Roanoke Island Baptist Church is steeped in history.
We are thought to be the second oldest church in North Carolina. The church in Bath was founded in 1806 and ours in 1808. According to records located in the Currituck County Courthouse, which were later lost in a fire, on July 31, 1808, Abraham Baum of Currituck sold one (1) acre of land to the Baptist Society of people on Roanoke Island for the promotion of religion and in consideration of one shilling.
Word-of-mouth indicates that a parcel of land was donated by Mrs. Esther Meekins and possibly located on the east side of current Hwy. 64.
In 1809 the first church was built and this church was later burned by Federal troops. It was not until 45 years later that the Federal Government reimbursed the congregation for the damage. In the dark days after the War Between the States, around 1884, the community erected a rough building which was used for 20 years as both church and school. Although several facts associated with church’s history are vague, it is believed that the church was built of timber dismantled from a hospital General Burnside erected to take care of his injured soldiers. When the war was over, the hospital remained on the site of the present Burnside development. It is told the members decided (and I quote) “since he burned our first church it would be fitting for us to use the wood from his hospital to rebuild, and we did just that”.
The construction of the church indicates it was built by men who worked on ships. The ceiling beams were planks that were 8 inches by 8 inches and were morticed together. In many instances the wall studs were 6 inches by 6 inches.
The first business meeting we have record of, was held on the 3rd Sunday of December, 1888. The only business, other than calling the role (of only the men), was appointing delegates to the Scuppernong Union meeting.
- In August 1890, a motion was made and carried that anyone caught spitting tobacco or snuff on the floor of the church shall be fined $5.00 for each offense. This decree was posted on a conspicuous place on the wall.
- In April, 1893, a motion was made and carried that all male members over 16 years of age be “taxed” 25 cents a month and female members over 16 years of age be “taxed” 15 cents a month.
- In May, 1903, a motion was made and carried, giving women the right to vote in the meetings.
- On March 25, 1905, 21 members were granted letters to unite in the organization of a Baptist Church in Manteo. (This is known today as Manteo Baptist Church)
- On August 22, 1909, 12 members were dismissed to unite in formation of the Nags Head Baptist Church. (This is now Nags Head Church)
- Beginning in July 1910, a financial report had to be included in the minutes of the business meetings. According to a note in the minutes, this was done to refrain from frivolous spending.
- Sometime between 1915 and 1920, RIBC was served by Rev. Pierce. He was killed in a feud among Virginia moonshiners. There is no further mention of this incident.
Our records skip several years to 1951. Hopefully, the records from 1910 to 1951 are stored in an attic somewhere for safe keeping. Maybe, one day, they will be discovered.
- Sometime during these “missing” years, we joined the Chowan Baptist Association. Frank B. Dinwiddie was pastor. The minutes of business meetings were very sketchy from 1951 to 1955. The most amusing thing to me was the discussion of fence posts. This discussion began in September 1951 and was discussed in every meeting and in July 1955, they were still being discussed. I found no record of them ever being purchased.
- In March 1952, the church had to adopt a budget and it had to be approved by the Southern Baptist Convention – not the church. All of the minutes during this time indicated that the ladies made all of the motions, informed the few men in the church of the decisions and did a lot of the work themselves – including painting and tearing down old wood.
- The next minutes book starts in 1976. In the meeting on October 11, 1976, support of missionaries was voted on for the first time. The first foreign missionaries were Arland and Christine Strong. Mrs. Strong is a native of Wanchese.
- The first recorded ordination service was on April 16, 1978 for John W. Rowland. He remained with the church until May, 1980.
- On January 12, 1981, Paul Carroll was called to be Pastor. He brought a new sense of enthusiasm and exuberance to RIBC. This was his thought about the church – “I always had the feeling I should stop and visit. At first, I thought it was an insignificant church, but upon attending, I found all the warmth and genuine interest people should have in the Lord.”
Pastor Paul Carroll
Under Pastor Carroll’s leadership, the church grew, which resulted in additions being made to the original buildings, such as classrooms, bathrooms, kitchen and a fellowship hall in 1983. A new heating system was also installed. As we continued to grow, the main sanctuary underwent major renovations and a baptistery was installed in 1986.
In March 1987, one of our members, Tom Miss, surrendered to preach. The church agreed to help with his tuition at Florida Baptist Institute. His ordination service was held August 8, 1987. Shortly after that time, we joined the American Baptist Association.
In 1988, Pastor Carroll resigned so he could go into evangelistic work. Through his leadership, our church became self-supportive and for the first time, was able to support a full time pastor. On March 27, 1988, we called Stephen Crane as pastor and on April 4, Pastor Carroll turned the church over to him. As the first order of business under Pastor Crane, the Church commissioned Paul Carroll to go out as a missionary from RIBC.
Pastor Stephen Crane
We experienced a lot of change and growth under the leadership of Pastor Crane. In addition to preaching God’s word, he and his wife Valerie blessed us in another way. They both sang beautifully and Valerie was our piano player. We started a bus ministry with two buses running, had an adult and youth choir, a children’s church ministry on Sunday morning and a youth group meeting on Wednesday night. After much prayer and consideration, in April, 1989, RIBC became an Independent and Fundamental Baptist Church.
- On October 10, 1990, we made the decision to incorporate and began the arduous task of establishing the church covenant, constitution and by-laws.
- In January 1991, the trustees approached Charles Evans to purchase the lot adjacent to the church and this became our parking lot. Several years later, we purchased the lots on the north side of the church.
- In June, 1992, Pastor Crane felt the call of God to go the mission field in Romania to work with the Rock of Ages Prison Ministry.
Pastor John Charles
In the fall of 1992, a young man and his wife, who were vacationing here, visited the church on a Wednesday night. Brother Bill Winstead was filling the pulpit for us that night. He asked this young man to lead the singing for us and told us that he was our next pastor. Sure enough, God led us to call John Charles, III to be our pastor. He, his wife Dawn and daughter Laura began their service on October 18, 1992.
Pastor Charles was a great asset to RIBC. He was a very friendly man, had a great sense of humor, a beautiful voice and a great passion for lost souls. Possibly the greatest thing he achieved was getting the church involved in Faith Promise giving. We had our first Missions Conference in the spring of 1994. It was a huge success and resulted in a Faith Promise offering of $29,000.00 from our people. I firmly believe the accomplishments of RIBC are directly due to our efforts in the Faith Promise Missions program spreading the WORD around the world.
- In May 1993, we added a vestibule and handicap ramp, with our men doing the work. When it was completed, we had a dedication service complete with a ribbon cutting.
- In August 1995, a church in Virginia gave us their used pews and Bro. Bud Mitchell and Pastor Charles went to pick them up. They loaded the pews into Bro. Bud’s trailer and headed home. Everything was going fine and they reached a section of road under construction and traffic was congested. Bro. John noticed a tire passing the van on the passenger side of the truck. It was one of the tires off the trailer. Thankfully, they arrived back at the church safely, with all the pews intact. But, it made a good story to tell every now and then.
- In February 1996, plans were submitted to build four rooms across the back of the church. Again the men of the church did the work, under Bro. Bud Mitchell’s supervision.
- In February 1997, we voted to purchase new pews, (after one of ours collapsed and put 5 people on the floor), pulpit furniture and carpet for the sanctuary and vestibule.
- In April 2000, Joel and Cynthia Dickens came to church as Missionary interns. They were a big help to Bro. Charles, working in the office and taking over the teen program.
- During our Missions Conference in 2002, Joel was ordained to the gospel ministry. The ordination charge was given by his father, George Dickens. The attending missionaries and men of the church had a laying on of hands. The Dickens family set out on deputation and in April 2005, they left to serve the Lord in Brazil. They worked under Bro. Nash for a year and in May 2006 they had the first service in their church, Calvary Baptist Temple, in Belo Jardim. Their work has continued to grow, along with their family.
- In September 2000, Bro. Spessard Powell was ordained. The ordination charge was made by Steve Jarrett. Today Spence and his wife, Garyetta, work with the Rock of Ages Prison Ministry.
- In June 2001, Bro. Steve Vohs resigned his position as deacon to go on the mission field and work with Rock of Ages Prison Ministry. His wife, Lanie, is very active in his missionary work.
- Bro. John Charles resigned in September 2003. He did a great work at our church. He is the greatest Mission-minded pastor we’ve ever had. Under his leadership, our Missions program, which started in 1994 with just a few missionaries, grew to a program that supports 23 missionaries at the present time.
Pastor Daniel Crisman
In January 2004, Bro. Daniel Crisman became our pastor. He was a young man with lots of new ideas. Our children’s church increased under his leadership. Bro. Crisman resigned his position in August 2006. He and his family left to serve in a church in Pennsylvania.
- On June 29, 2005, Mrs. Nora Drinkwater resigned as church clerk. She had held the position longer than any other clerk, over 25 years, and had served the church and her Lord well. She was presented a plaque in appreciation of her service.
Bro. Wayne Wells served as interim pastor after Bro. Crisman left. During this time, we had a several speakers fill the pulpit when Bro. Wells had an out of town meeting. Let me tell you about one of them. From the first Sunday he preached, on October 8, 2006, it seemed as if he and his wife were one of us. He preached several times for us and on October 2007, we asked him to be our interim pastor. During the interview session, his wife told us, “what you see is what you get”. We liked what we saw and on January 13, 2008, we accepted Charles and Candi Tyler as our new pastor and wife.
Pastor Charles Tyler
They drove here every weekend from Smryna (near Morehead City) and Bro. Tyler came up for the mid-week service. Bro. Tyler is a firm believer in a visitation program and spends most of Saturday afternoon knocking on doors seeking those that are lost and that need to hear God’s word. We continued to have great Missions Conferences and even though we are few in number, we were able to treat our missionary guests really special. Our Vacation Bible Schools were a great success and hopefully we can rebuild our Sunday School from VBS prospects.
Bro. Tyler also had the daunting task of over-seeing our 200th anniversary. God has truly blessed the “little church on the corner of Airport Road and 64”. Our spirit has weakened a time or two but never failed. We’ve seen the building full of people and we’ve seen just a handful, but for 200 plus years, we have continued the work of the Lord. And we pray it will continue for another 200 years or until the Lord comes.
Great history has been made in the shadow of Roanoke Island Baptist Church. On the north end, is a marker that celebrates the more than 3000 ex-slaves who were organized in a formal colony called Freedmen’s Town. These people tasted the sweet air of liberty for the first time. One mile north is Fort Raleigh, site of the first English settlement and part of the system of national historical shrines. Nearby in 1901, Reginald Aubrey Fessenden pursued the experiments whereby he gave the world the wireless telephone, the fathometer and other inventions for the safety of life at sea. Across the sound, in plain view, stands the granite shaft that marks the flight of the first airplane in 1903. During the War Between the States, battles raged around this little church and it was burned and rebuilt by a membership consisting of hardy souls who let nothing deter them. Many wars have been fought since then. There have been hard times and profitable times.
There have been times that except for a few women the doors would have been closed. “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” We have a vision here at Roanoke Island Baptist Church. We are few in number, less than 20 members, but Jesus Christ is in this church. We have a great spirit and we are hard workers. We want our church to grow; we plant the seed, God gives the increase. On October 29, 2006, before becoming our Pastor, Charles Tyler knelt behind the podium and prayed the closing prayer for the evening service. These were his words – “Lord, I humbly ask you to bless this church. I see it as a Phoenix, rising from the ashes. This is your church, Lord and no one can end this work but you.” I got goose bumps that night as I listened to him pray and I still get goose bumps. “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” We, here at Roanoke Island Baptist Church, have a vision.
Brenda S. Outlaw
Pastor Scott Baxley
On January 6th, the first Sunday in 2013, Scott Baxley became Pastor of Roanoke Island Baptist Church. He and his family had visited the Church each year while on vacation for the past 6-7 years. The last Sunday of Bro. Charles Tyler’s pastorate happened to be the Sunday the Baxley family visited in 2012. They had unknowingly visited on this day and were leaving after services when a dear church member, Mrs. Joyce, mentioned to them she was so happy they had visited on Pastor Tyler’s last Sunday. At the back doors while shaking hands Bro. Tyler asked Bro. Baxley if he was looking to Pastor. His reply was “I’m not looking but I’m open to whatever God wants”. Another member, Bro. Horace mentioned, “we wish you would consider us.” Bro. Tyler gave an instant recommendation and the candidate process started. This was the first Sunday in October 2012. Through much prayer the Baxley family left a position of 10 years as Assistant Pastor of Charity Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC to become the next Pastor of Roanoke Island Baptist Church on the first Sunday in 2013.
Last Updated on Saturday, 09 August 2014 15:02