Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Milton Baptist Church (Milton, North Carolina)

Milton Baptist Church

The minutes of the Milton Baptist Church and other early records were lost in a disastrous fire many years ago. Available records have been searched in order for us to learn something of those who preceded us in the work of this church. As early as February 28, 1928, an issue of the Milton Gazette and Advertiser published the following notice: The citizens of Milton were called to a "Church raisin." "It is requested that those who hold subscriptions for building a Baptist Meeting House in Milton will report to the Commissioner in his place the amount subscribed on or before the first Thursday in March next at which time and place all those who may wish to encourage and aid in the said building are requested to attend, especially those who are to furnish labor and materials." Just where that building was is not yet known."

In early school records there was found a note that in Milton a Female Academy having been opened in 1819, the Trustees invited the Rev. Abner W. Clopton of the Baptist Church, to take charge of it. Mr. Clopton presided over the institution for three years, preaching statedly the while to the inhabitants.

From early records of the Biblical Recorder, September, 1843, was found an account of the purchase of a Meeting House for the use and benefit of the Baptist Church. "It was built for the use of the Methodist Church, but owing to one of those reverses which sometimes occur, was obliged to be sold. We understand it is a new house, constructed of brick, and well finished. To whose liberality the Baptist Church is indebted for this acquisition, we are not informed.:

In 1844, the Biblical Recorder wrote:

"The arm or branch of the Baptist Church of Yanceyville, located in Milton, N.C. was constituted into a separate and independent church on the Saturday before the fifth Sunday in the last month (June 1844) by the Presbytery of the Beulah Association. Elder S. Pleasant acted as Moderator. The examination was conducted by Elder G. W. Purefoy1 assisted by other members of the Presbytery. The right hand of fellowship was given by the Moderator and the charge to members by Elder J. Bradley of Virginia, late president of Newton College. Concluding prayer by Elder E. Dodson.

"On Sunday the Communion was administered to about thirty communicants. The sermons on both days were very solemn and interesting, and were attended by a crowded audience on Sunday. The building occupied by the new church is a neat little house, sufficiently large and well arranged, with a good bell; and the prospects of building a good church is promising. Elder Joshua J. James is pastor."

The Milton Church was admitted to the Beulah Association in 1843. There are records from 1891 until today. Pastors who served from then until today include: John McDonald, J. R. Jones, James Armstrong, L. N. Chapell, R. J. Bateman, J. J. Adams, L. M. Holloway, J. J. Faulkner, C. W. Reed, Henry T. Allison, J. F. Davis, J. A. Hackney, R. W. Prevost, Hugh L. Nichols.

Mr. Nichols served as pastor during the years immediately following the first World War. It was during these years that the church made the unhappy decision to cease functioning as a church body. There was no pastor for approximately 12 years.

In June 1937, a religious survey having made, the church was reorganized. This was done under the leadership and through the efforts of the Rev. Algie F. Yarbrough and Mrs. Yarbrough, both Caswell County natives. Several members of the former organization had remained faithful to Baptist interests through the years when there was no church body in Milton. They were: Mrs. Frederick Preston Tucker, Miss Mollie Josephine Hanes, Mrs. Franklin B. Jones, Mrs. Lyndon J. Whitlock, and Mrs. John Walker Williams. Others who were listed in the reorganization were Mr. Robert Walker Williams, Miss Nellie Booth, Misses Lila and Aretta Yarbrough and Mr. And Mrs. A. F. Yarbrough.

In that same year, the church was again admitted to the Beulah Association. A Sunday School was organized in June 1937 and a Woman's Missionary Society in July, 1937.

Mr. Yarbrough was pastor for thirty years, resigning in December 1967. During his ministry a Baptistry was made possible by a gift from the late Mr. Sterling Graves of Yanceyville. Mr. Graves once told that his mother, the former Donna Thornton and her sister, Signora Thornton Hunt, members of this church, were baptized in cold, icy water. He wanted to help the church toward securing a Baptistry so he established a fund in order to interest the church in obtaining this goal. As a result of his challenge, not only a Baptistry, but an Educational Center consisting of five classrooms, two bath rooms, an Assembly room and kitchen were added.

Mr. Robert Williams, the surviving member of the 1937 group, met with the congregation on May 30, 1965, and broke ground for the new addition.

Rev. Clyde Shelton, a member of the church, was ordained here during Mr. Yarbrough's ministry, January 6, 1957.

Rev. Roy Parker, a Northeastern Seminary student, served as pastor following Mr. Yarbrough. During his ministry a Constitution and By-Laws were adopted.

Mr. Daylon Green and Mr. Hassell Lamm were of invaluable assistance when we had no regular pastor.

Dr. L. Harper Dawson was pastor for four years. During his pastorate the interior of the church was renovated.

Another Seminary student, Rev. William Tatum, served as pastor for two years. Rev. Stanley Cline was pastor for a six-month period. Dr. Richard Vinson, assistant professor of Religion at Averett College, was pastor for several years. The present pastor is Rev. Clyde Everett of Yanceyville, N.C.

Most of the time the membership has been small. Today there are approximately thirty-five or forty members.

The Milton Baptist Church supports all the interests of the Beulah Association. It stands as witness of the faith of those who worship here, having survived more than one doubtful time. As we look to the future, let us give thanks for those faithful ones who have gone before us and let us seek the strength and grace to continue to labor for good.

Source: In the Beginning . . . The Churches of Caswell County, Jean B. Scott, Compiler (2000) at 57-58.

1Probably Reverend George Washington Purefoy (1809-1880). Rev. Dr. George Washington Purefoy was a prominent Baptist Minister. He was involved in survival of The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill following the Civil War. He assisted in bringing the University back to life after two years of being closed. Purefoy Road is along the southern campus of UNC-CH. The Purefoy/Merritt Mill was in this location. The mill is gone, but some of the foundation stones are at the NC Botantical Gardens in Chapel Hill.

His father was John Purefoy, one of the men responsible for the founding of Wake Forest University. George's brother, James Simpson, was also a trustee for Wake Forest University. As a leader of the Baptist movement he was the writer of "A History of the Little Sandy Parish," an account of the early beginnings of the Free Will Baptist movement in North Carolina.

He was awarded an honorary Doctorate in 1870 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Photo 342. Milton Baptist Meeting House, pre-1844. This building was bought from Methodists in 1844 (Biblical Recorder records). Unusual example of the Classical Revival style in Piedmont North Carolina. The temple-form brick church has two front doors, delicate fret work lintels, and stuccoed flat-panels above the side windows reminiscent of Thomas Jefferson's architectural designs. According to an 1828 newspaper announcement, the Baptists built a church with volunteer citizen labor, but the location of the building is not known. Handsome baptismal classical arch and pulpit may be the handwork of local cabinetmaker Thomas Day.

Source: An Inventory of Historic Architecture: Caswell County, North Carolina, Ruth Little-Stokes and Tony P. Wrenn (1979) at 217.

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