Rocky Hock Baptist Church
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Rocky Hock Baptist Church, first called “The Church of Christ at Rockahock,” a rural church located nine miles north of Edenton, North Carolina, was organized in 1835. Elder John B. Webb was the first pastor and served the church for several years with a salary of $25 per annum.
The first “meeting house” was built of logs, the interior lumber being rip-sawed, on land given by Robert R. Felton by consent and not by deed of trust. It was located about 150 yards northeast of the present church building, in the fork of the road known as the “big A.”
The first frame building was erected on the present site in 1858, the land being donated to the church by Robert R. Felton by deed of trust, dated July 31, 1858.
After Elder Webb’s pastorate, the church was served by Elders T. J. Knapp, West Leary, and Elect Trotman; prior to 1873.
Elder Benjamin Brown Williams pastured the church 1873-1884, and Elder W. P. Jordan served 1885-1895. During this period, “mite boxes” were used for collections. The lighting system went from candles to hand lamps.
Elder T. T. Speight assumed the pastorate of Rocky Hock Church in 1896, remaining through 1903. The church entered its third building program in 1903, the members voting to build rather than repair the old church house. The new building was erected adjacent to the old one and it’s the present day sanctuary. The building committee for this project was: Augustus Bass, F. V. Byrum, W. G. Layton, Dr. J. R. Parker, and W. T. Perry. Total cost of the building, complete with the four memorial windows, new pulpit furniture, and carpet was $2,312, with much of the labor and materials being furnished by members. The new building was dedicated the first Sunday in May, 1904.
Elder James W. Rose pastured the church 1904-1908. Following the 1904 protracted (revival) meeting, Brother Rose baptized 70 members into the church fellowship. The church voted in 1905 to go from quarter-time preaching to half-time preaching, with preaching the first and third Sunday mornings. Pastor Rose’s salary was raised from $200 to $400 per year. The Chowan Association met at Rocky Hock Church in 1906, and out of this meeting Woman’s Missionary Union was organized in the Chowan Association, May 4, 1906. Pastor Rose resigned in February, 1908, leaving the church at the end of April.
Elder T. A. Tatum succeeded Elder Rose and began his ministry at Rocky Hock Church the first Sunday in May 1908. Thirty-three members were added to the church following the 1909 annual revival. Elder Tatum resigned as pastor of Rocky Hock Church at eh end of 1909, to go back to school.
Elder J. E. Lovejoy was pastor of Rocky Hock Church, 1910-1911. Elder Josiah Elliott succeeded Elder Lovejoy and served the church, 1912-1915.
Reverend William Franklin Cale, Sr. was called as pastor, beginning in 1916, sharing his services with Center Hill and Warwick Churches, with preaching services at Rocky Hock on the first and third Sunday mornings. Reverend Cale led the church through a building program in 1925, which resulted in the addition of twelve Sunday School rooms, six to either side, opening into the sanctuary. Dedication services were held April 4, 1926. Carbide lights were installed in 1926 and the heating system went from wood to coal. Reverend Cale died on February 6, 1933, following a period of declining health.
William Franklin Cale, Jr. succeeded his deceased father as pastor of the field of three churches he had served for more than 17 years. Cale, Jr. was in college at the time, but graduated June 8, 1933, beginning his ministry upon graduation. The church celebrated its 100th anniversary in March, 1936. A car was purchased for Pastor Cale in 1936, Rocky Hock sharing the cost with Center Hill and Warwick Churches. Rocky Hock’s part was $309. Total receipts for 1941 were $2,374; by 1943 receipts had increased to $4,219. The church was wired for electric lights in 1939 at a cost of $156, which included the light fixtures. Reverend W. F. Cale, Jr. resigned as pastor of Rocky Hock Church to enroll in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His ministry at Rocky Hock ended the first Sunday in September, 1944.
Reverend William Cleve Francis began his pastorate at Rocky Hock Church in June, 1945. The envelope system of giving was begun in 1945, and a percentage of offerings were designated to the Cooperative Program. Vacation Bible School was organized for the first time in 1946. A vestibule was added in 1948. No cost is recorded; only at one point over $1,100 had been collected on the account. Reverend Francis resigned as pastor in February, 1949, his ministry ending at Rocky Hock Church on March 1st.
In 1949, Rocky Hock Church took a giant step forward when they voted to move from half-time preaching to full-time preaching. The church, having shared a parsonage as well as a pastor with Center Hill and Warwick Churches for 33 years, sold its part of the parsonage, located next to the Center Hill Church, to the other two churches for $1,000. The church proceeded to make plans to build a new parsonage on land donated by Stillman Leary, located within a very short distance of the church. The building was completed in August, 1949, at a cost of $14,000. The building committee for this project was: Henry Bunch, Carey Evans, W. A. Harrell, Stillman Leary, and Mark White.
Richard Edward “Ed” Gordan was called as the church’s first full-time pastor, beginning his ministry September 25, 1949. In January 1950, it was reported that only $868 was owed on the new parsonage. The first “Church Maintenance Committee” was appointed in 1950, with authority to have minor repairs made. In 1950, screens were installed in the windows at a cost of $362, and the old shingle roof of the church was replaced with metal at a cost of $1,424. A platform for seating the choir was built in 1951 and an organ was purchased. In 1952, the church was painted inside and outside, new pews were purchased, the floors were refinished, and Beech Fork Home Demonstration Club was given permission to landscape the church yard. Pastor Gordon resigned in October 1952, to become a missionary to the Philippines.
Bomar L. Raines was called to the pastorate of Rocky Hock Church in February, 1953. He began his ministry on Sunday, May 31. Less than a year later, a planning committee was appointed, and in June, 1954, the church voted without opposition to build a 19 room educational unit which contained 5,888 square feet, at a cost of $40,000. Moving into the educational space, Sunday School was held in the new building on Sunday, May 29, 1955, with an attendance of 454. The Sunday School staff and teachers went from 19 to 88. The educational unit was dedicated on Sunday, July 31, 1955, with homecoming and dinner on the grounds. Building committee members for this project were: O. C. Long, chairman, Tom Bunch, Carey Evans, Lonie Harrell, Raleigh Peele, Gibson Perry, and Murray Tynch, Sr. Pastor Raines served as the architect. Rocky Hock led the Chowan Association in Cooperative Program gifts in 1954 and again in 1955. A Brotherhood was organized with 20 charter members, and a new library was begun in 1955. The church roll was revised in 1958, with an alphabetical and chronological roll being set up for the first time. The first Youth Week was observed in 1958. During Pastor Raines’ six years at Rocky Hock, 180 members were added to the church by baptism and 56 by letter. Two candidates were ordained to the ministry. Reverend Raines resigned as pastor on April 26, 1959. His ministry ended at Rocky Hock Church on May 31.
Thurman W. Allred was called as pastor of Rocky Hock Church, beginning his ministry in November, 1959. During Pastor Allred’s years at Rocky Hock Church, the sanctuary building was bricked at a cost of $13,000, requiring approximately 88,000 bricks to complete the job. A lighted church sign was erected and the Brotherhood installed lights at the near-by community ball park. A new piano was purchased and the choir wore robes for the first time. Sunday School attendance increased with the highest attendance of 480 being recorded April 2, 1961. Vacation Bible School went as high as 230 with an average attendance of 205. 128 were added to the church membership by baptism and 53 by letter, during Pastor Allred’s six years at Rocky Hock. The church celebrated its 125th anniversary in 1960 with a special Homecoming Day and dinner on the grounds. Offerings averaged $20,695 for six years. Reverend Allred resigned December 24, 1965, effective on Sunday, January 30, 1966.
Reverend Meredith Garrett was called as pastor, beginning his ministry in August, 1966. Under the leadership of Pastor Garrett, the church began using a unified budget and the number of deacons increased to 15 and began to function on a rotation system. The church facilities were improved in 1967. The church voted (179-1) to air condition the church buildings; a 20 ton unit for the sanctuary, a 12 ton unit for the educational building, and a 4 ton unit for the parsonage. This is the time when the old cooling system of open windows and hand-held fans, furnished by local funeral homes, were gladly done away with forever. Wall-to-wall carpet was installed in the sanctuary, and pews were purchased for the downstairs Sunday School rooms, replacing the old opera type chairs. The inside of the sanctuary was painted and a new communion table was purchased. An Allen organ was purchased in 1968. Parking lots were hard-surfaced in 1969. During the summer of 1968, Rocky Hock Church sponsored a Sunday School ministry at near-by Arrowhead Beach community, furnishing teachers and literature. When the residents expressed a desire for a year-around Sunday School, Reverend Garrett served as advisor for the long-range planning committee. This eventually grew into an organized, self-supporting, interdenominational chapel, called “Bandon Chapel.” During Pastor Garrett’s four years at Rocky Hock, Sunday School and worship attendance increased, as did baptisms. Annual offerings increased from a little over $25,000 in 1966 to over $58,000 in 1970. Meredith Garrett resigned as pastor of Rocky Hock Church on May 24, 1970, to become effective on Sunday, June 14.
Larry McClure was called as pastor of Rocky Hock Church in November, 1970. He and his family moved to the Rocky Hock Community in December, assuming his duties as pastor on Sunday morning, December 29, 1970. A new parsonage was built on land donated by Stillman Leary, adjacent to the old parsonage, at a cost of $54,900. Dedication services were held December 19, 1971, with open house. The building committee for this project was: J. D. Peele, chairman; Clarence Bass, Norman Bass, Fahey Byrum, Sr., Carroll Evans, Sr., Lois Ashley, and Carolyn Layton. A used church bus was purchased in 1971, to be used for Sunday School outreach. A new bus was purchased in 1972. A Tape ministry to shut-ins was begun in 1973. Under the leadership of Pastor McClure, a ground breaking service was held November 21, 1976, to begin construction on a $300,000 building program, which included a renovation and enlargement of the pulpit area, a choir loft and choir room, a baptistery, and additional educational space. Due to unforeseen problems with the general building contractor, the building was not completed and all legal aspects settled and turned over to the church until some three years later. Building committee for this project was: O. C. Long, chairman; Clarence Bass, Fahey Byrum, Sr., Louise Byrum, Jack Evans, Rodney Harrell, Sr., Mona Hofler, Carlton Nixon, Christeen Peele, and J. D. Peele. A parcel of land was donated to the church, located across the highway from the church property, by Haywood Bunch, a former church member, in 1977. The sanctuary was re-carpeted and painted in 1978. During Pastor McClure’s years at Rocky Hock, a new Sunday School department was organized for single adults and young married couples. The youth choir was re-organized. Church offerings increased from $62,000 in 1971 to over $121,000 in 1978. The Lottie Moon offering almost doubled and Sunday School enrollment grew to 520. Larry McClure resigned on March 12, 1978, his pastorate ending at Rocky Hock on May 1.
In the fall of 1978, Rocky Hock Church called Reverend Donald Wagner as pastor. Moving into the church parsonage on November 23, he began his ministry at Rocky Hock on Sunday morning, November 26, with a week of revival services. In the early part of 1979, the church completed moving into the new educational space. The first baptismal service was held in the newly installed baptistry, March 18, 1979. A service of Thanksgiving and Dedication was observed November 18, 1979, marking the completion of the latest building program. The old church parsonage was sold to the highest bidder in 1979 for $500, and was moved to another site. The church pews were cushioned and the roof replaced on the old educational building in 1982. A copy machine was purchased in 1983. An Associate Pastor and Minister of Activities was called in 1984, with Tony Moore assuming his duties on January 1, 1985. The church celebrated its 150th anniversary on July 14, 1985 with Meredith Garrett, former pastor, bringing the Homecoming message. A drama, depicting “The First 150 Years” was portrayed by church members during the afternoon session. The first church historian was elected in October, 1985, and a fire-proof cabinet was purchased to be used for storing church records. Mrs. Ruth Evans Nixon served as the first historian. The church participated in the “Good News, God Loves You” revival in 1986, with an average attendance of 304, and 29 professions of faith. The “Liberty” musical was presented July 27, 1986, with 465 in attendance, followed by a home-made ice cream social. In 1988, the church voted to co-sponsor the Outer Banks Mission, with monetary support of $300 a month for two years. Pastor Wagner under-went successful open-heart surgery in October, 1988. The church called Sandy Gregory, as Minister of Youth and Education, filling the staff position left vacant by Tony Moore’s resignation. He assumed his duties in February, 1990. The 155th anniversary was observed with Homecoming, July 1, 1990, with former pastor Edward Gordon delivering the message. A church bus was purchased in 1991 from Thomas Bus Company at a cost of $66,700. Pastor Wagner and his wife, Dot, made a missions trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil in October, 1991. A computer was purchased for the church office in 1994. During Pastor Wagner’s 15 years at Rocky Hock, offerings increased from $133,000 in 1979 to $290,620 in 1993. Mission gifts increased from $33,000 to $61,000. Reverend Wagner resigned as pastor of Rocky Hock Church on Sunday morning, May 1, 1994, to go into retirement, effective May 30. The church bestowed upon Pastor Wagner the honor of “Pastor Emeritus.”
During the period of June 1 through September 11, 1994, the church was without a pastor or interim pastor. The following supply of speakers filled the pulpit during this time: Lamar Eiland, Meredith Garrett, Joey Hobbs, Bobby Hewitt, Terry Jones, Matthew Garrett, Lamar Sentell, Herbert Hemingway, John Brooks, Paul Harrell, Eugene Warwick, Howard Sutton, and Hargus Taylor.
On June 12, 1994, the church voted in favor of construction of a new fellowship building at a cost of $245,774. Groundbreaking services were held July 10, with construction beginning by Edenton Construction Company by the end of the month.
A pre-revival prayer meeting was held Wednesday night, September 7, 1994 with Meredith Garrett leading and 91 people in attendance. Fall revival meetings were held the week of September 11-15 with Reverend Rick Cato of Midfield, Alabama as the evangelist. Average attendance for the six services was 308. Revival offerings amounted to $1,232.
On September 11, 1994, the church unanimously extended a call to Meredith Garrett as interim pastor. He assumed his duties on Sunday morning, September 18. He preached twice on Sundays and was available for funerals, weddings, and emergency situations. The parsonage was partially furnished to accommodate the Garretts as they traveled from Chesapeake, Virginia on weekends. Dedication services for the new Fellowship Building were held Sunday morning, January 29, 1995. Using the theme, “Here’s Hope, Share Jesus Now,” the spring revival was held March 12-15, 1995, with Dr. Hugh Litchfield, Reverend Thomas Teague, Reverend Mark Pullen, and Reverend Gene Primm, bringing the messages. Sunday morning, May 28, 1995, the church voted to call Reverend Ron Cava as pastor. Nine candidates were baptized into the church fellowship on Sunday morning, May 28, 1995, and seventeen graduating seniors were presented Bibles from the church on June 4. Reverend Garrett ended his interim pastorate at Rocky Hock, July 2, 1995.
Reverend Ronald Cava, his wife and four children, moved into the church parsonage July 7, 1995, beginning his ministry at Rocky Hock Baptist Church on Sunday morning, July 9. The 160th anniversary of Rocky Hock Baptist Church was held on July 16, 1995 with Reverend Thurman Allred (pastor from 1959-1966) bringing the message. Under Pastor Cava’s leadership, “The Rocky Hock Anchor” was first published in 1996. This monthly newsletter keeps the membership abreast of the “happenings” in our church and community. In 1996 $80,000 was appropriated to refurbish the pews and pulpit furniture, purchase new choir chairs, repave the parking lot, add a new sound system to the sanctuary, carpet parts of the educational building, and build a bus garage. Reverend Gary Bodford served as associate pastor from 1997 to 1998. In July 1998 Reverend Bodford, Chamblee Simonsen, and Michelle Bass joined others from North Carolina on a missions trip to Russia. Also in 1998 Chuck Noble went to Honduras as a missionary from our church. Reverend John Brown brought revival to our congregation in February 1999. During the summer of 1999 Matt Taylor of Connelly Springs, North Carolina served as our Student Intern in the areas of Youth and Children’s Ministry. He assisted Mrs. Frances Tynch with Vacation Bible School, worked with our youth, and helped at the Children’s Camp at Camp Cale. Also, during the summer of 1999, our community was first introduced to Emmrich Theatre Productions, which held regular plays and programs, first at White Oak School, and then, took their productions to the Rocky Hock Community Building. Several members of our church volunteered with the Emmrichs. On July 25, 1999 the congregation enjoyed an afternoon of fun, food, and fellowship on the Perquimans River at Camp Cale. In September 1999, Reverend Jim Pollard from Hampstead, North Carolina brought our Fall Revival. During 1999 the upstairs area of the Educational Building was turned into a “really cool” Youth Department. Pastor Cava resigned in 2002 to serve as Pastor of Clinton Baptist Church. Afterwards, Reverend Meredith Garrett served as interim pastor.
During the 2000s, our congregation enjoyed the monthly Wednesday Night Family Fellowships that included a meal, devotion, and church conference. Other ministries were beginning and growing, such as, Discipleship Training for children and adults, RAs (Royal Ambassadors) and GAs (Girls in Action), Creative Ministries, many different youth activities, Angel Chorus, LiveWires, and Adult Choirs. Reverend Joe Stertz served as Youth Minister followed by Greg Blackburn who was ordained by Rocky Hock Baptist Church. Our church sponsored the Fellowship and Worship Center which meets at the old Evans Church on Highway 32. Reverend Larry McClure brought our Homecoming message in 2000.
Hurricane Isabel devastated the Rocky Hock Community on September 18, 2003. The top window of the sanctuary was blown out along with other damage to the church buildings. The first Sunday after Isabel, church services were held in the parking lot with about 60 in attendance. A new building project ensued which included a new vestibule with bridal suite, balcony, extended seating in the main sanctuary, sound system with visual capability, parking lot renovations, and furniture. The Fellowship Hall and Educational Building were also renovated. The cost of these renovations was $847,367. During this time, Sunday School was held in members’ homes and at Nixon’s Family Restaurant. Worship services were held two times each Sunday morning at the Rocky Hock Community Building. A Dedication Service was held November 21, 2004.
Currently, Dr. James Horton, who was called to Rocky Hock Baptist Church in May 2004, serves as Senior Pastor. Rev. Tracy Smith, called in July 2007, serves as Youth and Evangelism minister. Rev. Jonathan Rose, served as Music and Children’s minister from 2008-2011. Thus far, during Dr. Horton’s tenure as pastor, the Baptist Men’s group was established, meeting once a month for breakfast and devotion before Sunday School. The Baptist Men have led several missions trips to the Gulf Coast to assist hurricane victims after Hurricane Katrina, as well as local missions projects, such as Operation InAsMuch. Two other pastors volunteers served for short terms, Rev. Ricky Browder in Prayer and Discipleship and Rev. Justin Smith in Creative Ministries. Under Dr. Horton’s and Rev. Browder’s leadership, the Intentional Prayer Team was started, as well as a prayer time before Sunday School and worship and a “House of Prayer” on Tuesday nights. Under Dr. Horton's leadership, Rev. Rose initiated a ministry for children’s discipleship, Team Kid. Embrace, a women’s ministry, was started in 2009. The Sanctuary Choir has presented many big productions, including “One Nation Under God” on Sunday, July 4, 2010, and “God So Loved the World” a major Easter pageant portraying the life of Christ. Rev. Ricky Bowder and Rev. Justin Smith have been called to ministry elsewhere.
On January 6, 2013 Rev. William Cogley accepted the call as Minister of Worship & Education. Rev. Cogley presented the Drama and Musical, The Thorn, on Easter March 31st that he arranged. The ministries continue to grow under the leadership of Dr. Horton and we anticipate even greater things to the glory of the Lord in the future.