Wayne County, North Carolina: Articles
First Churches In Wayne
Reprinted with permission of the News-Argus and cannot
be reproduced without permission.
Sunday, Dec. 7,
||Editor's Note: This is the 35th
in a series of articles on Wayne County's
history from 1700 to 1900. It is being presented as a part of the
observance of the American Revolution Bicentennial.
Churches began springing up in Goldsboro shortly after the city became the
county seat of Wayne County & following the Great Religious Revival of 1849.
There were no church buildings in Waynesborough, the former county seat,
but during the revival, church services were held by day in "The Free
Hall" at Waynesborough & at night at "The Academy" in
The Academy was located at the present site of St. Paul United Methodist
Church, the corner of John & Chestnut streets & was used by all
& for all public gatherings.
At the end of a weeklong observance of the Religious Revival, the
organization of principal churches was completed.
The Baptists had already organized at Waynesborough in 1843 & the Methodists
built their first church in Goldsboro on Spruce Street between John & Center
streets in 1853.
By 1885, there were five Protestant church buildings, a Catholic chapel &
a Jewish synagogue as well as six houses of worship for the black community.
The parish of St. Stephen's Episcopal Church was organized in streets at the
corner of James & Mulberry streets in 1853 & a brick building was
in 1857 through the efforts of George W. Collier, Richard Washington &
The Rev. Frederick Fitzgerald was the first rector of the church.
In 1885, according to the newspaper "Goldsboro Messenger", the Ladies
Aid Society had added many improvements to the church & was considering the
purchase of a home for the rector.
The manse was built behind the sanctuary & faced on Chestnut Street.
St. Stephen's in 1885 had a membership of 67 persons & "a
The Methodist Church, which according to the Messenger "would reflect
to a congregation three times as large as theirs & to a city far greater
than Goldsboro" was completed in 1883 at the site of The Academy.
The church had a steeple that was the tallest structure in eastern North
Carolina if not the entire state. It remained the dominant landmark of this
area until 1954 when it was toppled by Hurrican Hazel.
When the steeple fell, it extended from the church to the farthest east side
of Ormond Avenue.
Another feature of the Methodist Church was six stained glass memorial
windows. They were installed in memory of John C. Slocumb, Mrs. Maria A.
Borden, Mrs. Lula B. Kornegay, Mrs. Georgia C. Borden, Ira T. Wyche &
Henry Franklin Grainger.
Orgainzed in 1853, the Methodist Church had a membership of 319 in 1885 with
a Sunday School of 175 pupils. Its development was nurtured during the
pastorship of the Rev. J. T. Bagwell who served from 1876 to 1880.
The Rev. T. J. Harris was the pastor in 1885.
The Presbyterian Church was organized by a committee of the Presbytery
of Fayetteville in 1855 & had nine members.
After the Presbyterian Church of Everettsville was dissolved & its members
transferred to Goldsboro, a brick Presbyterian Church was built at the
corner of James & Ash streets.
The building, now owned by Christian Scientists, is considered one of the
finest remaining examples of Greek Revival architecture in this area.
The Rev. D. T. Towles was Goldsboro's first Presbyterian minister. There
were about 90 in the church's congregation in 1885 & 100 young people
attended its Sunday School.
The Missionary Baptist Church, now First Baptist Church, had the second
largest congregation in Goldsboro in 1885. Its membership totaled 207 with
a Sunday School of 160.
One of the leading early pastors of the Missionary Baptists was the Rev.
Theodore Whitfield. Though born in Mississippi, he was the grandson of
William Whitfield of the Seven Springs area.
Rev. Whitfield served the church before & after the Civil War, in 1862 &
1885. Other early pastors included Revs. C. Durham, P. D. Gold, G. W. Keese,
F. H. Ivey & Thomas (The Genius) Dixon.
Primitive Baptists purchased the building on Spruce Street from the Methodist
in 1883. A relatively new denomination at that time, the Primitive Baptist
Church had a few members & held services only every second Sunday.
Among early Primitive Baptist ministers were Elders S. Hassell, J. T.
Edgerton & J. S. Woodard. The Rev. Gold also served at the church.
The frame building occupied by the Primitive Baptists, the first church
built in Goldsboro, survived until 1965 when it was torn down. It was being
used by a neighborhood theatre group.
Oheb Sholom Temple was organized in 1883 for Goldsboro's Jewish citizens. In 1885, its congregation was preparing to build a synagogue.
Jewish worshippers were organized on the second floor of the present
Paramount Theater building which was owned by the Weil family. The Weils
were instrumental in their organization.
The present Oheb Sholom Temple was built in 1886 at the corner of James &
Oak streets. Its first rabbis were Dr. A. M. Block & H. Straus.
There were few Catholics in Goldsboro in the 1800s, but by 1885, they were
planning to build a new house of worship. They were then meeting in a small
chapel erected in 1870 by Father John Ricely.
St. Mary's Catholic Church at the corner of William & Mulberry streets was
built about 1889.
There were six churches for the blacks in 1885. There were two Baptist
churches, as well as houses of worship for Presbyterians, A M Zion Methodist,
Methodist Episcopals & Bethilites.
First African Baptist Church was organized by First Baptist Church. Up until
the black church was built on Pine Street, up to 34 blacks were members
of First Baptist Church.
The black Baptist Church, which burned two years ago & is now being rebuilt
at the corner of Harris & Poplar streets, is the parent of more black
Baptist churches in the county & eastern North Carolina than any other.
Churches that trace their origin to First African Baptist Church includes
Barnes Chapel, Fork Township; Hooks Grove, Pikeville; Augusta Chapel, Brogden
Township; Best Grove, Stoney Creek; Ebenezer Baptist, LaGrange; M. Calvary;
St. Stephen's Baptist & Antioch.
The first Negro State Baptist Convention was organized at the First African
Baptist Church in 1867.
of Goldsboro's First Church and First Baptist Church
Contributed by Guy Potts of Raleigh, NC
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