GOD is Good…All the time!
St. Helena Baptist Church – “Where Every Member is a Minister”, is in its 50th year of ministry. Today the church has a unique standing within the community. It sees itself as being a lighthouse to the island and a missionary vehicle to the whole world.
The present St. Helena Baptist Church may well be considered a “resurrected” church for a flourishing Anglican and Baptist work was on these islands from the 1720’s until November 1861 when the Civil War began. After 1865, all churches were deeded to freed slaves and 100 years passed before several dedicated families began a new Baptist Church on St. Helena Island. It was born of prayer.
In prayer meetings in 1965, sponsored by the Baptist Church of Beaufort in the homes of J.W. Dempsey and Grady Russ, decisions were made to have a Baptist Church on St. Helena Island.
38 people assembled on Thanksgiving Day led by Harold Greene, a layman from Sheldon Baptist Church and adopted a Church Covenant and Articles of Faith. Dedication and election of the first officers took place and on December 12th. Twenty – six of the Forty present signed to become charter members. For the first year, the new church met in a house donated by Hilda and “Buster” Gay on Highway 21.
On January 9th, 1966 the church called Eddie Mixon as the First pastor. Rev. Mixon served until August 25, 1966.
February 20th, 1966 – groundbreaking took place for the new sanctuary on 2.3 acres of land contributed by the Dempseys. A loan of $6,000 enabled completion by September 4th. Training Union and Evening Worship were held from the very beginning and a revival was held that very first year.
W.E. Bradley served as the Second pastor from October 27, 1968 – August 30 1970. The Bob Uptons contributed a house for Sunday School use (which is now our Mission House) in 1970.
In 1970 it was voted that 2% of offerings would be given to the Savannah River Association and in 1971 – 8% for the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Billy C. Keenan served as Third pastor February 17,1971 -May 18,1975. In December 1971, Milton Hill was ordained as a minister to pastor Sheldon Baptist Church.
In 1972, a Hammond organ was bought and St. Helena began assisting Home Missionaries at Hunting Island State Park.
November 18th, 1973, groundbreaking for the parsonage took place with $12,663 down payment. Total cost was $28,000.
Calvin Maher, the Fourth pastor, served from March 1, 1976– September 10, 1978. Easter Sunrise Services at Hunting Island State Park began in 1976 with 225 present and has continued to this day.
Dr. Clarence Estes, Fifth pastor, served from May 13, 1979 thru August 13, 1983.
Groundbreaking for a new sanctuary was held January 10th, 1980 with a fellowship hall and classrooms. Dedication was November 16th, 1980.
May 5, 1981- November, 1985, the church housed a kindergarten and school. (K3-8th grade) with an Associate Pastor, David Solomon, directing the school.
Marshall Blalock was the Sixth pastor, serving from September 23, 1984 – May 31, 1991. A partnership with Brick Baptist Church began November 26th, 1986 with reciprocal worship services and fellowship meals continuing to this day.
Eric Sloan served as Seventh pastor November 10, 1991 – July, 1999.
In April, 1993, Larry Farmer, President of the Brotherhood and others began a Baptist Men’s Intercessory Prayer Group meeting on Tuesday nights. It started first as a Men’s Prayer Ministry, but quickly was expanded to all. We currently have approximately 13,575 Answered Prayers listed in our PRAYER BOOK..
In June 1994, the old Sunday School rooms behind the Church were remodeled into our Mission House. Some of the materials were donated by Evander All from leftovers at Camp Jackson and other donated materials were also used. The Brotherhood Men of our Church furnished all the labor, to remodel and add on to the Mission House. It serves visiting mission teams, accommodating 20-24 people and has been heavily used each year hosting more than 1000 youth and youth leaders. (see the Mission House Page for more details)
In March, 1995, a new Rogers Organ was purchased for the Sanctuary. In a Dedication Service, Gary Rakestraw, Organist for the Baptist Church of Beaufort made an outstanding performance. Including money that had already been raised and an offering that was taken that night, the Organ was paid off completely.
Brett Wetherington served from March 1, 2000 – August, 2001 as our Eighth pastor. For more than 35 years, our church has helped minister to Mexican and Haitian summer workers who harvest tomatoes. Since 1998, we have hosted the two weeks of Bible School and Migrant ministry.
On December 2, 2001 Dr. Robert Cuttino began serving as our Interim Pastor. A weekly newsletter ministry began and 365 day Bibles and Story Books given to all members and visitors.
From April, 2003 – April 2015, Richard Spearman served as our Ninth Pastor. He came to us from Cross Roads Baptist church in Easley, South Carolina. While at our Church we were brought into the 21st Century by our Prayer Ministry being expanded to include an e-mail Prayer Ministry started and administrated by Jean and Joe Jones. We now have 13,575 answered prayers between the two ministries. Also a church website was started (shbchurch.org) and is growing every day.
In June, 2012 after 2 years as our Youth Minister, Rev. Jeremiah Young was Ordained to the Ministry and filled the position as our Children and Youth Ministry Director, a position he is still holding.
After Pastor Spearman left, Our reliable friend Dr. Bob Cuttino came back to us as Interim Pastor. We currently have over 70 applications for a permanent Pastor and the Pastor Search Committee is hard at work working, sorting them. It is rumored that they are close to making a decision for a recommendation to the Church Body. Dr. Cuttino has resigned as our Interim Pastor, citing Health Problems, effective November 30, 2015. (Sadly, Dr. Cuttino passed away June 23, 2016)
Pastor Brad Wing –The churched voted, on January 17, 2016 to receive Brad as Senior pastor. Brad continued at the church until he resigned in January 2018 to explore other opportunities.
“God is Good…”
Members have taken part in Missions to West Virginia, Haiti, and Honduras, as well as providing many leaders for the Savannah River Baptist Association and generous meals and hospitality for hundreds of “summer missionaries”. The men have repaired homes and built wheelchair ramps and countless other unrecorded deeds of help and kindness. Fellowship and wonderful meals shared together have been a pleasant part of the life of St. Helena from the first. In recent years, an Oyster Roast, (fish fry, hot dog and hamburger supper) has been offered to the entire community to say “thanks” for being neighbors.
Other than a Catholic mission on Seaside Road, St. Helena is the major predominately white congregation ministering in this beautiful, highly populated area. As of September 1, 2015 there are 434 members on roll, 287 resident members, and an average attendance of over 135 each Sunday with a budget of $225,000.00 and over 10% of that going to outside missions.
Through the years, three building projects have been undertaken. Groundbreaking for the first sanctuary took place on February 20th, 1966 on 2.3 acres of land donated to the church. On January 20, 1980, ground was broken for a new sanctuary and fellowship hall and the dedication service was held on November 16, 1980. After much prayer and patience, adjacent property was purchased and a new multi-purpose building was completed in 2008. This building provides much needed space for worship, fellowship and ministry.
Our Church property also includes a Mission House which is used throughout the year, especially in the summer, to house visiting mission teams who minister at the Hunting Island State Park and Campground. The former parsonage on the adjacent lot now serves as the church office and as temporary quarters for visiting ministers, missionaries and special guests.
We are working on getting a more complete History done. If you have any information which might be helpful, see Lynda Farmer, Linda Herbert, Linda Bailey or Gray Tomlinson. Any information may also be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org