Wayne County, North Carolina:  Articles

First Churches In Wayne

Reprinted with permission of the News-Argus and cannot be reproduced without permission.

Goldsboro News-Argus
Dec. 7, 1975
Bicentennial Series
        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.

By Bob Johnson

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 Meeting Hall" at Waynesborough & at night at "The Academy" in Goldsboro.

The Academy was located at the present site of St. Paul United Methodist Church, the corner of John & Chestnut streets & was used by all denominations & 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 constructed in 1857 through the efforts of George W. Collier, Richard Washington & Daniel Cogdell.

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 flourishing" Sabbath School.

The Methodist Church, which according to the Messenger "would reflect credit 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.

Picture of Goldsboro's First Church and First Baptist Church 

Contributed by Guy Potts of Raleigh, NC   August 2000

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