History of the Great Gethsemane Baptist Missionary Association
A Historical Retrospect by Dr. W.H. Neal, Moderator and Dr. M.C. Fennell, Secretary (1997)
From the minutes of the Gethsemane Association, the Gethsemane Baptist Association was organized November 12, 1867 at the Gethsemane Baptist Church, three miles of Chester’s Court House, then pastored by the Rev. Barney Humphries. The organization elected as its first moderator, the Rev. Edward Rhue who was the pastor of the Bethesda Baptist Church, Georgetown, South Carolina served eight years from 1867-1875, Rev. J.C. Pawley, of Charleston, South Carolina was its first clerk.
The Association took its name “Gethsemane” from the old Gethsemane Baptist Church of Chester, where its first session was held. The second moderator of this historic association was the late Rev. Isaac P. Brockington who served seven years from 1875 to 1882, then pastor of the Macedonia Baptist Church, Darlington, South Carolina. At that time, the Gethsemane Baptist field took in from Charleston on the south, toYork on the north, from Society Hill on the east to Abbeville on the west. After a number of years, the association became too large to be handled properly. The brethren in the lower part of the state divided the Association into the Upper and Lower Gethsemane Baptist Association. After some years, the Lower Gethsemane Association renamed itself the “Ashley” Association.
We have even retained our original name. Therefore, you see that every Association in South Carolina came out of the Gethsemane Association directly or indirectly. Other moderators: Rev. Dr. A.A. P. Dunbar served seven years from 1888 to 1895; Fred Wallace of Newberry served seven years from 1895 to 1902, Dr. J.C. Daniells of Columbia served three years, 1902 to 1905; Rev. Daniel Culder of Winnsboro served five years, from 1905 to 1910; Dr. J.J. Durham of Columbia served ten years from 1910 to 1920; Dr. J.C. White of Columbia served nine years from 1920 to 1929; Rev. Abraham Chandler of Columbia served eleven years from 1929 to 1940; Rev. Nathan Smith of Ridgeway served twelve years from 1940 to 1952; Dr. C.H. Brown of Columbia served twelve years from 1952 to 1964; Dr. F.M. Young served thirteen years from 1964 to 1977; and Dr. W. H. Neal from Columbia served twenty four years from 1977 to 2001; Rev. Dr. L.C. Chavous served from 2001-2005; The Reverend Dr. Charles B. Jackson served from 2005 – 2007; Reverend Ricky Ray Ezell served from 2007- 2011; Reverend Algerron Williams Sr. became Moderator 2011- present.
Secretaries were as follows: Rev. R. S. Sims of Blair; Rev. D.F. Thompson of Columbia, Rev. J.A. Byrd of Winnsboro; Dr. L.C. Jenkins of Columbia having been elected the year 1928 and served to 1982 and Dr. M.C. Fennell from 1982 -2001; Reverend Ricky Ray Ezell Sr. from 2001-2005; Reverend Jamey O. Graham from 2005- 2011; Dr. Walter Butler from 2011 – present.
Taken from the 1970 minutes of the ninety-third annual session of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina; “The year 1877, Dr. I.P. Brockington, pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church of Darlington and Moderator of the Pee Dee Baptist Association called all Baptist Associations and Sunday School Conventions of South Carolina to meet at the Shiloh (now first Missionary Baptist Church of Sumter). Three Associations: Pee Dee, Ashley and the Gethsemane met at the above-named church on the first Wednesday in May 1877. These were organized into the State Baptist Missionary, Education, and Race Building. The Bethlehem Baptist Association joined during the same convention year. Dr. I.P. Brockington was elected president of the convention and served until 1908. Dr. W.M. Brawley, member of Morris Street Baptist Church of Charleston was elected Secretary, and Dr. E. Green, Treasurer.