Sandy Level to celebrate 160th

Sandy Level Baptist Church | Photos/Barbara Ball

Sandy Level Baptist Church will host a Homecoming of past members on Saturday, Sept. 17, to celebrate the church’s 160th anniversary. The church is one of the oldest in the Blythewood community and predates the town.

While the current sanctuary was dedicated on December 7, 1856 at the current Blythewood Road location, the congregation existed in the area since the late 1700’s. The early congregation was known as 25 Mile Creek Church. Bethel Baptist Church on Boney Road was formed by members who left Sandy Level following the Civil War.

During a cemetery tour last year conducted by the Blythewood Historical Society and Shives Funeral Home, the tour began inside church, then moved outside into the cemetery where guides waited at the gravestones of some of church members who had also been some of the Town’s founding fathers.

One of those who contributed much to the church and to the community was Dr. Samuel Bookhart who is buried in the shadow of the sanctuary.

Former Town Councilman Wade Dorsey stands next to the gravestone of one of his ancestors, Dr. Samuel Wingard Bookhart, a founding father of the Town who is buried in the shadow of Sandy Level Baptist Church.

Blythewood’s Wade Hampton Dorsey, dressed in period clothing, stood at the gravestone of his ancestor, Dr. Bookhart. Dorsey, a former Blythewood Town Councilman and former president of the Historical Society, spoke in the role of Bookhart, imparting the family’s history.

“I joined Sandy Level Baptist Church in 1856 when I was 27, and remained a member until the day I died. We were building a new meeting house, this very one that still stands today. Cynthia and I gave $700 to paint it. I served as Clerk for almost 50 years! In those days whites and blacks, slave and free attended church here together . . .”

After the Bookharts built a school for girls on the grounds where Cobblestone Park now sits, a teacher at the school suggested naming the school The Blythewood Female Institute after the surrounding beautiful woods. And from that, of course, the town was called Blythewood.

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