Local Church Celebrates 100 Years in Community - TribPapers

Local Church Celebrates 100 Years in Community

The church's 1973 groundbreaking ceremony. Photo courtesy of First Baptist Church of Weaverville.

Weaverville – In his television series “North Carolina is my home,” Charles Kuralt has a segment on the different denominations that came to the state. When he got to the Baptists, he said, “They came and came and kept coming.” He had good reason for saying that, as, by far, Baptists make up the largest percentage of those who identify with mainstream faiths in the state.
One of those Baptist churches, the First Baptist Church of Weaverville, is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its establishment this month. A celebration is planned for the weekend of July 15th through the 17th.

According to the church’s history, the church’s roots extend back to 1920 when a “Baptist work was begun in Weaverville by a group of eight women as a Women’s Mission Society” under the sponsorship of the First Baptist Church of Asheville. A lot was purchased at the corner of North Main Street and Pine Street to build a church in 1921.

On July 15th, 1922, the church was organized at the old Weaverville High School Building, where 46 residents became charter members of the church, and it was taken into the Buncombe Baptist Association. In October of the same year, the Rev. J.J. Slattery became the church’s first pastor. The original church, now the Weaverville Library, was completed and the cornerstone was laid on August 16th, 1925.

Several highlights through the years included in 1924, Rev. A.N. Corpening became the church’s second pastor, and between 1928 and 1941 the church had five pastors: Rev. Paul Berry (1928), G.C. Cox (1930), Rev. W.H. Covert (1936), Dr. M.H. Kendall (interim in 1940), and in 1941, Rev. D.C. Wesson became pastor and the church bought a house on Brown Street for a parsonage. Over the years, the church has had about 15 pastors. In 1972, the church observed its first 50 years with a celebration that included a number of its former pastors and seven charter members of the church.

For nearly 30 years, the old church served the community’s needs. Then, “in order to better house the growing youth and children’s departments, the former Burton House and property on North Main St. were purchased in 1959.” and is the church’s present location, says church member Cathy Gillespie. “The current education building was completed in the 1960s. On July 13th, 1973, a groundbreaking ceremony for the new sanctuary was held one year later, on July 14th, 1974, a dedication service was held for the newly completed sanctuary.”

Asked what this 100th-year celebration meant to the church, Pastor Stuart Lampkin said, “I can tell that the congregation is proud of its history and it’s grateful for the people who came before us because we recognize that our church didn’t come from nowhere. We are here because people and families worked hard, sacrificed, built it and provided what we are blessed by today. So the church is proud of what it has been able to do in the past and also that this celebration is not just about the past but also about celebrating the great ministries that we do now in the present and looking ahead to be thankful for and to give over to God the next hundred years.”

Asked what it meant for him to be the pastor at this time, Lampkin had two answers. First, for being the pastor at this time in the church’s history. “I am excited to be here when we get to have such a big celebration because it will be very fun. We’ve planned a lot of different kinds of celebration times that will be really enjoyable for me and for everyone.” He also said that helping to plan events and helping put a history book together has helped him. It’s helped “… me learn more about the congregation I get to serve, so I feel more apart from it now than I did in the past because I’ve been able to immerse myself in the history of our church as we get ready for our celebration.”

His other comment was about what it means to be a church pastor in this time of the events going on in the world, in which he focused on the pandemic. “It has been quite a moment to be in ministry. Certainly, I’ve not been bored at all for the past two years. It’s been stressful these past two years anywhere and everywhere, not just at my church. But if I had to go through the hardest, weirdest time of all of our lives and be with a church family during that time, I’m just glad I got to be with these people.”

The church received a proclamation from the Town of Weaverville proclaiming the weekend of the 15th Centennial Weekend in Weaverville. Events include a Friday concert with Leonard Hollifield in “Appalachian Consort,” Saturday with a cookout and games, and Sunday with special programs and a church service. For more information, call the church at 645-6720.