First Missionary Baptist Church, Parkton, North Carolina, is among the oldest black institutions in this community. Founded in 1898 and first named “Living Hope Baptist Church”, it was of wood structure located one mile east of Parkton along the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad.
The congregation was made up of members from the rural areas, the majority of whom were farmers and sharecroppers with little finance.
As far as can be recalled, the first regular Pastor was Reverend A. Douglas Brewington. The deacons were J. D. Hill, Samuel Pridgen and Jim Cogdell. In 1911, the church was relocated in Parkton, a new building was erected and First Baptist became a familiar landmark in the town.
In 1913, Reverend Henry Adams was called to lead the congregation. Jim Cogdell, Samuel Pridgen, A. G. McDonald and Barnhill served as deacons. The church was called Parkton Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend Adams’ successor was Rev. Freeman Perkins who served for one year.
In 1928, Reverend Johnnie Simpson, a school teacher from the Bladen County area, was called to serve as Pastor. Israel Robinson and Richard Smith served as church clerks. A. G. McDonald, Raleigh Brewington, Ed Williams, James B. Cates, Samuel McDonald, Sr., Vander McNatt and Jack Weeks served as deacons. The church continued to grow as Reverend Simpson steered the congregation to better training in church activities. Reverend Simpson’s successor was Reverend J. K. Purdie who served the fellowship for one year.
In 1939, Reverend Lee Andrew Melvin, from the Cumberland County Baptist Union area, became Pastor. Under his dynamic leadership, the church flourished spiritually and financially. Reverend Melvin was a Pastor of great religious and Christian attributes who inspired others through his preaching.
On December 27, 1943 with A. G. McDonald, Samuel McDonald, Sr. and Ed Williams serving as trustees, a tract of land known as the “Parkton Colored School lot” was purchased for a new sanctuary. “Church rallies” were held during the fall after each harvest to pay for the land. In 1946, enough money was raised to build the new sanctuary, now called First Baptist Parkton. This sanctuary was built with cinder blocks. A few years later the church was bricked.
As the church progressed, the need for an educational annex and dining area became evident. The members secured a loan from Reverend Melvin and repaid him through the fall church rallies. The project was completed with the help of Deacon Samuel McDonald, Sr., Reverend Melvin, Johnnie Buxton and the congregation. While the new addition was under construction, Reverend Melvin and Deacon McDonald, Sr. gave of their time, without pay, until the project was completed.
During Reverend Melvin’s administration, the church was blessed to have A. G. McDonald, Samuel McDonald, Sr., Jack Weeks, Raleigh Brewington, Ed Williams, Vander McNatt, James B. Cates, Tilmon Williams, Shelly Daniels, Marvin Purcell, Earlie Morrison, Sr., Charles Cates, Charles Patterson, Samuel McDonald, Jr., Zack W. Landis and George Sansbury, Sr. serve as deacons, with Richard Smith and Zack W. Landis as church clerks. Trustees serving were Lacy McDonald, Major Sansbury and Fred Bacote.
After forty-three years of dedicated Christian service, Reverend Melvin retired because of declining health. The hearts of his beloved congregation were saddened by his death on January 19, 1987. He is remembered with love and gratitude by the members he served so long and so well.
The Reverend Theodore R. Patterson served as interim Pastor until a new Pastor was called.
In 1981, Dr. James A. Raye, Sr., a native of Rennert, North Carolina, raised and educated in Fayetteville, North Carolina, was called to be the ninth Pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church. Through his skills in training, he steered the congregation into a new era. Under his leadership, First Baptist has grown spiritually, educationally and financially through teaching and training.
During Dr. Raye’s administration, many departments and auxiliaries have been reactivated and new ones organized. They are: a Christian Education and Training Department, Deaconess Club, Youth Club, Mass Choir, Sunday School Choir, Laymen’s League, Kitchen Committee (Food Service), Church Hostess Committee and Bible Study Classes.
Dr. Raye took the leadership in teaching and encouraging the membership to tithe as commanded by God. Through this effort, the physical development has grown and a new Christian Education Annex with Chapel classrooms, Pastor’s Study, Library and Secretary’s Office were dedicated on October 22, 1989. Books for the library were given by members of the congregation.
Also under Dr. Raye’s pastorate, six deacons were ordained: Roy Hill, Jr., Lacy McDonald, Earlie Morrison, Willie Vance McMillan, Lacy Patterson and Walter R. Sansbury. Trustees elected were: James A. Lilly, Leonard McKinnon, Willie Vance McMillan, James C. Patterson and Walter R. Sansbury.
Deacons who served the church with Dr. Raye were: Charles Cates, Roy Hill, Jr., Zack W. Landis, Lacy McDonald, Willie Vance McMillan, Lacy Patterson and Walter R. Sansbury; Church Secretary/Church Clerk: Lydia J. McDonald; Financial Committee; Melody Bishop, Zack W. Landis, Gerald C. Patterson and Temesia Weaks; Trustees: Fred Bacote, Tony Brewington, James A. Lilly, Willie McBryde, Randolph McMillan, Major Sansbury and James C. Patterson.
Dr. Raye led First Missionary Baptist Church in building a new edifice which was dedicated on October 26, 2003. The new sanctuary is located at 195 West David Parnell Street, Parkton, NC. The old facility now houses “The L. A. Melvin Christian Family Life Center”.
First Missionary Baptist Church is proud of the ministers who were licensed and sent out as “Sons” of the church: Reverend Israel Robinson, Reverend Will McEachin, Reverend J. Melvin Jones, Reverend Theodore R. Patterson, Reverend Samuel McDonald, Jr., Reverend Bill Brewington and Reverend Michael F. Weaks.
Climaxing his thirty-four years of faithful ministry at First Missionary Baptist Church, Rev. Dr. James A. Raye, Sr. officially retired on December 31, 2015. The membership celebrated his love and service to Christ and His church and named him pastor emeritus.
After much prayer, and congregational vote, on September 9, 2016, a call was extended to and accepted by our current pastor, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Matthew Jenkins. Dr. Jenkins began pastoral leadership on October 2, 2016 and was officially installed as our tenth pastor on November 13, 2016.
Since Dr. Jenkins’ installation, God continues to do wonderful things. He shared his vision for the church to: Live for Christ, Witness for Christ, and Outreach for Christ. His passion is evident to rightly expound Scripture through preaching and teaching. Under his leadership, the Children’s Church (Fully Relying on God—F.R.O.G) was initiated and The Little Voices of Praise Children’s Choir has reactivated. Youth led worship services were implemented on the 3rd and 5th Sundays. The Sunday school curriculum was revised so that all classes are on the same lesson each Sunday. Dr. Jenkins inspires the membership to become more actively involved in mission and outreach work; to include 5th Sunday food drives, clothing drives, reaching out to the local community, and helping women and children in shelters. He teaches: "People don’t care what you know until they know that you care.” Following his vision of churches working together for Christ and reaching out to the community, he initiated contact with area churches and helped establish the annual Blessing of the Badges ceremony and annual Back-to-School event at Parkton Elementary. He is concerned about our community and meets regularly with local ministers, and the Parkton’s mayor and town board. From those meetings, law enforcement now performs additional security patrols of the area churches during worship service hours.
Other updates include asbestos removal and the tearing down of the old sanctuary and fellowship hall. The bell from the old sanctuary was brought to the church ground and dedicated on April 29, 2018. Sanctuary repairs were made to the carpet and archway along with correcting and updating the security/fire systems to include security cameras, and the installation of new audio/video equipment to enhance worship services.
He is active in the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and currently serves as First Vice-President of the Union of Union, an auxiliary of the Union Missionary Baptist Association of North Carolina.
Currently serving with Dr. Jenkins are: Associate Ministers, Rev. Grover N. Grace and Rev. Dr. Katrina Gamble; Deacons: Walter R. Sansbury (Chairman), Zack Landis, Willie V. McMillan; Tony Brewington, Sr., Jerry L. McBryde, Nathaniel Solomon; Trustees: William Chavis (Chairman), Tony Brewington, Ira Chavis, Willie McBryde, Theodore McMillan, Randolph McMillian, and Gerald C. Patterson; Finance Committee: Zack W. Landis, Treasurer, Gerald C. Patterson, Finance Secretary, Nathaniel Solomon, Assistant Secretary, and Shirley Sansbury, Assistant Secretary; Church Clerk/Secretary: Annie Mae McMillian, Secretary and Carolyn Brewington, Assistant Secretary.