More About BSBA

Phone: (910) 521-9850

Fax: (910) 521-7166


     The Association office is located at 450 Prospect Rd in Pembroke, NC.  The office building was constructed in 1974.  A library, kitchen, conference room, food closet and staff offices make up the 3000 square feet structure.  Volunteers from the association churches built the office known locally as “The Baptist Building” in 1974.

     Burnt Swamp Association celebrated its 125th anniversary at its annual meeting in October 2002.  The association began with four original member churches and today consists of 64 churches and 4 missions.  The association bears uniqueness in that churches are comprised largely of Native American members.  Several tribal groups affiliate with the association: Haliwa-Saponi in Warren and Halifax counties; Lumbee in Robeson and surrounding counties including bordering South Carolina counties and Baltimore, MD; Pee Dee in neighboring South Carolina; Coharie in Sampson county; Waccamaw-Siouan in Bladen and Columbus counties; and some Tuscarora in the Robeson county area.

     All churches of the association are affiliated with the North Carolina Baptist State Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention.  Bi-vocational pastors lead 80% of the churches.  All but two of the 69 churches are led by Native American pastors from tribes of this region.  Indigenous lay and clergy leaders serve not only the churches but also are vital to general community political and social life.

     The association is guided by its vision to be churches in fellowship and on mission together with God.  Our objectives are to assist churches: (1) to strengthen program organizations; (2) to promote missions and local ministry as outcomes of the church; (3) to develop Christian leadership; (4) to nurture fellowship among the churches.

     The association conducts ministry outreach through its Church and Community Ministry program that assists individuals in critical need of food, transportation, clothing, shelter and medicine.  Churches provide resources for this ministry.

     The Native American Interfaith Ministry is a faith-based effort to respond to growing problems associated with substance abuse in the county. The Healing Lodge is the outgrowth of the Interfaith Ministry and is engaged in ministry to hurting people of our community.  Mr. Tony Locklear is an active church member at Sycamore Hill Holiness Church and now serves as the Executive Director of the Healing Lodge.

     The Burnt Swamp Bible Institute provides ministry training through college level Bible and church ministry classes.  A scholarship fund provides assistance for ministers participating in these classes and training at other institutions.

     The association provides ongoing support for mission outreach Aurora Province in the Philippines, 150 miles northeast of Manila.  That mission ministry includes 14 churches all across the coastal region of Aurora Province.  A school serving 120 students from K-4 is led by a principal and 12 teachers. In addition, the ministry includes a Bible Institute fully accredited by the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary in Bagio City.

     The association and churches conduct mission outreach to other Native Americans in reservation and off-reservation communities throughout the year in various states.  Some of that outreach involves financial support to Native American evangelists and mission workers, as well as partnerships with indigenous leaders for conferences and workshops.

     The association partners with community organizations such as LRDA, Lumbee Tribal Council (Lumbee Tribe), NC Commission of Indian Affairs and the various tribal agencies within the state as well as local health and social service providers to connect services with individuals who need them.



The Burnt Swamp Baptist Association includes seventy Baptist churches comprised primarily of Native Americans from eastern North Carolina. All of the churches affiliate with North Carolina Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. Five tribal groups identified as Lumbee, Waccamaw-Siouan, Coharie, Haliwa-Saponi and Tuscarora make up the more than ten thousand church members of the Association. The Lumbee are the largest tribal population group of the Burnt Swamp Association tribes. The Lumbee Tribe has fifty-five thousand enrolled members, most of which live in rural Robeson County, North Carolina. Five of the seventy Burnt Swamp churches are not majority Lumbee in their membership. There are two Waccamaw-Siouan congregations, two Haliwa-Saponi congregations and one Coharie congregation. Some Lumbee families may live among the other tribes, but the other tribal territories are definitely not known as Lumbee communities.


Geographic boundaries often define the territory of Baptist associations. Burnt Swamp Association churches are located in ten counties and within three states. While North Carolina is home to sixty-seven churches of the Association, there are two churches in South Carolina and one church in Baltimore, Maryland. The Lumbee and Tuscarora live mainly in Robeson and the immediately surrounding counties of Hoke, Scotland, Cumberland, Columbus and Marlboro (South Carolina). The Coharie communities are located in Sampson and Harnett counties, the Haliwa-Saponi live in Halifax and Warren counties and the Waccamaw-Siouan live in Bladen and Columbus counties. The one affiliated church in Baltimore, Maryland began as a congregation primarily of Native Americans from Robeson and Hoke Counties in North Carolina who moved to this northern city in search of livelihood.


The account of the Burnt Swamp Association history written in this article is but a summary of a more detailed and precise report found in "The History of Burnt Swamp Baptist Association and its Churches: The Spread of the Gospel Across America and Beyond by the Lumbee, Waccamaw-Siouan, Coharie, and Haliwa-Saponi, Cumberland County Indians, and Eastern Band of Cherokee Native American Tribes", written by former Association missionary Tony Brewington and printed by the Association in 2002. You may also read more of this history on the "History" page of this website.


Eastern Carolina Indian Ancestral Roots

Various groups of Native Americans living in eastern North Carolina settled on lands along the local rivers for centuries. Surviving from among those various Indian groups and descendants of a mixture of those tribes are the Lumbee, Waccamaw Siouan, Coharie, Tuscarora and Haliwa-Saponi tribes. These all chose to live peacefully among early English settlers in eastern North Carolina in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. They maintained their native identity while adapting to the shared life among English neighbors. English influence upon the Native tribes revealed itself in noticeable ways, including language and lifestyle. This influence was and remains strongly evident so that the quest for ancestral origins has occupied much of the scholarly historical research focused upon these tribes. A widely held view is that the Indians of eastern North Carolina are descended from a mixture of Native tribes who lived among John White’s lost colony and continue to survive today in strong numbers. While many embrace that theory, others hold to an idea that eastern North Carolina Indians are more ethnically aligned with the blending of several Indian tribes in this region apart from much mingling with Anglo blood. In the late 1800’s, most of these North Carolina Indian groups were designated by the White community leaders as the "mixed" race. The Indians themselves were offended by such designations and insisted on their ancestral Indian heritage. Neither would they agree that they all are of the same specific tribal ancestry. The five distinct tribes listed in this paragraph bear tribal names that are relatively modern nomenclature based on each tribe’s research into their origins and native culture. The developing story of the Baptist faith among Indians of the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association contains the participation mainly of the five tribes mentioned above. At least five other North Carolina Indian tribes exist today that have no affiliation with Burnt Swamp Baptist Association.


Early Faith Development

As early settlers brought their faith with them to the new world, they found a receptive audience in Indian communities. Presbyterians and Methodists, and then Baptists, brought the gospel message to Indian people in Carolina. In the beginning, the Baptists may have been the least influential in their missionary outreach among the Indians. By the start of the nineteenth century and the decades to follow, the witness of White Baptists spread in the region and their numbers increased. White Baptists in Robeson County organized their own Robeson Baptist Association in 1883. Previously, White Baptist churches in Robeson County belonged to a wider and more regional Cape Fear Baptist Association.


According to some church records from the early to middle years of the 1800’s, White churches also included people of color from both African and Native American descent. Some of the oldest churches in Native American communities trace their beginnings to the time when they sought to start congregations for their own people no longer welcomed by neighboring White congregations. Indian communities then responded by establishing churches by Indians and for Indians. A few Indian men responded to the call of God upon their own lives for gospel ministry. Rejected by White churches but not entirely by the White missionary preachers, Indians continued the worship of God and accepting the Christian faith in indigenous churches.

At the time Indian communities began providing for their own Christian spiritual needs, they also assumed responsibility for educating their own Native people. No state assistance for public education was available for Carolina Indian communities. In 1835, the North Carolina State Constitution was amended to disenfranchise Indians along with Blacks. Indians lost important citizenship rights as a result of that act. The state constitution restored those civil privileges after the Civil War in 1868. And even after citizenship rights returned to the Indian people, their community leaders kept pressing arduously for improved education opportunities provided by their own limited community resources.


The Civil War era proved to be a turning point for Indian people socially and spiritually. Indian churches for Indian people emerged as well as Indian schools for Indian students. Brush harbor gatherings gave rise to worshipping congregations meeting regularly and our first Baptist churches came into existence. Indian preachers were in short supply but many good-hearted White preachers reached out to preach the gospel wherever it would be received by Indians. The account of White preachers evangelizing Indians certainly includes the names of two prominent Robeson County preachers who affiliated with the Cape Fear Baptist Association. Rev. Furney Prevatt and his son Rev. F.A. Prevatt demonstrated genuine interest in the eternal salvation of the Indians of Robeson County. Not only did they preach among the Indians but also witnessed the progress of the gospel in the start up of local churches. God used the ministries of these men and the corresponding zeal for the gospel within Indian communities to sow the seeds for what later would become the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association. God called out preachers from among the Indians instigating indigenous leadership. "Against popular opinion, the Prevatts persisted in their influence among their Indian friends. As a result, many Indian ministers responded to God’s call to lead their people out of sin’s wilderness. Among those were such men as J.W. Blanks, Carey Wilkins, John S. Wilkins, A. Oxendine, Gilbert Locklear, John J. Bell, James Jacobs, J.D. Hunt, Alfred Hunt, William Canady, Seymore Bell, Dolphin Hardin and Henry Jones whose names are recorded in early Baptist documents."


The Burnt Swamp Baptist Association Is Born

Accustomed to limited economic and other community resources, Indian churches learned to cope with restricted opportunity. Pastors were scarce and more than one congregation often shared the same pastor. Though the specific beginning of inter-church fellowship is not clearly defined, Indian churches began to meet in joint gatherings likely during the 1870’s. Oral history reports that is the case until an official formal gathering of these Indian Baptist churches met in 1881. "It is suggested that such meetings occurred in the late 1870’s and continued until three of those churches met at the Burnt Swamp Baptist Church on January 21, 22 and 23 of 1881 for the purpose of organizing an association. (A recording of the association’s history by Bro. J.L. Carter in the 1952 Minutes indicates the association was formed in 1880.) The three churches (Burnt Swamp, Reedy Branch, and Magnolia) organized themselves and elected officers." According to minutes of that meeting, the Burnt Swamp Association formed and named such at that time. The name chosen for the new organization was the "Burnt Swamp Missionary Baptist Association of the Mixed Race", reflecting the White society’s designation for local Indians. Elder F. Prevatt preached the Introductory Sermon and the delegates present elected officers. They elected Carey Wilkins as the first Moderator, John Wilkins as Clerk and Gilbert Locklear as Treasurer. The Clerk also recognized delegates present from the three churches.


Carey Wilkins was already a recognized Indian spiritual leader. Records from a local Indian Methodist Church’s minutes dating back to 1869 indicate that Rev. Carey Wilkins had withdrawn his church membership from them and he became a Baptist. "On October 2, 1877 twelve men and eight women met to organize Burnt Swamp Baptist Church. They had previously worshiped within the Raft Swamp and Clyburn Baptist Churches. Among the charter members were Archie and Peggy Oxendine, Cary and Sally Wilkins, and their son John S. Wilkins." These Burnt Swamp Church leaders had received encouragement from the Raft Swamp and Clyburn Baptist Churches (both White churches) to form a Baptist fellowship of Indian churches. The Raft Swamp Church pastor, Rev. David Caswell, became Burnt Swamp Church’s first pastor. Rev. Caswell, Rev. Furney Prevatt and Rev. F.A. Prevatt were all active in the Cape Fear Association.

Later in that same year, a second meeting of the Association convened on November 4-5, 1881 at Reedy Branch Church. A fourth church, Mt. Pleasant Church, joined the association at that meeting. The association called Rev. Carey Wilkins as its first missionary. The Association received churches into its fellowship in the years following its organization. In 1885, Seven Bridges Church located in the Maxton, NC area joined the Association. In that same year, the official name of the association became the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association of Croatan Indians, reflecting the local Indians’ insistence upon their proper identity as Indian people. The designation "Croatan Indians" is associated with the John White "Lost Colony" theory of origins for many eastern North Carolina Indians believed to have been friendly with early English pioneers. By the annual meeting in 1888, the Association included 9 churches and one church, Mt. Elim, was in South Carolina. By 1900, the membership included 16 churches but 5 of those left the Association by the annual meeting that year. Steadily, the Association grew by adding new churches at most annual meetings. The number of churches reached 20 by 1911 but decreased to 14 churches by 1913 before increasing again to 20 by 1924. Several of the churches in those first 45 years of the Association’s existence left the Association without explanation. It appears that some dissolved altogether and others reorganized under another name. By 1917, the Association included churches from North Carolina in Robeson, Scotland and Bladen counties; one church in Adabelle, Georgia; and, one church in South Carolina. The Burnt Swamp Association was beginning to reflect not just its distinction as an organization of Indian churches but also a very non-traditional geographic spread. No new churches joined the Association from 1925 to 1938. In 1938, Sampson County, North Carolina Indians at New Bethel Church petitioned and joined the Association. New Bethel’s affiliation extended the reach of Burnt Swamp beyond the Lumbee community into the Coharie tribe.

A prior relationship existed between the Sampson county Coharie Indians and the Robeson county Lumbee. The Lumbee leaders recognized many of the Coharie people who had migrated into Lumbee territory during the middle to late 1800’s and established themselves as permanent residents among the Lumbee. Both Indian communities had been providing for the education of their children through community supported Indian schools. Cooperation between the two tribes led to a connection for spiritual fellowship when New Bethel Church organized in 1911. Indian education was a second core concern for Indian churches in the early years of their formation. In the 1881 minutes of the association, a report on education set forth the Association’s understanding of the importance of having a school for the Indian race. A report on education became a regular item on the annual meeting agenda. These reports usually called for education opportunity for Indian preachers but, importantly, for Indian children. Several elementary schools for Indians developed in the 1880’s and 1890’s. In the years soon to come, as many as two dozen schools for Indian children, built and sustained by Indian community support, emerged throughout Indian country in eastern North Carolina. In many instances, Indian churches also formed in the same location as the Indian schools. The Association actively engaged in a larger effort to provide a high school for Indians and helped raise financial support to that end. "This Association, and those of other denominations of the Croatan Indians, have a committee of one from each church, who shall endeavor to raise all the money they can for the purpose of establishing a high school among the Croatan Indians; that this committee have a treasurer, who shall hold this money, and that this treasurer shall secure them for all the money paid to him, and that each committee shall make a report at every Union meeting of all the money they have raised." A movement in the Indian community culminated in North Carolina state legislature allocating funds for the establishment a school for higher level education for Indians in Robeson County. "In the late 1800’s the state of North Carolina finally recognized its obligation to provide schooling for Croatan Indian children in Robeson County. Indian children could not attend White schools, and, by choice, did not attend the Black schools either. A few small elementary schools for Indians were finally approved in various communities. In later years, changes in Public Laws allowed for such schools among Indians in other eastern counties. However, there were no opportunities for natives beyond elementary grades to gain education diplomas or degrees."


Mission Development and Growth

Outreach beyond the Robeson county area was already a course and commitment of the Association by the early 1900’s. The Association defined itself as an Association of Indian churches from beginning and changes to the Association Constitution reinforced it in the 1910 Annual. "This association shall be composed of members chosen by the different churches in our union, who shall be known, designated and styled as Indians or lineal descendants of Indians, and duly sent to represent them in the association who shall be members, who they judge best qualified for that purpose and producing letters form their respective churches certifying their appointment as delegates." Many new churches resulted from mission efforts locally. A Domestic Mission Board and local missionary involvement led by women brought growth in Christian missions in communities beyond Robeson County. Teachers from Robeson County gained opportunity in other tribal communities outside Robeson county and new relationships formed among several tribes. This too improved the influence of Burnt Swamp Association beyond the Lumbee people. The Association promoted the partnership between the church and the school to raise the quality of Indian community life.


The increase of Indian schools never diminished the desire that Indian ministers also be well trained. Association annual reports called upon ministers to seek training and particularly in the Word of God. At the 1917 Annual Meeting, the Association called for a committee to pursue establishing a Christian training center for Indian churches. Soon, others joined in the effort to provide Christian training for Indian ministers and church leaders. A White mail carrier, Mr. E.L. Odum, showed interest in assisting in this effort by providing land in Pembroke for the establishment of a training school for church leaders and a site for an Indian orphanage. His offer inspired support from the Livermore family, a local White family that owned most of the business enterprise that served Indians in the Pembroke vicinity. Mary Livermore, a woman of great passion and concern for Indians, became a significant voice for the Burnt Swamp Association. "A diary she kept during the early 1900’s reflects much of her own impressions of the times and turmoil in Robeson County and of her attempts to assist Indian friends in church, school, and orphan work. She was well aware of the need for an orphanage among the Indian population in the state. At that time no state orphanage facilities were open to people of color, including Indians. Odum proposed a willingness to donate a 57 and one/half acre tract he owned in the Pembroke area for the purpose of an Indian orphanage and ministers’ training school. Upon hearing of Odum’s offer, Livermore quickly shared Odum’s interest with the association ministers, and (though years would pass before total fruition of his desire) a dream began." The 1920’s gave increasing focus upon establishing both a Christian training school and an Indian orphanage. Funds from churches and support from the Southern Baptist Home Mission Board made the dream for a training school a reality in 1922. For several reasons, the success of the training center was short lived. Harsh travel conditions across considerable distance posed a significant challenge for prospective students. In addition, a growing skepticism toward "educated" preachers weakened enthusiasm for the training school. At the same time that interest waned in the training center, local Pembroke community people started using the training center facility for regular worship. The training center closed in 1926 but the facility continued to serve the Association as a meeting place for workshops and conferences for the churches. Local Christians organized the Berea Church and began meeting in the training center building soon after the center closed. The church eventually took possession of the facility.


The Odum property also enabled the Association to provide a home for Indian orphan children. In 1928 and 1929, the Association began in earnest to pursue this project. Miss Livermore maintained a strong commitment to the endeavor and voiced concern among White Baptists as well as to county and state political leaders. "With the assistance of Miss Margaret Holmes, the county’s Indian Social Case Worker, Livermore was successful in establishing the Indian Child Welfare Association in 1939 and the Mother’s Aid Society." Grass roots efforts increased. Rev. C.E. Locklear brought a stirring charge to the Association that led to a decision to go forward. "There are at present several orphan children and several mothers with children within the bounds of the Burnt Swamp Baptist Association who sorely need our help. Many of them have no schooling; they do not attend church, and some of them are being used almost as slaves. They are being brought up in the world without a chance. May the God of the widow and the orphan help us to hear the cry of these little ones saying, ‘Come and help us’." The concern persisted and reports at Association annual meetings tracked the slow but deliberate progress of getting the orphan home established. Led by Rev. L.W. Jacobs, an icon among Burnt Swamp leaders, the Association initiated fund-raising among both Indian and White churches. Finally in 1942, the Odum Home Orphanage opened its doors to four girls as the first residents. The boys’ cottage followed a few years later and an Indian orphanage supported by community contributions was in business. Though the ministry struggled to survive, it was the result of a cooperative effort by both Burnt Swamp and Robeson Association (White) churches. Sacrificial local commitment to the success of the children’s ministry kept the doors open. Baptists across the state kept an eye on the Indian orphanage and grew concerned about helping with the great need of providing for the homeless children. In 1958, Odum Home became a ministry of the Baptist Children Homes of North Carolina and remains as such.


Affiliation with NC Baptist Convention

The friendly support of the Home Mission Board coupled with Burnt Swamp Association’s history of conducting itself and its programming as a Baptist organization moved the Association to seek affiliation with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in 1921. Several years passed and the Association received little encouragement that opportunity for its churches to have affiliation with the Convention would take place. Local White church leaders differed on the wisdom of offering affiliation to the Indian churches in an all White Convention. In 1929, the Association received representatives from the Convention at its annual meeting. "Also in attendance at the 1929 Annual Session was Dr. J.W. Beagle of the Southern Baptist Convention who delivered the morning sermon. On the final day of the association meeting, Rev. L.W. Jacobs read a petition for entrance into the State Baptist Convention. It was approved by the association and the following delegates appointed to carry it to the next Convention annual meeting: Rev. C.E. Locklear, Rev. L.W. Jacobs, Rev. A.N. Locklear, Brother W.G. (Gaston) Revels, and Brother William R. Locklear." The outcome of the Convention’s decision gave associate status to the Association churches, meaning they could participate in Convention programs but could not vote in Convention business. This compromise in status was not as satisfactory to Indians as to local White leaders in Robeson county.

The Association responded cordially and gratefully to good willed White leaders who assisted in the establishment and development of the association and its ministries. Southern Baptists grew earnest in showing concern for the spiritual improvement of the Indian churches. The Association received missionaries appointed by the Home Mission Board during these same years of petition for affiliation. Mrs. and Mrs. M.C. Lunsford led Burnt Swamp Association women to organize the Woman’s Missionary Union in 1929. Mr. and Mrs. P.A. Underwood came in 1941 as associational missionaries supported by the Home Mission Board. They gave valuable help to the ministry of the Odum Home Orphanage in its early years. White missionary couples worked alongside Indian leaders in associational ministry but did not replace, overshadow or diminish the significance of Indian leaders in the churches or the association. Indigenous leadership always stood responsibly facing the Indian people to inspire them toward improvement in understanding the nature and work of the church. Some of these, both men and women, became legendary during the formative years of Burnt Swamp Association. Out of that tradition of competent Indian leadership, the Association never became solely dependent upon assistance from outside its own churches. A sense of responsible stewardship for the life and ministry of the Indian churches existed alongside a similar ethic for educating Indian children in Indian schools. The key Association leaders such as Rev. L.W. Jacobs, Rev. C.E. Locklear, Mr. J.L. Carter and Miss Anna Mae Locklear enjoyed great respect among the churches and represented the Association well to Baptists outside Burnt Swamp. They participated in convention sponsored training and brought their knowledge back to the Association to build up the churches. They soon inspired others to take advantage of training events that would enhance the ministry of the church. Sunday School was one of many objects of deep interest and participation for Mr. J.L. Carter. He was a descendant of some of the original founders of the Association and he continued the commitment found among the early leaders of the 1880’s. The Woman’s Missionary Union flourished under the able direction of Miss Anna Mae Locklear. "Miss Locklear began working part-time with the association in October 17, 1947. Many, including family, friends, and association leaders, were encouraging her to further her education and attend seminary for religious training. Miss Mary Livermore was among her greatest encouragers. The decision to leave Robeson County for several months in seminary training in Kentucky was a difficult one. Not only were there family and financial concerns, but also there was a prevailing attitude among Lumbee Baptist ministers that ‘religious calling’ was reserved for males only. Ministers could accept Miss Locklear’s desire to work with children in Vacation Bible School and with the women and girls’ mission organizations, but they could not entertain thoughts of equating her work as a ‘co-laborer’ in the ministry field." Her ministry with children culminated in the construction of a camp facility in 1951, built by men of the Association and used for summer camps for boys and girls.


From Mission Field to Mission Force

The Association grew in its ministries with the churches. Seminary Extension became an important training program for local ministers. Miss Anna Mae worked with the Association missionaries to strengthen Vacation Bible Schools and missions awareness in the churches. Rev. Dawley Maynor, a local Lumbee, came to Burnt Swamp Association in 1958 and led the Association as its missionary for ten years. He enjoyed good relationships with Baptist State Convention leaders and strengthened Burnt Swamp Association’s ties with the Baptist State Convention. Supported greatly by Home Mission Board funding, Rev. Tony Brewington assumed leadership as Director of Missions upon Rev. Dawley Maynor’s departure. Rev. Brewington was seminary educated, visionary and energetic. Having no central office location, he led the Burnt Swamp churches to construct a modern Association office building in 1974. The Association’s involvement in missions outreach beyond itself concentrated on Indian reservations in the west. Rev. Brewington introduced the Association to mission projects in Oklahoma, Mississippi, New Mexico and South Dakota. He maintained a Seminary Extension curriculum for ministers and provided church leader training for deacons and other church leaders. During his years, some churches began to provide their pastors with full time support. That number has never exceeded more than twenty percent of the churches. He devoted part of his time to promoting missions on behalf of the Home Mission Board as well. His seventeen years of leadership brought growth in the churches’ understanding of mission involvement and mission support. He also prepared the Association for its next step of development in its organization life. Burnt Swamp Association had to become self-supporting, responsible for fully funding its staff and ministries. Ethnic pride was an obvious theme running throughout the Association’s history and the Association prepared to prove to Southern Baptists that the years of Home Mission Board support was not in vain. The perception of Burnt Swamp Association as the mission field for Southern Baptists was changing. They were destined to become full partners as a missionary force in evangelism and missions of the denomination.


Rev. Mike Cummings accepted the call to the Association as Missions Director in 1988, a position fully funded by the Association churches apart from any Home Mission Board support. His wife had been employed by the Association as office secretary for ten years prior to his coming. Additional staff during the 1990’s assisted with Christian community ministries and church development. He continued to build upon the Association’s commitment to mission work among Indian reservation communities in the mid-west and western United States. Mission teams from the churches multiplied. An increasing number of ministers from the Association churches sought seminary training. Churches’ involvement in the affairs of the Baptist State Convention increased. Understanding of the partnership between Burnt Swamp Association churches and the larger Southern Baptist Convention improved. Rev. Cummings served as a Baptist State Convention of North Carolina leader when elected to serve as the Convention president in 1999, the first Indian ever elected to that office. Burnt Swamp Baptists saw themselves as full partners in the work of Southern Baptists as never before. The Southern Baptist denomination reflects a growing diversity of racial and ethnic people in America, and so does Burnt Swamp Association. Indian communities are growing in eastern North Carolina but the neighborhoods also include people of other backgrounds. Indian churches are not nearly as homogeneous as merely twenty-five years ago. Indigenous leaders in Burnt Swamp churches, both lay and clergy continue to oversee the life of the congregations. Two pastors among the seventy are Anglo. The neighboring Robeson Association (White) now has two pastors that are Indians originally from Burnt Swamp Association background. After nearly one hundred and thirty years as a fellowship of Indian Baptist churches, Burnt Swamp Association may hold distinction as the oldest organization of Baptist churches for Indians. The Association struggled to organize but grew as an organization exclusively for Indian churches and Indian people. It grows more apparent that while a uniform "Indian only" experience portrays the past, growing multicultural diversity lies in the future for Burnt Swamp Association churches.

Volunteer Contstruction

In areas of disrepair in our community, our amazing youth members are always willing to step in and lend a hand to keep our city beautiful, while learning valuable life skills about charity and a hard days work.

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Hands for the Homeless

For the less fortunate in our community, we collect all manner of donations, ranging from money, to food, to clothes, and more. Last year, we helped more than 120 people get off of the streets and into a safer, more livable situation for their families.

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