Published May 6, 2004
It was through the vision of Georgia Baptist pastor John Carter Brewton and the faith and financial support of McRae businessman Charles B. Parker that Union Baptist Institute was founded in 1904. The towns of Mt. Vernon and Ailey welcomed the idea of having a Baptist school in their part of southeast Georgia and offered the founders $15,000 and 15 acres of land to locate the school in their community.
David Fountain and his wife donated ten acres of land and Warren Crawley, an African-American citizen, gave another five acres. The charter was signed on April 28, 1904 and construction of the first buildings begun shortly thereafter. The school formally opened on September 12, 1905 with 160 students and seven teachers.
In 1912 the trustees elected to change the name of the school to Brewton-Parker Institute in honor of the two men who had contributed most toward its establishment.
Through the years the elementary and high school grades were dropped as college level classes were added and in June of 1985 the school conferred its first baccalaureate degrees to 22 graduates. On December 9, 1986 Brewton-Parker College became a four-year institution.
Brewton-Parker’s centennial celebration reached its pinnacle on April 28 with a plethora of activities to commemorate the significant hallmark of ministry. The day began with four different gravesite services to memorialize the aforementioned individuals who contributed so much to the founding of the school.
At the graveside of John Carter Brewton in Vidalia, David Smith, president of the college, hailed Brewton as a man “with a genuine thirst for knowledge and with a laudable ambition to succeed.” Smith indicated that in 1912 Brewton proposed that the school be named Parker Institute in honor of co-founder C. B. Parker, but that the trustees overruled Brewton in favor of recognizing both founders in the renaming of the school.
Later in the morning a commemorative monument, donated to the college by trustee Doyle Nesmith and his wife, June, was unveiled on the plaza of the Fountain-New Library. A time capsule containing college memorabilia will be placed at the foot of the monument. It is set to be uncovered in 2054.
The Centennial Celebration program was held in Saliba Chapel and featured a bagpipe processional provided by the Centerville Fire Department Pipes and Drum Corp, the posting of colors by the U. S. Army Forces Command Color Guard and appropriate greetings.
Allen Hughes, chairman of the Board of Trustees, said, “Each trustee is a believer in Jesus Christ, an active member of a local congregation and a Georgia Baptist. We believe in and support Brewton-Parker College, along with our capable and exemplary president, David Smith.”
GBC Convention President Tony Dickerson gave the centennial address and declared, “A college or university should make a moral impact upon the community it serves and ultimately the world through its graduates.”
J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, also addressed the convocation saying, “There will be mountain peaks and valleys of experience … but Brewton-Parker is a survivor. We have seen remarkable things take place in this school that could only have come from God.
“David Smith is a wonderful leader and Georgia Baptists are proud of this president, this faculty and these students,” White added. “Brewton-Parker has not only survived for 100 years, but it is going to continue to thrive. We do not know what God will do, but what a great day it will be when folks gather here 100 years from now to celebrate the bicentennial of Brewton-Parker University.”
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