A Community of Faith


The following story about the Glendale Churches was furnished by Rev. Clarence Crocker, a life long Glendale resident.
To fully appreciate the spiritual life of Glendale, I believe one needs to begin by looking  at  the background of its founder.

From the numerous historical records I have of Dr. James Bivings founder of Bivingsville, (Glendale) I am compelled to believe that he was a man of integrity, a popular physician, a successful business man and entrepreneur. He was a man of high morals, much opposed to intoxicating drink and the breach of the Sabbath. He was a loving father, a devout Methodist and a man of great Faith.

Moving to Lincolnton, N.C. at about the age of 35 and finding no church home, he was instrumental in the construction of the first Methodist Church of the Lincoln Circuit of which he later became a Trustee. Before leaving Lincolnton, he assisted in stabilizing the Rock Springs camp grounds of the Methodist Church which was attracting 1000s annually from all faiths.

It’s no wonder that among his first works after arriving in South Carolina was to construct a little Community Church building in which people of all Faiths might be able to worship and strengthen their personal Faith. Though records, which I have, shows such and old timers told us about it, an article printed in the  Spartan dated March 10 1880 confirms this fact. It reads, “Dr. Bivings had the thorn bushes and scrubby cedars removed, the gullies filled, a cotton factory, houses, a church and shops put upon the waters of Lawson Fork”

A word of clarification is in order at this point. It’s obvious that the Community Church and the Community building have often been confused in conversations and written articles because of their similarities. Both were built by the Mill company. School classes were held in both. For varying reasons, Church services were held in both but they were two separate buildings, located in two different locations in the village. 

After leaving Bivingsville, Dr. Bivings settled in a little place called Crawfordsville (Fairmont), died there and obviously, a member, was buried in the Fairmont Methodist Cemetery, The Methodist Christian Advocate carried his obituary in it’s publication. (See picture.)

One of the older elders of the Fairmont Church told me that Dr. Bivings would take his horse and buggy to go visiting among the sick of the community. It is said that he set high moral standards for his workers and sought to protect them from bad influences. He was indeed a good man!

The Bivingsville Community Church

All records indicate that it was built somewhere about mid to late 1830s. It was located at the knoll of Main Street, as it was called at that time, directly in line with the front door of the old mill. The Methodist Church stands on this spot today. At it’s side lay the remains of some of the first residents who died in the community. My great grandfather, William Wilburn Crocker and his wife, Nancy who were among the first residents of the village, are buried there along with many outstanding early leaders of the community.

For the first fifty years or so of Bivingsville, the road which began at the bridge turning right to run in front of the mill continuing north uphill and turning left at the knoll to run back into the Clifton/Whitestone road forming a loop through the village, was called Main Street. (see Bivingsville Baptist Church deed which follows) It was later changed to Mill/Shady Street and today is made up of three streets, Glendale Ave., Douglas and Church Street. Though Broadway was quick to follow, obviously Main Street was the first street developed in the village.

Old records show that Dr. Bivings had built 12 homes before leaving the village. Using the same materials, painted six inch novelty siding, as used in the Bivings house, there were eleven or twelve houses unlike any others of the entire village built on Main Street behind the Bivings house. At that time, the Twitchell house had not been built. They were obviously built for the craftsmen/overseers Dr. Bivings brought with him to build and start up the mill. At that time mill workers were coming from farms and other areas there about. Though some were torn down and two or three burned, several of those original houses stand today on Douglas Street. (See pictures below.)


All other houses of the village were built of 6 to 12 inch rough boards which were whitewashed. My grandfather was born in one of those whitewashed houses on Broadway street, September 7, 1847. (See pictures below.)

Main Street was the only one in the village that ever had a hand pump in the well  from which residents and the Church got their water, (See picture.)

The little connector in front of the Church today has  been changed to Wheeling Circle. Word was that the Church flourished, enjoyed high attendance and had a real influence on the community. It was reported that Dr. Bivings stopped work at the plant one time asking the workers to attend the revival which was in progress at the Church. After the revival, he reported that both work and quality had much improved.

Eventually there were four different denominational bodies organized and churches built in the village.

Glendale Methodist Episcopal Church

Located today on the same spot where it began some 155 years ago the Methodist Church became the first Denominational church in the village. Being the predominant body of Believers in the early days of the village, eighty to ninety percent of the Mill officials were Methodist, they organized as a body in the early 1840s and obviously assumed leadership of and responsibility for the Bivingsville Community Church.

Most likely, Dr. Bivings was listed among their membership. Becoming known as the  Methodist Church, they continued to meet and worship in the Community Church building, making numerous improvements and renovations as needed but  it was not until July 18,1889 that D.E. Converse company gave a deed of ownership of the property to B. F. Helmes, S. Shealy, Thomas Gilmer, H. M. Kirby and J. W. Bagwell as trustees of the Glendale Methodist Episcopal Church for the lot and property whereon the Church stood. (Deed book BBB Page 549 Spartanburg Court House. It appears as Lot 21 on the Glendale Mills Subdivision Plat 4/25/1955 The Cemetery shows as Lot 22.)

There was an  article in the Spartanburg newspaper in July, 1914 about a youth program at the Methodist church. Click on Youth Program to read about this along with news about social events in Glendale.

Click this link for a full list of the Methodist  preachers at Glendale. A new church was built in 1907 with the D. E. Converse Co. giving a sizable amount towards the cost of the structure. The mill deducted from a member’s paycheck, donations to the church when requested by the employees. (See picture.)

Rev. Dr. David E. Camak, while serving as Pastor of the Glendale Church, founded the Spartanburg Textile Institute in 1911 which is now known as the Spartanburg Methodist College.

One member of the church, Emmie Tew, worked actively in the church and in the community helping families in need.

Reports were that the Church flourished greatly for many years. A parsonage was built and the Church building underwent extensive renovations in the late 1940-50 with a parsonage and fellowship building being added. (See pictures below.)

Various new programs were added and according to a news release on June 11th, 2005 announcing the closure, attendance and membership increased for a while. However with Glendale Mills and the village having been sold in mid 1950s, stopping production altogether in 1961, many members were lost and attendance dropped as the village population decreased.

In the news release announcing the final service,  the Pastor, Rev. Larry Hyder,  stated that  membership dropped in the 1970s for the first time since 1910. While there was a slight increase in 1995 by adding extra programs, unfortunately membership dropped again, he stated. It was decided to close the doors for good, transferring the membership to the Ben Avon Methodist Church where he also served as Pastor. The final service at Glendale was held on June 12, 2005. The name of the Church had been changed to “The Glendale United Methodist Church” many years before.

Remembering how Methodists had been such a vital part of the structure and life of the community, residents of all Faiths were saddened at the news. Some of the finest families and most wonderful people to be found anywhere, were members of the Glendale United Methodist Church. It was among the oldest Churches in Spartanburg County. According to the records which I have, they have had some 40 Ministers to serve as their Pastor over the years.

While there may have been more, to my knowledge Glendale Methodist Church has had four men from  their body  to  enter the ministry. Rev. Will (Ducky) Rogers, who served as a Missionary for many years, Revs. Robert and Richard Hopper and Rev. Elmer Weathers.

Since the date of the closure, the property has been sold and is occupied by the Glendale Outdoor Leadership School of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation. The Church Building as it appeared in 2004 and today. (See pictures below.)

Bivingsville (Glendale) Baptist Church

Organized March 11, 1876 as a mission of the Bethesda Baptist Church and constituted July 4,1876, the Bivingsville Baptist Church became the second denominational Church in the village. Rev. John S. Ezell served as  first Pastor, 1876-79

Alternating between the Community church which had now become the Methodist Church and the Community building, Baptist met about  twice a month until they were able to build their own building.

In June 1876, The D.E. Converse Co. gave a 1/2 acre plot north of Main Street to James R. Thomas, Hugh Thomas and William Thomas as Trustees of the Bivingsville Baptist Church for the purpose of building a place for Divine Worship. (Deed Book NN page 525 Spartanburg Court house. Lot No. 35 on Glendale Mills Subdivision Plat 4/25,1955)

With Mr. Dexter Converse spearheading the fund raising committee, the Church body voted to build their first Church house on the spot where it stands today. Mr. Converse personally gave $100 dollars. At that time, the membership stood at 46. The building was built in 1878 at the cost of $1000.00. Rev. John G. Ezell was Pastor. The church name was later changed in keeping with the village name. The Church report to the Association in 1899 showed the membership had increased to 164. (See picture.)

Under the leadership of a building committee composed of W.W. Walker, E. C. Pettit, S. P. Sutton, W. M. Thomas and E, Earl Crocker with the Pastor Rev. J.D. Bailey, a new Sanctuary was built and dedicated Sept. 1910 at a cost of $3500.00. (See picture.)

Having known Mr. Judd McKinney who had remodeled the Methodist Church in 1907, the Baptist contracted with him to build their new church. Judd McKinney died during the time of construction and Will McKinney was employed to finish the job. The church alternated its services again between the Methodist Church and Community building during the time of construction. The Sanctuary was heated by two large pot belly stoves located between the pulpit and congregation until a furnace was eventually installed. 

Having used various outdoor pools and streams for baptismal services for many years, a baptismal pool,( in which I was baptized), was built under the pulpit in the church and was used until the present building  was constructed.

Classrooms were added in 1933 with the W.P.A. having prepared the foundation. Having already raised some of the money needed for the project, three hundred dollars were borrowed from a member, Mr. John T. Varner, to complete the work. Building committee was composed of, Albert E. Crocker, John Hunter, Jim Thompson, Mr. & Mrs. Charlie Sams, Mrs. John Varner, Mrs. G. P. Lanier, Mrs. Silas Pruitt. And Rev. G. P. Lanier, Pastor

A Parsonage was built in 1945-46. A committee composed of Albert Crocker, Farold Sams, Ellis Hunter, Banks Thomas, Mrs. Frank Bates, Lillie Belle Collins and Nell Corn was elected by the Church. Albert Crocker was to supervise the construction. Mr. Vance McGraw was general contractor with Mr. Hydrate Brown being the finish carpenter. Rev. Elvin Jones was Pastor (See picture.)

With membership steadily increasing, additional classrooms were added in 1949. Elmer Willis, Chairman, Vannie McGraw and Clarence Crocker made up the building committee. Rev. Timothy Hottel was Pastor. The classrooms were heated by gas space heaters. (See picture.)

In March of 1961, a completely new Sanctuary was dedicated. The building committee was composed of, Elmer Willis, Howard Lee, J. Rhett Thomas and Clarence Crocker, chairman. Rev. Timothy Hottel was Pastor. Having torn the old Church building down, the congregation met for worship in a tent located beside the S.S. Building during construction of the new church building. Click on this link to see photographs of the construction.


A new parsonage  was built in 1980 with the old parsonage becoming the Church office which has now been remodeled and is the home of the Youth Minister and his family. (See picture.)

A fellowship building was added in 1993 (See picture.)

Men who have been ordained by the Glendale Baptist Church are; Rev. Boyce Coates, Rev. Clyde Quinn,Feb.1937; Rev. David Hottel,June1957; Rev. Clarence Crocker, March 1962;Rev. Chalmers Coggins,Jan.1968; Rev. Ralph Jett. August 1973 and Rev. Charlie Sams.

The sale of the village and close of the mill has affected the church drastically but it continues to thrive. The church has a total of 619 members but attendance has dropped drastically. As of this writing, Glendale Baptist has had 23 different Ministers to serve as it’s Pastor.

The Glendale Wesleyan Methodist Church

Organized in 1899 the Glendale Wesleyan Church was the third body of Believers to organize and build as a denominational  Church in the village. Though it  was organized in 1899 and built shortly thereafter, it was not until June 7, 1966 that a “Quit Claim” deed for the property was given to Archie Deaton, Vanny Cudd and Virginia Rogers as Trustees of the Glendale Wesleyan Church (As recorded on book 46G Page 540 noted as lot # 89 on the Glendale Mills Subdivision Plat of 4/25/1955.)

The Church later built a parsonage which is used today as a fellowship building. (See picture.)

After checking with the Pastor, Rev. Franklin Cantrell, it seems that the Church has not kept  complete historical records. I did find that the Church has had some forty men and one lady to serve as Pastor. A listing of these pastors can be read at Wesleyan Pastors. Some served two or three different terms. The Pastors who served jointly for the first two years,1899-1900, were Rev. L.W. Johnson and Rev. D.R. Brown.

I remember the day when this Church was a lively, thriving body of Believers. As a young boy, I visited this Church with my mother who had many dear friends among their congregation. They were a singing, shouting body of Believers and on special days the Church would be filled with some standing along the walls. The windows would be open with fans, electrical and hand fans furnished by the morticians going full blast.

Some of the large families which I remember as members of the Church were named Deatons, Cudds, Mrs. Ella Cudd joined the church in 1926 and remained a member until her death in 2006. Then there were the Castons, the Pucketts, the Solesbys, the Harmons and the Murrays. All were large families and contributed to the size of the congregation. Mrs. Lillie Murray was the pianist for many years and could motivate everyone to sing by her playing.

Like the other in-village Churches, the Wesleyan Church struggles today due to low membership and attendance brought about by the closing of the mill and moving of many members from the community. Their membership today (2009) is in the low thirties. The present Pastor is Rev. Franklin L. Cantrell who has served since 1977.

The Glendale Pentecostal Church

 The fourth church to organize and build in the village was the Pentecostal Church. This Church was the fruit of a tent revival preached by the Reverend W.D. Smart of Greer, S.C. in 1929. The meeting was held in the wooded area on the very edge of the village adjacent the front yard of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Crocker.(My parents) From that revival, Mrs. Albert (Ella) Crocker, organized a group which began to hold meetings at our home place. Shortly thereafter, the group rented a warehouse on the edge of the village owned by Mr. John T. Varner. They organized as a Church with Rev. W. D. Smart serving as their first Pastor. Through consistent growth, they were able to build a Church home in 1937 located just inside the village at the end of Clifton street on a plot given to them by the Mill  (See picture.)

Over the years they added Sunday School rooms and made other improvements. On January 28,1950, Glendale Mills gave a deed to; M.A. Frye, Claude Reece, Dock Riddle, Burrell Lyda as trustees of the Glendale Pentecostal Church for the plot of land on which they had built. (Deed book 16WP Page 89 Spartanburg Court House. Lot #3 on Glendale Mill’s Subdivision plat dated 4/25/1955)

In 1977, having the opportunity to purchase a large new cabinet shop along side of the old warehouse where the Church first met, the church made the purchase, renovated the building for their new Church home. The old warehouse was moved behind the Church, renovated and used as a fellowship building. Following her death, the Church was named “The Ella Crocker Memorial Pentecostal Church” in memory of Mrs. (Ella) Crocker, it’s founder. (See pictures.)

A parsonage was later built on the grounds. (See picture.)


Two brothers, Troy and David Reece of the Church membership were ordained and became Pastors of Pentecostal Churches. Some 20 ministers have served as their Pastor.

Like all others, the closing of Glendale Mills and the loss of many village residents, membership has fallen and attendance dropped but the Church continues.

Black Churches

Lewis Chapel Baptist Church

No church for the Blacks was located in the village. While space was provided in the early Methodist Church for blacks to attend, the closest Church built specifically for the Blacks was located on Mill property about one mile from the village on the Thompson Ford road. This is the Lewis Chapel Baptist Church.

This Church, though located about a mile above the old mill, it is the only Church for Blacks in the community today. As noted on the corner stone, the Lewis Chapel Baptist Church had begun elsewhere in the late 1800s but it was not until 1921 that they built on their present location. On March 14,1907 D.E. Converse Co issued a deed to; The Lewis Chapel Church and it’s successors for a plot of land on the Thompson Ford Road (now called Lewis Chapel Road) for the purpose of building a church building. (Deed Book 5R Page 584 Spartanburg County Courthouse.) The Church was built in 1921. Their first Pastor was Rev. Marion Foster, 1914.

In 1954 the building was renovated.(See picture.)

With a thriving enthusiastic membership a new church was built in 1987. (See picture.)

In recent years they have built a large fellowship building just off the Glendale-Clifton road at Cedar Crossing on what was once the Jack McKinney farm. They seem to still be doing well. Some 12 ministers have served as their Pastor. (see picture.)

The Methodist Church for Blacks

Known as the “Holiness” Church, it was located on the same road just a short distance from Lewis Chapel. I have no history on the church except my personal knowledge. It was located just across the road from our farm land which ran along the road behind our home place. When it was built, I do not know. It had been there all my life until sometime in the 1940’s when it was destroyed in an electrical storm. The church was an oblong wood frame building with wide front doors and two front windows facing the road. They were known for “fire and brimstone” preaching, shouting and great singing. The building had seats reserved just inside the door for white visitors. On occasions of revivals or singings, white people from Glendale village and surrounding area would come, some going in and others sitting on the road bank on our side of the road to listen and observe the services and singing. They, like Lewis Chapel, had a wonderful group of members.

A footnote; All churches in the village were given land on which to build by the Mill Company along with a donation towards the construction of their first Church. Most original deeds contained a grandfather clause reverting the land to the Mill owners should the church cease. While some had already been updated, others were “reformed” by order of Judge Littlejohn, May 3, 1965.

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This web site has been started as a public service to share the story of Glendale. The web master and person to contact about putting information on the web site is Mary McKinney Teaster.  Contact her at:
marylee@glendalesc.com or by telephone at (843) 873-8117. See more information about Mary and her Glendale connection at Mary McKinney Teaster.