For many years Wilmington was the leading city of the State. It was a great shipping point before railroads were built through the State, but owing to the several railroad lines which transverse the State shipping is now done mostly by by rail. However, Wilmington is still an important seaport city, and has a fine business.
According to the minutes of the Convention the first appropriation made by the Board of Missions to any local church was made to Wilmington. The Convention was organized in 1830, at Greenville, N. C. The session of 1832 was held with the Reeves Chapel Church, Chatham County. In the report to the Convention the "Board of Managers," as the mission board was at first called, reported that $100 had been appropriated to Wilmington on condition they would secure the services of a pastor who would be acceptable to the Convention. In that same report it was stated that "in Wilmington and all the lower part of New Hanover the people are entirely destitute." Just whom the church secured as pastor is not stated, but he must have been a man "acceptable to the Convention" as at the session of the Convention in 1835 the Wilmington Church was reported to be in a prosperous condition. Out of that beginning have grown seven churches, if we count two which are very near the city limits.
The Baptist State Convention met in Wilmington in November of last year, and the W. M. U. Convention in March of this year. As we gave a somewhat detailed write-up of the Wilmtngton churches last November, and as those who attended the conventions have first-hand knowledge of Baptist affairs in the city, a lengthy account here will not be necessary. However, we shall give the churches with their pastors at this time and the membership and Sunday-school attendance of each.
The pastor of the First Church is Rev. J. M. Hester. The auditorium is one of the finest pieces of church architecture to be found anywhere. The location is ideal, being at the corner of two of the most prominent streets in the city. A large Sunday-school building has been added to the church which gives it an equipment that few churches possess. The membership is 900 with 687 in Sunday-school. Brother Kester is leading his people admirably and is deservedly popular, He is a consecrated man and a good preacher of the Gospel.
Rev. J. T. Byrum is pastor of this church. In writing about the Winston-Salem Campaign in the issue, of two weeks ago we noted the fine work done at East 4th Street by Brother Byrum, under whose leadership the present excellent building was erected. Southside has a commodious building with excellent Sunday-school equipment. Brother Byrum entered upon the work as pastor January 12, 1926. Though he has been on the field but a little more than a year something like a hundred members have been added, during his pastorate. The present membership is 942 with 502 in Sunday-school.
This church was organized under the name of Brooklyn Baptist Church, but some years ago the name was changed to Calvary. Rev. J. A. Sullivan came to this church on December 5, 1911, which makes him the oldest pastor in point of service in the city. In 1906 a commodious frame structure was dedicated, but this was soon inadequate and a large brick veneer building was erected with Sunday-school annex, concert hall, department rooms, and a pastorium. This church has never been aided by the Board of Missions, nor has it received outside aid in building its excellent plant. Evangelism la emphasized, and the church has sent out several preachers and other religious workers. The present membership is 1,037, with a Sunday-school enrollment of 537. Last December Brother Sullivan celebrated his fifteenth anniversary as pastor of the church. He is greatly beloved by his own people and by the other churches in the city.
This vigorous young church which was organized September 3, 1923, is located in a growing section of the city, and the growth of the church has kept pace with that of the community which it was organized to serve. The church purchased a building which was owned by the Christian Scientists, and have added a 8unday-school annex at a cost of $7,000. The first pastor was Rev. A. V. Joyner, who served until May 3, 1925. Rev. H. W. Baucom was then called and entered upon his work May 3, 1926. Brother Baucom was pastor of Salem Church, Winston-Salem, before going to Wilmington. Since Brother Baucom became pastor there have been 190 additions to the church and the total amount raised last year was over $14,000. The average attendance at Sunday-school last year was 336. The membership of the church is 373 and Sunday-school enrollment 437.
This is the youngest church in the city, with Rev. T. H. Williams as pastor. Brother Williams began his work as pastor or this church in 1926. Before that time there seems to have been no regular pastor. Substantial progress has been made during the past year. The membership is now 160, with Sunday-school numbering 173. After the above was written, we learn that in a recent meeting with this church there were eighty or ninety additions.
This church is on the inter-urban line between Wilmington and Southport. Rev. R. J. Hall is the beloved and successful pastor. Brother Hall has been pastor of this church for eight years. During which time the present beautiful and commodious building has replaced the little chapel in which the church worshipped for several years. A neat and comfortable pastorium has also been built during the present pastorate. Brother Hall is clerk of the Wilmington Association, and for the past two years has won the prize of $28.00 offered by the Sunday-school Board to the clerk of any association in the State who should get out the best associational annual. The Winter Park Church has a membership of 220, with Sunday-school enrollment of 210.
This church is situated three miles from Wilmington. Rev. R. J. Hall serves it in connection with Winter park. He preaches at Winter Park every Sunday night and three Sunday mornings, giving one Sunday morning to Wrlghtsboro. The church has a membership of 177, with Sunday-school enrollment of 92.
We have given the churches in the order they are placed in the minutes. This brief sketch will give some idea of the progress the Baptists have made down in the Cape Fear section which was settled by Scotch Presbyterians. And though gratifying advancement has been made "the best is yet to be."
[From the Biblical Recorder, April 13, 1927. On-line edition. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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