HISTORICAL SKETCH Of CATAWBA BAPTIST CHURCH


Early records of this community mention "one Baptist house of public worship and a sabbath school". Established in 1773 by Samuel Harris, the first church was a log building just across the road from the present church. It began with a hundred members, a record in itself.

Many of the older records were lost, so little is known about the history of the church before 1856. In 1856, the membership of Catawba Church was 128. Of this number, seventeen were servants who had followed the faith of their masters. Rev. John H. Lacy was pastor at this time, serving both this church and Republican Grove Baptist Church. During Rev. Lacy's pastorate, a new Constitution and Code of Laws for the government of the church was drawn up, since the original had been lost. The pastor's salary was set at $150 per annum.

No land record existed until 1891 when land was bought from Mrs. J. W. Barksdale. Following this purchase, from 1896 to 1900, under the ministry of Rev. S. H. Thompson, the church experienced a period of tremendous growth. The minutes of the church for these years reveal that revivals were held periodically through which the church was "generally revived and benefited and many members were added". A memorial to the Rev. Whitt B. Williams, a former pastor, was erected; and a committee was appointed to collect money for a new church to be completed in two years. This project was successfully carried through and the old building sold for $150 in the year 1899.

Dedication services for the new church was held on Thursday, October 4, 1900. Rev. J. H. Bass was the pastor and Rev. S. H. Thompson brought the dedication message. We worship today in the sanctuary which is the building dedicated in 1900.

The first Woman's Missionary Society was organized on Saturday, July 16, 1898, with sixteen members and the following officers: President, Mrs. J. M. Hodges; Vice President, Mrs. E. Y. Wimbish, Sr.; Secretary, Mrs. J. W. Crews; Treasurer, Miss Kate Coates. This organization has continued to grow and now has all the organizations for the young people.

In March 1909, a committee was appointed to confer with several neighboring churches concerning the forming of a field of churches and building a parsonage. This step resulted in the establishing of a church field composed of Catawba, Millstone, Halifax, and Republican Grove in 1919 and the completion of a parsonage for this field in 1920.

In September 1919, the church voted to make some changes in the Constitution. Article VIII was changed to read: "the pastor shall be called for an indefinite rime" and Article XII gave the ladies of the church a right to vote on "any business that comes before the conference".

From 1921 to 1939, the church continued to grow under the leadership of pastors Duncan, Chadwick, Nester, and Dawson. Some of these years were the "depression years" and Catawba often found the road rugged but continued to press onward under the leadership of consecrated and able leaders.

Rev. O. G. Burnette was called to the field in 1940 and Catawba continued to grow spiritually, numerically, and materially. By this time, a more adequate building was needed to meet the needs of the church, so in October 1943, the church voted to proceed with a building program. On October 26, 1945, a special business meeting was called and a motion to build a new church was carried. A committee consisting, of Thomas E. Bradley, W. J. Clark, and N. 0. Dodson was appointed by the church to proceed with building plans; but, in May 1949, it was decided at another special business meeting to remodel the original building for a sanctuary and to add an educational plant.

August 1949, saw the beginning of a new building program; services were held in the nearby school building until January 1950, at which time the building program was completed. Worship services were held in the basement until Sunday, March 26, 1950, when we first worshipped in the new sanctuary. New pews were placed in the sanctuary in March 1950, and memorial windows installed in May 1930. Dedication services for the new church were held July 30, 1950.

In 1951, the field of four churches was dissolved, and a new field consisting of Catawba and Hunting Creek was formed. A parsonage was built near Catawba and Rev. Richard Price was called in 1952 to serve these two churches. Rev. Price served faithfully for about eighteen months, after which he resigned to serve in another section of the state.

By this time, the need for a full-time pastor was realized. So, in August 1954, after prayerful consideration, Catawba dissolved her affiliation with the Hunting Creek Church, bought her share in the parsonage and extended a call to Rev. C. M. Shelton. He accepted and became the first full-time pastor of Catawba.

January 1961, brought the resignation of Rev. Shelton. Rev. Maurice Campbell was called to serve as pastor in June 1961. Rev. Campbell resigned as pastor in September 1962. Following his resignation, Rev. Milburn H. Parham was extended a call in April 1963. Rev. Parham accepted our call and served faithfully throughout the 1960's. During this time, Sunday School rooms were added, a baptismal pool was installed, and a new organ was purchased.

Rev. David Dickerson served as pastor in the 1970's and until he resigned in June 1987. In the, 1970's, additional land was purchased for cemetery use, carpet was installed in the sanctuary, and a piano was purchased.

Rev. Russell East accepted our call in May 1989, and served as pastor until August 14, 1994. During the past five years, cushions were installed on the pews, a steeple was added to the church, and a monthly newsletter was published. A member of Catawba, Joseph Glass, became an ordained minister. His ordination service was held in December 1993.

At the present time, our Search Committee is working diligently to obtain a pastor as we look forward to the future with continued trust and faith in our Lord and Master.

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