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1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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History of Philippi Church of Christ
(From the beginning until the present )
History of Philippi Photo Gallery

There are many missing pages, and in several cases, portions of pages, sprinkled in the history of Philippi Church of Christ. We can say, the founders

had tremendous vision and determination. They started from a very lowly beginning around 1902 in a two-story house, which was located on the corner of Greene and Thirteenth Street. It was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Bert Leggett. They kindly gave the upper level of their home as a place for the early prayer meetings, which were conducted by Deacon Charles Edwards, Brother Thomas Williams, Sister Rebecca Williams, Sister Suedell Carr, Brother Isaac Carr and others.

The prayer meetings grew to such an extent that Deacon Edwards ventured out and secured a cow pen that was located on Thirteenth Street. (A cow pen was a small shelter within a pasture where cattle went to feed.)

The church at that time was called the Disciples Church. Our founders felt that there was a need to elect leaders. The first pastor was the Reverend Ben Gregory. The deacons were Bro. Charles Edwards, Chairman; Brothers John Jordan, James Henry Gardner, John Gorham, Jim Lovitt, and Canady Wilson. The deaconesses were Sister Rebecca Williams, Chairwoman, Sister Sara Beard, Fannie Gorham, and Cherry Atkinson. The Sunday school Superintendent was Brother Desmond Bynum. The first Sunday school teacher was Sister Sara Fields. The secretary was Sister Mary Fleming. There was no treasurer. Indebtedness and salaries were paid from congregational offerings. There was no organized choir. The entire congregation sang hymns. (One favorite hymn was "Amazing Grace.")

Worship services were held only on the second Sunday of each month. Sunday school was held at 2:00 p.m. each Sunday. Prayer meetings were held on Wednesday nights.

Because the membership grew, there was a necessity to expand the size of the church. The first choir was organized in the little wooden church. The first president was Sister Charity W. Carr. She held this office until her death in 1953. The first pianist was Mr. George Little, followed by Mr. Doc Perkins. The first president of the Usher Board was Sister Ella Bernard, followed by Sister Ella Perkins, Rosa Bush, and Pearl Fleming, respectively. Following the Reverend Gregory was the Reverend W.A. Fordham.

The Reverend Augustus Parker, who succeeded the Reverend Fordham, was most instrumental in initiating the idea of erecting a brick edifice. His ideas were thrust upon the members. So it was the daughter of Mr. Benard Smith, who place the first bricks, which were donated to us by the people for whom Sister Alice Chestnut Green worked. Mr. Bank Breeze installed the first electric lights that were donated by the Eight Street Christian Church.

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Other contributions from the Eight Street Christian Church which became known as the First Christian Church, were windows, carpet, Sunday school literature, and the church bell. Sister Suedell Carr was the member responsible for getting these items for us. Dr. Hainey was pastor of the Eight Street Christian Church at that time.

The fuel, in those days of old, was coal. Brother Tance Carr was not only the "preacher's steward", but he was the sexton. One of the duties of the deaconesses was to make sure that the pews and the floor were scrubbed before each quarterly meeting service.

The quarterly meeting services were really a special occasion, since the members from the other black churches in Greenville, as well as the surrounding communities of Ayden, Farmville, and Jamesville worshipped with us. Dinners were spread at the homes of the elder members. The pastor would often bring with him a minister to render the 3:00 p.m. worship service. Communion was held only every three months during the evening quarterly meeting services.

The first wedding solemnized in the Disciples Church was the marriage of Sister Addie Williams and Deacon Roscoe Roberson.

The first evangelist of the two-week revival was Eldress Bingham from Wilson, North Carolina.

Following the Reverend Parker in pastoral duties were the Reverend Sam Loftin and Reverend H.D. Davis, respectively.

The only professional people in the church were Sisters Delzora Gibbs and Elsie Bryant Burns, who were both public school teachers.

During the erection of the brick church, our worship services were held at the Masonic Lodge Hall on Fourteenth Street and Mt. Calvary Free Will Baptist Church here in Greenville. Blessed were we among friends!

On the second Sunday in June, during the early years of the depression, we moved into what was then named the Philippi Christian Church. The Reverend J.C. Artist was pastor. Deacon Dorsey T. Williams, Sr. was chairman of the Deacon Board, Sister Rebecca Williams was chairwoman of the Deaconess Board; Sister Rebie Tyson was secretary; Brother Wiley Hardy was treasurer; Brother Tance Carr was chairman of the Trustee Board.

Elder E.T. Utley came to us as pastor on the second Sunday in February 1936. He chose as the topic for his initial sermon: "Except We Abide on a Ship, We Cannot be Saved." The Elders Jessie Hainey, Bob Banks, and George Fields served as associate pastors during his administration. The officers were Deacon Dorsey T. Williams, Sr., Chairman of the Trustee Board.

The Reverend J.F. McLaurin became pastor in 1941, and it was he who "put us on the map" of the Goldsboro-Raleigh District Assembly. We had been a member of our district assembly ever since the early days of our existence, but we did not realize its worth. Under administration of Dr. McLaurin, the church began having services each Sunday. A heating system was installed; the youth department was organized; the following choirs were organized: the Senior Choir, the Gospel Chorus, the Junior Choir, and the Young Adult Choir. Our church became affiliated with the Black Pastor's Conference of Greenville. The name of the church was changed to the Philippi Church of Christ. The cornerstone was laid in 1951. Elders A.F. Norfleet, S.E Selby, and Randy B. Royal served as associates.

Having labored for thirty-two years, Dr. McLaurin realized that his age and the distance separating his home and our church were at a disadvantage to a pastor in these modern times. He regretfully submitted his resignation in September 1973.

A new shepherd to lead this Christian flock into greener pastures and beside still waters, through the divine direction of God, was Elder Elbert B. Williams, who was sent to us on October 12, 1973. The Reverend Williams with his loving wife, Mrs. Nellie Williams, by his side, had brought many innovation to our church. While he was our leader, the membership grew tremendously. More financial drives were iniated; the church had undergone a complete reorganization; the Pastor's Aid Club and the Traveling Choir had been organized. We moved into a new church home for which we had been striving for nearly twenty years. Elder Williams provided the needed guidance, leadership, uplift, and spiritual inspiration to help us continue on our Christian journey.

One of the real cornerstones of our church experience was the contribution of Deacon Raymond Grady who wrote the plans for the present church. Deacon Grady saw a vision of the “future” Church and drew it on paper.The church owes an debt of gratitude to all of the soldiers of old.

At the present time, Philippi Church has over 1200 members under the pastoral guidance of Bishop Randy B. Royal, who became the pastor in 1982. Under the leadership of Bishop Royal, the church has made numerous expansions, and improvements, which included the renovation of the sanctuary, the building of the fellowship hall, which has been converted into a daycare facility and the purchase of Sandy Acres Site for the new church and Christian community.

It was Bishop Royal who innovated what has become the model for the early morning worship service throughout the city. What was originally an idea to help reduce the crowding of the 11:00 a.m. worship has grown into an all out praise service unto the Lord. The Philippi 8:00 a.m. service allows members and visitors to attend two worship services each Sunday if they chose.

A youth church is held at Philippi every Sunday in the Fellowship Hall except for fourth Sunday at 11:00 a.m. when Bishop Royal allows the youth to preside over the program in the main Sanctuary.

Under Bishop Randy Royal's pastoral guidance and the Grace of God, a great number of members have been initiated into the Ministry. At this time sixty-five (65) ministers.

We, the members of Philippi Church of Christ, are in complete accord that we shall continue to further our progress as God gives us the power and opportunity. We believe that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

In 2006 Pastor Royal suffered multiple physical attacks on his body that left him in the hospital and on extended physical therapy. However; during that same time Pastor Royal guided the church through the building of a new sanctuary at the Sandy Acres site and on August 27th, 2006, the church officially occupied its new sanctuary. Pastor Royal was able to preach the very first sermon at our new site. To God be the Glory!

" One Church - One Vision - One Way"


Philippi Church of Christ * 3760 Philippi Drive * Greenville * NC * 27858

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