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When Doctor H.A. Ligon, Sr. established the Arcadia Mill Company in 1902 with himself as
president, treasurer, and buyer, he also established the community of Arcadia by building the houses
and, in 1904, a place of worship for both the Baptists and Methodists in the center of the village.
Hence, the beginnings of the Arcadia Baptist Church and a long-standing alliance with the Arcadia Mill
Organized with only 20 members and sharing space and every-other Sunday pulpits with the
Methodist church, the congregation soon grew. Rev. James R. Aiken was the first pastor and by
1906 the congregation had risen to 53 and well on it’s way to becoming a thriving Baptist church in
the Spartanburg area.
Outgrowing its present facilities, in 1926 the church asked the Arcadia Mill Company for a
building of their own and the Company agreed if the congregation would provide the furnishings for
the interior. The new building opened on June 26, 1927, with Rev. Charles Griffin as Pastor and was
located on Henry Street. At the time the church had 368 members and 28 awaiting baptism! The
name of the church was also changed to the Ligon Memorial Baptist Church in memory of the
community’s founder. Dr. Ligon passed away in 1925 from complications of surgery. At the time of
his death, he was president of the Arcadia Mill Company and The American National Bank. He also had
interests in Ligon’s Seed Store (formerly the Fairforest Cotton Oil Company) and Ligon and Grier
Insurance. A resident of Spartanburg for 44 years, Dr. Ligon was one of its most outstanding and
Mayfair Mills was organized in 1934 to operate the two plants of the former Arcadia Cotton
Mills—the Mayfair Plant, built in 1903, and the Baily Plant, which began production in 1923. The
church continued its close affiliation with the Mill Company and in 1938 they each shared equally the
cost of a three-story educational unit added to the sanctuary. In 1950, the congregation decided to
change the name of the church to The First Baptist Church of Arcadia.
Tragedy struck on December 23, 1958, when the sanctuary and educational annex were
completely destroyed by fire. The congregation of over 300 was devastated. However, the close
affiliation with the mill company and its newly elected president, Mr. Frederick B. Dent, helped to
continue the legacy of this fine congregation. Mayfair Mills gave over 3 acres and $30,000 total for
the church to rebuild on a new site adjacent to the newly erected parsonage on Spring Street.
Costing over $250,000, the church is a state-of-the-art design with a large A-Frame roof and multiple
classrooms. The building was opened and dedicated on January 1, 1961 and has continued to serve
the community at this location since.
Since 1904 the church has had 20 pastors many of whom, when the church was in its infancy,
were just part time. Salaries began at $22.25 per month. Now the church has an annual budget of
over $150,000. An accurate record of people who have served as choir or music directors has not
been kept, but it must be noted that Fred Epting served the church as choir director for over 40
years along with his wife Sarah who played the organ.
The congregation has always been a missions-minded group. Twenty-two percent of the 1959
church budget went to the Southern Baptist Cooperative Program for local, home, and foreign
missions. Keep in mind this was just a year after the church burned. The church has continued to
contribute generously to missions not only financially, but with people too. Dating back to October
11, 1925, when V.L. Edwards was the first person of the church to be licensed to preach. Neale C.
Young was sent and supported by Ligon Memorial as a missionary to Africa. Jimmy Holcombe was
ordained into the ministry in 1960 and went on to pastor several churches and was a missionary to
migrants in Florida. Everett Burnett was appointed missionary to Senegal in 1972 and later to Ivory
Coast. He now serves as a social worker with SCDHEC. Steven Ragan accepted God’s call to preach
and minister at age 16. A 2003 graduate of Dorman High School and a graduate of Erskine College
and Seminary, Steven presently serves Riverside Baptist Church as Executive Pastor. And most
recently, FBC Arcadia licensed Shawn Shipman to preach. Shawn is our current Minister of Music,
Youth and Children. He is working and attending Liberty University online. The church has also had a
close affiliation with the Arcadia Elementary School. Through the assistance of church member and
former principal Charlie Butler, since the mid 1960’s the church has graciously provided hot lunches to
needy children, textbooks, school supplies and most recently have been part of the Good News
Club. The youth go on mission trips nearly every summer to work and share the Gospel around the
One of the most exciting adventures that FBC Arcadia has embarked upon is the sharing of our
building with Iglesia Bautista Renacer, the Spanish-speaking congregation of Renacer Baptist Church.
For over two years now, we have shared our fine building so that this congregation may also use it
the way God planned it—for Worship and Christian Education.
The church has had its ups and downs over its 109-year history. Having ministered to over
2900 registered souls, over 1100 baptisms, we look forward to the future that God has planned for
us. We are grateful to the Arcadia and Mayfair Mill Companies for their generous alliance that we
shared for many years. We are grateful to God that now we can still serve these communities in
more special ways than were even considered in 1904. We are no longer just a community church,
but more of a global church reaching out to those who don’t even share our same language. God
has a plan for FBC Arcadia. We would love to have you come and share in that plan.
|A Brief History
First Baptist Church of Arcadia
1 http://southcarolinacurrency.com/Obit_-_HA_Ligon.html. Copyright 2013. Manning Garrett.
2 Frederick B. Dent, www.knowitall.org/legacy/laureates/Frederick%20B.%20Dent.html © 1999 South
Carolina Business Hall of Fame