation from Hendrix to celebrate the church's 175th anniversary. Today the congregation exceeds 500 people, with members from Reidville, Duncan and Greer.
The Rev. Wallace Hughes, who served as Abner Creek's pastor from 1968 to 1976, stopped by the church Wednesday after hearing about the fire.
"It's a sad day," Hughes said. "A lot of history is going down: all the records, the library. Ö People had hoped someday to have a new building, but they didn't want it this way. They wanted to preserve it and add to it."
Cleatus Blackmon, director of missions for the Greer Baptist Association, to which Abner Creek belongs, said he had mixed feelings while watching the fire.
"It's just a lot to take in, number one. And secondly, the sadness is not so much for the building but the congregation, the church, because of their attachment to it," he said. "But there's also the
As he shared words of comfort with congregation members and firefighters who attend Abner Creek, Hendrix stayed calm, recalling fond memories of the church and keeping the big picture in mind.
"As hard as it is, we're just going to have to stick together, and the Lord has a plan, and we just need to follow that plan," Hendrix said. "And as we say, it's just a building. The people are the church, and these people will be who determines the future of the church."
— Submitted November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
3. Buffalo, Greer churches celebrate rebuilding
by Kim Kimzey
August 2, 2009
The Rev. George W. Shell Jr., pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Buffalo, received a phone call the night of Oct. 7, 2007. An assistant pastor told Shell the church had caught on fire.
But the preacher didnít take the statement literally, at first.
“I was thinking that something great had happened — a great outpouring of the spirit,” Shell said.
After all, three men had joined the church that day.
“Any time you get one to come to the Lord or rededicate themselves back, the angels
About three months later, fire claimed Abner Creek Baptist Church in Greer.
Abner Creek Baptist was nearing completion of a $600,000 renovation project when fire destroyed the sanctuary and education building on Jan. 2, 2008. Six fire departments battled the blaze.
It was a bitterly cold and windy day, Dot Weir recalled. Weir attended the church for the first time when she was 2 weeks old — that was a little more than 81 years ago.
The night the church burned, she clustered with others in the parking lot to pray and watch.
Long after their sanctuaries were reduced to smoldering piles of rubble, the churches continue to thrive. Both houses of worship have histories spanning more than 100 years.
For both, today, marks another historic beginning. St. Luke will dedicate a new building, while Abner Creek breaks ground on the site of a future building.
Members of both congregations said they never lost their churches — because a church isnít bricks and mortar, but the people inside.
St. Luke Baptist Church
Peake remembers the loud “bong” when the church bell dropped from the steeple. It took about nine men to later move the solid brass bell, which weighed at least 800 pounds. The cracked bell and a couple of bricks were all that remained after the blaze burned out.
Members kept bricks to remind them of the old church.
St. Luke was established 106 years ago by African-Americans in the adjacent community. They were forced to walk several miles to worship at McBeth Baptist Church until St. Luke was built, Peake said.
Peakeís great-grandparents helped build the first sanctuary on land donated by his great-great-grandfather.
Shell said “The Lord speaks to us in various things in our lives. This was a crossroads, I believe, for our congregation. I just believe what had occurred was a way of showing the people that God is always in control,”
Members vowed to rebuild their church. And they developed a new motto: “From ashes to beauty by the grace of God.”
Members have worshipped at the Pacolet River Baptist Association building since the fire. Construction on the new building began in May 2008 and was recently completed.
A march and dedication of the new church building will start at 1:30 p.m. today. The march
The new building is 10,400 square feet and features a state-of-the-art media ministry that will enable the church to make DVDs and CDs of services to distribute to homebound members. In the event of an overflow crowd, people can watch services on flat-screen televisions mounted on the walls in the fellowship hall. Thereís also a large cooking area that could someday accommodate a soup kitchen.
Members consider it a blessing to rebuild debt free. Donations poured in after the fire. Neighboring churches — black and white — offered to let St. Luke use their buildings and provide transportation.
Shell said he has witnessed a “change of heart” in the congregation since the fire. Between 125 and 140 people now regularly attend worship services.
Thereís more fellowship today and less friction.
Before the fire, people did not hang around after worship services, Shell said. He also thought some were more concerned about the building than God. Shell said he overheard some members say, “This is my church.”
“Itís not your church. Your church is actually you. We are the real embodiment of Christ and not the building,” he said.
“God has a way of taking our vision, our eyesight, off of material
Arthur J. Gore, another member, also watched the former church burn. Gore, a firefighter for many years, said his main goal the night of the fire was to comfort people. Many were understandably upset at the loss of the sanctuary, he said. It was a place that held a lot of memories.
But buildings can be replaced.
“The church is in your heart. If you ainít got it right here, you wonít have it,” Gore said. “I donít care how many buildings you put up Ö if you ainít got God in your heart, you know, youíre just beating a dead horse.”
God has taught the church how to truly love since the fire, Shell said. Love and communication have increased.
“Thatís important for the church to survive. Itís got to have love,” he said.
Abner Creek Baptist Church
Abner Creek members recently surveyed the future site for the church. An undeveloped lot, full of trees, holds hope and possibility.
“Itís amazing what people do with just a mustard seed of hope and faith,” associate pastor Vernon Thornhill said. “They can see their way through so much.”
Second-generation church member Larry DeShields said he thinks firefighters likely could have extinguished the flames had it not been for strong winds that fanned the blaze. DeShields said firefighters also had problems with their water lines freezing.
The fire began on the third floor of the education building. Thornhill said, “And then from there, it broke into the attic and quickly spread through the attics of both buildings.”
The cause of the fire was undetermined, but arson was ruled out.
Firefighters fought to save the Family Life Center, even though the sanctuary and education building were destroyed.
DeShields later returned with his track hoe to knock down the fire-ravaged walls. Tears still well up in his eyes when he discusses it.
“I cried like a baby,” he said. “I cried every time I came down the road after that.”
Even though he was a member, DeShields did not attend church at the time.
DeShields was back in church the Sunday after the fire. He might not have been there if not for the blaze.
Kevin Layton is chairman of the deacons at Abner Creek Baptist.
Itís a new beginning for the church that allows it to start over with a new building and vision, he said.
Interim pastor Henry Stanford has seen a strengthened desire within the church to reach out and serve the community. Members havenít just focused on building plans. Theyíve also spiritually examined the church and discussed how it could have an impact in the community and world, Stanford said.
Church focus groups discussed the areas of the community they wanted to affect and used that as a basis to help develop a building plan.
The church wants to minister to growing families and serve the growing senior population, Thornhill said. They decided a single-level church would benefit both segments of the population.
Abner Creek Baptist will celebrate its groundbreaking today. Construction is estimated to take about 10 months.
The sanctuary destroyed in the fire was dedicated in 1963. Ann Johnson, a third-generation church member, was a young girl when her father chaired the building committee that oversaw construction of that sanctuary.
Johnson remembers seeing the
As she watched the church burn and the steeple fall into the rubble, Johnson thought of her father. Then she said she realized “this is the Lordís work.”
The church members are ready to put the fire behind them and move into their new building with a growing congregation, Johnson said. Members have worshipped at Woods Chapel United Methodist Church since the fire.
Church members saw plans for the new building on May 17. The Family Life Center was repaired and renovated after sustaining heavy water damage. Church volunteers did a lot of the repair work.
DeShields will grade the land where the new church is to be built. He said it will be his last job after 40 years in business.
Thornhill said the new building is still just a building. People represent Christ in the community, he said. Thornhill hopes to see the church filled and overflowing as a demonstration that the church is touching peopleís lives.
— Submitted November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott of Anderson, South Carolina.
4. Abner Creek Baptist rebuilds
August 11, 2009
On Aug. 2, more than 250 people gathered to witness
The groundbreaking event marked the beginning of a $4 million project to construct a 21,000-square-foot, one-story facility that will house an updated nursery, senior adult space, and a sanctuary with state-of-the-art sound and lighting, said Vernon Thornhill, the church's associate pastor.
“It's a brand new church in many ways,” Thornhill said, adding that construction will take 10-12 months. “Hopefully this time next year, we'll be having a building dedication service,” he said.
Plans for the rebuilding were overwhelmingly approved in May by the congregation, which has been worshipping at nearby Woods Chapel United Methodist Church since the fire.
The church is also using free office space at a Greer business until the new church is complete.
Money for the project is coming from insurance and several fundraisers that Abner Creek Baptist has held throughout the year. The next is a church-wide yard sale that opens at 7 a.m. Aug. 15. It will be held at the Abner Creek Family Life Center, which sustained water and smoke damage from the fire but has since been repaired.
— Submitted November 4, 2009, by Brian Scott
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