Connecting People With Christ Since 1843
For over 175 years, our church has sought to connect people with Christ in the surrounding community and towns.
From a thriving neighborhood church to a ministry that now reaches across several counties and cities, we are excited about how God is using our church for His glory!
So who who first proposed to have Baptist preaching in this neighborhood? It’s impossible to know, but we do know that there were a few Baptists living around here who were members of other Baptist churches, and they began to see the importance and the necessity of a church for their growing families and for the rapidly developing neighborhood.
Among the first men who preached here, before the church was organized, was Samuel Gibson, an Englishman, a man of great ability, good education, and unblemished character. Tradition says that the first preaching was done in the front yard of Brother Isham J. Ward. It is said that a brush arbor was erected in Brother Ward’s yard, underneath which the worshippers sat protected from the sun and heat, while the preacher stood in the doorway of the house and delivered the sermon.
The Berea Baptist Church was organized on December 23, 1843, with twenty three charter members; nine men and fourteen women. Their names were given on the church records in the following order: James Farr, William Wheeler, Martin Hunt, Moses Pritchet, Isham J. Ward, John Celey, P.E. Hawkins, Jordan Batson, I.H. Benedict, Ann B. Wheeler, Martha Hunt, Nancy Ward, Sarah Ward, Susan Celey, Sarah A. Dupree, Elizabeth Davis, Elizabeth Cureton, Nancy Young, Caroline Young, and Francis Ligon. These were all dismissed by letter from the Head of Enoree Baptist Church.
Rev. Samuel Gibson preached the first sermon in Berea’s history, taking his text from 1 Corinthians 1:3 and 4. “Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God, always on your behalf, for the grace of God, which is given you by Jesus Christ.” In Acts 17:10 and 11, the people of Berea are described as having treated the Apostle Paul more kindly than did the people of Thessalonica. After the first sermon by Rev. Gibson, the church unanimously agreed on the name “Berea,” and adopted the abstract principals of the Tyger River Association. The church was regularly constituted by a presbytery consisting of Rev. Samuel Gibson, Rev. M. Wynn and Rev. J.M. Roberts.
Rev. J.M. Roberts was chosen as the first pastor. He was a man of strong character and unusual ability, and he served from the date the church was organized until his death, April 10, 1849.
In 1891 the building of the second church house was begun. The old church building was rolled down the road, to become part of an earlier Rocky Mount Church.
Finally, some of the material in Berea’s old structure came to rest, it is said, in a near by barn of Will Lester. Brother R.A. Kay supervised the building and on May 29, 1892, the dedicatory sermon was preached in the new building by Dr. Charles Manly. The Sunday School rooms that were built beside the church were finished during Rev. Percy Hughes’ pastorate. They were completed in 1933.
In 1949 our first Education Building was completed. The dedication ceremony was held on November 20, 1949. Dr. S.H. Jones, Editor of the Baptist Courier preached the sermon.
In 1952 the congregation began planning to build an auditorium. In 1955 the old auditorium was built. On October 16, 1955 the keys to the $140,000 auditorium were turned over by the chairman of the building committee, Mr. Cecil Hodges, to the Pastor at an opening service of the new auditorium. Rev. O.K Webb, Associational Missionary, had the Church Covenant Service in front of the new auditorium.
With the growth of the community more and more people were attending Berea Baptist Church. More building space was needed so on December 20, 1964 ground was broken for the third unit of the church. This building, which was completed in 1965, contained a Chapel, Sunday School rooms for adults, church offices, choir rehearsal room, nursey area, beginner and primary Departments.
As the community grew, other Baptist Churches were built. Because this was the first Baptist church in the community the congregation decided on July 11, 1965, to change the official name to The Berea First Baptist Church.
Recognizing the need to minister to the total person, Berea First Baptist opened the doors to a new gymnasium in 1971. The gym was complete with glass backboards, bleachers, skating and volley- ball courts. The building also housed a new kitchen with facilities to “provide” for years to come. This building was unlike the few church gyms of its time, being a full sized court with the large seating and served as the model for all churches in the area.
On April 18, 1976, Easter Sunday morning, our new and current Sanctuary held its first Sunday morning worship service. Dr. Douglas N. Baker and Rev. W. Floyd Parker directed the service on this dedication day. The Auditorium is octagon shaped providing unique flexibility for different programs and events.
The next phase of our building program was completed in 1992. In order to meet a new demand Berea First Baptist added a Senior Adult Building, Child Development Center, Youth Room and Softball Field. The Senior Adult Building also serves as the dining hall for our Wednesday Night Suppers. It has a large dining area, kitchen, classrooms and stage.
The Child Development Center is a state-of-the-art day care, with private viewing rooms for each class, large outside windows, and kitchen.
The softball field is located just behind the gym and is complete with lights, bleachers, and playground area.
More recently Berea First went through an extensive upgrade throughout the facilities, primarily focusing on the Worship Center and a brand new Welcome Center.
During that process, a top notch student ministry center was constructed just across the parking lot and fittingly named, “CrossWalk.”