Missionary Baptist in origin, First Baptist Church came into being following the great revival of the 1860’s. In 1867 Rev. Harry Cowan, Rev. Zack Horton, and a few men and women who had worshipped together as slaves organized themselves as a church group and created the First Baptist Church for black worshippers in the community. In 1869, Trustees James Hargrave and Lewis Foster negotiated with K.T. Earnhardt and were able to secure the parcel of land on Church Street where the church originally stood. The name Summer Hill was given to the church because of the elevation of the land and the surrounding landscape.
Rev. Zack Horton was the first pastor and served from 1867 – 1880. Rev. W. W. Johnson followed in 1880 and continued through 1895. Rev. J. W. Hairston pastored from 1895- 1910. It was during his pastorate that the original church was replaced by a solid brick structure with stained glass windows.
After fifteen years, Rev. H. M. Ellis came as the replacement in 1910 and remained until 1914. Other pastors were Rev. Baxter Mason, 1914-1919; Rev. William Webb, 1919-1920; Rev. Ramsey 1920-1921, and Rev. W. M. Wyatt 1921-1928.
When Rev. Wyatt became pastor, services were held on the second and fourth Sundays in the afternoon. It was during this period that the church became a “Station Church” and services were held each Sunday morning and continues to do so up to the present time. Rev. A. T. Evans followed Rev. Wyatt as Pastor, serving from 1928-1969. Destroyed by fire in 1936, Rev. Evans supervised the young people of the church in salvaging bricks and material from the ashes and the church was replaced. It then became First Baptist Church and became more involved in the state and national conventions. Union Baptist, Friendship Baptist and Files Chapel Baptist all had their origins in First Baptist.
For many years, the church reached the community through its religious, cultural and recreational programs. A swimming pool and other recreational facilities on the lower edge of the property attracted many young people to the church. This was not limited to church members but served the entire community. Some observant city officials and numerous requests for Rev. Evans caused the expansion of the facilities and a full time program of Arts and Crafts, organized games, softball teams, and the first “Cub Scout Troop”. Boys and Girls Scout troops were sponsored by the church and meeting space was provided for thirty years. Rev. Evans’s scouting influence led him to a position on the Board of Directors of the Uwharrie Council for Scouting. At the close of World War II and the return of those church members who had completed their army duties, Rev. Evans immediately saw the need for new directions in programs and organized them to include all levels of church members. Since the early 1950’s the church has included Men’s Day, Women’s Day, Youth Day, Bible School, BTU, and Homecoming. After forty years of service to the church and the community, Rev. Evans retired as Pastor in 1969 and became Pastor Emeritus of First Baptist.
Rev. Benjamin F. Daniels became pastor in 1969. He found a church organized for working together. He inherited a building program in the planning stages. Property had been purchased and the congregation was anticipating the move from Church Street to Village Drive. The first and other church officials seeing that no mistakes were made in the construction of the new church. It was May 1973 that the church was ready for occupancy and the congregation moved from the old site to the new, which is located on Village Drive, south of downtown.
First Baptist Church New Member’s Orientation
Rev. Daniels was a strong force in the development of positive attitudes toward future expansion and encouraged the purchase of property adjoining the parking lot. He was also very strong on Christian Stewardship. He organized many group activities which included: The Village Economic Development Club, a prayer circle, and courses in the Seminary Extension department of the Seminaries of the Southern Baptist Convention, Institutes directed by convention consultants, Soul Winning and transportation ministry. He also updated the local, state, and national levels, and gave financial support to convention objectives, Shaw University, Shaw University Divinity School; Oxford Orphanage, J. J. Johnson Assembly Site, Woman’s Baptist Home and Foreign Missionary Convention of North Carolina. In 1981, Rev. Daniels accepted a call to Union Baptist Church in Winston Salem. Rev. E. B. Garrett was installed as pastor in 1982 and remained for two years. He continued the transportation ministry by replacing the church bus with a van and directed the building of a brick monument for the bell that hung in the original church tower, and the Black Enrichment Guild for keeping alive the study of Black History. Rev. Garrett moved out of state in 1984.
Rev. Glenn Pettiford accepted the call of the congregation in 1985. His ministry emphasized the support of state and foreign missions, Bible study classes and stewardship. Tithing was encouraged and the debt owed by the church was paid in full in Jun 1987. Rev. Pettiford continued many of the programs that were already in place. The A. T. Evans Fellowship Hall was built and the First Baptist Daycare was started during his tenure. He also started a Prison Ministry, a Planning Committee, and an Outreach ministry in the nursing homes. Rev. Pettiford resigned August 2004.
Rev. Dr. Herbert Miller II accepted the call of the congregation in October 2004. Since his arrival, many wayward members returned home. When he arrived at First Baptist there were about 50 people in attendance on Sundays. The membership grew to approximately 400 members during his tenure. Pastor Miller believed ministry happens not only inside the church, but outside the church as well. Since his arrival he has worked to unite the church and the community. He has reached out to the community officials, schools, other churches, pastors, etc. In the past he has brought the Mayor, City Planner, and the Executive Directors of all the community agencies associated with housing in the community together to form a Housing Coalition. Under Pastor Miller’s leadership, First Baptist Church has resumed its posture as a leader in the community. Rev. Dr. Miller II resigned in August 2015 and relocated to Flint, Michigan.
Rev. Daryl R. Napper Sr. accepted the call of the congregation in November 2015 as Pastor. Since his arrival First Baptist Church continues to move forward in outreach and saving souls.