History of First Baptist Church East Martinsville
The establishment of First Baptist Church, East Martinsville, began in the year of 1896; when a few believers in Christ began assembling in an old school building where they had services with other denominations. This building was located in the Camp Branch section of Henry County. This group organized and called themselves St. Philippi Church. A few years later, under the leadership of Rev. William F. Geter, a part of this congregation moved to East Martinsville and used a “bush harbor” as its’ place of worship until land could be purchased and a church erected. This “bush harbor” was located in the area where Route 57 Ease and 58 East now merge. On July 6, 1906, Thomas R. Hairston and his wife donated an acre of land, along with the right of way through their property to the road and to the spring. Having secured the land, the group erected a building on the donated lot. This building was a shanty-style building with board windows. The only floor was straw to cover the dirt. On March 1, 1921, a tract of land was purchased from T. G. and Mary Burch. At this time, the name of the church had been changed from St. Philippi to First Missionary Baptist Church. On this land a church was erected. This building also served for school activities such as baccalaureate services. Later, fire destroyed this building; but it did not destroy the faith of these believers. They soon erected another building and continued worship services. Fire came again and destroyed the building of these struggling pioneers. Being strong in faith, they soon built another church in the same location. This was a little, white, weatherboard church facing towards Martinsville. This little white church had many unique features, one of which was its’ bell. The ringing of the bell could be heard throughout the neighborhood. This bell still remains in storage at the present church.
Being desirous of a more modern building, the members of First Missionary Baptist Church decided to build a new church. The motion was made on May 11, 1945 and a committee was appointed. There have been extensive renovations and expansions to this building and this is the building in which we worshiped in until transitioning into the Multi-purpose building for worship. Pastors having served this congregation include: Rev. William F. Geter, Rev. John W. Williams, Rev. George Silver, Rev. Robert Allbritton, Rev. James E. Harris, Rev. Jesse B. Hairston, Rev. John E. Powers, Rev. Samuel L. Logan, Rev. Alphonso Harvey, Rev. Jesse Allred and our current pastor, Rev. Charles R. Whitfield. From the First Baptist Church congregation, a number of ministers have gone out to proclaim the gospel. They are Rev. Jesse Millner, Rev. Louis B. Hairston, Rev. King Bowe, Rev. Jesse B. Hairston, Rev. James Millner, Rev. Donell Geter, Rev. Curtis Price, Rev. Harold Draper and Rev. Curtis Hairston.
Many members have served as officers of this church. Ones who served as Chairman of the Deacon Board include; Marshall K. Hairston, Henry M. Hairston, Morris Geter, Dan S. Price, Nathaniel Hairston, Wilson Hairston, Alfred Hampton and James Hampton. Other deacons having served this church are: Floyd Hairston, George A. Barksdale, King Bowe, Thurman Martin, Louis K. Hairston, Ross Thomas, Samuel Carter, Amos Barksdale, Samuel Waller, Turner Martin, Jessie B. Hairston, George R. Hairston, Jessie R. Hairston, Mort M. Hairston, Johnny K. Hairston, James R. Millner, James D. Hairston, Thurman Griggs, William F. Geter, Robert Millner, Joseph H. Hairston, George Martin, William Bowe, Sandy Hairston, Squire W. Garrett, Thomas G. Hairston, Early Hairston, Thomas Hairston, James E. Millner, Fred Scott, Grover Barksdale, Sabra Geter, Henry Emmett Carter, James Noel, Terrance Gray, Meridith Jeffress, James Noel, Donald Kirby and James Hampton. Among those acting as trustees for St. Philippi were: William F. Geter, George Amos Barksdale, George R. Hairston, and Jessie R. Hairston.
Court-appointed trustees having served First Baptist Church include: Jesse B. Hairston, Jesse R. Hairston, Johnny K. Hairston, Joseph H. Hairston, Mort M. Hairston, Henry E. Carter, Early Hairston, Wilson Hairston, Richard Breedlove, Curtis Hairston, Ananis Young, Tommy J. Dandridge, Harold Draper, William Geter, Sabra Geter, Alfred Hampton, John Hodge, James Martin, Donald Kirby, James Shelton, Sam Adams, S. Denise Orange, Larry D. Hodge, Larry O. Hodge, Bruno Hodge, Cecil France, Eugene David, Wayne Moore, Morris Geter and Lisa France, Charlie Martin, Gorrell Webster, Ben Hairston, and Donna Dillard.
Sunday School Superintendents include: Thornton Griggs, Sandy Carter, George Martin, Clifford Martin, James D. Hairston, James E. Millner, Thomas G. Hairston, Early Hairston, Wilson Hairston, Harold Draper, Virginia Hairston and Renee Brown. Clerks having served this church are: Fannie D. Hairston, Marinda Hairston, Joseph H. Hairston, Lillie Carter Hairston, Leora Millner Hampton and Bell Moyer. Treasurers having served include: Joseph H. Hairston, Henry M. Hairston, Richard Breedlove, S. Denise Orange, Lisa France and Donna Dillard. Mothers of the church include: Maria Ramey, Emma E. Hairston, Mary Jane Hairston, Nora Millner, Katherine W. Hairston, Bessie M. Hairston, and in 2014 the church unanimously selected Leora Millner Hampton. Musicians having served this church include: Lessie C. Garrett, Georgia Ramey, Naomi M. Randolph, Mable Thornton, Bessie Mae Hairston, William Tarpley, Hodge Adams, Lille C. Hairston, Vone’ G. Johnson, Shirley Adams, Pricilla Hairston, Vivian Stone, Timothy Dickerson, Frederick Kirby, Branden Hampton, Bobby Dillard, Chas Whitfield, Jasmine Morrison, LaQuan Law and Elijah Morton.
As we worked together, kept our faith in God while holding on to His hand, we were blessed in the year of 1991 with Rev. Jesse Allred, as he became pastor of First Baptist. We worked with Rev. Allred with a loving heart. In the year of 1996 Rev. Jesse Allred resigned from First Baptist. We were without a pastor, yet not without hope. In the year of 1997 we were blessed with our present pastor, Rev. Charles R. Whitfield of Roanoke, VA. In the year of 1997, November church conference it was voted that Rev. Charles R. Whitfield would be our pastor. The installation service for our new pastor was held on January 18, 1998. Pastor brought many innovative ideas for us to begin, such as the power of the penny rally, taken every 2nd and 4th Sunday; a new members’ class, and we were blessed to purchase a Clavinova keyboard and many other things as our membership grew as did our finances. In the year, 1998 our pastor moved to Martinsville from Roanoke to take on the role as the first full-time pastor in our church’s history. In the year of 1998 we formed a Hospitality Ministry to greet the guest as they came to the church. Also in this same year we marked every 5th Sunday as “dress down Sunday” to enable more people who would not normally come to church feel more welcome. We gave bibles to all new members, and also purchased a sound system in 1999. Our 5th Sunday came as a dress down Sunday to enable more peoples would feel welcome in 1998. In the year of 1999 we paved our upper parking lot. As we continued to work with our pastor, there were other new ministries added to our church such as the tape ministry for our sick and homebound members; We also as a church partnered the Department of Social Services to more effectively help those in need. In the year of 2002 we formed a task force to look into things that we need to do at the church such as forming a G.O.D. (Youth Ministry) that was a big help to our youth of our church. Start workshops for the members; remodeling was done on the inside and outside of the church such as replace new lights, carpet, painting, furniture in pastor study, water line, electrical rewiring and a new floor in the fellowship hall. We did not take any action concerning the back of the church that was suffering foundation/ structure damage. All treasures were combined together to start in 2003, and the church moved to computerized checking.
In the year of 2003 we purchased the Geter property at 1101 Ridge Road also the adjacent Jones property at 1105 Ridge Road. At that time, we rented the house at 1101 Ridge Road, while making an additional parking lot at 1105 Ridge Road Jones property. In September of 2006, we were blessed to elect 3 new brothers to begin training for deaconship. We began receiving our building pledges to take place each Sunday. We decided to remodel and the rent the house 1101 Ridge Road. In 2006, we decided to get a directory for church and also changed the F. B. Scholarship to Deacon Wilson Hairston Memorial Scholarship Fund which aids our students that go to college. In the year of 2007 we were able to purchase a bus and paved the lower parking lot. Also in the year of 2007 a memorial fund was set up in memory of Sis. Sherry Hampton to benefit the Hospitality Ministry. We started giving bibles and certificates to the new members in 2007. In 2007, we launched the preparation for our 1st church-wide membership directory, which was distributed in April of 2008. Our pastor began his 3-year study at Virginia Union University (Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology) in Richmond, VA 2008 September. Our current trustees were updated with the courts on February 19, 2009, to be the ones to go on record as the plans were being made to construct the new multi-purpose building: They were Sis. Lisa France, Bro. Larry D. Hodge, Bro. Cecil France, Bro. Eugene David, Bro. Wayne Moore, Bro. Morris Geter. On February 26, 2009, a building committee was formed with the following members: Bro. Wayne Moore, Sis. Scharlean David, Bro. James Martin, Bro. Carl Johnson, Sis. Brenda Kirby, Sis. Jackie Hairston, all current deacons and all current trustees. Chairman Bro. Wayne Moore, Asst. Chairman Bro. Larry D. Hodge, Secretary Sis. Scharlean David, Asst Secretary Sis. Brenda Kirby.
A call meeting was held April 14, 2009. Pastor gave information on the condition of our present church building, and after much prayer, research and professional advice the church agreed to move forward in our “From Vision to Victory” II Phase Building Campaign, the first phase being a 10,600 square foot multipurpose building. April 30, 2009, Chairman Wayne Moore gave information on the new building construction process; our consultant will be Kenneth Belton of Your Church Partner Building Consultant. Hughes and Associates of Roanoke, VA as our architect. Our church accepted this and it was decided we begin with our pledge and sacrificial gifts. We will start worshipping in phase I after its completion until phase II is ready. In May 2009, our pastor was elected 4th vice president of the VA State Convention. July 2009 a Ways and Means committee was formed to present to the church alternative ways to assist financially with the new construction. Sis. Brenda Kirby Chairman. Members: Sis. Margaret Via, Sis. Artis Law, Sis. Carmela Whitfield, Min. Tamika Grogans, Bro. Gorrell Webster, Bro. Jerry Gravely, Sis. Karen Carter, Sis. Veronica Dancy. A prayer committee was also formed at this time because prayer must undergird all that we do. Those volunteer members were: Sis. Veronica Dancy, Dea. James Hampton and Sis. Leora Hampton. January 7, 2010, we decided on Blair Construction as our contractor for our building project. January 7, 2010 we formed a F.B. Building Fund as follows: Silver Donation $250-$499, Gold Donation $500-$999, and Platinum Donation of $1000 or more, plus we had other leveled giving called the 20/20 vision pledges. During our building process of searching the titles and deeds of the church land and property, it was discovered that there were several different names of the church recorded with the city of Martinsville, therefore it was motioned that we change our official name to: First Baptist Church East Martinsville during our April 29, 2010 church conference. The Groundbreaking Ceremony for our new Multi-purpose building was held on March 7, 2010.
*This is not the complete history of First Baptist Church East Martinsville, but a short/brief narrative of the church's past accomplishments and historical moments.*