Thrift Baptist Church
Our History

Here we will tell the story of the beginnings of our church and how we became what we are today.

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Our History:

In the years following the Civil War, many changes took place. Southern Plantations were broken up in favor of smaller farms; however, cotton prices fell and farmers suffered from the low prices. Southern manufacturing began to rise as factories were built, with the farm families furnishing the labor.

It was during this period that the Thrift Company built a plant and a later a community that became known as Thrift, NC (also known as Paw Creek, NC). New communities were developed around mills located in the countryside. This phenomenon is easily seen at Thrift. Growing with the construction of Thrift Mill and the P & N Depot in 1912 (and still visible today), the curved streets of the Thrift Mill Village were laid out around 1913. Although engulfed by urban expansion today, this was a rural area when construction began. As Thrift Company hired more people for their textile plant and built houses for them, the area became an active community. (1)

Reverand S F Conard
Thirft Baptist Founding Pastor (click)
The birth of Thrift Baptist Church was somewhat like a husband and wife coming together to be one person under the eyes of God. Rev. S. F. Conard, the first pastor, invited the good people of Long Creek Community - Long Creek Baptist Church - to join the people of this community of Thrift in forming a new Baptist Church. Since that day, we have seen their wise planning, and the wisdom and benediction of God upon such a move.
Thrift Baptist Original Church
Thirft Baptist Founding Memebers in front of church. (click)

The name 'Thrift' was accepted by the church primarily because the community and industrial plant at the time were named Thrift. In the light of such a move, the Thrift Company donated this location of ground to the church. The company also contributed the gracious amount of $500.00. The Thrift Company also donated land for a cemetery (Also See)to be used by both Thrift Methodist and Thrift Baptist churches. On May 12, 1971, Thrift Methodist gave Thrift Baptist their rights to the cemetery.

On a hot day in July 1914, more than a 100 people (50 members) gathered for the ceremony of officially starting another New Testament church. Rev. S. F. Conard invited Rev. L. R. Pruett of Charlotte to assist in the Organization of Thrift Church. Rev. Conard was pastor from 1914 to 1918. He gave the church full-time services, although he received half-time salary. Sunday School was held as soon as there was a sub-flooring, framing for the walls and rafters. Benches were made of nail kegs with planks laid across them.

Source Info:(1); Thift Baptist Archives;

On December 9th, 1962, Rev. Albert Helms became pastor. Sunday School and Church membership increased with the growing economic conditions of the sixties. The church growth prompted the building of a fellowship hall valued at approximately $30,000 was constructed with the members contributing many hours of their time to this effort. The building was completed in six months. It was dedicated in February 1964, and named Troy Harkey Fellowship Hall.
As God Blessed, Thrift continued to grow, and the need arose for more space. In August 1966 a house and lot was purchased behind the church for $5,800. In January 1969, the old nursery was torn down to begin constructions of the new sanctuary. On Sunday Morning, October 1969, the church voted to borrow $225,000 through a church bond issued to build a new sanctuary and education building.

New Thrift Baptist Santuary
New Santuary and Bell-tower ca 1990's
Construction began; however, it was clouded by a tragic accident. As Jesus Christ died for the people of Thrift, so did another. At 7:00am on March 16th, 1970, a member of the construction crew; Mr. Donald Dunlap fell to his death and Mr. James Gaskins was also injured. But despite the great loss, the new sanctuary was finally completed in July 1970 with seating for 642 souls and with a new education building.
On Sunday evening, July 26th, 1970, Thrift's members gathered for the last regular worship service in the old church auditorium. Mixed emotions were shared by all in attendance, happy at the prospect of worshipping in the new building and with some degree of sorry at leaving a hallowed place that we held so dear. It was like saying good bye to an old friend. The first regular worship service was held on Sunday, August 2nd, 1970. Prayers and songs of praise to God for this bountiful blessing were on the lips and in the hearts of all.
Time Capsule Marker
Recommended Open July 2014
A time capsule including a "Biblical Recorder" , church directory, copy of the minutes of the eighty-sixth session of the Mecklenburg Baptist Association from October 1971, church Treasurer's report, 1971 church budget, List of current officers and teachers, bulletin of the dedication service of the new building, A number of pictures and other articles. A suggested date for the opening of the time capsule in the cornerstone is in the month of July 2014, the one hundredth anniversary of Thrift Baptist Church.
Labor Day, September 4th, 1972 brought an end to an era in the Thrift community. The original Thrift Baptist Church, a landmark for some 58 years, fell victim to the wrecker's hammer. Having been vacant for two years and considered unsafe for future use. The old building was torn down and hauled away as scrap. Many people stood by and watched as portion after portion came down in a cloud of dust and flying timber. One can only imagine the fond memories brought to mind that will be cherished for a lifetime.
New Santuary and Bell-tower ca 1980
Sunrise Stained Glass
On February 4th, 1978, the bell-tower was dedicated. Rev. Guy Longshore guided Thrift to construct a bell-tower to house the bell from the original church. The bell-tower can still be seen today and heard every Sunday morning, faithfully!

New Stained Glass Windows were dedicated on January 24, 1988, with donations of $15,000. These windows added great beauty and improved the atmosphere of the sanctuary. Each window represents the events in the life of Jesus.