Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Baptist Church of Yanceyville

This article appeared in The Register (Danville, VA) 28 January 1950. Click on the article for a larger image.

There are three different dates given as the beginning of the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville. The earliest is 1833, the date given by the Beulah Baptist Associational Minutes of 1922. Then in 1928 Minutes the date given is 1840, the date that Mr. Tom Henderson used in writing an article for the Greensboro Daily News in 1950. The minutes of 1837 of the Beulah Baptist Association list a Country Line Baptist Church and its delegates. The delegates were A. Howard, Phillip Hodnett, and John Redding. A. Howard is listed again in 1839 and 1840 as a delegate. The 1843 Annual Minutes listed Country Line Baptist Church and Yanceyville Baptist Church together. Then the minutes showed only the Yanceyville Baptist Church until the church's name was changed in 1954 to the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville, NC. Therefore, the date of 1837 would support the church's existence in 1837 along with the delegates.

The church had its beginning as a result of differences concerning missions. It is no reflection on either the Primitive Baptists or the Missionary Baptists to state that most of the founding fathers of this church were Primitive Baptists who had pulled out of the fellowship of the Country Line Baptist Church following a heated discussion about missions.

This was perhaps one of the greatest debates that ever was held in this part of the world and it was held on the grounds of Country Line Church when Elders John Kerr and John Stadler engaged in the mission debate. The scholarly Kerr fighting for a more liberal creed was pitted against the Godly homespun philosopher and humorist Stadler. The debate, according to Billie Poteat, lasted almost the entire day and a vote was taken just before evening. Elder Kerr lost, according to Poteat and the recollections of others, and "at sundown Elder Kerr led his followers out of the church, never to return, and moved on over to the village of Yanceyville." This debate was probably in 1833 and support the founding of the church in 1833.

The foundation rocks of the Country Line Baptist Church have never been found on the side of the creek where the church stood near the ancient mill site of the late William Graves. The date of the founding of the Country Line Baptist Church has been debated and it is almost impossible to date.

Yanceyville Baptist Church
(click on photograph for larger image)
The church in Yanceyville was erected on a lot donated by Colonel Thomas Graves of Georgia, who had lived in Caswell County; the deed to the land bears the date of 1839, supporting an earlier date than 1840. The first building was constructed about 1841. It was made of brick and consisted of a small sanctuary with balconies on both sides for the accommodation of any slaves who wished to worship. In 1917 the building was remodeled, and four Sunday School rooms were added to the rear of the building. A baptistery was made under the pulpit platform and was reached by removing the flooring from the area for each baptismal service.

In 1939, under the leadership of Rev. P. T. Worrell, the church took under advisement the need for a new building. There were some members who were so deeply dedicated to the old landmark that they actively disagreed with any movement to replace it. However, those who saw the necessity for a more commodious house of worship were able to prevail in a pro and con debate. It was decided to initiate a building fund with fifty thousand dollars as a goal. According to the treasurer fund, the first contribution of one dollar was given by the late S. F. Sutton, a very dedicated member of the church.

With only three-fifths of the money in hand, the church, under the leadership of the late W. T. Baucom, voted in 1950 to begin construction. The final service in the old building was held on January 29, 1950. Thereafter services were held in the auditorium of the old Bartlett Yancey Elementary School. On Easter Sunday, March 25, 1951, the first service in the present building was held. Many who worshiped here on that day and rejoiced over what had been accomplished have since gone on to their eternal home. The corner stone was laid with appropriate ceremony on May 27, 1951.

The name Yanceyville Baptist Church was changed on July 21, 1954, from the Yanceyville Baptist Church to the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville. The change was to eliminate legal problems regarding two churches with the same name.

Through the years this church has been the home base shrine of the Kerrs, Poteats, the Graves, and the Yanceys. From its portals have gone out into the state and national life many that have become prominent in their professions.

The church continues to place a strong emphasis on missions. Over the past 30 years there have been four people who have worked with our young people as summer youth ministers who have gone to serve on foreign mission fields. Contact is maintained with Jack and Bertie Ann Yates who serve in Nairobi, Kenya; and Gene and Vickie Angus serving in Brazil.

The purpose of this church is to reach people for Christ, minister to those in need both inside and outside its walls, and to equip the membership to be God's servants however and wherever they are needed.

Reverend Claude Harrelson is current pastor of First Baptist Church of Yanceyville.

August 2000

Source: In the Beginning . . . The Churches of Caswell County, Jean B. Scott, Compiler (2000) at 27-28.

New Church Building 1951
(click on photograph for larger image)

This article, dated 19 May 1951, may have been published in the Biblical Recorder. For a larger version go to First Baptist Church of Yanceyville

 Yanceyville Baptists Have New Building

Baptists of Yanceyville entered their new church building for the first time on March 25 [1951], Easter Sunday. The structure is one of which the congregation is justly proud. It is of red brick veneer construction. The auditorium, with extra chairs, can seat 500 people, and under it is a full basement recreation room.

The educational part of the building is of two-story construction and contains departments for each of the Sunday school divisions, including a nursery. The educational unit can acommodate 500 people. Connecting with the recreation room is a fully equipped kitchen. Some 250 persons can be served at one time in the recreation dining room.

All windows in the building were donated as memorials, as were a goodly number of the pews, pulpit stand, table, and desk for pastor's study.

The young people's department is to be named in honor of the Poteat family. The Poteat children and grandchildren made substantial donations for this purpose. (Dr. William Louis Poteat, Dr. Edwin McNeill Poteat, and Miss Ida Poteat, all so well known among Baptists, were reared in the old home at Yanceyville.)

The First Baptist Church of Winston-Salem gave $1,000 in honor of Dr. H. A. Brown, who was ordained in Yanceyville Church. The pastor's study is being named in his honor.

Many members made great sacrifices to effect the completion of the new building, so many that it would be impossible to name them all. A few who can be named for special services are the pastor, W. T. Baucom, who made untiring efforts to raise money; E. O. Foster, chairman of the building committee, who gave hours of labor and sacrifice in keeping the construction going; and A. H. Motz, who handled the money faithfully and conscientiously from the beginning in the completion of the program.

The Yanceyville Church has an interesting history. From an article written by R. S. Graves [Robert Sterling Graves], which appeared in the Caswell Messenger on June 24, 1926, we learn that the church was organized in 1840 and the first building was erected in 1841 on a lot donated by Col. Thomas Graves of Georgia, probably a former resident of Caswell County. The deed, dated 1839, was made to the first trustees, Thomas W. Graves, Jeremiah Graves, Phillip Hodnett, and Calvin Graves.

Members of the church were formerly connected with a church known as Country Line Church, situated in the same general vicinity. There were arguments as to church doctrines and policies affecting missionary work, ministerial education, etc., and the congretation was divided.

Among the early pastors, prior to the Civil War, was Mr. Tobey, an able preacher and scholarly gentleman. His wife was buried in the church cemetery. Mr. Mason, who was pastor in 1860 and some years after, married and baptized most of the parents of the present generation. He baptized both white and colored members, as both races belonged to the same church.

Like many of the churches of that time, the building originally had galleries at the side and to the rear and the colored members, all slaves, worshiped in the galleries. During the pastorate of Mr. Murchison 1911-1918, the galleries were taken down, the building was remodeled, and a large Sunday school room erected, almost doubling the seating capacity.

Among the former pastors named by Mr. Graves [Robert Sterling Graves] are: F. H. Jones, J. J. James, J. R. Jones, Mr. Chappell, C. A. G. Thomas, S. B. Wilson, O. A. Keller, D. W. Overby, M. C. Murchison, J. A. Hackney, R. W. Prevost, and C. W. Hood, who was pastor at the time the article was written [24 June 1926]. Mr. Hood resigned in December, 1927, and the next June P. T. Worrell was called. He served until May, 1944, and in December, 1944, the present pastor, W. H. Baucom, was called. He began his work in 1945. The plans for a new building were first projected about 1940, but the fund grew slowly at first. Mr. Baucom worked energetically at increasing the fund, and by the end of 1950 there was $42,185.00 on hand. Work was begun in March 1950, and completed in time for the first service on March 25, 1951. Total cost of the building, including $15,000 borrowed and labor and material donated, is estimated at $72,000.

R. S. Graves, who wrote the article about the early history of the church, served as clerk from May 1897, until January, 1935. P. F. Sutton succeeded him and served until January, 1946. Since that time S. H. Abell has been clerk.

Source: Article dated 19 May 1951 (may have been published in the Biblical Recorder).

The history of this church set forth in In the Beginning . . . The Churches of Caswell County, Jean B. Scott, Compiler (2000) at 27-28 references several people, including: A. Howard, Phillip Hodnett, John Redding, Elder John Kerr, John Stadler, Billie Poteat, Tom Henderson, William Graves, Colonel Thomas Graves, Reverend P. T. Worrell, S. F. Sutton, W. T. Baucom, and Reverend Claud Harrelson.

The A. Howard may have been Alanson Howard (1806-1875) or Alexis Howard (1797-aft. 1855).

Phillip Hodnett may be the person of the same name who was born c.1804 in Virginia and married Parthenia Harrelson 26 April 1827 in Caswell County, North Carolina. He was a son of John Hodnett and Lucy Davis Hodnett.

No information has been found with respect to a John Redding who may have been living in Caswell County in the 1830s.

Elder John Kerr is Reverend John Kerr (1782-1842), son of John Hosea Kerr, Sr. (1754-1816), and Mary Graves Kerr (1754-1831).

John Stadler apparently is Reverend John I. Stadler (1792-1860): He was brought to Caswell County, North Carolina, by his widowed mother when a small child. They lived in what is now Anderson Township. He grew up having to work to help his mother support the family, thus being deprived of a formal education. In his twenty-first year, on 13 December 1812, he married Nancy Arnold, who was born 12 December 1791. They bought land and settled on the waters of South Country Line Creek in Caswell County. John and Nancy had thirteen children, all living to adulthood. John and Nancy joined Bush Arbor Primitive Baptist Church March 1821. He was ordained by his church as a minister of the gospel 11 November 1822 and was called as their pastor in February 1834. He also was called to the pastoral care of Lick Fork, Deep Creek (now called McCray), and Gilliam churches. He served all four churches "faithfully and satisfactorily to his death."

Source: The Heritage of Caswell County, North Carolina, Jeannine D. Whitlow, Editor (1985) at 494-495 (Article #676 "Elder John I. Stadler" by John Burch Blaylock).

Billie Poteat is Dr. William Louis Poteat (1856-1938), whose family was closely associated with the Yanceyville Baptist Church. Dr. Poteat also served as president of Wake Forest College 1905-1927. The school is affiliated with the Baptist Church.

Tom Henderson is probably Thomas Johnston Henderson (1883-1959). See: Thomas Johnston Henderson.

William Graves may be William Graves (1780-1845), son of John Herndon Graves and Nancy Slade.

Colonel Thomas Graves probably is Colonel Thomas Slade Graves (1775-1847), son of John Herndon Graves and Nancy Slade.

Reverend P. T. Worrell is Paul Thomas Worrell, who served 1928-1944. S. F. Sutton is probably Patterson Freeland Sutton (1880-1955), who served as the church's Clerk January 1935 to January 1946. W. T. Baucom is Reverend William Troy Baucom, who served as pastor 1945-1951. Reverend Claude Harrelson served 2000-2003.


Here is a 2010 remembrance by a church member:

I barely remember the old church, but I do remember that the baptismal font was under the pulpit. They would remove the pulpit and move the stage to each side (it was divided front to back ) and people would go down into the font to be baptized. One of the "visiting past pastors" was Rev. Worrell, who was a very popular preacher at the time as was Rev. Baucom. The members built the new church and I remember visiting Papa Jake up in the bell tower and watch him hammer away. The windows were donated by the members as well as the pews and the names of the families are reflected on their donation. A lot of wonderful members went to that church including the Upchurch, Witty, Bradner, Smith, Slaughter, Rudd, Foster, Graves, Guthrie families and many, many more wonderful families. I do remember the meeting on a Sunday about the name of the new church. Everyone wanted to name it the Yanceyville First Baptist Church, but that was taken by the black Baptist church, so they voted to name it the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville.  I also remember when they had the ceremony of burning the mortgage note after it was paid off.  It was a very special celebration and Rev. T. C. Williams was pastor at that time.

 We have a portrait wall at The First Baptist Church of Yanceyville that lists and displays photographs of the following:

1. Rev. Robert Ward Prevost 1922 – 1925
2. Rev. C. W. Hood 1925 – 1927
3. Rev. Paul Thomas Worrell 1928 – 1944
4. Rev. William Troy Baucom 1945 – 1951
5. Rev. T. C. Williams, Jr. 1952 – 1958
6. Rev. Paul F. Hardy 1959 – 1963
7. Rev. George M. Bishop 1963 – 1967
8. Rev. J. Carroll Spivey 1968 – 1984
9. Rev. Stanley H. Hare 1985 –1998
10. Rev. Claude Harrelson 2000 – 2003
11. Rev. Phillip T. Kelley 2004 - 2011

No Murchinson or Hackney. I did not do the research to prepare this list. I believe Billie Briggs did the research, assisted by Mattie Hooper. Query whether Rev. C. M. Murchison and Rev. J. A. Hackney served on an interim basis.

Jo Page Sicz
4 July 2012

 Following is a list of men believed to have served as pastor of the First Baptist Church of Yanceyville (Yanceyville, Caswell County, North Carolina). Whether the list is complete is unknown. Nor is the order of the pastors before Robert Ward Prevost (1922-1925) certain:

Mr. Tobey (before the Civil War)
Mr. Mason (pastor in 1860)
F. H. Jones
J. J. James
J. R. Jones
Mr. Chappell
C. A. G. Thomas
S. B. Wilson
O. A. Keller
D. W. Overby
M. C. Murchison
J. A. Hackney
Robert Ward Prevost (1922–1925)
C. W. Hood (1925–1927) (resigned December 1927)
Paul Thomas Worrell (1928–1944) (served until May 1944)
William Troy Baucom (1945–1951) (was called December 1944)
T. C. Williams, Jr. (1952–1958)
Paul F. Hardy (1959–1963)
George M. Bishop (1963–1967)
J. Carroll Spivey (1968–1984)
Stanley H. Hare (1985–1998)
Claude Harrelson (2000–2003)
Phillip T. Kelley (2004-2011)

To be researched:

Dr. H. A. Brown


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