Norlina Baptist Church History
September 10, 2012 marked the 100th year in the life of the Norlina Baptist Church. The church is located at 402 Division Street in Norlina, North Carolina and is an active member of the Cullom Association, the Baptist State Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. Our deepest interest in assembling this history is not so much “when or who” organized the church, but that it was begun by men and women whose faith was not dimmed by the great task to be preformed.
Soon after the Norlina Hotel, which was located next to the railroad tracks, was built, the Reverend T.J. Taylor, pastor of the Warrenton, Warren Plains, and Macon churches, began to preach in the hotel. Having more work than he could do, he arranged with the Warren Union to employ the Reverend Archibald Cree, Sr. as a missionary at Norlina. Reverend Cree, a native of Saltcoats, Ayreshire, Scotland, moved after two or three years to Louisville, Kentucky. The Reverend George T. Tunstall of Cokesbury took up the work as the Associational Missionary. The success of his work meant a new church was needed and on November 1, 1910, the Executive Committee of the Tar River Association met at Franklinton, North Carolina for the business of considering mission work within the association. That meeting resulted in an appropriation of $40.00, but was made with the stipulation that a church be organized at Norlina at the opportune time during the year of 1911.
On September 10, 1911, the Norlina Baptist Church was organized. There were nine charter members, Mr. & Mrs. J.W. Adcock, Mr. & Mrs. J.V. Cawthorne, Mr. & Mrs. J.M. Frazier, Mr. H. C. Fleming, Mrs. J. W. Devine and Mrs. W. L. Paschall. The first Pastor called was the Reverend George Tunstall. Worship services for those first meetings were held in the Norlina Hotel. The next month the new church sent delegates to the Tar River Association and was received as a member into the association. In November of 1911, there was an appropriation from the association for Norlina Baptist Church in the amount of $75.00.
Land for construction of Norlina Baptist Church was given by Mr. & Mrs. J.M. Darden on March 1, 1912, on the condition that a building should begin within ninety days. The foundation rock was given by Mrs. J.W. Devine and was hauled with a wagon team driven by Mr. J.W. Adcock and Mr. J.V. Cawthorne, with the assistance of Mr. H.C. Flemming. Part of the lumber was donated by Mr. J.W. Adcock, Mr. J.V. Cawthorne, Mr. J.M. Frazier and Misses Annie and Bettie Hicks. As required in the land stipulation, construction of the sanctuary began between March and June of 1912. The pastor and the charter members did as much of the work as possible and very little hired help was needed.
Those who joined this thriving young church during the first year were Mrs. J.L. Overby, Mrs. O.A. Rose, Mrs. F.B. Wiggins, Mr. C.N. Mumford, Mrs. W.G. Overby and Mr. A.W. Hicks. Joining, during a revival in 1912 at the old Norlina School, were Miss. Hyla Paschall (Stultz) and Miss Luna Cawthorne. The first trustees were Mr. J.V. Cawthorne, Mr. J.W. Adcock, and Mr. H.C. Fleming who were elected to the position on the date of the organization. The first communion set was presented to the church on October 27, 1912 by Mrs. Bessie Briggs Rose. The old Sunday School classrooms were built in the latter part of 1917. The first parsonage was built in 1935 with much of the material donated and most of the labor supplied by members.
New Sunday School rooms were built and the church was remodeled in 1947.
In the summer of 1954 the sanctuary was remodeled inside and out and Mr. Fred Newsom of Wise gave the cornerstone for the renovation. (Mr. Newsom, also, gave the cornerstone for the education building in 1973.) The remodeling included two new classrooms and a church vestibule, exterior brick veneer, replacement of the ceilings, plastering the inside walls, refinishing the floors and adding the lantern type lights to the front of the church.
On May 6, 1956, an addition of 32 feet was added to the church property on the east side. In 1960 the church purchased carpet for the sanctuary. In June of 1961 a Sunday School ministry was begun at Kimball’s Point on Kerr Lake, sponsored by the Church’s Baptist Men under the auspices of the Cullom Association Department of Missions. In 1962 new pews were installed in the sanctuary, new pulpit furniture was purchased and Dr. & Mrs. H.H. Foster gave the lot for the new parsonage. The new parsonage was built in 1963.
Drapes for the baptistery were given in 1968. In 1969 a much needed baptistery heater was installed, allowing God’s children to be baptized in winter or summer, and the church was equipped with a central heating and cooling system. A note burning celebration, for the new parsonage, took place in December 1972. This left the church debt-free and ready for Easter Sunday of 1973 to have the ground breaking ceremony for a new educational building. The cornerstone for the new addition was given by Mr. Fred Newsome of Wise. The building was completed and dedicated on October 7, 1973.
Three years later, in 1976, the Men’s Bible Class and the Brotherhood constructed and financed an outdoor shelter. In November 1978, for the first time since the church was built, the church buildings were locked. In 1982 the stain-glass windows were repaired and on September 14, 1986 Norlina Baptist celebrated the 75th year of ministry. In March 1991, a wheelchair ramp and railings were constructed at the front of the church. In 1992, the church purchased the vacant lot on the south side of the church from the Alice Stultz family, in order to have off-street parking, and acquired new hymnals for the sanctuary. In the spring of 2001 a new fiberglass church steeple was installed.
From August 2001 through August 2007 the church has undergone additional renovations and improvements. The entire church was roofed and the electrical power supply was upgraded in the education building and the sanctuary. The two front classrooms had their ceilings lowered, the sanctuary ceiling was dry walled, plaster cracks were repaired, and the entire room, including the choir loft, was painted. Repairs, including soldering where needed, were done to the stained glass windows and new shatterproof window coverings were installed on the outside. New spot lights were mounted in the ceiling and fifteen microphones jacks were installed along with a new sound booth and sound equipment. The church was switched to natural gas and repairs were done to the insulation on the A/C air handlers. Other improvements included a two room nursery facility, remodeled church office, refurbished baptismal, handicapped toilets, new copier, upgraded computer-system, fenced playground, remodeled Baptist Men’s cookshack and a new energy efficient A/C system.
Since the summer of 2007, God has continued to grow the church and as a result, upgrade to church facilities has taken place. The biggest addition was the youth building (2010) which was named in honor of Bob Lynch for financial contributions and for tutoring work with the youth. Between 2007 and 2011 the upstairs hallway and all classrooms were repainted and decorated to match the children’s ministry program. The upstairs and downstairs bathrooms were upgraded and remodeled with new facilities. In 2011 an opaque fence was installed around the air conditioner units and new locking systems were installed. These measures were taken to increase security for the church. Also in 2011, there were major improvements to the church landscaping under the direction of Martha and Jim Overby, new flooring installed in the front foyer, and replacement of all the windows upstairs with double pane high energy efficiency windows. In 2012 additional improvements were accomplished including the steps and handrails on the Darden street exit, improvements to the church sound system, replacement of the front door handles, refinishing the cabinets in the kitchen, and adding pews to the front classrooms to handle an increased number of morning worshipers. 2012 also saw the replacement of in-house mail boxes in the “information hallway,” the downstairs windows upgraded to match the upstairs windows, and additional parking lot lights installed. During October the two adult classrooms received much needed wall repairs and fresh paint.
Administrative highlights for the past few years would include the hiring of a part-time secretary to handle the tremendous growth the church is experiencing, the publication of a church directory (first one since 2006), and the hard work done by the special Centennial committee in preparation for the 100 year celebration. Also of note would be that Pee Wee Faulkner, church custodian for over 19 years, retired.
An on-going project, started in 2010, is the paving of the church parking lot. The engineers study and design are under way and collections are continuing.
Other Historical Information of Interest
In December 2001 the church was incorporated as Norlina Baptist Church, Inc. as a nonprofit corporation in the State of North Carolina. As a result of the incorporation process, the church by-laws were rewritten and adopted along with the church handbook outlining the church committees and their functions. These committees and their related functions were updated during the summer of 2012 and published in the fall of 2012.
Ministers who have served at Norlina Baptist Church;
George Tunstall1911 - 1913
E.R. Nelson 1913 - 1923
W.R. Stephens 1923 - 1927
Charles B. Howard 1927 – 1928
J. Clyde Yates 1928 – 1929
Joe F. Roach 1929 – 1944
Robert L. Holt 1944 – 1945
E. G. Willis 1945 – 1946
J. C. Lanning 1946 – 1948
Rufus F. Potts 1949 – 1951
Lawrence W. Lee 1951 – 1953
Edward B. Smith 1953 – 1955
Malcolm M. Hutton 1956 – 1961
Billy K. Fallaw1961 – 1964
W.C. Baughman 1964 – 1969
Jerry Lyons 1970 – 1972
G. Elton Cook 1972 – 1978
Tommy Neal 1978 – 1980
Steve Gandy 1980 – 1983
Z. W. (Jack) Little, IV 1983 – 1985
B.L. Lowman, Jr. 1986 – 1989
Timothy Dooley 1990 – 1991
Tony L. DeYoung 1992 – 1995
Steven B. Frye1996 – 1999
Carlyle C. Hall Jr. 1999 – 2001
C. Douglas Cutts 2001 – Present
Norlina has truly been blessed through the years by the many memorials that have been given. It is with thankful hearts that we honor those who had the vision for a place of worship. We are truly grateful for the great servants of our Lord who have so willingly and faithfully served in our Father’s kingdom. Most of all, we are filled with thanksgiving and gratitude for the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in this place; for without His presence, none of this would have been possible.