Baptist Church Near Me
First Baptist Church of Beaufort, Inc.
A History of FBC of Beaufort, recorded by many clerks through its rich one hundred and sixty-nine years as a House of Worship and a Harbor of Hope in the Beaufort, NC community.
April 1851 – October 2020
Out of the hopes and dreams of seven people, The First Baptist Church of Beaufort was formed over a century and a half ago. It was constituted on April 27, 1851 with James G. Noe, Mary Noe, George D. Anderson, Jane Anderson, Asa Piver, Naomi Piver, and Jane Sherwood.
In October of 1851, at the annual Union Association meeting, the church was received with a congregation of 27 members. At first, services were conducted in the courthouse and Odd Fellows Hall, the home of James G. Noe, and possibly some others.
Elder J.B. Montague was elected pastor in 1853 and work on the present house of worship began that year. The Pastor and William J. Potter, Joel H. Davis and William F. Bell were elected to the building committee. It is interesting to note that these three prominent citizens were not Baptists. “No doubt, they were interested in the struggling little band of Christians,” wrote M. Leslie Davis, in a 1951 centennial piece on the First Baptist Church.
The 1850s were lean times in many ways, as reflected by an executive committee report in 1850 to the Union Association which stated that Brother Jacob Utley, after assisting in an organization of a church in Snow Hill, “went down by the way of Beaufort to the Sound, through Onslow and Jones counties, where he found great destitution. He visited Beaufort, at which he found great desire for the organization of a Baptist Church.” Jacob Utley was to be named first pastor.
The Union Association report of 1853 said: “The church at Beaufort numbers about 25 members and that there are others disposed to unite with the church, if prospects could promise a favorable result. There seems to be no hindering cause why a Baptist Church may not speedily be raised in that town, and arrangements have been made to build a house of Worship of 30 by 42 feet, with side galleries, to cost from $1,000 to $1,500 and subscriptions to accomplish that work of about $1,000 have been obtained.”
By November, 1853, the first services were conducted in the unfinished structure, with Elder J. J. Lansdale preaching the first sermon. In 1854, Edwin Pigott raised another $1,500 by subscription and the house was completed, with Joel H. Davis and William F. Bell presenting the church with its first Bible. In 1857, a Sunday school was organized and Brother John Nichols was elected superintendent.
A move was made in 1883 for the church to acquire an organ, which it did. However, a church member listed only as Brother with no last name, objected and quit, saying “that he could not worship with a church that had an organ”. Lena Clyde Davis, age 12, became the first church organist, for 12 years until she married and moved to Greenville. Her sister, Lucie McLean Davis, took over and remained organist for another 20 years.
The 1880s were a period of marked growth and progress in America and the world. The first skyscrapers were built in Chicago, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened, the Northern Pacific Railroad Line was completed, Buffalo Bill Cody took his “Wild West Show” to New York City, the first practical steam turbine engine was invented, Louis Pasteur developed the first vaccine for rabies, Edison electric lamps came into use, telephone switchboards, and not last or least, in 1885, John M. Fox, following a trip to Scotland, introduces to America one of its most favorite games – golf.
And so, too, was the First Baptist Church of Beaufort entering a new phase with a plan under the leadership of the Rev. Charles A. Woodson in 1887 to enlarge and beautify the original building. Key members of the first committee were Richard Rice, E.W. Weeks, and John J. Davis. The new church was finished under the guidance of Rev. Duncan McLeod, “that energetic Scotchman”. The project was continued through 1914, when under the leadership of C.H. Trueblood and A.L. Brown the Sunday schools rooms were added.
In 1943, expansion was again undertaken, with 70 feet of frontage along Ann Street for construction of a new auditorium and education building. Later, another 15 feet were added.
The Rev. M. O. Alexander, pastor from 1944-47, launched the new building program, followed by Rev. Winfrey Davis, 1947-52. On the first week of 1953, the church entered the ground floor of its education building as Rev. W. T. Roberson became pastor. In September, 1953, the congregation assembled for worship in its new auditorium. The present sanctuary was completed in 1953 at a cost of $70,000. The old building was torn down in 1960 to make room for an education building that was completed in 1961. A new parsonage was completed in the early 1970s. Fire took its toll on April 24, 1984, and a $450,000 rebuilding and remodeling of the church was completed.
From the seven original church members, First Baptist Church of Beaufort has continued to grow. In 1854, there were 30 members; in 1876, 97 members; in 1894, membership was 164; in 1920, there were 202 members; and in 1930, the membership reached 300. By 1949, there were 403 members and in its Centennial year, 1951, membership hit 456. The following pastors served here as well: Alec Thompson 1958 – 1961. Dr. Billy Mobley 1961 – 1965; Grady Wheeler, Jr. 1965 – 1968; Rev. Dan Deaton 1969-1973; Dr. Charles Davis 1974 – 1979 led us through a series of years where our services were televised live and our church auditorium was packed full for the eleven o’clock service every Sunday under Dr. Davis’s leadership.
At this point we are one hundred twenty nine years old. Dr. Samuel Harvey 1980 – 1988 was the fiftieth pastor of our church and remained with us for eight years until he was replaced by the Rev. Jack Franks 1988 – 1992; membership is 382 at this time. In the year 1992 the church applied and received a non-profit corporation status and continued servicing the community led by an Intentional Interim Pastor until the Rev. Fred Simpson was called and served from 1994 – 1998.
The Rev. Jack Lee led the church from 1999 – 2008. In 2008 our pastor of 9 years, Rev. Jack Lee, resigned to accept a church in Fuquay-Varina. In July 2009, Rev. Michael Fields accepted the call to become our Senior Pastor. He came to us from the Parkview Baptist Church. Also that year, the Rev. John Thompson, known as “Brother John” was given the title of Associate Pastor and assumed the duties of the Youth Minister, in addition to the Minister of Music, Children, Preschool, and Church Fellowship. In April 2016, Rev. Michael Fields resigned and Pastor Ed Renfrow became our Interim Pastor.
In 2017, Ed Renfrow was called by the congregation as our senior pastor. Pastor Renfrow resigned July 31, 2019. In December of 2019 our church called Pastor Don Hadley as our Intentional Interim Pastor. In addition to his forty-five years of pastoring, Dr. Hadley has been trained to lead the church through a transition process into a “new church” while providing spiritual guidance to the leadership developing the churches vision plan for the transition to better serve the Beaufort Community. The plan developed with Divine Intervention by the Leadership Class of 2020 was presented to the congregation and adopted in September 2019. The plan was approved as presented and supported by a vote of ninety percent of the congregation. The plan now known as the 2020 Vision Plan has a series of printed updates showing the details and progress accomplished for the year 2020 on our website, fbcbeaufort.org.