To the glory of God from whom Shady Oak Baptist Church was founded, this shows the dedication of His servants for 150 years. “Do not despise the small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” (Zachariah 4:10) Our beginning started in 1853, when Fairview Presbyterian Church was built and recorded that they had “nineteen (19) Negro slave members”. Those slaves were made to sit in the balcony of the church called the “galley.” With the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, a newfound desire to live and worship free grew in the hearts of the former slaves. When not at church, they worshipped in their homes or in a small barn on the Peden farm near what would later become the future church site.
In the year 1872, John Thomason, an ex-slave of Gibson Thomason, was a prominent planter in lower Greenville County. He furnished the lumber to build the first church which was in the Hillside Community near Fountain Inn amongst a small grove of oak trees. Mr. Thomason built the pillars and helped lay the foundation for the church under a spacious oak shade tree. As a result, the church was named “Shady Oak.” Many times, the church and community would rest and visit with friends and relatives after a long hard day on the farm and relax in the cool shade of the oak trees.
During this period, a Pastor had not been called to serve; therefore, the leaders of the church conducted worship services. On many occasions members of the white community came and sat in the back pews during service. A short time later, Rev. William Morgan became the first Pastor with John Austin as the first Deacon.
The first church building was sold to Johnny Sprouse, a white farmer who converted the building into a cow barn. In 1890, a new and larger church was erected a short distance from the original site. It was dedicated with John Austin, John Thomason, Benjamin Franklin Terry, Anderson Epps, Mack Dozier Dial, Edward Fowler, and Dolphus “Dock” Thomason as the Board of Deacons. It was widely known that John Thomason played an important role in starting the church as one of the builders of the original board, and charter member of the organization. This fact garnered him the utmost respect from both races.
In 1907 land was purchased from Mrs. Mattie Hopkins, for the price of twenty-four (24) dollars. The land was located on McKittrick Bridge Road in the hillside section of the Fairview Township of Greenville County.
Shady Oak’s history consists of 13 Pastors and 1 Interim Pastor.
Rev. William Morgan (After 1872)
Rev. York Parkins (Unknown)
Rev. Marshall Cunningham (Unknown)
Rev. James W. Hill (1907-1935)
Rev. Humbert B. Dawkins (1935)
Rev. John H. Fowler (unknown)
Rev. Eugene Howard Herbert (1954)
Rev. Thomas J Crosson, (1954 - 1960)
Rev. Dr. Charles Mackey Daniels (1961- 1962)
Rev. Dr. Alexander Benjamin Brockman (1968 – 1975)
Rev. Frank Foggie, Jr., (1975 – 1988)
Rev. Dr. Ronald Dexter Barton, (1990 – 2012)
Interim Pastor, Rev. Damon Qualls, (2012 – 2014)
Rev. Douglas Simmons, M.Div., (2014 to present)
In the late 60’s, the members started relocating to South Greenville County to be closer to their jobs. Many of the church’s families moved away from the more rural Fountain Inn area. This affected the potential growth of the church. Deacon Anderson D. Durant dreamed of moving Shady Oak to a more populated area. He found some land on White Horse Road owned by Mr. John T. Harris and the church purchased it on July 12, 1968, for two thousand (2,000) dollars. Many members did not want to move, and it started a conflict that eventually ended in court. Members who wanted to move were granted the right to move to the White Horse Road property and would be called Shady Oak Baptist Church, while the members who did not want to move were allowed to establish in the Simpsonville area and be known as Old Shady Oak Baptist Church.
In 1970, Shady Oak constructed a new church on the White Horse Road property in Greenville. The church was completed and dedicated on October 17, 1971. At first, worship services were held only on third Sundays and eventually first Sunday was added. When growth occurred and membership size started to increase, worship was held each Sunday.
In February 1975, Shady Oak Baptist Church obtained incorporation to operate The Shady Oak Baptist Church Child Care Center. Dr. A.B. Brockman was the director of the daycare with Rev. Franklin Richardson, Rev. David L. Terry, Deacon A.D. Durant, and Deacon Robert Fowler serving as the Managers. Under the leadership of Rev. Frank Foggie, Jr., the church purchased a building that had once been a furniture store on the adjacent property. It became the A.D. Durant Family Life Center. Under Pastor Foggie’s leadership the church obtained its incorporation on January 16, 1986.
In 1997 under Rev. Barton’s leadership, the A.D. Durant Family Life Center was renovated into the Worship Center and on Easter of the same year, the first worship service was held in the building. One Sunday Rev. Barton led the congregation to walk across White Horse Road on 11.6 acres of land based upon (Joshua 1:3). On February 24, 1999, Shady Oak purchased the acreage with plans to construct the Faith Dome on the property. In 2003, the congregation built and occupied its present worship facility, which seats over 1,000 people. To support the surrounding District 25 community, the A.D. Durant Family Life Center was renamed and dedicated as the Shady Oak Empowerment Center in 2007, which was equipped with a computer / learning lab available to the community.
In 2012, Rev. Damon Qualls became the Interim Pastor. His role was significant in growing the church spiritually and providing a digital presence. The church Constitution and By Laws were developed along with the Budget Oversight Committee focusing on essential spending. The Seed of Sacrifice (S.O.S.) 5th Sundays and the Third Sunday in October were established for Church Anniversary and Revival. As part of community outreach weekly backpacks of food were provided for students at Alexander Elementary School. Shady Oak was introduced to social media platforms and a weekly newsletter. In 2014, the Pastoral Search Committee was formed in review of applicants for a new Senior Pastor.
On October 19, 2014, Shady Oak Baptist Church welcomed our current shepherd, Rev. Douglas Simmons, M.Div., his wife Ronda Risher Simmons, and daughters Taylor and Tyra. Under his pastorate, we have developed a “Heart for the House” through his vision and teachings on the Love of Christ, foremost and sacrificial giving. The following projects have been completed: the chapel’s roof replacement, upgrades to computer systems/networks, upgrade to media soundboard, speaker replacements, streaming services & licensing, installation of the brick campaign memorial, the recent pulpit expansion, installation of the videowall and the installation of the water guard system in the Empowerment Center. We provide outreach services to the following: the Shady Oak Food and Clothes Bank, the annual turkey giveaway, the So Send I You mission, the Shady Oak Scholarship, and the Good News Club with Thomas E. Kerns Elementary School. Shady Oak has reestablished the Total Empowerment Community Development Corporation. The church is currently active in the Reedy River Baptist Association, the Greenville Baptist Ministers Fellowship, the Baptist Educational & Missionary Convention of South Carolina and the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.
Our history has shown what God has brought us through but most of all where God has brought us to. In His service, we work. In His calling, we minister. In His love, we reach mankind. In His joy, we work diligently to reach a higher level of commitment through Worship, Stewardship, Discipleship, and Leadership. We want to hold true to being, “A Church Committed to the Kingdom”.