Vaiden, Mississippi

The Pictures


Where is Vaiden, Mississippi?


Ron Collins' Guestbook




Vaiden Baptist Church


Vaiden Baptist Church  --  2000



Newspaper Article About Church Addition in 2000


Photos -- circa 1966


Photo 1     Photo 2     Photo 3

[Ed. Note:  Photo 1 is the Vaiden Baptist Church and the old Armstrong home, that was used as the Baptist Sunday School Building until it was torn down in late 1966.  Photo 2 is Ronnie Collins standing in front of the old Sunday School Building.  Photo 3 shows (L to R) Alan, Billy and Ben Browning posing for a photo  in front of the old Sunday School building.]


Church on the Hill

Tradition says that Mary Pleasants gave the land for the Baptist Church. It is told that she ordered a preacher out of the pulpit because he was not preaching Baptist doctrine. This Church was supposed to have been built in 1845, and the land at that time was owned by Thomas and Mary Pleasants. It was sold to Dr. C.M. Vaiden in 1847. In 1848, it was sold to L.W. Herring. After Mr. Herring's death, it was sold in 1868 to the Vaiden Baptist Church for $10.00 by Dr. C.M. Vaiden, executor of the Herring Estate. The deed states that the Church had occupied this land for years. No deed to the Church can be found prior to this 1868 date.

The old Yazoo Baptist Association (Primitive) was organized in 1883. The Shongalo Baptist Church, located about one half-mile from where Vaiden now stands, was a member of the old Yazoo Baptist Association, but we cannot know the probable date of the Church organization. In 1839, the Shongalo Church joined the Old Zion Association, remaining a member until 1851, when she and several other churches were lettered out to organize the Yazoo Baptist Association. The association was organized in the Shongalo meeting house on November 21, 1851. The delegates of this Church in the organizational meeting of the association were Z. Oldham, S.J. Durham, and N. Carter. There are no minutes of the Old Yazoo (Primitive) Association, nor the Old Zion Association prior to 1851. The preceding information was gathered from Leawell and Baileys Complete History of Mississippi Baptists (1904), which gave only a small amount of information of any one Church. Shongalo Church moved to Vaiden in 1861. The name was changed to Vaiden Baptist Church in 1869.

All through the years, delegates attended the associations. In 1867, there were listed a total of 221 members, of whom 44 were white and 177 black. Within two years, 1867-1869, something happened. In 1869, delegates J.E. Anderson and L. Benthall attended the association giving total membership as nine -- two males and seven females, all white.

In 1871, the pastor was P.M. Lyon; clerk W.T. Anderson; Delegates E.C. Eley and J.L. Anderson. Membership was listed as 22 (eight males and 14 females). Total gifts were $9.20, as compared to $6.50 for Winona with 62 members. In 1872, Rev. H.F. Sproles of Carrollton was pastor and the Delegate to the association was R.A. Cochram. Total gifts were $16.25. A union Sunday School was being carried on in the Vaiden meeting house. Rev. Sproles, who was just back from the Southern Baptist Seminary, and living in Carrollton, began to assist the women in organizing Women's Missionary Societies in the following order, as far as information is available: 1873, Kosciusko; 1874, Carrollton; 1874, Winona; 1876, Goodman, Duck Hill, Mt. Nebo, Vaiden, and West Station.

The societies sent delegates to Raymond in 1878, where the delegates from 15 societies organized a statewide organization with Mary Anderson of West Station as President, and Florence Doty as secretary. The existence of the Mississippi Society in Vaiden Church explained the rapid increase of gifts in the 1879s. In 1874, the pastor was Rev. R.A. Cochran. The pastor's salary was $325. Other gifts were as follows: Missions: $10; Domestic Missions: $11; Orphanage; $5; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: $10; Ministerial Education: $25; producing a Grand Total of $386, which was second only to Lexington's $500. In 1875, the Church went to half-time. The pastor's salary was $450 and membership was listed as 37. In 1876, the Sunday School became Baptist with E.C. Eley as Superintendent with 32 members enrolled.

In 1880, the membership had reached 45. Sunday School enrollment was 30, with Mr. Eley still installed as Superintendent, and Rev. Cochram still the pastor. The Church was back to 1/4 time. Property valuation was given for the first time at $1500. In 1882, Rev. R.L. Allen became pastor, having services three Sundays a month, and all the other churches in this area having only one Sunday a month. Rev. Allen died before the year was out and Vaiden dropped back to one Sunday a month.

In 1885, the first woman known to have been sent as a delegate was sent to the association. She was Mrs. L.S. Cox. After 1900, the women were in the majority as delegates to the association. Sometimes only women were present as delegates.

Rev. Z.T. Zealy of Winona became pastor and served for four years. The Church was 1/4 time in 1888, back to 1/2 time in 1889, back to 1/4 time in 1890, then to 1/2 time in 1891. Church membership was 35 and Sunday School membership was 30. Total gifts for this year were $334.50, including the pastor's salary. The Church proceeded on an even keel through 1890 and through the two decades from 1900 to 1920.

In 1920, the Pastor was Rev. D.M. Dukes, a student.  The membership was 53; the Sunday School enrollment was 50.  Gifts totaled $665.00 including $165.00 for the Pastor’s salary.  That year $110.00 was given to the visiting preacher and singer for their services in the revival meeting.  The Vaiden Church, together with others, were lettered out of the Yazoo Association to organize the Carroll County Baptist Association. The Yazoo Association disbanded.

In 1924, the church was half-time with a membership of 72, 62 in Sunday School, and a total of $800.00 in gifts, including $500.00 for the pastor’s salary.  That year the associational minutes state that the Vaiden Church was constituted in 1835, and that the Church was built in 1855. In 1926, it is stated that the Church was organized in 1845, and that the house was built the same year. In 1935, while Rev. W.E. Farr was pastor, the year set for the organization was placed at 1843, and that date has persisted in the minutes since then. It is thought that 1835 is a more accurate date of the Church's organization. The date that the Church house was built is not certain. It depends upon when Shongalo Church was moved to town, and whether they moved the house of worship to the present site from the country.

In 1937, the pastorate of Rev. Madison Flowers began and lasted until 1947.  This period stands out as progressive and fruitful.  Starting out with 114 members, in the ten years the membership increased to 206.  In 1937 church property was valued at $2,500, and in 1947, nearly $2,000 was spent on building and repairs, bringing the valuation to around $5,000. The first Vacation Bible School reported in the Church was in 1943, with 88 enrolled.

In 1948 Rev. A.L. Engel became pastor.  Although he served the church only a year, it was a splendid year in church history.  Total gifts amounted to $2,352 including $600 for pastor’s salary, $901 local expense, and $792 for missions.

On February 16, 1949, the T.H. Armstrong house and lot was purchased from Mrs. Ethel McConnico Armstrong for a Pastorium. The purchase price was $3,500. In 1949, Rev. Percy Magee became pastor.  His pastorate had the appearance of a cyclone passing through.  Starting out with three Sundays a month, with pastor’s salary at $1,258.  The church moved to full-time the second year with $2,262 as pastor’s salary, for the third year a salary of $3,300.  Total gifts his first year were $7,263, including $598 for missions.  The 1950 total contribution was $3,954 including $356 for missions.  The membership increased to 233.  Sunday School enrollment was 121; Vacation Bible School enrollment was 203.  The Baptist Record was added to the budget, apparently using the every-membership plan.   The W.M.U. moved along steadily with 18 enrolled.

 On December 1, 1952, a two story house located adjacent to the church property, was purchased from Mrs. Lynn Armstrong (Mrs. S.P. Armstrong) for $3,500 to be used as an Educational Building. On December 8, 1952, the Church borrowed $5,000 from the Holmes County Bank & Trust Co., Vaiden, MS, to purchase the house and make the necessary repairs. On January 1, 1954, the Church went full-time, with no preaching services on the fifth Sunday. On December 29, 1954, the Campbell residence, located adjacent to the Church property was purchased to be used for a Pastorium. Property purchased in 1949 to be used for a Pastorium was sold to Jessie T. Johnson on March 6, 1957, for $3,000.

In 1957, Rev. Cooper resigned as pastor effective March 31, 1957.  On June 1, 1957, Rev. John McBride became pastor.  In 1960, plans were made to remodel and redecorate the Church building. On April 5, 1960, the Church borrowed $15,000 from the Holmes County Bank & Trust Co., Vaiden, MS, for this purpose. Two Sunday School rooms and baptistry were constructed, and the entire building was brick veneered. The interior of the auditorium was remodeled and redecorated. Forced air and heating and an air conditioning system was installed. Rev. McBride resigned as pastor, effective after the evening worship services on Sunday September 14, 1960.  On September 24, 1960, Rev. [Earl] Ezell became pastor. Total Church membership was 303 (189 resident members).  Sunday School enrollment was 204; Vacation Bible School enrollment, 96; Training Union, 96; W.M.U., 52 (2 units). Total valuation of the Church property was $48,000. Rev. Ezell resigned as pastor effective Nov. 17, 1963.

On January 23, 1964, Rev. John A. Wade and family moved to Vaiden as pastor of the church. Mr. Wade assumed his duties quickly. The day he was moving in, Alf Trotter Collins, the father of this web site's author, along with Mr. Johnson Cooke, Mr. Stephen Downs, and Mr. Avery Peeler, were involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver while on their way to work in Winona. Mr. Cooke and Mr. Downs were killed instantly. Mr. Peeler was badly injured, but survived. Mr. Collins lived until the next day. Rev. John Allen Wade's first funeral as pastor of the Vaiden Baptist Church, was that of Alf T. Collins, and his understanding and compassion were unparalleled, and will never be forgotten.

That year for the first time, the church began having services on each fifth Sunday, with the offering going into a special building fund.


Vaiden Baptist Church Membership List

List Courtesy of Ed Briscoe, Vaiden, MS

March 1990 (searchable .pdf)


Vaiden Baptist Church Celebrates 150 Years October 31st
(article from The Conservative - October 28, 1993)


Vacation Bible School

No matter how much we complained about school, Vacation Bible School at Vaiden Baptist Church was one of those times that we looked forward to learning.  The classes were held in the old Armstrong house (Sunday School Building) with the various age groups in different rooms.  Many Vacation Bible Schoolers were saved during this special week, and were baptized (including the author of this website (07/17/1966), usually at the first or second service following the completion of Bible School.

Many children attended, and learned to “paint with beans,” wherein they would use kidney beans to make pictures (mine was a guitar), finger paint, recite and memorize Bible verses, and have great fun.  For “recess,” Kool-Aid and sandwiches, cookies, and other treats were enjoyed by all.  I don’t remember for sure, but I think Bible School alternated between being one week long one year, and two weeks long, the next.

On the closing day of Bible School, a “dismissal  ceremony” was held.  Most, if not all of the children would pile into cars and into the back of pick-ups and a “parade” of sorts would take place, wherein the kids rode through town honking horns, and yelling.  No child was ever injured or fell out of one of the vehicles at that time.  Child safety laws and seatbelt laws were not in effect (most cars back then didn’t have seatbelts at all), and we all had a great time and learned a lot about the wonders of God’s love.

Below are photos of the Vacation Bible School classes of 1961, and various other photos.

Bible School Group Photo 1 – 1961

Bible School Group Photo 2 – 1961

Class Photo 1 – 1961

Class Photo 2 – 1961

VBS Beginners – 1961


Breaking Ground for the New Educational Building


Photo 1 -- Photo 2 -- Photo 3 -- Photo 4


A new Educational Building was constructed in 1966 at a cost of $30,000, which replaced the older Sunday School Building. By 1972, a special day of note-burning was held after the final payment on the Educational Building was made. The church experienced many wonderful revivals within 12 years.  The year of 1969 saw the largest additions in membership. There were 39 professions of faith for baptism, and 49 additions by letter and statement, giving a grand total of 85 additions that year. In 1964, the total receipts of the church were about $12,000.  There has been a steady growth in Christian stewardship each year, so that the total budget receipts in 1975 were above $35,000.  The pastor’s salary has been raised almost every year from $4360 in 1964 to $8700 in 1975.  Mission-giving has more than tripled, even during the time of debt retirement.  Cooperative Program gifts in 1964 were $650; in 1974-1975, the Cooperative Program gifts were above $3,000.

During the pastorate of Rev. Wade, the sanctuary was completely renovated with a new choir loft, choir chairs, choir rails, wall to wall carpet, new pews, and a new baptistry. The Herring Family gave the church new chimes in memory of Mrs. Elizabeth Herring. The entire parking lot and driveway were concreted, and a new church steeple was added in memory of Mr. Jimmy Fullilove. A new International Church Bus was purchased and, before the close of the 1974-1975 Associational year, the Church was completely debt-free. During the Christmas of 1975, the Vaiden Baptist Church sent her pastor and wife, Rev. and Mrs. John A. Wade, to the Holy Land and Rome, as an expression of love and appreciation. May God Bless the work of the Lord in the Vaiden Baptist Church.

In the early 1970s, Rev. Wade moved from the Pastor's home to a house close to the Vaiden Clinic. The former Pastor's Home was used by the Baptist youth groups as a recreational room for several years, before it was finally sold and moved from its former location.

In the June 30, 1966 issue of The Conservative (P.3), an article appears entitled "Dedicate Facility" with a picture (n/a) explaining: "A groundbreaking ceremony was held recently at Vaiden, dedicating the new $25,000 Educational Building of the Vaiden Baptist Church. The ceremonies followed a dinner on the grounds. A special collection was taken, amounting to $2,000, which will be added to the other funds received for the building construction. Pictured are those responsible for raising the money (left to right): Coleman Palmertree, Avery Peeler, J.F. Herring, Chairman of Board of Deacons, Mrs. John C. Calhoun, Mrs. Henry Milner, and the church pastor, Rev. John A. Wade."

By October 1966, the Educational Building was complete. The November 10, 1966 issue of The Conservative (P.2), describes the event: "Vaiden Baptist Church Educational Building Dedication." "On Sunday, October 30th, the Vaiden Baptist Church dedicated their new Educational Building with all day services. A large congregation of the local church people gathered for the occasion along with a great host of visitors. Following the morning worship service lunch was served in the new fellowship hall. Vaiden Baptists have always been known far and wide for beautiful church dinners, but on this particular occasion, they out-did themselves. Six tables extending almost the entire length of the hall were groaning under the load of the well prepared dedication dinner.” 
"At 1:30 in the afternoon the congregation gathered again inside the sanctuary of the church for the dedication service. Following congregational singing, Miss Mary Louise Hambrick sang 'Bless This House' and Rev. John McBride of Atlanta, Ga., a former pastor of the church, brought the dedicatory prayer."
"The Vaiden Baptist Church Educational Building contains almost 4,000 square feet of floor space. It is a two-story structure and has been constructed at an approximate cost of $32,000. Mr. Joe Couch of Greenwood was the architect, and Garrett Building Supply of Kilmichael was the general contractor. Landrum Sheet Metal Works of Kosciusko received the contract for the heating and air-conditioning."

Former Pastors and dates when service began are as follows: Rev. R.H. Whitefield, 1867; Rev. A.H. Bouth, 1869; Rev. P.M. Lyon, 1871; Rev. H.F. Sproles, 1872; Rev. R.A. Cochran, 1874; Rev. R.L. Allen, 1882; Rev. A.P. Pugh, 1886; Rev. J.T. Zealy, 1888; Rev. Z.T. Leavell, 1892; Rev. M.L. Ball, 1900; Rev. J.W. Sturdivant, 1900; Rev. J.H. Cason, 1901; Rev. Hickman, 1901; Rev. Madison Flowers, 1906; Rev. R.A. Eddleman, 1910; Rev. W.I. Hargis, 1914; Rev. W.J. Derrick, 1916; Rev. Gregory, 1916; Rev. B.M. Dukes, 1920; Rev. J.T. Upton. 1922; Rev. J.G. Murphy, 1923; Rev. J.P. Neel, 1924; Rev. C.E. Welch, 1926; Rev. I.F. Metts, 1927; Rev. W.A. Handcock, 1932; Rev. W.E. Farr, 1935; Rev. Madison Flowers, 1937; Rev. A.T. Engle, 1948; Rev. Percy Magee, 1949; Rev. Joe Cooper, 1952; Rev. John McBride, 1957; Rev. Earl Ezell, 1960; Rev. John A. Wade, 1964.

Clerks: E.L. Woods, 1867; W.C. Anderson, 1871; M.A. Tucker, 1876; W.C. Anderson, 1877; C.P. Adair, 1887; J.M. Wells, 1888; L.L. Cox, 1890; A.A. McPherson, 1891; J.N. Flowers, 1900; A.A. McPherson, 1906; W.C. Anderson, 1910; Don Stone, 1913; R.F. Beck, 1916; A.A. McPherson, 1918; T.A. Brock, 1919; W.B. Smith, 1922; W.W. Milner, 1923; W.R. Brock, 1926; W.R. Davis, 1931; J.G. Fullilove, 1939; Mrs. C.D. Simpson, 1953; A.C. Long, 1956; Mrs. J.E. Farrish, 1961; Miss Arice Parker, 1966; Mrs. J.E. Farish, 1967; Mrs. Hazel Fullilove, 1975.

Sunday School Superintendents: E.C. Eley, 1867; George Anderson, 1881; A.A. McPherson, 1900; J.A. Brock, 1913; A.A. McPherson, 1916; W.R. Brock, 1925; O.G. Cearley, 1926; W.B. Day, 1933; Hestert Collier, 1938; J.F. Herring, 1943; I.C. Kitrell, 1960; Herbert Johnson, 1961; Frank Prewitt, 1963; Herbert Johnson, 1964; Robye Read, 1965; Herbert Johnson, 1967; Melvin B. Miles, 1969.

Training Union Directors: Dott Porter, 1928; Pearl McCool, 1930; Christine Carithers, 1951; J.C. McWhorter, 1963; Odell Lenard, 1957; J.C. McWhorther, 1959; Linda Brooks, 1968; Drew Lenard, 1969.

W.M.U. Presidents: Mrs. A.A. McPherson, 1923; Mrs. C.A. Alexander, 1933; Mrs. P.A. Parkinson, 1951; Mrs. Tom Dulin, 1958; Mrs. Katie Dulin, 1959; Mrs. Louise Caddess, 1963; Mrs. Rosa Wade, 1964; Mrs. Edith Watkins, 1970; Mrs. Rosa Wade, 1971; Mrs. Dot Weaver, 1972.

Church Staff in 1976 -- Pastor: John A. Wade; Minister of Music: Ronnie Hunsinger; Minister of Youth: Mrs. Cody Dean; Chr. of Deacons: Joe Herring; Sunday School Director: Dan Miles; Baptist Women's Director: Dot Weaver; Church Clerk: Mrs. Hazel Fullilove; Chr. of Ushers: John Stanton; Pianist: Lydia Strayer; Organist: Nonnie Miles; Church Training Director: Drew Lenard.


All Day Singin’ and Dinner on the Ground

Take my word for it.  If you’ve never been to an “all day singin’ and dinner on the ground,” you don’t know what you’ve missed.  That goes double for the Vaiden Baptist Church.  Baptist Preachers are known to be the single highest cause of death in chickens.  Endless truckloads of poultry have been put to death to insure the survival of the Baptist Preacher, and ours was no exception (see photo 1, below).  Brother Wade was a dear friend of ours, but you wouldn’t want to show up around him while wearing a chicken costume.

Usually an “all day singin’ and dinner on the ground,” would occur the last Sunday of a revival.  After a week of ‘hellfire and damnation” both in the morning and evening services (which we needed, and enjoyed), the church ladies would concoct a feast for the multitudes.  Every kind of food imaginable would be on display.  At the Vaiden Baptist Church, there were long “picnic” tables, consisting of long planks nailed to the pecan trees, with a support here and there.  These tables were probably 30 feet long (or more) and several of them were located at the back of the Armstrong Sunday School building.  After singing for an hour or so, everyone would adjourn to the outdoors for a feast.  While the food was being prepared, the kids would run and play, and the adults would visit with each other.  A long line would soon form, and everyone would fill their plates, only to retire under the shade of the pecan trees, or on the back steps of the church.

After everyone had their fill (and the aforementioned chicken was long gone), we would go back into the church for a special sermon.  Now, let me explain “special.”  A normal sermon in the Baptist Church during the 60s, was one that only ran between an hour and an hour-and-a-half.  A “special” sermon, was one that could stretch into infinity, if allowed (which insured some quality nap time for all of the children that had stuffed at the feast beforehand). Brother Wade was an excellent preacher, as well as Earl Ezell before him.  It could have been Billy Graham.  We were still going to drift off.  The Church building did not have air conditioners in the 1960s.  People would sit there with their paper fans, and try to keep cool.  We would open the Church windows, and sit still, but nothing would work inside a non-airconditioned Church in Mississippi in July.  Therefore, sleep we did.

Regardless of sitting upright and alert, or listening to the sawing of logs from the pew over, we left there with the Holy Spirit, and an extra 5 to 10 pounds that we didn’t expect.

On the Last Leg – Brother Wade, Hoyt Shirley, and Coleman Palmertree Compete for Chicken

(Brother Wade Probably Won That One)


Some of the Church Ladies (circa 1965)

(L to R) : Mrs. Avery Peeler, Mrs. J.G. Fullilove, Mrs. McWorther, Mrs. J.A. Wade, Mrs. A.C. Long, Mrs. Alice Pierce, Miss Lovie Wright.  The girl in the photo is JoAnn Peeler.

More of the Church Ladies (circa 1965)

(L to R):  Mrs. John A. (Rosa) Wade, unknown behind Mrs. Wade, Miss Lovie Wright, Mrs. Alice Pierce, Mrs. Alf T. (Juanita) Collins, Mrs. Avery Peeler.

WMU Meetings     1     2


Mrs. Wade’s Paintings


On February 7, 2009, this author was contacted by Larry Wade, the son of the late Br. John Allen Wade and Rosa Wade.  Larry has two beautiful paintings done by his mother during her years at the Vaiden Baptist Church.  One painting os if a little girl praying; the other of a little boy, also praying.  Click on the links below to see them.


Little Girl Praying             Little Boy Praying



Vaiden Sunbeams

Photo 1 – circa 1961 / 1962

In 1960, existed a gathering of children from Vaiden and the surrounding communities called the Vaiden Sunbeams. The Sunbeam organization was the first of the Women's Missionary Union's missions organization for children. Mrs. Wilson (Louise) Caddess and Mrs. Wallace (Bonnie) Welch were able leaders in the organization, which met after school once or twice a month in the Vaiden Baptist Church Educational Building, to provide music, guidance and teach the children the meaning of responsibility during their young years. Many activities were planned by the leaders, including the preparation and delivery of fruit baskets, linens, and other needed items at during the Christmas holidays to the Poorhouse on Highway 82, west of Carrollton, MS, a visit to the American Broadcasting Affiliate, WABG Television Station, in Greenwood to appear on the local afternoon cartoon show -- which would invite children as an audience during the broadcast, birthday parties for the members, creative workshops, and hosts of other activities to teach and entertain the youngsters. Many children from the area were members and enjoyed each other's companionship, away from the schoolyard. In 1970, the "Sunbeams" changed their name to "Mission Friends." The current Mission Friends is an organization for preschoolers, from birth to first grade, that teaches the concept of missions. The basic objective of this organization is to involve preschoolers and their families in missions activities in developmentally appropriate ways.


Vaiden Baptist Church Time Capsule -- To Be Opened in 2043


Songs of the Sunbeams


Special Thanks to Betsy Lowery, Archivist of the Woman's Missionary Union, Southern Baptist Convention

Be a Little Sunbeam was the official Sunbeam Hymn, at least from 1918 through 1956. The hymn was mentioned and sheet music for it was offered for sale in the 1918-1919 WMU Year Book (p.39). It was last mentioned in the Year Book for 1956-1957 (p.1). In the 1949 Year Book (p.83), a Sunbeam Watchword Song -- Light of the World (words by Helen Sneed Parsons, music by Kathryn Sneed Beck) was substituted for the hymn. IN 1950 (Year Book p.13), both the hymn and the watchword song were featured. From 1951 (Year Book, p.90) through 1956 (Year Book, p.104), Woman's Missionary Union offered for sale sheet music for these two plus two others: I'll Be a Sunbeam, and A Sunbeam All for Jesus. From 1934 (Year Book p.74), for several years, Year Books list collections such as Missionary Songs and Hymns for Children. Since these Year Books are unavailable, the list of songs in them is unknown at this time. Below are words to I'll Be a Sunbeam (considered by many former Sunbeam members to have been the "Sunbeam Song") and Be a Little Sunbeam -- adapted from a summary article prepared by Eljee Bentley, former WMU Archivist, in 1984.


I'll Be a Sunbeam

1. Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam, To shine for Him each day;
In ev'ry way try to please Him, At home, at school, at play.

CHORUS: A Sunbeam, a Sunbeam, Jesus wants me for a Sunbeam;
A Sunbeam, a Sunbeam, I'll be a Sunbeam for Him.

2. Jesus wants me to be loving, And kind to all I see;
Showing how pleasant and happy, His little ones can be.


3. I will ask Jesus to help me, To keep my heart from sin;
Ever reflecting His goodness, And always shine for Him.


4. I'll be a Sunbeam for Jesus, I can if I but try;
Serving Him moment by moment, then live with Him on high.


Copyright 1900; Renewal 1928. Words by Nellie Talbot, Music by E.O. Excell

Be a Little Sunbeam

1. Be a little Sunbeam, ev'rywhere you go;
Help to drive the darkness, from this world below;
You will see the shadows, swiftly flee away,
If you'll be a Sunbeam every day.

CHORUS: Be a little Sunbeam, tho' your light be small,
Let its gleam of beauty, o'er the darkness fall;
You will see the shadows, swiftly flee away,
If you'll be a Sunbeam ev'ry day.

2. Be a little Sunbeam, ev'rywhere you go;
Shine, O shine for Jesus, with a radiant glow;
Little ones may help this, dark world to illume,
Sending golden sunshine thro' the gloom.


3. Be a little Sunbeam, shining bright and clear;
Someone may be wand'ring, in the darkness near;
You may help to scatter, shadows of the night,
Leading unto Christ who is the Light.


Copyright 1906; Words by Alice Jean Cleator, Music by Grant Colfax Tullar

History of the Sunbeams


Used With Permission

WMU Celebrates Centennial of Promoting Preschool Ministry by Teresa Dickens

Birmingham, Alabama, 1986 -- The dream of a mother and young pastor in 1886 to create an avenue to instill in children a love for missions, is being celebrated this year, as Woman's Missionary Union marks its 100th year of coordinating such a ministry.

The mother, Anna Louise Elsom, taught the "infant class" -- children ages four through thirteen -- at Fairmont Baptist Church in Nelson County, Virginia. She called the class "Sunbeams," because the sunshine illuminated and warmed the corner of the church where she taught the children. The pastor, George Braxton Taylor, was the answer to Elsom's prayer for someone to come to Fairmont who knew missions and would help her start a missionary group for children. Taylor, the son of early Southern Baptist missionaries to Italy and nephew of the first secretary of the Foreigh Mission Board, had a heart for missions and was willing to help Elsom achieve her dream.

In 1886, Elsom and Taylor started the first Sunbeam Band at Fairmont Church. Elsom taught the class, while Taylor developed the curriculum and handled the administration of the group. membership in the band required an initiation fee of one penny, followed by a contribution of one penny a month, all of which went to support missions. Historical documents note that Taylor insisted that the children earn the money they contributed. Most of the children earned their money by selling eggs and even dedicated the chickens to the cause by naming them after missionaries.

By early 1887, Taylor had won the endorsement of the Foreign Mission Board and began promoting the Sunbeam Band movement through denominational papers. In the March 1887 issue of the "Religious Herald," Taylor explained his philosophy of the Sunbeam Band. "The Sunbeam movement was not altogether to do things for children but that children might do things for others and for Jesus," Taylor wrote. "Not only can children receive, they can gice. They can do their part in sending far and wide the story of Jesus. They do not need to wait until they are men and women to know the romance of modern missions."

Taylor's words fell on fertile ground. By 1889, "Cousin George," as he came to be known, was corresponding with 284 Sunbeam Bands from Virginia to Texas, with membership of more than 8,000. The financial contribution of the bands was also significant, growing from $1,582 in the first year to $2,179 during the second year. Tayloe managed the Sunbeam movement until 1896 when he, in agreement with the Foreign Mission Board, relinquished the task to the WMU. This was a natural transition in leadership since the two movements had a common cause and Taylor had known Annie Armstrong, corresponding secretary of the WMU, since his seminary days.

Under WMU's leadership, the focus of Sunbeams eventually shifted away from fund-raising to learning about missions. The curriculum included prayer, stewardship, community missions, telling others about Jesus, and study. The age span also changed, shrinking first to children eight and under. In 1942, preschool Sunbeams were separated from school-age children and divided again by 1956, when WMU began promoting nursery and beginner Sunbeam Bands. The most sweeping change for the preschool missions organization came between 1964 and 1970, when WMU and other Southern Baptist Convention agencies adapted their programs to follow a unified grouping/grading plan. The changes prompted WMU to introduce new organizational names and lines of operation, along with new periodicals for each age level.

On October 1, 1970, Sunbeams became Mission Friends, and leaders began receiving a new magazine called "Start." IN 1978, WMU added a leaflet for Mission Friends called "Share," and in 1995, WMU began promoting a class for parents and Mission Friends. Today, Mission Friends number slightly less than 170,000.

. . . .

The past 100 years have brought many changes in missions programs for preschoolers, but leaders today share a common dream with Elsom and Taylor -- to instill in children a love for missions. "Today's child needs to learn, to pray, to give and to do missions more than ever before so that they will automatically develop a missions lifestyle," said Kathy Burns, preschool consultant for WMU. "It's true that as preschoolers are involved in consistent patterns of helping others, they will recognize their own ability to reach beyond themselves to touch others." "I'm thankful for those faithful men and women that have gone before us," she remarked. "They ran the race set before them and held high a torch for all to see. I pray that we will continue to be found faithful in passing the torch to today's preschoolers and to all future generations," she concluded, referencing Psalm 22:30, "Our children too shall serve Him, they shall hear from us about the wonders of the Lord."


History of Mission Friends -- A Second Account


Note: Although this second account of the Sunbeams/Mission Friends contains virtually identical information to the preceding one, this writer felt the importance of leaving it unedited, since it was from compiled from the same history, but different sources.

Making a Difference


In the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is the little Fairmont Baptist Church," began "Cousin George" (George Braxton Taylor). "Here years ago there was a Sunday School class of little folks that had the name of 'Sunbeams.' They met in a corner not cut off from the other classes by curtains and having neither organ, blackboard, not little chairs but they did have a noble teacher. She had big, dark, lustrous eyes and, better still, a loving heart and winsome ways with children. This teacher was Mrs. Anna Louise Elsom, a cultured, deeply pious, lovely woman of strong character. From her home two miles away she came, Sunday after Sunday, to meet and greet and teach her Sunbeams."

These were the words used by George Braxton Taylor to describe the beginning of the Sunbeam Band. Missions education for preschoolers dates back to 1886 when Anna Louise Elsom was the teacher of the "infant class." She prayed that God would send someone to help her teach the boys and girls about missions. Taylor, with a "heart all aglow with a fire for missions," came right from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville to become the new pastor for the Fairmont Baptist Church.

Taylor was the son of missionaries to Italy. He began telling mission stories to the children once a month. They organized the children and established an initiation fee of one penny, followed by one penny a month. He insisted that the boys and girls earn their money. Most of the children in this rural area earned their money by selling eggs. They named their hens agter missionaries.

In just a few months, Taylor gained the endorsement of the Foreign Mission Board and spoke to children all across the South through denominational papers. By 1889, Taylor was corresponding with 284 Sunbeam Bands with over 8,000 members. It soon became evident that Sunbeams was growing too rapidly for one man to handle. With the consent of the Foreign Mission Board, Women's Missionary Union adopted the Sunbeams in 1896. As the women began to plan for Sunbeams, the focus was taken off fund-raising and was shifted to learning about missions.

Preschoolers were always included in Sunbeams. They were separated from school-age children in 1942, and by 1956 WMU promoted Nursery and Beginner Sunbeam Bands.

Next, a new grouping/grading plan was adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention. WMU, along with ither SBC program organizations, planned and made these changes between 1964 and 1970. Preschoolers in WMU emerged from that time of change with a new name and a new look. Instead of Sunbeams, they were called Mission Friends. Mission Friends leaders had a new magazine called Start. In 1978, Mission Friends gained their own take-home leaflet called Share.

Now, after years of learning how preschoolers grow and develop, babies through prefirst and their parents participate in Mission Friends classes in many settings. Changes have taken place in missions programs for preschoolers over the years, but the focus is still the same -- missions.


Sunbeams Article


Sunbeam Activities








Baptist Church Educational Building -- Demolished Mid-1960s

Vaiden Baptist Youth Choir – Circa 1970-1975


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Vaiden Baptist Church Renovation -- April, 2000


Picture # 1 -- Picture # 2 -- Picture # 3 -- Picture # 4 -- Picture # 5
Picture # 6 -- Picture # 7 -- Picture # 8
Picture # 9 -- Picture # 10 -- Picture # 11
Picture # 12 -- Picture # 13 -- Picture # 14
Picture # 15 Footing for Vaiden Water Tank Which Used to Sit Behind the Church
Vaiden Water Tank -- Behind Baptist Church
Armstrong Fellowship Hall, Picture # 1 -- Armstrong Fellowship Hall, Picture # 2

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Page II


Back Home Again . . .Page I




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