The Woodruff Baptist Association is located in Woodruff, SC and serves the Southern Baptist churches in the surrounding area as well as the community of Woodruff.
Beginning in early 1978, the thought began to arise in the minds of the pastors and laymen of local Baptist churches, concerning the need of an association to serve these churches. Time produced a more serious concern, causing prayers and conversations about the subject Feeling that these concerns were "God led", meetings were then planned so as to have a formal time of prayer and discussions. Dr. Wilbur Rush was elected interim moderator. God revealed more needs for an association, in that it was brought to mind that this area was one with mostly small churches, and that many of these were led by bi-vocational pastors. Also these churches were on the outer boundaries of the association of which they were a member. A final planning meeting was held and nine churches made a commitment to be a part of a new, local association, should one be formed. Organizational meetings were then begun, and additional churches made a commitment. The number of churches now was 11.
Woodruff Baptist Association was organized on November 18, 1979 at Northside Baptist Church, Woodruff, South Carolina. Approximately 200 persons attended the organizational meeting. The organizational speakers were E. C. Watson, Assistant to the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention, and John Roberts, editor of the Baptist Courier. Dr. Roberts, at that time, was the president-elect of the state convention.
The association was organized with 11 churches from three different associations. These were Bellview (Greer), Bethany (Laurens), and the following from the Spartan Association: Cavins, Cedar Grove, Crestview, New Hope, New Life, Northside, Selma, Switzer, and West End. On December 9, 1979, Antioch (Spartan) joined the Woodruff Association, bringing the total churches to 12.
The following officers were elected to serve the newly-formed association: Wilbur Rush (Bellview pastor) - Moderator; Tom Turner (Northside pastor) - Associate Moderator; Bennie Ridlehoover (Selma pastor) - Clerk; and J. C. Sinclair (Cedar Grove pastor) - Treasurer. Mrs. Susan Boyter was elected January 8, 1980, as the first associational secretary.
On December 3, 1979, District Four Schools leased the cafeteria building at the abandoned Northside School to the Woodruff Association to be used as the association's first office. The association is eternally grateful to the school district for providing this space, rent free.
Selma Baptist Church was host to the first "M" Night on November 27, 1979. The WMU Fall Meeting was held at Northside. A Sunday School meeting was held at Antioch and another Sunday School meeting (two nights) was held at New Hope. A mission vacation Bible school was held on July 21-25 for the unreached children in the surrounding area.
The first Annual Associational Meeting was held at Bellview Church on October 16, 1980. Pineview Church was officially welcomed into the association at this meeting. Two other churches joined in subsequent years bringing the number of churches to 15. These were Unity (1981-Spartan) and Enoree First (1983-Spartan). In 1995 South Spartanburg joined, bringing the total to 16.
The association continued to use the cafeteria building as its office. However, in 1984, information was received that the school district had intentions to sell the property. The building committee reported to the Executive Committee on October of 1984, that one acre of land had been offered to the association, as a gift, for an office site, within the City of Woodruff. The moderator appointed a committee, consisting of one person from each associational church. These were asked to meet with their pastor, chairman of deacons, and chairman of the finance committee, concerning this subject and to give a report at the next meeting of this committee. A decision was made at this meeting that each member would search for available property that was suitable for an office site. During the next meeting it was discovered that a specific property was a unanimous choice.
A special meeting of the Executive Committee was called by the moderator on December 17, 1984 to discuss this project. It was recommended by the search committee that property be bought as a permanent office site, and that a parcel of property, containing one building, suitable for an office, after repairs, at the corner of North Main Street and West Peachtree Street, in the City of Woodruff, South Carolina be purchased for the amount of $26,000.00. A motion was made, seconded, and it carried. A motion was made and approved to ask each church to contribute $3.00 per resident member toward the purchase price. The property committees were elected to repair and furnish the office building. The Lord poured out His blessings, in causing great things to be accomplished. Local businesses gave large discounts on the materials that were purchased. Most of the labor was by volunteers, and the few things that were necessary to be performed by professionals, were also at an amazingly low cost. Many contributions were given, not only by the churches, but by individuals. Not by Baptists only, but Methodists, Presbyterians, and possibly others. The restoration work having been completed, July 28, 1985 was chosen as "Dedication Day."
In the early years, an annual Fall Choir Festival was begun, with an invitation to any area church who wished to participate. This festival has continued and has become the largest attended event sponsored by the association.
Two more churches requested membership in the Woodruff Association. Echo Hills was welcomed into the association in 1986 and Calvary Hills in 1988. Echo Hills later requested withdrawal from the association in 1989 to join the Greer Baptist Association. This made the total number of churches in 1989 stand at 16.
Dr. Herbert Garrett was called as Woodruff Association's first Director of Missions in January of 1994. Several new events were started in 1994 under his leadership. The Woodruff Baptist Association formed a partnership with the Greater Massachusetts Baptist Association, and in July of 1994 and 1996, around twenty members from the associational churches spent a week there conducting day camps. Also, the Woodruff Association now supports the Woodruff High School Teens for Christ and Fellowship of Christian Athletes each year as they present an Easter Sunrise Service. The association also began sponsoring a Pre-Thanksgiving-Service each year on Tuesday evening prior to Thanksgiving Day. This is area-wide, not just associational churches. And North Greenville College began to hold classes at the association office beginning in the fall of 1994 and continued through the spring of 1996.
Dr. Garrett resigned as Director of Missions to accept the call as pastor to Enoree First Baptist Church in October, 1994. At that time, Floyd Lancaster was called as interim Director of Missions and served through December 31, 1995. The Executive Committee met in December and voted to call William P. Clyde to serve as Director of Missions. He assumed duties January 2, 1996.
Dr. James T. Sloan was called as the Director of Missions in October 1997 where he served until his death on June 23, 2015.
God has profoundly blessed Woodruff Baptist Association as new and improved equipment has been added, new programs have developed, allowing the association to better serve the churches.
Woodruff Baptist Association now has 16 churches with a membership of 3,787.