History of Berean Baptist Church

Berean Baptist Church was founded in 1999 by five families looking for a conservative, thoroughly-Biblical ministry in the Florence-Darlington-Timmonsville area. They called the church “Berean” because they desired to emulate the Church at Berea who, according to Acts 17:11, “…received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things [that Paul preached] were so.”

Harry Smith, a local accountant with seminary training and pastoral experience, agreed to help them organize the church, develop the church constitution, search for a full-time pastor, and preach for them. They met in the cafeteria at Sneed Elementary School starting in 1999, and called their first full-time pastor, Johnny Chard, in early 2000. The Lord added to their number, and they were able to acquire land and build a building at their current location at 2450 S. Center Road in Darlington County, moving there in 2003.

Pastor Chard pastored Berean until January 2005, when he stepped down from his pastoral responsibilities due to family illness and related challenges. The Church then called Pastor Don Kirkham as senior pastor in March 2005, and he remains so until this day.

Our Distinctives

Berean is an independent Baptist church that emphasizes systematic, expositional Scriptural preaching and teaching, along with public prayer and reading of the Scriptures. We are neither casual nor liturgical in our worship. We deliberately sing a combination of versified (sometimes paraphrased) Psalms, great hymns of the faith reflecting the rich blessing of English hymnody, and high-quality modern hymns and spiritual songs.

We seek to have our songs grow organically out of the reading of the Scriptures. We firmly believe in congregational singing and choose our songs and styles for the dual purposes of teaching and encouraging one another while also providing a means to express heartfelt love and gratitude to our Savior (Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16). We deliberately avoid “entertainment-as-worship” and “emotional experience = worship” philosophies. Above all, we desire genuine, God-centered worship that springs from seeing Him through His Word and experiencing His work in our lives!

We eagerly pursue domestic and international missions activities, and endeavor to keep our missionaries before the congregation, so that we know and pray for them. We have active Children’s and Teen ministries, though we strongly believe in corporate worship as families.

Somewhat uniquely for Baptists, we have a plurality of godly Elders providing spiritual leadership to the congregation. The senior teaching pastor, while obviously having significant influence due to his continual teaching and preaching, does not have any more actual authority than any other Elder. We have Spirit-filled Deacons whose primary responsibility is attending to the physical needs of the Church, but who also provide valuable counsel to the Elders.

While we respect the King James Version, cherish its beautiful cadences, and are grateful for the tremendous blessing it has been to the English-speaking church for over 400 years, we do not hold a King James-only position. We routinely preach from the New King James Version (NKJV), but also use the English Standard Version (ESV), New American Standard Bible (NASB), and the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) for the public reading of Scripture, and find blessing and value in all of them.