The oldest church of any denomination in Richland County, Congaree Baptist Church, near Gadsden, SC, was founded on November 30th, 1765, with thirty-three members. These converts came from revival meetings that were conducted in the Midlands area by Phillip Mulkey and Daniel Marshall, Separate Baptist preachers from the famous Shubal Stearns Church on Sandy Creek in North Carolina.
The first pastor, Rev. Joseph Reese, was one of the converts of these meetings. He became the pastor of Congaree in 1768 and served the church until his death in 1795. He distinguished himself as a faithful pastor, greatly used evangelist, tireless church planter and a representative in the South Carolina General Assembly from 1776-1778.
By 1771 the Congaree Baptist Church and the ministry of Joseph Reese had resulted in the organization of five Baptist churches in the area, (Wateree Creek, Twenty-five Mile Creek, Amella Township, Four Holes and the High Hills of Santee). One of Pastor Reese’s most famous converts was Richard Furman, who became one of the most outstanding Baptists in the state of South Carolina and was influential on the national scene as well.
The first meeting house, (thirty-four by twenty-six feet), was built on an acre lot given by William Howell and about three miles from the farm of Joseph Reese. Around 1800, a new church was built about twelve miles from the first building. Sometime between 1800 and 1820, the new building was cut into six sections and moved by horse drawn sled to its present location on the north side of Bluff Road and the west side of Tom’s Creek. A survey made in 1820 shows the church at its present location. Several additions to the building were made in the 1960’s and ‘70’s.