LAWTONVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH
Lawtonville Baptist Church predates the founding of the United States. While South Carolina was still a royal province of Great Britain, this church was constructed in March 1775. First known as the Savannah River, Carolina, Church and situated in upper St. Peter's Parish near the Savannah River, the church became known as Pipe Creek Church of Regular Baptists when a church building was constructed on Pipe Creek near what was to become the village of Lawtonville. The church thrived in this rural area; sixteen members were on the original church roll, and sixty- eight members were listed in 1778. In an area that was predominantly of Patriot inclination during the Revolutionary War, the church endured the war years and continued to grow in the years of the new United States.
Prior to 1836, the church was moved to the antebellum village of Lawtonville where it remained throughout the tumultuous years of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Although much of the village was burned in 1865, the church building survived because it was used as a hospital for Union soldiers. In 1884, the congregation voted to change the name of the church to Lawtonville Baptist Church. In the early 1900s, several miles east of old Lawtonville, the railroad was built from Columbia to Savannah. The Town of Estill developed near the railroad. Following the shift in population and economic vigor, in 1911, the church decided to move to Estill.
A site was chosen at the southeast corner of Fourth and Lawton streets and purchased by the church. The present sanctuary was constructed from a design submitted by noted Savannah architect Julian DeBruyn Kops. Tradition contends that the primary construction was under the supervision of local builder George Bender Clarke. The interior and exterior of the sanctuary feature Late Gothic Revival architecture, incorporating Judeo-Christian iconography and a magnificent House of worship. Sunday March 3rd, 1912, is the date of the first service in the new church, and a formal dedication took place on May 4th, 1912. 100 years after completion of the new sanctuary on October, 9th, 2012, Lawtonville Baptist Church was listed in the National
Register of Historic Places.
Serving the lower half of Hampton county for 245 years, Lawtonville Baptist Church remains an active and involved congregation. There are over 300 members listed on the church rolls. Sunday School and morning worship services are held every Sunday with children's and youth activities on Sunday evenings. Children's activities include GAs, RAs, Mission Friends and children's choirs occur on Wednesday evenings. Also on Wednesday evenings are adult prayer meetings and adult choir practice. A church wide supper is served preceding these Wednesday evening activities. The church sponsors a food pantry ministry to the community, a clothes closet, and a benevolence fund which is used to meet the needs of local people. Recently Lawtonville has become involved in Good News Clubs and Fellowship of Christian Athletes at schools. Additionally, the church sponsors several capital W. M. U. groups, Brotherhood, and a Youth Ministry.
The current pastor is Rev. Francis Asbury Lawton, IV. Although Rev. Lawton is from Greenville, he has deep roots in the Lawtonville area. It seems fitting that in Lawtonville's 245th year, a Rev. Lawton was in the pulpit once more; He, his wife Ashley, and their young children bring new life and energy to the church. Although Lawtonville Baptist Church is pleased that many of its families have worshipped side by side for more than six generations, the church values newcomers and welcomes all Christians to worship and be a part of the church. Proud of its 245 years of commitment and service to Christian principles, Lawtonville Baptist Church anticipates enlarging its ministry and local outreach. Coy Johnson Wrote in his award-winning history, TWO CENTURIES OF LAWTONVILLE BAPTISTS 1775-1975 that “Lawtonville, in Estill, is a solid, sound, progressive and active Baptist church, bringing the glad tidings of the Lord, and Sharing Christ through his word.” this church hopes to continue to fulfill its Christian mission, and, as it has for 245 years, be about God's good work in this world.
-Lillian Peeples Solomons
Updated January 11. 2020