Our Church History
First Calvary Baptist Church¦¦¦¦¦1880 to Present
As is true for most organizations and especially true for churches, it is the starting points that foreshadow the future that are important. These various points reflect the struggles of the times, the shared goals of the members, the triumphs and the growth. Most importantly, they reflect faith, the cornerstone of Christianity. All the efforts of those gone on were grounded in faith, and they comprise the history of First Calvary Baptist Church.
In 1880, Brother Isom Emerson stepped out on faith and his efforts resulted in the organization of a church. It began in a brush arbor. The outlet store, Big Lots, most recently occupied the location. It was there that the small congregation came together for the first worship services. The church was later moved to Steele Street where the Wilrik Building and the Uptowne Center now stand.
As the church grew, a lot for the first building was purchased. The site was at the corner of Moore and Pearl Streets and the congregation now had a sanctuary. The name of the new home was "The Pearl Street Baptist Church. The Reverend Zachariah Thompson, J.R. Summons, Solomon de Vaughn, Matthew Brown, C. Farrow and A.B. Vinson were the first pastors to serve this church. Officials of the church were Brothers Sam Matthews, Tom McIver and Solomon Womack. They were followed by Brothers Jim Toomer, Charlie Jones, John Peterson, John Aikens, and Lawrence Graham. Pioneering families included: The Solomon Womack family, the Richard McIver family, the Isom Emerson family, the Dock Emerson family, the Elizabeth Judd family, and the Murphy family. There were others whose names have been lost to church records.
In the years prior to 1914, the Reverend Harvey Bland served as pastor. He was succeeded by Reverend A.T. Tuck. It was under his leadership that the purchase of a larger building site on Wall Street was made. The cornerstone for this building was laid in 1922 and the ceremonial mortgage burning was held a mere three years later in 1925. Through faith this great work was achieved and the church was renamed "The Wall Street Baptist Church. It was during that time that a Bible Band now known as the Missionary Circle was formed. Ministers who succeeded Rev. Tuck, were Rev. Burke, Rev. T.H. Brooks, and Rev. A.F. McCleave. Each of these righteous and visionary leaders served faithfully and led the church to greater achievements.
In 1964, Reverend Joseph L. Morgan was elected to succeed Reverend A. F. McCleave. Under his leadership and vision an even larger church was built on Fields Drive, larger in its membership as well as facility. The first service was held in the new church on Sunday, November 16, 1973. Among the accomplishments made with the move to the new church were the purchase and dedication of an organ, the expansion of the missionary circles, the purchase of a van, the establishment of a youth department, a Laymen's League, and a newsletter. The most notable accomplishment was the addition of a new building, The Family Life Center, which was completed on November 25, 1990.
Since the completion of the Family Life Center, more advancements have been made especially in the area of technology. Classes were taught to introduce many of the members to the basics of technology. Several computers were donated and purchased; the music ministry was improved and instruments added. A recording studio was added and youths were trained in playing the drums. All of the senior missionary circles combined under one umbrella and a Youth Academy was started. A 33 passenger bus and recently a new van were purchased. New ministries have been added, offering every member an area of interest. Several members have been called into the ministry, and we have broadened our community outreach, by organizing a community Watch Night service, and participating in a Community Thanksgiving service. We have raised funds for many community efforts and won first place in the Communities in "Schools Dancing With the Stars and "Second Chance Prom Queen. We have added more females to our Deacon Ministry and Barbara Keller is the first female to chair the ministry. We recently made history when one of our members, Robert Reives, II was elected to a state position (House of Representatives, 54th House District) in the State Legislature, becoming the first African American to do so from Lee or Chatham Counties. In addition to the Community wide B. T. Bullock Scholarship, we have also started a First Calvary Scholarship for members only. We are on the move! And with God's guidance, we will move on up a little higher as we seek His kingdom.
Many of the additions and improvements were made following the election of our current pastor, Rev. Dr. Thomas E. Smith, Sr., who succeeded Rev. Dr. Morgan in October 2002. Dr. Smith is a man of strong faith who believes that he can lead the church to the next level in God. With his vision for the church as "A Caring Church, he is leading the church to foster loving relationships among each other and to reach out to our community with compassion and ministry until Jesus comes. His focus for many years has been on healing and spiritual renewal. With the help of God, the great ministry and work of First Calvary Baptist Church will continue to shine in our community and world.