History of First Baptist Church of Clayton North Carolina
First Baptist church, originally called Liberty Meeting House, was founded in 1811 and is the oldest church in Johnston County, North Carolina. The church is now well into its third century. When we celebrated our bicentennial in 2011, we started off the year by rededicating the restored original church bell. The bell which once hung in the 1888 frame church is now on display for future generations to enjoy.
Since the first building was constructed on the corner of Fayetteville and Whitaker Streets, our church has continued to acquire property for expansion .Since the present sanctuary was built and occupied in 1920; we celebrated 100 years of worshiping in our facility in October of 2020.
A new Educational Annex was added just as we were approaching our Sesquicentennial celebration in 1961. In the 1990’s the church began to purchase properties with the goal of preparing for a growing church membership, programs and mission ministries .To the glory of our Lord, the dedication of the new addition was held on August 27, 2000. In the last few years we have acquired the properties between O’Neil St, and Fayetteville St. across from our church for parking facilities. The Massey property, across Whitaker Street, became available in 2009 and the church purchased that property for future growth.
After careful planning, the Child Development Center opened in 2006, for children from infant age to 4 years old. This ministry is the pride and joy of our congregation. First Baptist was instrumental in the organization of the Johnston Baptist Association in 1903. Clayton was the first church in the area to hold a Vacation Bible School in 1932. VBS is still the highlight of the year to many children in our church and surrounding community.
During our history, the members of First Baptist have supported through finances and prayer many new churches. On July 1871, First Baptist met to begin a new church in the center of four existing churches and it was decided the name would be Baptist Center Church. This church at 2163 Ranch Road is still an active blessing to the town of Clayton. The most recent church plant was the MOSAIC church begun by Reverend Andy Hale. This community of believers provided an alternative environment from the traditional church for our community.
At this time we are looking for the new person God has for First Baptist who will continue to lead us in a strong program of preaching and teaching God’s word. We are praying fervently for God’s will in this search.
We have a faithful and inspirational music program with a full time Director of Music, Mrs. Keeley Tarkington, a Part time Organist, Mr. Jim Elmore, and a talented choir and hand bell group. Our senior adults are led by Rev. Stephen Nance .This active group meets each month for faith, food, and fellowship .They take day trips enjoy movie nights and do activities with children in the Grand Friends Program. Our strong children and family life program is led by Rev. Stephanie Parker and the youth program Is led by a group of parents and volunteers who have as much fun as the teens.
We have a wide choice of ministry opportunities and numerous programs that cater to all ages. Our Bible based Sunday school has a wide array of classes for all ages and configurations with classes for singles, couples and young people. Through our Missions organizations such as Woman’s Ministry Groups, the Baptist Men’s ministry and children’s groups for all ages our members serve the Clayton community, our state and have gone on mission trips from Alaska to New York and from Ecuador to Sri Lanka. We have promoted Christian growth through Bible studies, Prayers groups and mission ministries who serve the special needs and provide guidance for all from the oldest adult to the youngest child.
At 212 years old, our church celebrates our blessings humbly by proclaiming to our members those of the past, present, and future that we are here because of God’s love, grace, and guidance. We have stood the test of time and we pray the generations of members to come will continue to love, serve, and share with others the gospel of Jesus Christ, with God’s direction and grace.