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The first 50 years - Harmony Grove Baptist

by Betty Kennon

Above is a picture of Harmony Grove Baptist Church in 1883, the pastorium, and Pastor Rev. Dr. H.J. Goodwyn, who served from 1904 to 1910.

On Sunday, June 21, Harmony Grove Baptist Church near Topping will celebrate its 150th anniversary.

The church was constituted in 1859 and is the daughter of Zoar Baptist Church (1808), a granddaughter of Hermitage Baptist Church (1789), and a great-granddaughter of Glebe Landing Baptist Church (1772). 

Over 150 years ago, a group of devout men and women gathered in a grove of trees on the present church site and engaged in song and prayer and suggested the name “Harmony Grove,” because of the beautiful surroundings of stately trees and peaceful and harmonious atmosphere that pervaded the gathering. 

On May 24, 1857, a few members of Zoar Baptist Church organized the Sunday school at Harmony Grove Meeting House.

Two years later, the first meeting house, built by Zoar Church on what is now Routes 3 and 33 and deeded to the newly-organized church, was called “Harmony Grove.” It constituted with 124 members. 

The War Between the States, 1861-1865, took six of the charter members from the church due to death either in prison or on the battlefield. 

In 1865, the church was “let” to the sexton for the year in exchange for one barrel of corn. He was instructed “to scour the church four times a year, to sweep it clean at all times, to heat with fire when necessary and to furnish the pulpit with drinking water every meeting day.”

In 1875, the Ladies’ Missionary Society of Harmony Grove Baptist Church was organized with 32 charter members.

As the young church grew, the church made the decision in 1883 to build a new house of worship. In 1891, the Baptist Ladies Aid Society appointed a committee to select an organ for the church. In 1890 the church purchased 10 acres of land near Syringa and built a pastorium, thus augmenting the pastor’s salary by furnishing him a home.

On July 9, 1859, Rev. Holland Walker was called to be the church’s first pastor with an annual salary of $75.

The first pulpit set was given by Deacons Edward Topping, John D. Miller and James Archer Eubank. The chairs of this set are still in use and a familiar sight to all.

In 1871, Rev. W.W. Wood accepted the pastorate of Clark’s Neck (now Saluda Baptist Church) and Harmony Grove, but four years later he left Saluda and remained at Harmony Grove. 

In 1879 Rev. Julian Broaddus came as pastor, followed by the arrival of Rev. J.H. Barnes in 1885. In 1887, Harmony Grove called Rev. St. George T. Abrams as pastor with an annual salary of $300. Rev. J.H. Barnes served as pastor again beginning in 1890 and continued until he had to leave the pastorate due to blindness. He was succeeded in 1904 by Dr. H.J. Goodwyn. 

posted 05.13.2009

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