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Association History

Thickety Mountain Baptist
Woman’s Educational and Missionary Convention

The Men’s Thickety Mountain Baptist Association in 1906 built Cherokee County’s first charter school to provide a place for poor, black boys and girls to get an education. This school was a two story wooden building named the Thickety Mountain Normal and Industrial Institute…later called for short, ‘The Institute’. Families did not have transportation during those dark times in the early 1900’s, so families in Gaffney and throughout Cherokee County sent their children to live and go to school at The Institute to get a high school education. The students roomed and boarded (ate and slept) upstairs and studied in classrooms downstairs. THE INSTITUTE was built on Thickety Mountain Baptist Association’s property on the site of the former Thickety Mountain Baptist Assembly Building on Highway 29. Realizing the cost of operating the school . . paying teachers and feeding and caring for the students, and fearful that the school would have to close, black missionary women decided to help with the expenses. Sister Phoebe McCree led by God 100 years ago on July 4, 1919, call the missionary ladies together and said let’s organize! We cannot allow this school to close. The women named themselves the Thickety Mountain Baptist Women’s Educational and Missionary Convention. To God be the glory!

In 1919, (1919-1926/ 7 years) the Women’s Convention chose Sister Cora Beaty to be their first president and Sister Mabel Cohen to be their first secretary. We give thanks to God and honor those missionary ladies in 1919, who had such courage, foresight, and vision. We honor those missionaries who led by the Spirit, kept the faith, fought a good fight, providing religious and public education, and kingdom building throughout those 100 years. The Convention made great strides during the early years supporting THE INSTITUTE, and helping other mission work financially and spiritually.

In 1926, (1926-1950/ 24 years) Missionary Minnie Linder was elected the Convention’s second president. The Women’s Convention continued to serve the community with its mission work and made great strides. In 1941 Missionary Moda Mathis of Young’s Grove was elected secretary. Missionary Susie Shippy was Treasurer; the Women’s Convention continued to grow.

In 1935 Under Minnie Linder’s leadership, the juniors were organized and junior boys and girls were brought into the flock. They recited speeches and recitations during the yearly meeting of the Women’s Convention and helped raise money to support THE INSTITUTE, the only black charter school in Cherokee County. The Junior Society was under the guidance of Minnie Linder; Mother Lillian Spears and Julia Lattimore Gaffney were appointed as Junior Supervisors. The Juniors began electing their officers, and attending district and state meetings. The Juniors began having a separate session of their own.

In 1968, Mother Lillian Spears resigned due to her health and Sister Gladys B. Goforth was appointed the Junior Supervisor. Mrs. Goforth was a vivacious supervisor. Being Limestone Church’s pastors’ wife and a teacher at Granard High School, she knew many children and kept them informed and on track. She directed the juniors in presenting great plays during the Junior’s Annual Session. She rallied the youth and encouraged evangelism and education pushing the youth to higher heights. Sister Robbs was also another warrior who carried the torch for kingdom building.

In 1973, Mrs. Goforth resigned and Mrs. Ruby Sanders was elected the Junior Supervisor and (Dr.) Mary Jones as assistant. Later, Mrs. Elvira Hunter became the Assistant Junior Supervisor, and then Sister Angela Dawkins. Finally as Mrs. Sanders’ health failed, Sister Angela Dawkins was appointed Junior Supervisor in 2016 and Mrs. Janie Young as Assistant Junior Supervisor.

1950 – (1950-1955 /5 years ) Missionary Marie Hardin was elected the Missionary Convention’s Third President. The Women’s Convention continued to grow and grow. President Hardin and the other officers continued to lead the women with tremendous zeal to serve the community through mission work. We have very little written data about her presidency other than she fervently carried the torch of the Missionary Convention.

In 1955, Missionary Geneva Jolly was elected the Convention’s Fourth President. The Missionary workers and leaders during this period included Moda Mathis (Young’s Grove) secretary, and Elizabeth Linder (Philadelphia). Under Geneva Jolly’s leadership in 1969, the Young Woman’s Auxiliary (YWA’s) was organized. Missionary officers during that time included Juanita Harrison appointed as the YWA supervisor, (Rev.) Mary Jefferies secretary, Mary Gaffney Knuckles treasurer and YWA supervisor. We have very little written data on the work of President Jolly but it is evident she lead effectively for 18 years with the love of God and Power of the Holy Spirit carrying forward the purpose of the Missionary Convention, mission and to educate.

In 1957, the Thickety Mountain Baptist Association Assembly Building had been built under the leadership of Dr. J.W. Sanders, Sr., Moderator and was dedicated in March 1957. The Woman’s Convention fifth Sunday services and annual conventions were now held at the Thickety Mountain Baptist Assembly Building. Many still referred to this building as THE INSTITUTE.

In 1973, Missionary Mary Gaffney Knuckles was elected the Convention’s Fifth President. She had served in various capacities under President Jolly and was ready to receive the torch and accept the responsibility of vital and bold leadership. Officers serving during this tenure included Daisy Smith (Mt. Sinai) vice president, Dr. Bertha Harris assistant, Cora Bridges (Bethel) secretary, Rev. Rosa Hamilton (Gethsemane) YWA Supervisor, Mrs. Otis Jones; and later Gracie Berry (Limestone) (1976), in new office of second vice president. Later (Dr.) Bertha Harris (Limestone) was secretary, Tecora Watts, (Dr.) Mary Jones, Ola Copeland, Wyonnia Littlejohn, Minnie Sherrill, Elmeta Littlejohn (Limestone) pianist and director of Convention Choir, Octavia Harley, Julia Gaffney Lattimore, Hannah Linder (Philadelphia), Elvira Hunter (Island Creek), Fannie Oglesby (Shady Grove), Mother Wray (Mikes Creek) and others served in various capacities. The Woman’s Convention missionaries continued to
grow stronger and matured in their mission objectives and activities to serve through education and mission. Two additional missionary auxiliaries were added, the Ministers’ Wives and Deaconess.

Being an educator, President Knuckles focused on training and beginning in 1975, the first of many missionary workshops were held yearly. Workshop presenters included Mrs. Hazel Posey Gaffney, missionary and educator/Tyger River Association; Dr. Anna Reuben, President of Morris College and Women’s State Convention; Dr. Arabella Rich, State YWA president; Mrs. Earl, NC Missionary Convention president; Dr. Mamie Coker, Woman’s State Convention president, Annie Littlejohn (Fernanders), from Gaffney who served as a missionary in East Africa for several years, Mary Knuckles Jones and others.

President Knuckles also served on the Woman’s State Educational & Missionary (E&M) Convention Board of Directors for 15 or more years preparing herself to continue visional leadership and develop networks and resources to benefit the Thickety Mountain Woman’s Convention that she loved so dearly. To motivate attendance at Quarterly Fifth Sunday Services, a worship and training service that had been a part of the Thickety Mountain Woman’s Convention for many, many years, she purchased a beautiful trophy as a competitive incentive. The church with the most persons in attendance was awarded the Attendance Trophy until the next fifth Sunday. The attendance increased with sometimes a hundred or more present as churches fought to win the trophy. Winners were publicized in the local newspaper. Knuckles was recognized with a Citation from Morris College President Dr. Luns C. Richardson, for her years of dedicated missionary service and her committed support of education and Morris College, Sumter, SC. during a 1982 commencement.

In 2001 (2001-2012 /11 years), Missionary Daisy Smith was elected the Conventions Sixth President. During her tenure, President Smith continued the fifth Sunday quarterly services and missionary workshops. Having a loving spirit, she worked diligently visiting convention churches during their missionary programs and oftentimes was invited to be their guest speaker. She also helped churches organize missionary circles at their local churches. She had a winning smile and was loved by her missionary co-laborers. Officers serving during her tenure included Tecora Watts vice president, Dr. Bertha Harris secretary and vice president, Jessie Manning secretary, Shirley Smith secretary, Wyonnia Littlejohn treasurer, Rubye Sanders Junior Supervisor, Dr. Mary Jones, publicity secretary, and others. The Convention continued to let its light shine for kingdom building. Under President Smith’s leadership, Rev. Omigene Proctor and Angela Dawkins were appointed Junior Missionary coordinators for the purpose of helping Sis. Rubye Sanders.

In 2012, Dr. Bertha Harris was elected the Convention’s Seventh President. President Harris had served many years in the Woman’s convention before becoming president beginning in perhaps the 1970’s having served as Secretary, and First and Second Vice-Presidents under Presidents Knuckles and Smith. This ably prepared her to work and lead on the mission field. Additionally, she served with the Woman’s Baptist Convention of South Carolina as Vice-President of the YWA’s for six years; she was a veteran in the missionary field and readily took the helm to served as President of the Thickety Mountain Woman’s Convention. The Convention moved forward with very enriching Fifth Sunday services, providing great information on various topics including religious education, health, and social service issues, all supporting mission and education in the Gaffney and Association community. The Missionary workshops and training sessions were continued and held every other year to reinforce the missionary goals. The workshops were named the ‘Daisy Smith Workshop’ in memory of the loving previous president. Under her leadership, the Women’s Convention expanded and partnered with sister conventions and churches in our area to share resources and strategies to educate the missionary ladies and extend the work of mission. Officers and leaders serving under her tenure included: Sisters Jessie Manning – secretary, Tecora Watts – second and first vice president, Dorothy Manning, secretary and second vice president, Shirley Smith – assistant secretary and later president, Wyonnia Littlejohn – treasurer, and Dr. Mary Jones – secretary along with others. During this time, Sis. Angela Dawkins was appointed Junior Supervisor and Sis. Janie Young was appointed Assistant Junior Supervisor. Dr. Harris hosted planning and dinner meetings at her home for her convention missionary presidents and staffs establishing rapport and enthusiasm for her church presidents and staff promoting zeal and passion for mission and education. She also organized a rotation system to ensure that every church had participation on programs throughout the associational year. Dr. Harris understood the importance of building on the foundation established by her predecessors and held the torch high and let the Convention’s light shine.

In 2016 (2016 – 2019), Missionary Shirley Smith was elected the Convention’s Eighth President. President Smith has utilized her experiences in her church and the Woman’s Convention to lead the women of Thickety Mountain. Serving as her church’s adult Sunday School teacher, church secretary, Cherokee County prison and hospital ministry, assistant secretary of the Woman’s Convention, as well as a student of The City of Hope Bible College have given her the spiritual and Godly tenacity needed to lead the Woman’s Convention to higher heights in the Lord. Also an educator and still teaching in Cherokee schools, she has stressed positivity and showing love to her students and her missionaries. During her tenure, the convention has grown as she evangelized in Jesus’ name. President Smith focused on unity and working together to achieve the missionaries’ common causes during Fifth Sunday services, love luncheons, and supporting mission home and abroad. The Daisy Smith Missionary workshops were continued to train senior, YWA, and junior missionaries. President Smith was dedicated to promoting love, unity, and cooperation. She instituted a Fellowship Luncheon held in February to include the women of the convention and all auxiliaries of the association. President Smith is Spirit-filled and allows the Holy Spirit to lead her as she led the Thickety Mtn. Woman’s Convention. Officers and leaders serving with President Smith include: Vice Presidents – Sis. Tecora Watts and Sis. Dorothy Man- ning, Secretary – Dr. Mary Jones, Assistant Secretary – Sis. Pondrienna Stevenson, and Sis. Wyonnia Littlejohn – Treasurer. Moderator C. Dennis Rector appointed Dr. Bertha Harris as advisor to the convention.

Historical sketch provided courtesy of TMBA Historian, Dr. Mary Knuckles Jones.

Download: TMBWEMC_100th_Anniv_Program_Oct2019

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