To any and all who may be concerned to know the origin of the Winston Baptist Church, I herein state that I moved to this place with my family in September, 1870. I found no Baptist church and only four individuals who were members of Baptist churches at other places. I thought best to advertise for these persona to meet me and my companion at my house on a specified night in November following. No person came except Brother Aquila Jones, who was then not a member of the church.
"We three conferred together on the subject and agreed that we should endeavor to get some Baptist minister to come and preach for us once a month. I was soon informed by Mrs. Harry Marshall that Brother F. M. Jordan and Brother F. H. Jones were passing through town, and at her house I went to see them and got Brother Jordan to give us an appointment for January, 1871.
"Brother Jordan came at the appointed time and preached for us on Thursday and Friday nights before the third Sabbath in January to a large congregation in the Court House. Before Brother Jordan left us, I made a contract with him to pay him $25 a year myself if he would come once a month and preach for us once a month for two years, to which contract he agreed.
"He came regularly and preached for us on Tuesday and Wednesday nights before the third Sabbath in each month and preached with great power to large and interested congregations who attended his services in the Court House. In September, 1871 he began a protracted meeting which continued with great interest until Friday night before the third Sabbath, when Brother Jordan and Brother Robert Gourley (Presbytery) formed us into a church under the name of Winston Baptist Church."
Signed: ALFRED HOLLAND, clerk (deceased October 22. 1873) __________________
In his own handwriting of fanciful curlicues and flourishes Brother Holland left this story in a yellowed and frayed church ledger, now greatly treasured by Baptists of Winston-Salem. Rev. T. C Keaton, who has spent his entire ministry in Winston-Salem. recalls that the first Baptist minister to preach in the city, Rev. F. M. Jordan, was a fiery-hearted, stern-faced evangelist who is said to have baptized North Carolinians in every little creek and pond in the State. His autobiography is the story of a ceaseless advance from "creek to creek" leaving behind each time a band of Baptist believers as a traveled about by stage coach, by wagon, or on horse-back. The faithful church clerk's account show that in Winston every sermon was a revival message and every church conference either for the "ingathering of souls" or for the "exclusion of the unworthy."
FIRST BAPTISM AFTER ORGANIZATION
Following the first sermon after the organization of the church on September 22, 1871, the first profession of faith was made by "Old Aunt Phyllis, colored," who was baptized that afternoon before over a thousand people gathered on the banks of Belows Pond.
"Since we were bound to fetch our meeting to a close, Brother Jordan requested that those come forward who wanted him to pray for them before he left," the ledger continues. About One hundred people knelt for prayer before the ardent preacher.
Those were the days before the union of Winston and Salem, before the paving of the muddy streets, before tne coming of the railroad. But even then the Baptist Association which included Winston was a thriving organization with twenty churches. When the first rail line was built through the town, many new people crowded in from neighboring districts, and among their number were Baptists who joined the church and greatly strengthened the work. In 1875, Rev. W. B. Gwaltney accepted the pastorate and began the task of building a house of worship. He preached only once each month and that during the week, since his time was filled on Sundays. Services were held in the courthouse, except when the strong and well established denominations of the town kindly offered the use of their buildings. The Baptist Sunday school was organized in the Winston Male Academy building, which stood on the site of the present Carnegie Public Library.
Dr. H. A. BROWN'S FORTY YEARS
On the second Sunday in December, 1877, following the completion of the church building, Rev. H. A. Brown came into the pastorate — to stay for 40 years of beautiful sacrificial service and win a place in the heart of every man, woman and child. It is said that even every dog and cat recognized and loved this humble servant of God, small in stature but great in heart, as he visited his members in high boots and carrying an umbrella.
Brother Brown's missionary vision was to plant Baptist churches in every section of the community and throughout the association. During the following year a church was established at Waughtown and Brother Brown sent his handful of members out to conduct mission Sunday schools in Salem, North Winston, and on Broad Street. In 1887 the Broad Street Mission became a church which grew with great power until it moved to Fourth Street and became the Brown Memorial Church and later, reunited with the mother church.
In 1897 the Southside Baptist Church was organized by Rev. Henry Sheets and has grown to be one of the stronger residential churches of the city, with a large and beautiful house of worship. Rev. V. M. Swain, for 20 years the saintly pastor, was largely responsible for its growth in spirit and increase in number to a present total of 832. Rev. W. W. Hutchins was pastor of this flock until his resignation in October to become Training Union secretary for the State.
The boom year for the denomination was in 1909, when the mother church's missions at Salem and North Winston were constituted as churches in their own rights. The Salem Church, with Rev. Charles H. Stevens as pastor, is second largest in the city with a membership of 1,157, closely followed by North Winston, Rev. James M. Hayes pastor, with 1,043 members. The Salem Church is recognized for its evangelistic program and extensive mission work, covering seven stations. The North Winston Church has adopted a similar program in the north era part of the city.
During Brother Brown's ministry the once feeble band of Baptists grew to fifteen strong churches. He is given credit for helping with the organization of the majority of the churches in the city and of the 75 in the association. Every denomination felt the influence of his life. His intimate friendship with Bishop Rondthaler cemented the fellowship between Moravians and Baptists, and indeed began the sweet spirit felt among all the Christians of the city today. Many North Carolinians have read his biography The Pastor Beloved, telling of his 40 years of service as pastor of the First Baptist Church, then as pastor emeritus of all the churches or the Twin City.
The missionary spirit of Dr. Brown was caught by the women of the church. As early as 1877, the first year of his pastorate, reports of the Ladies Mission and Aid Society are recorded in the minutes. One of their first projects was to contribute to the support of Matthew T. Yates, North Carolina's missionary to China. The names of women always appear among the workers in the various missions. Such was the precedent set for Mrs. J. J. Roddick, whose life has been devoted to the cause of missions through the Woman's Missionary Union. For the past 35 years she has been the spirited leader of all the women's work in the community and in the association.
Two names which the missionary-hearted of the State will recognize are those of Phil White, who went as a missionary from the North Winston Church, and Mary Mills Dyer, of the First Baptist church, now interned in the Philippines.
Recent years have shown steady growth of every phase of the work, with an increase of 3,000 in membership during the past ten years, an increase in gifts to missions which has doubled ten times within the past ten years, and the erection of several new and larger houses of worship, which are monuments to the Master! The youngest of the city's churches is Forest Hill, organized in 1940, with Rev. B. S. Turner as present pastor. The newest building that of Ardmore, entered on July 26, 1942. The simplicity of the auditorium, finished in gleaming white, brings a spirit to all who enter its doors. Under the leadership of Dr. Marshall Mott, this church, located three blocks from the Baptist Hospital, has grown more rapidly than any other in the city.
Each of the 15 churches of Winston-Salem and all of their 10,000 members, together with the Baptist Hospital and the Bowman Gray School of Medicine of Wake Forest College, join the First Baptist Church in extending to their brethren of the State a hearty welcome to the State Convention for its seventh session in the city, the first in 1881.
May the warm-hearted evangelism of the early days and the missionary vision of the days of growth hover over the city and endue every visitor with the spirit of its rich heritage.
[From the Biblical Recorder, November 3, 1943, p. 5f. On-line edition. Formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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