The Baraca Class

Dr. Wyman Loren Williams teaching the Baraca Class Wyman Loren Williams, author of The Williams and Tyler Families, lived his entire career in the Mathematics Department of the University of South Carolina from 1924 to 1970. His faith/church life was similar singular. He grew up in Willow Swamp Baptist Church in Norway, SC. We don't know exactly when he moved to First Baptist Church in Columbia, probably about 1919 when he matriculated at USC. Anyway, he continued there until his death in 1986. He was a Deacon there for many years. In 1927, he was invited to teach a then new men’s Sunday School Class, called the Baraca Class. He accepted that invitation and was the Baraca Class Teacher until shortly before he died in 1986.

Wyman's children and grandchildren remember his SS lesson preparation habits. He used his porch swing, even bundling up in a heavy overcoat when required. For his final review on Saturday night, he carefully avoided conflict with Bonanza. Preparing and delivering this lesson to his men (women were added about 1980) was every bit as important to him as preparing and delivering a calculus lesson to his USC students (including Leland), maybe more so.

For many years the class was broadcast live on a Columbia radio station. To ensure accurate timing for the radio broadcast, Wyman added a Saturday stop to his daily walk from his Shandon home to the University. He stopped at Gudmundson's (later Gudmundson and Buyck) Jewely Store in Five Points to set his gold pocket watch. (Upon Leland and Cornelia's return to Columbia in 1998, they became friends with Fred Buyck, who remembers those Saturday watch-setting visits.) Another feature of the radio broadcast was opening with their theme hymn -- "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms." With watch in hand, Wyman would raise his hand while Loye Nations watched with his finger on the PLAY button of a portable cassette recorder/player. When Wyman lowered his hand, Mr. Nations (also Assistant Teacher) would begin the music for "Leaning" and the men would sing.

In 2008, a family friend, who still belongs to First Baptist Church, happened to notice a stack of old Baraca Class cassette tapes which were about to be discarded. She captured them and brought them to Leland. Leland divided them up among his brothers and children. Lee conceived and executed the idea of making these lessons available on The Williams and Tyler Families website maintained by David Williams.