Founded in 1922, Elon First Baptist Church was the first African-American church built in the town of Elon, North Carolina. For 95 years, our church has served as a place of worship for several generations of families near and far. Our Church Motto at Elon First Baptist Church is, a church determined to make a difference through good news and good works. We strive to perform the will of God with a spirit of excellence and humility. Our Mission Statement is, to enhance the kingdom of God by spreading the good news that Jesus Christ is Lord and to continue His work in the land.
Our Church History
John McMullen, a former slave, began the first African American Church in the town of Elon College at the turn of the 20th century. He built Elon First Baptist Church on his land on Ball Park Avenue. Rev. McMullen was a very intelligent man who owned a small store adjacent to white frame church.
Rev. John McMullen remodeled the building by replacing the planks with a brick structure. The handmade bricks came from a brickyard that was located across the railroad track from the church. The entire congregation worked toward completion of this remodeling effort.
After Rev. McMullen’s death in 1925, Rev. Sandy Gilmer began to pastor the church. Services were held on the third Sunday of each month. Rev. Gilmer pastored the church until his death in 1956. He was a prominent and dedicated minister who was loved by many. As a token of the church’s love and affection, his body lay in state at the church from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on September 10th, 1956, so that the community both near and far would be able to pay their respects.
Min. Siler from Friendship Baptist Church in High Point, North Carolina pastored Elon First Baptist Church briefly from 1956-1957.
In 1958, Rev. Weaver Davis was installed as pastor. Under his pastoral care, Evangelist Mary Ireland became the first lady to preach her initial sermon at Elon First Baptist. Sister Ireland also founded the Elon Gospel Chorus. The church membership began to grow and many visitors fellow-shipped on a regular basis. Under Rev. Davis, water and sewer services were installed, the pastor’s office, a classroom, and bathrooms were added to the church building. A few years later, the Elon Elementary School property on Lynn Street was acquired as land to build a new church. Also during this time, the church purchased a bus for the ministry. In 1983, Rev. Davis retired as pastor to care for his ailing wife.
In 1984, Rev. Clarence Wall from Greensboro, North Carolina was installed as pastor. Sister Lena Summers was the profound Mother of the Church and the visionary for the Missionary Module of the Guilford Baptist Association.; of which Elon was an active and very influential affiliate. Sister Mamie Cousin was Assistant Mother.
On the first Sunday in August, 1990, following many years of praying and hard work, members and friends marched to the new church edifice on Lynn Street with the Elon Police and Fire Department lead the way. Pastor and Sister Wall, Deacons, Trustees, Choirs, members, and friends followed with joy and pride. The television station came to film the march which was featured on the six o’ clock evening news. Oh what a wonderful day! The church was filled to capacity. Friends and well-wishers gave remarks and all gave thanks unto God for the great things He had done and continues to do. Deacon Sam Cousin played a great role in helping to ensure the building was constructed and completed.
In 1994, Ms. Caroline Powell donated our baptismal pool, which was dedicated in honor of Sister Mamie Cousin. The old church bell removal and sign were donated by Brother Isaac J. and Sister Rosetta Foust.
In 1997, with a lot of prayers, hard work, and with the business knowledge of Trustees, especially, Trustee Raymond Warren, the mortgage to the old church was burned on December 14th.
In 2001, the first Big Tent Celebration to commemorate our 79th church anniversary was held on June 25th. Members marched from the old church on Ball Park Avenue, to the current church on Lynn Street. Rev. Wall preached from the topic: “I’m Going With Jesus All the Way”. After the service, there was a blessed celebration with food and fellowship. Two additional church vans were later purchased as an anniversary gift to the church members at another tent celebration.
In 2004, Rev. Wall’s years of services ended in October. He served as pastor of Elon First Baptist for twenty years. Deacon Lawrence Slade, Chairman of the Deacon Board, took on the task of contacting ministers to preach each Sunday. The congregation was blessed with hearing the Word from different ministers each Sunday, including Elon’s very own ministers: Minister Jean Parris, Minister Keth Johnson, Minister Sharon Johnson, and Minister Shelia Lea. The congregation fasted and prayed to God for direction.
On the third Sundays of March and May in 2005, God sent the Rev. M. Keith McDaniel, Sr., to preach. The congregation recognized a pastor’s spirit in him during both services. The church members and friends were truly blessed by the Word from God. During the month of July, Rev. McDaniel preached every Sunday. On the second Sunday in August, the McMullen, Pennix, Johnson, and Cousin family reunion was held. The Johnson family a special presentation: a scholarship for college students to aid in furthering their education.
Rev. McDaniel accepted the call as Pastor and was presented the keys to the church on the 3rd Sunday in August, 2005. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of Trustee Johnny Mapp, Elon First Baptist Church launched its first television ministry. The surrounding communities continue to be blessed as they witness this component of our multimedia ministry. During the month of September, several noteworthy blessings occurred.Rev. McDaniel and several members participated in “Church Day” on the campus of Elon University on September 9th. The Elon Gospel Chorus celebrated their 60th anniversary on September 10th and 11th. God truly rained down on this historic and anointed music ministry.
Rev. McDaniel instituted a holistic approach of ministering in order to promote healing and restoration for the total being. To that end the following ministries were implemented: New Members Class, Oaks of Righteousness (Men’s Fellowship), Women of Virtue (Women’s Fellowship), Faith In Action , Computer/GED, Intercessory Prayer, Singles Ministry, Senior’s Ministry, Preservation Committee, and the Youth Rights to Passage Ministry.
In July 2006, Elon First Baptist Church held its first Annual Renewal Conference. The purpose of the conference is to create dialogue with the larger community concerning issues of social and economic injustice. Other worship opportunities birthed out of the ministry of Rev. McDaniel, including the Super Bowl Fellowship, College Day, and the Winter Revival.
2008 was a tremendous success in ministry. Elon First Baptist Church spearheaded an environmental project entitled, “Heal the Land”. This was a partnership between Elon First Baptist Church and Elon University. The first of its kind, the project focused on connected spirituality with care for the religious and racial barriers. The project sought to create a dialogue of healing socially, spiritually, and environmentally. Crossing denominational, religious and racial barriers the project the community together and in one day, planted 1,600 Oak trees as a lasting symbol of communal healing. As the congregation continued to experience growth, an additional earlier morning service was added to facilitate this growth and to provide additional opportunities for worship. The Young Adult Choir was established and the church kitchen was remodeled as well.
On March 18, 2012, Eddie Spencer, IV of Burlington, New Jersey became the pastor of Elon First Baptist Church. During his tenure at Elon First Baptist Church Elon, Rev. Spencer initiated the Dollar-A-Day campaign as a means of renovating our church grounds, our building exterior and interior, and new sound system in our Sanctuary. For the first-time ever, members were able to pay their tithes and offering through our church website (Easytithe) and mobile app (Givelify). Rev. Spencer also encouraged members to expand their knowledge of Christ and discipleship through selected readings such as “I am a Church Member” by Thom Rainer, “The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations” by Robert Schnase, and “The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork” by John C. Maxwell.
History was made on Monday, July 25 2016 as our congregation elected our youngest pastor, Rev. James H. Wilkes, Jr. of Gastonia, North Carolina. Installation Services were held on October 16, 2016. A Pre-Concert featuring the Elon First Baptist Church Combined Choir was held at 3:30pm followed by the Installation Service at 4:00pm.
As of June, 2017 Pastor Wilkes reinstated has the Mother’s Board and added several new ministries in 2017 including the Altar Ministry, Deaconess Ministry, the College Ministry, Guardian Angels Ministry and Parenting Ministry. Special programs and events of 2017 have included a 2017 Vision Banquet, a Resurrection Sunday Sermonic Production, a Healing Hearts Memorial Breakfast, the Miracle Month of May Revival, and a Late-Night Exam Break Fellowship for Elon University Students.