First Baptist Church Observing 130th Anniversary

By Sarah Stubbs
First Baptist Church Dillon will celebrate its 130th Anniversary October 17, 2021 with the theme “Generation to Generation.” Former pastor William R. (Dickie) Cullum will be the guest speaker at the 10:30 a.m. service. Jamie Arnette is Senior Pastor.
The vision of a Baptist church in Dillon was realized Sunday, June 28, 1891 when 15 people, who were to become charter members, held an organizational meeting. The church was given the name Dillon Baptist Church and Rev. R. H. Burriss was called to be the first pastor. The church met the second and fourth Sundays of each month at an academy located on 4th Avenue and Washington Street. After the academy moved and Dr. J. H. David donated an additional lot adjoining the academy lot, a permanent church building was completed in 1894.
The church was the first brick church building east of the Great Pee Dee. The first parsonage was later completed in the early 1900’s. The name of the church was changed to First Baptist Church sometime between 1906 and 1910; September 4, 1949 marked the first time deacons were elected by the church membership; and the church became incorporated in 1962.
Just as the world has changed since 1891, First Baptist Church Dillon has also changed. Additions and renovations have been made to the original building. A Sunday School annex was built in 1918; an educational annex was built in 1949; a new sanctuary was built in 1954; a new parsonage was built in 1959; another Sunday School annex was built in 1962; the remaining lots on the block were purchased in 1968; rooms were added to the parsonage in 1970; the sanctuary, kitchen, fellowship hall and Sunday school rooms have been renovated over the years.
Programs have also undergone changes throughout the years. Within the last 30 years, changes have included: Royal Ambassadors (RAs) and Girl Auxiliary (GAs) were replaced with AWANAs; Training Union was replaced with small group studies; a Deaf Ministry was begun; Children’s Church was added to Sunday Morning Worship; and, Sunday Morning Worship services are now led by a Praise Band and Praise Singers rather than a choir. First Baptist Church has also moved into the age of technology. Sunday Morning Worship services are live streamed each Sunday morning on both FaceBook and YouTube; many in the congregation have the Bible on their phones; song lyrics are projected on a screen; tithes and offerings can even be given online.
First Baptist Church Dillon is not just the physical building and its programs; it is also the people. Throughout its history, First Baptist Church Dillon has been blessed with leadership and members who possess servants’ hearts. They seek to follow the command Jesus gave in the Great Commission. The work of the Church does not take place only within the walls of FBC. Many have participated in mission trips to locations such as West Virginia, Cuba, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, and Honduras. The Church supports missions through the Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program and special Southern Baptist mission offerings.
Through the Pee Dee Baptist Association, members participate in Disaster Relief; and, the church recently purchased a shower/laundry mobile facility to be used on disaster relief trips. Members feel they are part of a family and are willing to graciously give of their time and finances to keep the programs of the Church operating.
From 1891-2021, the world has seen many changes, and the church has been no exception. However, there has been one area where First Baptist Church has seen little change; the leadership of the Church has been strong.
There have been only five pastors to serve First Baptist Church Dillon in the last 73 years. Archie Thomas Usher (1948-1959), Frank Zedick (1959-1979), Fred Brown (1980-1993), William R. (Dickie) Cullum (1995-2018) and Jamie Arnette (2019-). Each pastor has possessed a different leadership style and a different personality.
One common thread between all of them has been their love of the Lord. First Baptist Church has been blessed by the men called to lead over the past 130 years.
Much has changed in the 130 years of First Baptist Church Dillon: the building, the programs, and the people. However, the message of salvation through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ has not changed.