Bible Donated to FWB Historical Collection at UMO

The granddaughters of the late Reverend John Ephraim Sawyer; Nancy Stragand (left) and Barbara Saurborn (center), present the preaching Bible of the Reverend Sawyer complete with his inserted notes.  The Bible was donated to the Free Will Baptist Historical Collection on a long-term loan by another granddaughter, the Reverend Ann Harris Truitt of Falls Church, VA.  The Reverend Sawyer (1886-1962) was a native of Pamlico Co, NC, a member of Trent FWB Church, and graduated from  the FWB Theological Seminary in Ayden, NC in 1906. Feeling the call to the ministry, he was ordained in the Eastern Conference of OFWBs in 1909.  He graduated from Guilford College in the following year, 1910.  That same year he was chosen to serve as principal of the Seminary (Ayden).  He served in that capacity until 1917 and later served as superintendent of Ayden public schools for about 10 years.  In 1929 he received his master’s degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and was offered a position as superintendent of Cherokee Indian Normal School, Pembroke, NC, where he guided that institution in preparing teachers, and later established the junior college program that would later become Pembroke State College (now UNC at Pembroke).

Reverend Sawyer pastored many FWB churches and was involved in many phases of denominational work.  Because he was such an able orator he was frequently called upon to speak at special functions, especially those which related to education.  After his tenure at Pembroke, he later moved to Sanford, NC and was in charge of a state employment agency in Carthage for a number of years in addition to serving as a part time preacher in the area.  In 1946 his career ended abruptly when he suffered a massive stroke which left him unable to speak, read or write.  He died in 1962 and was buried in the Ayden Cemetery.

The Bible of Reverend Sawyer has been added  to the John Ephraim Sawyer Papers in the Manuscripts Collection of the FWB Historical Collection.