Stewartsville Baptist Church
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
THE HISTORY OF STEWARTSVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH

 
Being aware of the spiritual need of this community, Mr. Gurney Yarborough started a mission work here in 1958. The first meeting place of Stewartsville Baptist Mission was a small farm house. After a few months this facility was not adequate and the mission moved to a larger facility, a service station on McColl highway. By March 1959, the facility was again inadequate and the mission began to meet in a combination garage/service station near that same location. First Baptist Church of Laurinburg was asked to sponsor the mission and the church agreed to assist. Mr. Yarborough left the mission at this time and Emery Byrum was called as mission pastor to serve the mission while he was attending Southeastern Seminary. He served until May, 1960. Pastor Doran Cook was called and served for a short time in 1960.
 
In August, 1960, First Baptist Church purchased a small five room dwelling on the McColl Highway and the Mission moved for the fourth and final time to its present location. The Mission was without a full-time pastor from July, 1960, until February, 1963. Sunday School and worship service was conducted by members of the First Baptist Church and Baptist ministers from the area. Some of the individuals involved were J. W. Hollis, Clarence and Wanda Collier and Mrs. Ed Creech.
 
Baxter Prevatte, a ministerial student at Campbell College, was called as mission pastor, February, 1963, to work with the mission on weekends. In 1964, the lot adjacent to the property was purchased, and in 1965, a study recommended that adequate facilities be provided for the mission. On January 30, 1966, the First Baptist Church authorized the building and financing of such a facility, and it was dedicated September 4, 1966. Membership grew rapidly, and on May 7, 1967, the mission was constituted a church with 85 charter members, and Baxter Prevatte was called as its first full-time pastor.
 
Mr. Prevatte served until September 8, 1968. Wayne Riddle was called as pastor January 19, 1969, and served almost four years until December 31, 1972. During these years, the church undertook its first building program, an education facility, and finance it through the sale of mortgage bonds. These bonds were sold by the membership, and they were repaid by weekly deposits to a bond repayment account. The education building, which cost approximately $70,000, was completed, and the consecration service was held March 22, 1970.
 
The church was without a full-time pastor from January 1, 1973, until August 5, 1973, at which time Robert T. Rea was called as pastor. Evangelism and witnessing programs were the central focus and the church soon outgrew the facilities and plans were discussed to provide additional space. Nature intervened, and on Sunday, October 9, 1976, a tornado destroyed the sanctuary. A bus ministry was begun and David Shirley was selected as Bus Ministry pastor. A rest home ministry was also begun on or about May 5, 1976.
 
The church continued to meet in the fellowship hall holding two morning services each Sunday in order to accommodate the members. A plan was adopted to provide a larger fellowship room as a temporary sanctuary and to build a new and larger sanctuary. On March 19, 1977 the church adopted a program sponsored by the Baptist State Convention entitled "Let Us Rise Up and Build."
 
Phase I began February 19, 1977 with a ground breaking ceremony and was completed on June 28, 1977. On or about March 16, 1977 plans were formulated to purchase the property adjacent to the south side of the present property.
 
Phase II of the building program was begun on September 18, 1977 to provide a new sanctuary and classrooms to adequately provide for 300 worshipers. The total cost of both phases was approximately $250,000. The second phase was completed around August 24, 1978 and on October 8, 1978 the new sanctuary was dedicated and consecrated to the Lord. Pastor Robert T. Rea was called to another pastorate February 10, 1981. Dr. Jerry Robertson of Bennettsville, SC served the church faithfully as interim pastor from that time until June 1, 1981.

Pastor Nicholas Demchak was called as pastor. He led the church in drawing closer in love and compassion. Pastor Demchak retired as pastor January 31, 1983. 
 
On June 26, 1983, Lewis McLean was called as pastor.  Under Pastor McLean’s leadership and guidance, Stewartsville Baptist Church experienced tremendous growth in membership and in ministries. The church retired the bond mortgage on the education building, retired another mortgage on the sanctuary, and purchased and paid for land consisting of two lots adjacent to the original property.  This growth made it necessary to build a new education building, which cost approximately $300,000. Because of the Lord’s blessings, Stewartsville was able to hold a special note burning service for this building in July 1994.
 
The ministries of Stewartsville continued to grow. The youth program expanded and provided youth many opportunities for fellowship, outreach, discipleship training, and mission work including organized mission trips each summer. Several additional ministries were established including annual live Christmas and Easter scenes, adult and youth drama programs, Mom’s Morning Out, and a puppet ministry. The church also began having two morning worship services each Sunday.
 
Stewartsville’s church staff also expanded. The church called its first Associate Pastor, Carroll Anthony, to work with the outreach program in 1991 and served in this capacity until 1992. Mr. Anthony was called to another pastorate as Senior Pastor in 1992. Pastor Jerry Straight resumed the role as Associate Pastor in June 1993. He was instrumental in beginning the Early Worship Service on Sunday mornings and organizing and administering many programs of the church. He served until August 1995, at which time he resigned to pursue educational opportunities. A part time secretary was also hired during this time to help both pastors in their administration needs.

In 1995 the church was once again growing rapidly and the need for a Minister of Music and Youth Pastor was sought. Pastor Raleigh Todd was hired in July 1995 and was employed until March 1996. In January 1996, Pastor Jeffrey Rafferty was called to serve as Associate Pastor and served until February 1998. Pastor Rafferty saw the need to expand the Outreach Program and began a telephone survey of our community to reach the un-churched and lost in the area. He also was instrumental in forming a Long Range Planning Committee to help accomplish the church’s vision for the future. Also in January 1996, the secretarial position became a full time position.
 
In November, 1997 Pastor Steven House began his call to Stewartsville to serve as the full time Minister of Youth/Children and served until 2000.  In September, 1998, Pastor Garry Stuart was called as full time Minister of Music.  Garry arrived with a voice and talent that only God could give.  

On October 25, 1998, a new educational building was dedicated to the Lord. This property is located north of the current building and has 65,000 square feet of space. This building has 4 large classrooms that have been renovated and additional storage space in the rear. On January 5, 2000, construction began on a new sanctuary at a price of 2.3 million. The official dedication was on January 21, 2001 with Rev. Paige Patterson delivering the sermon.
 
The budget increased each year and the church has contributed 15% of the budget to missions, not including those special offerings for missions.

Pastor Stephen A. Owenby was called as Associate Pastor and began his work on March 6, 1999. His strengths are in evangelism, missions, and preaching.
 
On December 31, 2000 Pastor Lewis McLean asked the church to move him to the position of Associate Pastor and Pastor Stephen Owenby became our Senior Pastor.  Pastor McLean served as the senior pastor from June 26, 1983 - December 31, 2000. Pastor Owenby has served as our senior pastor since December 31, 2000 and the church has continued to increase in number and spiritual growth. Steve has made many improvements in administration and member training. He has also expanded our mission trips, and for the first time we have had mission teams serving on foreign fields.
 
It was decided that we would have a Chest of Joash each year on Homecoming Sunday to pay for the new sanctuary. The church has received a special offering each homecoming Sunday for the past few years and has collected over $100,000 each year to be used in paying toward the debt of the new sanctuary.  No pledges were solicited for the new sanctuary, and it was paid off in 2007.
 
Pastor Rick Boda began his ministry on April 1, 2001 as our Minister of Youth and continued in that position until his resignation in March 2013.

Steve Owenby was called to pastor a church in Rogersville, TN, and left Stewartsville Baptist on January 31, 2008.
 
The Reverend Eddy Simmons was called as pastor in August 2008 and served until September 2011.