Second Laurens congregation celebrates 125 years of ministry

The congregation of Second Baptist Church of Laurens observed its 125th anniversary on Oct. 16.

The church was first organized as Little River Baptist Church on Oct. 3, 1897. Its first meeting took place under a brush arbor on Holmes Street. The church’s name was changed to Laurens Second in 1899, when it also joined Laurens Baptist Association.

The congregation met at various locations until a building was dedicated at the Holmes Street site, which was deeded to the church by the Laurens Mills Company, in 1902. Another sanctuary was dedicated in 1948 on the corner of Fleming and Cedar Streets.

Among the approximately 200 in attendance were children of past pastors: Harold Southerland, son of C.H. Southerland, 1941-1943; Bettie Craine Howe, daughter of J.P. Craine, 1944-1946; Elaine Cothran Taylor, daughter of Grange Cothran, 1946-1969; June Smith, wife of Joseph Smith, and children, 1970-2000.

Also attending were J.D. Shiflet, retired minister, and his wife, Sandra; Ervin Stutzman, interim pastor and associate pastor, and his wife, Wanda; James Hall, past music director and guest leader for the celebration, and his wife, Beverly; Johnnie Bolt of the Laurens City Council, who served as deacon for many years; and Myra Taylor, of Central Methodist Church, who gave the closing benediction.

Pastor Phil Wyatt, who began service in January of 2022, highlighted Second Baptist’s long, rich heritage of faithful service for Christ in the Laurens area. Although attendance has declined since its glory days of the 1950s and 1960s, he believes the Lord is not finished with His work.

“Our church is in the process of revitalization,” he said, “and I am excited about what the Lord is going to do in and through Laurens Second Baptist Church in the future.

“Come grow with us and experience the Lord’s faithfulness and blessings upon this ministry and the town of Laurens,” Wyatt added.