Church History

The Antioch Baptist Church was founded by the Reverend Howard Robinson in 1914. The establishment of the Church began in a rear room of a house located at 1722 Rice Street, Wheeler Hill section of Columbia, South Carolina. Some of the first members were: Sisters Affie Brown, Jeanette White, Sylvia Cannon Dawkins, Hannah Kinsler, Estelle Powell, Ethel Dennis, Rosa Pickens and Laura Richardson.

The Sunday School was started by Sister Evelina Fogle and Brother Dallas Robinson. Some of the first pupils were: Sisters Early West, Annie Pickens Darby, Rosa Epps Washington, Annie Weston Morgan, Ernestine Powell Guess, Amy Richardson Youngblood and Charles Etheridge. It is said that Sister Fannie Cole was one of the first teachers of the Sunday School. Her two sons, Albert and Charles Cole, were the first persons to be baptized in the outdoor pool of the Church.

Some of the first Deacons of the Church were: Deacons John McFadden, also known as the oldest Deacon of the Church, Charlie and Samuel Brown, Marcellus Etheridge, Robert Weston, West Alston and Deacon Simeon.

In 1918, Reverend James Chandler became the second pastor of Antioch, building and moving into the church at 1717 Rice Street. His wife, Sister Clara Chandler, organized the first auxiliary of the Church, known today as the Senior Missionary Society, recording its first President as Sister Mamie Scott.

In 1919, the first Jubilee Choir was organized by Deacon Charlie Brown, who was also recorded as being its first president. The Deacon Board increased its membership with Deacons Turner Trezevant, Wilson Smith and Willie Brice. Deacon Robert Haynes, Sr. was appointed as the first Clerk of the Church under the pastoralship of Reverend James Chandler.

As the years went and Antioch continued to move forward, there was another change in pastoralship. The Reverend T. C. Crumpton became successor to Reverend Chandler. During his pastoralship, Reverend Crumpton worked faithfully in all phases of the Church and its auxiliaries, advocating along the way that "Olde Time Religion". In 1920, the first Senior Usher Board was organized by Brothers Morris and Nathan Martin. The first Superintendent of the Sunday School, Deacon Marcellus Etheridge, was elected. The Deacon Board again increased its membership with two additions, Deacons Elliott and Jake Taylor.

In 1930, for the first time, Antioch truly received her blessings when she neatly tucked under her wings the fourth pastor of Antioch, the Reverend Jesse W. Neal; it was then that the Church began to experience her leading years ever in history. Under the dynamic administration of Pastor J. W. Neal, Antioch cultivated in tremendous growth and progress. The Church was remodeled and the old mortgage paid off and burned. In 1935, the first Senior Musical Choir was organized by Sister Lena LaBrew, recording Deacon Fred Scott as its president.

The first Trustee Board came into existence under the pastoralship of Pastor J. W. Neal, recording its first members to be Brothers Joe Douglas, Will Ryan, Fletcher Tucker and Elliott Lowman. Deacons known to have served with Pastor J. W. Neal were: Deacons James Singley, Johnnie McKnight, Robert Haynes, Sr., Henry Lyles, Fred Scott, Marcellus Etheridge, Willie Edmunds, West Alston, Thomas Davis and Henry Reese. Pastor Jesse W. Neal departed this life in July 1943, leaving behind him "Footprints on the Sands of Time". He was succeeded by his son, Reverend James P. Neal, Sr.

In 1949, the Junior Missionary Society was organized by Sister Hattie Edwards, recording Sisters Edwards, Kizzie Haynes, and Fannie Roof as the first advisors and Sister Frankie Jones as the first president. The first Junior Musical Choir was organized by Sister Minnie Sharper, who was its first president.

In 1951, the Church located at 1717 Rice Street was remodeled and again the mortgage was paid off. A furnace and pews were installed. During those times, Antioch was really growing with Pastor J. P. Neal's leadership paying off in all ways. In 1953, the Organ Club was organized with Brother Fred Miller as President. A Hammond B3 organ was purchased and dedicated.

In 1957, through the combined interest of Sisters Geneva Neal and Laura Singley, the Pulpit Aid Club was organized. Charter Officers were: Sisters Geneva Neal, President, Laura Singley, Vice President, Sisters Elmer Davis, Secretary and Dornetha Johnson, Treasurer.

In 1958, with the foresight and advice of our Pastor's wife, Sister Geneva Outten Neal, the Young Women's Auxiliary (YWA) was organized by Sister Hattie Edwards, recording Sister Geneva Outten Neal as its first advisor and Sister Edwards as its first president.

In 1962, the first Junior Usher Board was organized, recording Sister Josephine Anderson as its first president. In 1963, with the foresight of Deacon Eddie Guess, Boy Scout Troop #197 was chartered. Brother Wilbur Tucker was appointed Scout Master.

The Program Committee was appointed by the Pastor in 1964 with Brother Fred Miller as Chairman. Under his leadership the Church purchased two (2) acres of land near the Greenview Neighborhood in the North Columbia area. In 1964, with the advice of Pastor J. P. Neal, Sr., Deacon Eddie Guess, and Brother J. P. Neal, Jr., the Antioch Brotherhood was organized. The Brotherhood Club was reorganized in 1970, recording Brother Harold Lewis as President.

Groundbreaking services were held in April 1977; construction began in June 1977 and the first Church service in our present edifice, located at 5715 Koon Road, was held on Sunday, December 11, 1977. Dedication Services were held during the month of February 1978 and the cornerstone was placed on the Church during April 1978.

Trustees serving during this time were: Brothers Fred Miller, Chairman, Charles Cannon, William Wilson, Robert Harrison, Nelson Wilson, Odell R. Weston, Aaron Jenkins, Charlie Murray and Robert Jones.

On April 1, 1979, a special retirement service was presented in honor of thirty-six (36) years of service as pastor to the Antioch Baptist Church by the Reverend Doctor James P. Neal, Sr. Deacons known to have been ordained under Pastor J. P. Neal, Sr. were: Deacons James Gibson, Robert Goff, Dorsey Floyd, William Miller, Eddie Guess, Richard Hunter, Alvin Oree, Jr., Wilson Morris, Jerry Wilson, and Wilbur Tucker.

The Church called her sixth pastor, Reverend W. J. McIllwain, on September 2, 1979. Under Pastor McIllwain's leadership, additional property was purchased; the parking lot was paved; a Children's Choir was organized; the Boy Scout Troop #197 was re-activated; Girl Scout and Brownie Troops were organized and a Church Bulletin Board was purchased and erected by the faithful members of the Pulpit Aid.

The Antioch Women's Auxiliary (AWA) was formulated out of the Young Women's Auxiliary (YWA) in 1980. Also, in 1980, the Children's Choir was organized under the leadership of Sisters Ollie Etheridge, Justine Watson, Mary Tucker, Estelle Adams and Annie Bell Smith. Sister Rhodessa Smith was musician.

In February 1980, Boy Scout Troop Pack #197 was reorganized. Brother Eddie Lemon served as Scout Master. In July of 1980, Pastor W. J. McIllwain and Brother Odell Weston were named Scout Masters; Brothers Walter Prosser and Leroy Foster were appointed Assistant Scout Masters.

In February 1980, Cub Scout Pack #197 was chartered, listing Brother Charles Woodard as Cub Master, Sisters Rosa Blakeney, Secretary, Gwen Wilkes, Carolyn Booker, and Rosa Blakeney were Den Leaders; Daisy Weston was Assistant Leader and Brother Odell Weston was Committee Chairman. The Cub Scout Pack started with nine (9) members. Pastor McIllwain was Scouting Coordinator.

In March 1980, the first Girl Scout Program was started under the leadership of Sister Barbara Parnell. At that time, three (3) troops were organized; Brownies #1162 under the leadership of Sisters Lizzie Prosser and Geraldine McIllwain; Cadets #163 under the leadership of Sisters Joan Sims Adams and Doris Singley, and Senior #1163 under the leadership of Sisters Dorothy M. Mack and Adele Mack; Pastor McIllwain was Advisor. In 1981, Junior Girl Scout Troop #1165 was begun by Sisters Barbara Parnell and Joan Sims Adams. Antioch's mortgage was paid in full on June 26, 1983.

In 1984, the Junior Usher Board was reorganized by Sisters Flossie Alston, Willie Ann Harris and Joan Sims Adams.

On October 10, 1984, the congregation dismissed Pastor William J. McIllwain. Deacons known to have served under Pastor W. J. McIllwain were: Deacons William Miller, Eddie Guess, Alvin Oree, Jr., Jerry Wilson, Wilbur Tucker, Lewis Brown, John Edmonds, Wilbert Howard, Richard Hunter, Leroy Butler, and Paul Mack, Sr.

February 1985, Reverend T. R. Kennedy assumed the duties of Interim Pastor. During his tenure, the Church purchased seven (7) lots of land adjacent to the present location. On April 23, 1985, Sister Flossie Alston was elected as the first woman to serve as Clerk of the Church. Others known to have served as Church Clerk were: Brothers Robert Haynes, Sr., Joseph King, and Eddie Guess. The congregation adopted its By-Laws on August 13, 1985.

In July 1986, The Reverend Doctor Albert Aiken Neal accepted the call to follow his father, Pastor J. P. Neal, Sr., and grandfather, Pastor J. W. Neal, as the pastor of Antioch. On October 26, 1986, Pastor A. A. Neal was officially installed as the seventh (7th) pastor of Antioch.

January 23, 1987, the Reese Memorial Singers officially became an organization of the Church. The Children's Choir was reorganized in September 1988 under the leadership of Sisters Lila Causewell and Connie Weston. In 1991, the Children's Choir was renamed The Sonlight Choir.

In the fall of 1989, the Church established a Tutorial Program for its school-age children. Sister Mildred Johnson was the first Directress. The 100 Black Men of Columbia was instrumental in providing computers to support this program and gave certificates to the members for their outstanding services to the Tutorial Program. A Church Van was purchased on March 25, 1992 and dedicated on April 12, 1992.

The Antioch Male Chorus was formed in June 1992. Sister Delores E. Grant and Sister Rhodessa Smith worked hard with the Chorus. Sister Rhodessa Smith is presently serving as Church Musician (January 2002). Sister Grant served as Assistant Musician from 1990 to 2008. Other known musicians to have served were: Brother Ernest Long, Sisters Mary Belton, Lillie Mae Greene, Bernice Hampton, Marian Fedric, Jode Daniels Steadman, Ernestine Youngblood, Gloria Etheridge, Gwen Davis, Rhodessa Smith and Brother James Odom.

In August 1992, with the foresight of Sisters Margaret Gary and Dorothy P. Rhue, a Nurses Guild was organized.

In January of 1996, the Youth Inspirational Gospel Choir became an organization of the Church. Sister Virginia L. Miller was the inspiration for forming this group. Under the leadership of Pastor A. A. Neal, groundbreaking services were held on June 29, 1996 for the construction of THE ANTIOCH FAMILY LIFE CENTER. Dedication Services were held on Sunday, December 14, 1997 and the cornerstone was placed on the Life Center on Saturday, September 25, 2004.

The Deaconess Board, in October of 1997 held their first meeting. The recorded officers were: President, Sister Rosa Oree; Vice President, Sister Virginia Miller; Secretary, Sister Virginia Neal; Treasurer, Sisters Lessie Haynes and Lessie Fewell; and Chaplain, Sister Marian Tucker.

On March 7, 1998, under the auspices of the Senior Missionary Society and the spiritual directions of Sister Pearl Sumpter and Sister Marian Tucker, the Junior Missionary Society was reorganized. Sisters Virginia Neal, Lessie Fewell and Rosa Gibson assisted in the organization of the group. The elected officers were: President, Edonna Harrison; Vice President, Nadia Williams; Secretary, Ashley Sumpter; Assistant Secretary, Ayla Tyler; Chaplain and Assistant Chaplain, Ashley Epps and Latifah Lowman respectively, and Treasurer, Sophia Powell.

Antioch's mortgage on the FAMILY LIFE CENTER was paid in full on July 30, 2001. On April 5, 2002, the Church purchased additional property (4.33 acres) on Clyburn Street.

On June 3, 2003, the Church purchased additional property (2.18 acres) on Pratt Street. On September 5, 2003, a Church bus was purchased and dedicated on Sunday, September 28, 2003 The following persons gave their initial sermon from the pulpit of Antioch Baptist Church: Brothers Simon White, Jr., John C. Williams, Talmadge J'Von Neal, Albert Aiken Neal, Levi Bellamy, James P. Neal, Jr., Addell Whittenburg, Thurmond Merchison, James K. Tucker, Sister Kathy Brigman Barr, and Brother Sam Rhue, III.

Trustees serving in 2006: Odell Weston, Chair, Leon Howard, Co Chair, Tenna Hayes, Secretary, Willie A. Harris, Chaplain, Woodrow Adams, Treasurer, Leroy Keith, James Harrison, Gregory Williams, Robert Hopkins, Oliver Francis, John Jackson, Sr., Frank Wilson, Jr., Joan S. Adams, Sandra M. McKie, and Frankie J. Wilson; 2008 added Sam Rhue, Alvin Oree, III and James C. Hall. The late Deacon Fred Miller served as Chairman of the Trustee Board from 1956 to 1987 and Brother Leroy Keith served as Chairman from 1987 to December 2003. Deacons serving in 2006: Robert Currie, Chairman, Ervin Fewell, Robert Harrison, Wilbert Howard, James F. Major, Wilbur Tucker, Sr., Jerry L. Wilson, Sr., Robert Weston, and Wardell Epps, Jr.; 2008 added Ronnie Arnold, Sr. and Clarence Jones. The late Deacon Alvin Oree, Jr. was ordained a deacon in 1954 and served as Chairman of the Deacon Board until May 2003.

Deacon Marcellus Etheridge was the first Superintendent of the Sunday School, serving from 1922 to 1936. Deacon Fred Scott was Superintendent from 1936 to 1957. Deacon Oree served as Assistant Superintendent from 1948 to 1958 and as Superintendent from 1958 to 1985. Deacon Wilbur Tucker served as Superintendent from 1985 to 2006; Sister Debra Hayes succeeded him in 2006 and serves currently.

The Treasurers who served the Church previously: Deacons Johnnie McKnight, Elliott Lowman, Alvin Oree, Jr. Brother Odell R. Weston served as Church Treasurer from 1982 to January 2004. Sister Frankie J. Wilson assumed the duties February 2004 and served until her death in April 2010.

The Antioch Baptist Church Community Park and Walking Trail was dedicated on June 7, 2008. The angel of death was sent on Saturday, July 5, 2008 to call into eternal rest the gentle spirit of our Church Mother, Rosa Lee Reese Oree. Sister Ruth Ann Oree was elected to serve as Church Clerk on January 27, 2009, and on July 28, 2009, Sister Marian B. Tucker was selected as Mother of the Church.On July 27, 2010, Brother James S. Benson was elected to serve as the sixth Church Treasurer serving out the term of the late Trustee Frankie J. Wilson.

During the 96th Church Anniversary, September 26, 2010, the following members were honored for fifty (50) years of continued membership: Trustee Woodrow Adams, Sister Flossie Alston, Brother Robert Anderson, Sister Villa Dean Anderson, Sister Lucille Epps, Sister Rosa Lee Funney, Trustee James C. Hall, Deaconess Edna Harrison, Sister Peggy Harrison, Deacon Robert Harrison, Sister Rosa O. Jackson, Sister Dornetha R. Johnson, Sister Mary M. Jones, Sister Rosa S. King, Sister Rue Bell Mickens, Trustee Alvin Oree, III, Sister Frances Smith, Sister Pearl Sumpter, Deacon Wilbur Tucker, Sr., Mother Marian B. Tucker, Sister Delphine Washington, Sister Daisy R. Weston, Sister Eloise Weston, and Trustee Odell R. Weston.

On January 25, 2011, Trustee Tenna P. Hayes relinquished the position of Financial Secretary after having served for nine (9) years. Sister Loreyetta Bush-Downs was elected to serve in this position.

Antioch's Benevolent Contributions include: Cooperative Ministries, Central Carolina Center, Columbia Free Medical Clinic, Consaldro District 1 Boy Scouts, National Youth Sports Program, National Youth Games, Radio Bible Class Ministry, United Way of the Midlands, Columbia Urban League, Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Greater Columbia; and educational contributions to Morris College, Benedict College, and members of the Church that are seventy (70) years of age or older - a member for three (3) years.

Under the leadership of our seventh Pastor, Albert Aiken Neal, a third generation Neal, Antioch looks forward to new chapters in community service and Christian fellowship. Pastor Neal is committed to integrity and to excellence in preaching and communicating with God's people through Biblical truth and its applications; cherishing the past, serving the present, and fearlessly facing the future with committed officers and members.

Antioch is an Independent Educational and Missionary Baptist Church. It operated through democratic processes under the Lordship of Jesus Christ in the Wateree Baptist Association - Upper Division. Antioch is a member of the Baptist Educational and Missionary Convention of South Carolina, and is affiliated with the Progressive and National Baptist Conventions of America.