The Church's History
Fort Clark Baptist Church has a rich and colorful history spanning more than a century. Roots of the church can be traced back to slavery with an oppressed group seeking freedom through religious praise. Fort Clark was an outgrowth of the Bethlehem Baptist Church, the first African-American Baptist church in Western Kershaw County. Members living further away from Bethlehem desired a new church for conveniences.
Pastor Anthony C. Jumper and the church leadership agreed to issue letters of dismissal for the purpose of organizing a new church. On October 10, 1870, a church organizational council composed of Pastor Jumper and Rev. Monroe Boykin was called to form Fort Clark Baptist Church. The founding membership consisted of approximately fifty-five individuals. Services were held under a brush harbor on land owned by Mr. Earl Bowen.
In the latter 1800’s an acre of land was purchased from Mr. Bowen and a wooden structure was built. Remembrances of the church include lanterns being used for lighting and a pot-bellied stove supplying heat for the winter months. Baptisms were conducted in a man-made pool that used a nearby spring as its water source.
A fire leveled the old church building in the 1950s. It is believed that the fire was related to the activities of a local hate group. Mt. Sinai AME Church members were Christian-hearted enough to let Fort Clark have services in their church until a new brick facility was completed in 1957.
During the church’s one hundred forty nine year journey, only ten pastors have led the congregation. Rev. Anthony Jumper led the church during its founding years and served as pastor for more than twenty-five years. Pastor Sandy A. Boyd assumed the pastor-ship shortly after the resignation of Rev. Jumper. Pastor Boyd’s tenure was short-lived ending before the 1920’s when Rev. Gist Murphy was called to pastor the church. Members can recall Pastor Murphy riding his mule or driving his buggy to church. He is believed to have served as pastor longer than any other minister. Reverend Clarence Harrell assumed the pastorate shortly after the passing of Pastor Murphy.
Fort Clark’s fifth pastor was Reverend C.J. Britt. It was during his tenure that the church was burned to the ground. Pastor Britt became disabled shortly thereafter and Reverend John C. Williams served as interim pastor. Upon the death of Pastor Britt, Reverend Williams was asked to serve as pastor. Pastor Williams served for a few years and was followed by Reverend Levi Bellamy. In 1982, Reverend Tommy Rush became the eighth pastor of the church. During his tenure The education wing was added, a church bus and an additional tract of land were purchased so that the church’s physical growth would not be bound to the original acre.
Reverend William H. Woodard, Jr. assumed pastor-ship in 1989 as the church’s ninth pastor. During his tenure the sanctuary was expanded in 1994 to seat approximately three hundred people. In March 2000 the foundation was poured to what is now a new fellowship hall that will more than facilitate activities in the new millennium. Also two tracts of land, a church van, and church bus were purchased. Pastor Woodard resigned in May 2009.
Elder John L. Roberts became the 10th pastor on June 4, 2009. The Vision of FCBC is to go into all the world spreading the gospel ( Matt. 28: 19-20). Since Rev. Roberts became the pastor we have purchased the land across the street, including the house, and with that have established a Food Bank / Clothing outlet for those in need. Pastor Roberts also established a Summer Program for the children in the community.
One thing for sure, as this church continues to grow spiritually and physically, we know that the same God who brought us from the Brush Harbor continues to richly bless us today.