"Now the members of the Prophetic order said to Elisha, see now, the place before you where we dwell is too limited for us. Let us go now to Jordan and each take from there a beam and let us make a place for us there where we may dwell: II Kings 6:1-2
These dynamic and challenging verses of Scripture characterize the sentiment, thinking and spirit of the founders of the Sumter Baptist Missionary and Educational Association. Yes our founders had great dreams, high ideals and great visions of broad service; the place where they dwelt was too limited for them. They yearned for a place large enough where great souls with great visions and great dreams could be nourished and realized. There should be no limitations or barriers placed upon ones visions and dreams. When circumstances are not favorable to the realization of great dreams and visions, the results may be confusion and destruction of these dreams and visions. H. H. Harvin realized the values of these great dreams and visions and decided that they would not perish.
God has always raised up a leader when a people are ready to be delivered. When the Israelites were ready, He had a Moses and a Joshua. God raised Abraham Lincoln to deliver the Negro from the yoke of slavery.
So in 1949, God touched the spirit of Dr. H. H. Harvin, a man of great dreams and vision. A man with high ideals. A man who believed in doing great things. A man who would not be limited to any place where he could not freely carry out his dreams and noble visions. There were other people who sensed these dreams and visions. People who also had a dream and a vision in their souls, waiting for someone with the courage to take the initiative. They cried continuously, "The place where we are is too limited for us." Dr. H. H. Harvin was the man of the hour. He bravely accepted the challenge in the face of much criticism and led us to Jordan to fell timber, to erect a place, the results of which was the birth of the Sumter Baptist Missionary and Educational Association, and its auxiliary bodies. It may be truthfully said that, "There went with him a band of chosen people whose hearts the Lord had touched."
The following persons, of whom some now sleep, went along to form the Sumter Baptist Missionary and Educational Association. The ones who now survive and are still active: Reverends B. F. Weston, D.D. Jones, C. T. Thoms, I. B. Weston, L. W. Walker, T. O. Everett, D. J. Lunn and B. F. Canty. Those who have passed on to their eternal reward are Dr. H. H. Harvin, Moderator; Rev. W. M. Hall, Vice-Moderator; S. Tensley, A. H. Dennis, S.J. Weston, W. M. Taylor, J.E. Amos, J.W. Chestnut, Treasurer.
Those who went along to form the Sunday School Convention who now survive are the Reverends R. W. Stalling, President; Mrs. Magnolia A. Lewis, Treasurer; W. M. Nixon, J. D. McFadden, A. Glover, F Early and J. D. Davis.
Those who have fallen asleep are N. Holland, who suggested he name for the association; J.M. V. Hanberry the first clerk of the Sunday School Convention ; J. D. Dwyer and S. Dow.
The surviving ones who went along to form the Woman's Auxillary, are Mesdames Marion W. Lester, President; Ada Taylor, Vice President; Gladys Carey, Secretary; Anna Hanberry, Treasurer; Mary E. Baskin, Marian Thomas, Beulah Moten, and Leila Jones. Those who have departed this life are Clara Nathaniel, Sally Duren, Mary Nickens and Emma J. Holliday.
The surviving ones who went along to make up the Ushers Convention are Mrs. Christine Givens, Mrs. Leila Jones, First Vice President; who resigned to take over the Junior Missionaries, then Mrs. Atkin became the First Vice President; she left and Mrs. Cora Jenkins became acting Vice President. Mrs. Mable Vaughn was the Secretary. After serving for a brief period she went away. The Rev. J. O. Rich then became Secretary and remained for a considerable time. Mrs. Mary Kennedy was the first Treasurer and is still active. The Rev. R. W. Stallings and Deacon W. M. Dixon were advisors.
Those who have passed on to their eternal reward are Mary Witherspoon, Amy Ford, Percilla Dixon, Sister Betty Amos.
The Laymen Convention was headed by Deacon Glover.
To attempt to withdraw from the great Wateree Association and organize another was a very serious step. The fellowship of our brethren was at stake, and the question as to the survival of such a new organization haunted us.
Nevertheless, after much serious thought and prayerful consideration on the matter, in a final meeting at Salem Baptist Church, August 1949, the group decided to withdraw from the Wateree Association and organize another association. There were several churches represented in this meeting. After a lengthy discussion on the matter in the meeting, a suggestion was made that a petition be made to the Wateree Association with the names of the churches represented, requesting dismissal of these churches. After this was done, the Sumter Baptist Missionary and Educational Association officially became organized in its first session at Trinity Missionary Baptist Church, October 12, 1949.
Two of the churches went back to the Wateree Assoication - Mt. Bethel and New Bethel. The remaining churches are still together and are makina a tremendous contribution to Education and Mission under the leadeship of the dynamic Rev. To O. Everett.
There has been no ill will between the brethren of the Wateree Association and their prodigal daughters. The separation has been fruitful and beneficial to both sides, because of a friendly competition, both groups are doubling their contributions for education and mission.