Two lots of one-half acre each were secured on June 28, 1849, as a site for a church building. Later on February 13, 1851 another lot was secured. The church was probably completed in 1850 when Reverend John Robertson was pastor. This building remained in use until 1955. Later, additions were made and remodeling done at various times. When it was torn down the present beautiful brick building was built. The original church was built in slavery days and provided a gallery for the slaves who attended religious services with their masters, most of whom were tobacco planters from the surrounding plantations. At that time the gallery was in the west end of the church and the pulpit in the east. The gallery was removed sometime in the 1890’s. The pulpit was in between two doors, one for the men and one for the women. The congregation had to enter facing those already seated. Long plank steps led to the doors. The windows were rectangular with two sashes of small, clear glass panes. On the comb of the shingle roof, at the east end, was a tiny four-legged hut for the church bell. For 50 years or more, however, the bell hung in an old copell tree just north of the church, and was not hung in the cupola until the 1890’s. The original church was lighted for night services by kerosene wall lamps on brackets, and a chandelier. The walls of the building were of white plaster and the ceiling of wood. Candles were used before the kerosene lamps. Electricity was put in after 1916. Two wood-burning stoves heated the church, one on the “men’s side” and one on the “women’s”. Spittoons sat near the stove for those who might need them.
Preaching was held every fourth Saturday and Sunday. The preacher would read out a line of the hymn and the congregation would sing it back. This was called “lining out” the hymn. Hats were passed for collections. Baptisms were by immersion in the Dan River, just above where the covered bridge stood. Communion was served from two silver goblets, a silver pitcher, and two silver plates from May 1891 to March 1919 when the Ladies Missionary Society purchased the individual communion service and appropriate table linens.
We do not know what year the Sunday School was established, but by 1864 there were twenty members enrolled. The first recorded Sunday School Superintendent was Milton Stamps, who is mentioned as such in 1879. Saturday church services were discontinued in August 1895, but Prayer Meeting continued to be held on Tuesday nights.
In 1881 Reverend W.H. Wilson came to serve as pastor and stayed until 1910. This period of twenty-nine years is the longest any pastor has ever served our church. During his stay five churches, mothered by this church, were founded. These five churches are: Mayodan First Baptist 1892; Dan Valley - 1894; Comer’s Chapel-1894; Deep Springs- 1990; Ellisboro-1900. Grace Baptist Church was founded in 1924 while Reverend N.H. Sheppard was pastor. Our church also assisted in the establishment of the First Baptist Church of Greensboro, North Carolina.
When our church was founded in 1841, it became a member of Beulah Association and remained a member for fifty years. The Church became a member of Pilot Mountain Association in June 1891, and remained in that association until Dan Valley Missionary Baptist Association was formed in 1947. It continues to belong to the Dan Valley Missionary Baptist Association.
It is not definitely known when the Woman’s Missionary Society was formed, but it is believed to have started with six to twelve members on or before 1886. During that year the first financial report of $2.60 was sent to the Woman’s Central Committee in Raleigh.
The first parsonage was built in 1923 with the proceeds from the sale of a portion of the church lot to the Town of Madison for use in building a firehouse. Reverend N.H. Sheppard and family were the first occupants in 1924 and Reverend Earle J. Rogers and family were the last occupants. Reverend Rogers and family were also the first occupants the new brick parsonage built in 1961 on Pratt Street.
Much growth and progress occurred during the late 1930’s and 40’s. Rotation of deacons was voted for in 1937 when Reverend Robert A. Gardner was pastor. On October 2, 1938 a motion was made and accepted that the church authorize a fund for a building program. Reverend Willard A. Brown was our first full time pastor. This was his first pastorate. He came to us on January 1, 1940. Observance of the 100th anniversary of the church was held on November 2, 1941, with the morning sermon by Reverend Robert A. Gardner. During the afternoon session after lunch the church history was given by Miss Ann E. Johnson Mrs. Ben R. Wall.
The war caused a delay in building plans but the Church continued to stress the Building Fund. On February 5, 1950, the Church set aside a Building Fund Sunday to Observe completion of the Building Fund Program and plans for the new Church Sanctuary and Sunday School plant were available for viewing. The Educational Building was completed in 1952, and the new Sanctuary in 1954. The Church on March 2, 1955, voted to sell the old sanctuary building for immediate removal in order to make way for building the Children’s Educational Building. It was completed in 1957. The new pastorium was occupied in December, 1961, when Reverend Rogers and family moved into it from the old parsonage. The old pastorium was then sold and removed from the church grounds.
During the 1950’s two sons of the church were licensed to preach the gospel. Lee Anglin was licensed on July 20, 1952, and Carey Morgan on August 3, 1958. In 1960, Reverend S.K. Wood resigned as Pastor to become a missionary to Japan. Another former member of our church, David Weeks, was ordained to the Christian Ministry in 1975 by Corinth Baptist Church in Springfield, Georgia.
In May, 1961, the Church began the broadcast of the Morning Worship Services over local radio station WMYN. The broadcast has continued to date every Sunday morning with the exception of a six month period when the local Presbyterian service was broadcast.
When Reverend Earle J. Rogers retired on June 30, 1974, to devote his time to interim pastoral work after nearly fourteen years as our Pastor, we secured the services of Reverend M.M. Goss to be our interim Pastor until Dr. Larry J. Bennett was wholeheartedly received as pastor. His pastorate began February 1, 1975 when he and his wife, Libby, and family moved into the parsonage as the second family to occupy it. The church experienced a new enthusiasm under the leadership of Dr. Bennett.
The sanctuary was renovated in 1981. In 1993 a fine custom built eleven rank Schantz pipe was installed. Two years later a Yamaha baby grand piano was added.
The Brown Building containing a fellowship hall, kitchen, classroom, and restrooms was built in 1991. It was named after Junius and Eliza Pratt Brown whose bequest to the church provided major funding for the construction. It was dedicated during the 150th Anniversary Celebration of the church on November 10, 1991.
In 1997 the church replaced its constitution with Articles of Incorporation. The Articles on file with the Department of the Secretary of State of North Carolina name the congregation as First Baptist Church of Madison, Inc., a non-profit corporation.
As stated in earlier writings on church history of First Baptist Church Madison, the records of the first 50 years of our church were either lost or burned. We have relied upon information found in various records, articles, and minutes for an accurate historical account for that period of our church. Church minutes from 1894 actually confirm our birthday as it states in referring to the death of Milton Stamps, “a member of the Madison Baptist Church organized on November 6, 1841.” Other information sources have been Wake Forest College publications, and The Baptist State Convention articles. Those who have collected and compiled records of our church history over the years include: Mrs. Ben Wall, Lenora Sutton, J.P. Carter, Martha Wall, Miss Elona Johnson, and Miss. Nancy Watkins. Their efforts have been invaluable to later questions.
In the beginning and for some time afterwards, our church was known as The Madison Missionary Baptist Church. It wasn’t until January 1954 that it took the name First Baptist Church. For the first 54 years our church met every fourth Saturday and Sunday. In 1894 the Saturday service was discontinued. In 1918 our church and Walnut Cove Baptist began sharing a pastor. Then, in 1924 our church made a similar arrangement of sharing pastor with the Mayodan Baptist Church. For many years our church held a business session each month immediately following Sunday morning worship service. In 1937 the church adopted a rotating system for deacons, and in 1940 the total number of deacons was increased from five to six.
Also in 1940, the church called its first full-time pastor, Rev. Willard A. Brown from Selma, NC. The church began a building fund for new facilities during ministry of Rev. Brown and also adopted a Unified Budget Plan of financing. It wasn’t until after WW II that our church buildings were completed during pastorate of Rev. Paul Brunner. Following resignation of Rev. S.K. Wood to become a missionary to Japan the church called Earl J. Rogers in October 1960.
Rev. Rogers came to Madison from First Baptist Church Washington, NC, and it was during his pastorate that church completed a new pastorium, began its Radio ministry and employed what is thought to be its first minister of music and youth. Jacky Davis would in 1976 become full-time music and youth director.
Following the retirement of Rev. Rogers in 1974 after 14 years of service the church called Dr. Larry J. Bennett as pastor on February 1, 1975. Dr. Bennett had been serving as associate pastor at First Baptist Church, Wilson.
Our sanctuary was renovated in 1981 and in 1991 and the Brown Building was completed. The Brown Building, which included a new fellowship hall, was dedicated on November 10, 1991 at which time the church also celebrated it 150th anniversary. It was during the 70s and 80s that the church has had it largest and most active youth group.
During the past decade or so, the church has moved to a closer association with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship group within the Baptist faith. We continue to belong and give financial support to Dan Valley Association as well as to the State Baptist Convention. Actually the church givers support 23 various mission programs including: Hands of God, Meals on Wheels, Samaritan’s Purse, Baptist Children’s Home and Hospital, plus both State and Global mission programs of CBF.
On January 29, 2006 Dr. Bennett concluded 31 years of service at First Baptist Church, the longest ministry of any preceding pastor. The church called Marcia McQueen, Chaplain at Moore head Hospital in Eden, as Interim Pastor. Rev. McQueen served our church with great leadership during this 6 month transitional period and was instrumental in moving us into the use of computers for various church activities.
On Easter Sunday, April 16, 2006, the church, upon the pulpit committee’s recommendation, called Navy Commander Charles “Chuck” McGathy as pastor Rev. McGathy had recently completed 22 years of service as Chaplain in US Navy. He began his ministry at First Baptist Church with his wife Dawn and there five children on August 1, and conducted his first service on Sunday, August 6, 2006. Prior to his coming to Madison and during his first several months, the church has been involved in various projects including: updating the office area, purchase of 2 computers and other office equipment, setting up a church web site – wwwFirstBaptistChurchMadison.org., starting a prayer shawl ministry, holding a clothing giveaway, participating in Madison Heritage Festival, and currently in process of preparing for the church’s 165th Anniversary Celebration to be held on November 5, 2006.
The pastors who have served the First Baptist Church of Madison and their years of pastorate are listed below:
J.M. New 1850
John Robertson 1852-1853
S. Ivey 1855-1859
L.H. Shuck 1860-1863
Geo W. Griffin 1864-1866
R.D. Haymore 1871
P.H. Fontain 1874-1879
W.H. Wilson 1881-1910
A.I. McLendon 1914-1916
V.H. Harrell 1917
J.L. Shinn 1918-1919
E.W. Church 1920-1922
J.L. Powers 1922-1923
N.H. Sheppard 1924-1925
L.D. Bass 1925-1928
O.E. Ward 1929-1934
R.A. Gardner 1935-1939
W.A. Brown 1940-1944
E.T. Parham 1944-1952
Pau l E. Brunner 1952-1958
S.K. Wood 1948-1960
Early J. Rogers 1960-1974
M.M. Goss (Interim) 1974-1975
Dr. Larry J. Bennett 1975-2006
Rev. Marcia McQueen (Interim) Feb. 2006-July 2006
Rev. Charles McGathy Aug. 2006
Full-time Ministers of Music
Jacky Davis 1976-1981
Terry Williams 1982-1996
. The history of First Baptist Church of Madison continues...
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