By letting their hopes and desires for and their dreams of a church of their own be known to the members of the White church. Reverend Layfette Stewart, Great-grandfather of Mr. Hal Stewart, who was the operator of Ace Hardware Company, Clinton, North Carolina gave a piece of land on which to build a church for our people and themselves. The land was deeded to the following men: Hardy Bunting, Cato Brunson, Balem Best, Warren Holmes, Daniel Moore, Agrippa Bizzell, Ronnie Bennett and Unus Hubbard, who became the first Deacons of the First Baptist Church, 900 College Street, Clinton, North Carolina. Their wives, Sarah Bunting, Jane Brunson, Elizabeth Holmes, Eliza Moore, Edith Bizzell, Rosa Bennett, and Alice Hubbard were the first mothers of the church. Maggie Ballard and Clara Bunting seceded Jane Brunson, Alice Hubbard, and Elizabeth Holmes after their deaths.
By organizing and saving their money, this group of Christian people was ready to begin building the first edifice in 1875. It was completed in 1880. Between1892-1913, a plot of land was purchased on the east side of the church from a secret order (TENTS). The church experienced much growth during this period, causing the existing building to be inadequate. A larger edifice was constructed to accommodate the increasing congregation. The church was completed in 1929 and dedicated to God who made all things possible.
The membership was more than doubled during the pastorate of Reverend Hart and more Deacons and Officers were ordained and elected. Deacons ordained were: J.L. Holmes, Abraham Graham, Duncan Bunting, Dock Mathis, Frank Faison, Sr., Pearlie Devane, John Brewington, John Moore, Preston Beamon, Sr., and J.P. Faison. Trustees elected were: James Faison, James Berry, Jerry Faison, Sr., Paul Sherard, Grady Kirby, Harry and Author Chestnutt. Building Committee: N.H. Kenlaw, James Underwood, Archie Underwood, Harry Chestnutt, John Bunting, Thomas Faison and Paul L. Sherard, Trustees: Unis Hubbard, John Moore, J.L. Holmes, A.D. Graham, Preston Beamon and John Brewington. Deacon Kelly Boney was appointed Building Treasurer, James Ezzell, Secretary to Building Treasurer and General Treasurer.
The Deacons were chosen according to the Christian qualifications related in I Timothy 3:8-13. They were serious, dedicated, austere, strong willed men who ruled and governed the church by adhering strictly to the Baptist Doctrine and discipline of that day and time. Members who were known to be guilty of “unchristian like conduct”, which included adultery, drunkenness, and dancing were expelled (turnout of) from the church. The Deacons were the leaders and the bosses of the church and their orders were respected and carried out by the members of the church. In the beginning and for many ensuing years, Sunday church services were held only once per month and those services were well attended. The out of town pastors came on Saturdays and stayed with private Christian families until Monday. The pastor had services Sunday and Sunday night.
Mothers of the church were required to be Christian ladies, morally and spiritually clean. They were lawful wives of Deacons and preachers who had not been divorced and had never been “common-law wives” to any man. They were required to have good characters and reputations; never having been found guilty of (fornication) adultery, of dancing, of cursing, of having illegitimate children, or of drunkenness. They were women who were submissive to their husbands and who lived wholesome Christian lives, obeying their husbands and adhering to the Baptist Doctrine. This doctrine was kept enforced until 1958.
First Baptist Church has been led over the past one-hundred and forty-three years to great spiritual heights by the following ministers:
Rev. I. Miller: He was the first elected Pastor of the First Baptist Church before and after it was completed in 1880. He administered to the spiritual and religious needs of the people and the church flourished and grew in members and grace.
Rev. Lamb: He was an inspirational pastor and the church continued to grow in spirit, strength and finance. Supposedly, the possibilities of a larger church and the need for one began to formulate in the minds of the members of the church.
Rev. L. T. Christmas (1890-1892): Undoubtedly, the growing need of a larger building became more pressing as the church grew in membership. As financial conditions improved, the members were able to purchase a parcel of land from a secret order, “The United Tents of America,” and plans were made for the building of a larger church.
Rev. A. A. Smith (1892-1913): Rev. Smith, a great intellectual and brother to the first President of Fayetteville State University, previously State Normal School, was called to pastor the church. The second church was built on the recently purchased property. This building was not only a larger building, but it was also a better building. To complete this building during his pastorate, Rev. Smith asked for and received special donations.
Rev. D. S. Salters (1914-1915): He became the pastor of the second church that was built after the resignation of Rev. A. A. Smith. The church experienced wide growth during his administration and another Deacon, Owen Carr, was ordained.
Rev. Fred Davis (1915-1919): Rev. Davis succeeded Rev. Salters as pastor of the First Baptist Church. The church continued its spiritual growth and new members united with the church.
Rev. H.J. Jones (1920-1922): During the pastorate of Rev. Jones, progress was somewhat slower. Nickels, dimes and quarters were considered a large fee for a church member to pay. A dollar or five dollars was a great financial donation. Salaries were low and times were hard. Progress continued at slower pace. From 1875 when the first church was begun until 1921, all converts were baptized in Mill Creek, especially the one just beyond the Clinton Cemetery on McKoy Street.
Rev. H. H. Hart (1923-1934): Rev. Hart came as a great evangelical preacher and pastor. He was an inspirational spiritual leader, organizer and builder. He planned a building program to build the third church in which we now worship, and built a Baptismal Pool in the old church to be used during the construction of the new church. Faithful, loyal and devoted members donated their time, equipment, and money to excavate the ground for the basement of the church. Also, members made special loans of money for the construction of the roof. Large donations of money and money raised from special rallies were used to construct the building. Rev. Hart authorized the first Men’s Day Program ever celebrated in Sampson County, and the church had its first Mother’s Day Celebration, both days were used as big rally days to raise money for the building. Private families paid for the windows, and the Male Community Chorus, Pastor’s Aid and the Just Us Club donated large sums of money. In 1929, the building was completed.
Rev. B. F. Johnson (1934-1944): Under the administration of Rev. Johnson, the Baptist Young People’s Union was organized. Rev. Johnson added service on the fourth Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. New officers and organizations were added which rendered a greater service to the total church community.
Rev. K. P. Battle (1945-1946): The Pipe Organ was purchased at the cost of $7,000.00 dollars, sponsored by Dr. Roland Allison. Also, it was during the administration of Rev. Battle that the “Harvest Rally Day” began.
Rev. J. A. Nimo (1947-1949): Rev. Nimo authorized the “Pledge System” for services each Sunday.
Rev. R. H. Johnson (1950-1955): The heating system and new lights were installed. Charles Summerville presented a plan for rest rooms, at the cost of $3,500.00 dollars, to be built in the church. Construction of them began immediately. Addie Johnson was the clerk during the pastorate of Rev. Johnson.
Rev. J.H. Clanton (1955-1958): Under the leadership of Rev. Clanton, the members of the First Baptist Church were financially able to build a Parsonage. Membership to the church increased and more deacons and officers were ordained and elected. The deacons, who were young men at the time, were: George Herring, Frank Faison, Jr., Edward Faison, W.W. Carr, John D. Summerville, James E. Sampson, Almond Faison, Willie D. Jacobs, Howard Beamon, James Faison, Jr., and Preston Beamon, Jr.; Frank Faison, Jr. was the Chairperson. Elected Trustees were: James Ezzell, Sr., Charles Summerville, Jerry Faison, Jr., Dr. W.E. Merritt, William Hill, Willie Armstrong, Corneluis Pugh (retired), J. A. Cooper, Sirlenus Freeman and Thurston Spaulding (retired). Miss Minnie L. Sampson was the clerk.
Rev. J.L. White (1958-1972): Many church and community projects were organized during his administration, namely the James A. Ezzell, Sr. Outreach Day Care Center, Inc. (Formerly Clinton Outreach Day Care Center), the Educational Building, enlargement of the choir stand, installation of the Baptismal Pool, and the purchase of new pulpit furniture. Results of expansion and services which initiated during this administration are still evident.
Rev. Clifford A. Jones, Sr. (1972-1982): During his ten year tenure an extensive evangelistic ministry resulted in an increase in church membership. As community fellowship reached new heights and internal growth continued, the church saw several facility changes including the remodeling of the church entrance, the Pastor’s Study, the basement, and the installation of new pews. During his administration, the Day Care was chartered by the State of North Carolina, and grew to be one of the best child care facilities in the county.
Rev. Dr. Zachary Alexander (1983) Instructor, Shaw Divinity School, Raleigh, North Carolina, served as Interim Pastor until 1983.
Rev. Howard W. Jones (1983-1986) assumed his duties as pastor in August, 1983. During his 39 months, a number of internal organizational changes occurred. The church ministry reached beyond the immediate First Baptist family. Property adjacent to the church was remodeled and rented to local businesses.
Rev. H. Lionel Edmonds took over the pastorate of First Baptist Church on Easter Sunday, April 3, 1988. Rev. Edmonds, seeing the church as God’s agent for change in society, was committed to strengthening the programs of the ministry and expanding the activity of the membership in all facets of the community. He terminated his service on November 15, 1992.
Rev. Dr. Zachary Alexander, Raleigh, North Carolina, again served as Interim Pastor for a brief period. Dr. C. R. Edwards, retired Pastor of First Baptist Church, Fayetteville, North Carolina, served as Interim Pastor until June, 1994.
In June 1994, Rev. Marvin T. Clowney, Sr. became Shepherd and exhibited a great concern for the church’s ministry. Under his leadership, the dream of a larger fellowship was completed and the “House of Hope”, a homeless shelter served as a place to persons without somewhere to stay. Rev. Clowney’s tenure with First Baptist Church of Clinton, Inc. ended February 2009.
First Baptist Church of Clinton, Inc. is proud of its history and its leaders. God has guided us over 143 years, and we have now been blessed with a new Pastor, Rev. Thomas R. Farrow, Jr.