Our Church History
Minutes from the 25th Annual session of the West Chowan Baptist Association held at Christian Harbor Church in October 1907 tells us Holly Springs Baptist Church was received as a member of the association during that meeting. Prior to 1907, the churches nearest to Cofield-Tunis- area were Winton and Brantley’s Grove. Horse and wagon was the usual form of transportation and bad weather prevented people from attending church. Through the efforts of W.D. “Billy” McGlaughon as the leader, a local church was organized. Moving their memberships from neighboring churches, 39 people, 18 males and 21 females, stepped out in faith and became the first members of Holly Springs Church.
The church met those first few years in Holly Springs School, which was located across the highway from the present site of the church. Pastor S.B. Barnes of Merry Hill was called as the first pastor for the yearly sum of $60. The total budget that first year was only $70.
The records of Hertford County show a deed for land purchased on July 1, 1908 for the sum of one dollar. Purchased from J.W. Perry, Norfolk,VA., the land must be used for church purposes or a cemetery. Should the church disband, the land will revert back to the heirs of J. W. Perry. From this document we also have a record of our first deacons, which otherwise would be unavailable. They were Bros. W.D. McGlaughon, W.J. Cowan, C.T. Peele, and W.E. Perry.
In 1909, the people started building a church house. Meeting every 3rd Sunday, the church now had 54 members. The church was growing in other ways too. Mrs. Willie E. Peele became president of the first Women’s Missionary Society organized.
The 67 members of Holly Springs Church moved into their new sanctuary in 1910. The congregation still worships in that sanctuary today.
Church business was not conducted on Sunday. They had what is referred to as Saturday Conferences. The men carried out most of the business. An unexcused absence from a Business meeting was grounds for exclusion from the church.
The Lord called Pastor H.F. Brinson to our field in 1911. In 1913, Holly Springs dedicated her house of worship free of debt on September 14. The church was now strong with church membership at 105. By 1914, we had raised our pastor’s salary to $200 and had 120 Church members. Holly Springs seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds.
There is no way of knowing all of the accomplishments in the early years of our church. Lack of records reduces our knowledge of past events in our church history. Associational minutes, long-time church members, and a few notes in record books are the only clues to our past.
It is believed the first instrument in church was a pump organ which Bro. Jack Perry played. Later a piano was given to the church by Pat Godwin. That piano is now on loan to the Hertford County Senior Citizen’s Club in Winton.
Curtains, to section off the sanctuary for Sunday School, were secured in 1923. That same year saw the first Sunbeam group, headed by Mrs. D.F. Eure with 20 members. In 1924 the church purchased 24 song books for the price of $9.20. Records show the first revival held was in 1925. Church Services were being conducted twice a month by now.
The winter of 1925-26 was unusually cold and the summer was unusually hot and dry. In order to understand the times an account from Associational Minutes records:
From what we can learn our churches have fallen behind on benevolence for the year 1926. Yet our people find money for automobiles and gasoline to use for pleasure as much as usual. Fairs, circuses and other places of amusements such as movies and water resorts are largely patronized. Cutting down our offerings, for the Kingdom of God and keeping our pleasure expenses at high water mark speaks of the low spiritual condition of our churches. Has not the time come for us to cry aloud unto God for a great awakening?
Our pastors and churches seem to be restless and discontented. Pastorates are short. There seems to be a craze for something new. Our whole system, body, mind, and soul are longing for something other than what they have.
It was sometime in 1927 that our church suffered a great loss in Bro. Billy McGlaughon. Several years before his death, the church had presented Bro. Billy with his own personal chair. Church members that remember Bro. Billy say they can almost see that tiny, thin man sitting in his chair up near the front of the church.
Then in 1929 heavy rains greatly impaired some of the crops. The boll weevil destroyed 50 per cent of the cotton crop. Then 1930 brought a nationwide drought and money was extremely scarce. The condition our country was in related closely with the condition of the church. We were moving into the “Great Depression”. The minutes from 1931 tell us just how bad things really were.
Prices of farm products are lower than they have been in more than thirty years; money is, therefore harder to get and there has not been a period of such widespread depression within the memory of our oldest citizens. The gloom of the present depression has caused a falling off of the contributions from the churches to an alarming degree.
There was even some fear that our churches and mission work would falter due to lack of money. It was during this period that the temperance groups began to appear. Our association even had a temperance committee. The growth of our church was directly associated with the hard times that had fallen across the county. Holly Springs Church was fighting to merely survive.
By 1934, times were beginning to improve. Church membership had reached 155. Some repairs were done to the building. The future of Holly Springs started to look bright once again. Over the next several years things went along rather smoothly, and no major changes took place as far as we know.
The forties came and World War II along with them. Naturally the war had an impact upon our church. A new item, Red Cross and Foreign Relief Fund, was implemented into our responsibilities. The war came to an end in 1945, and life returned to normal.
Forty eight copies of the American Hymnal were purchased by the church in 1947. The next year we obtained a pulpit bible. Our church was involved in a Simultaneous Evangelistic Crusade that went on in the area in 1951. In 1953 extensive repair on the sanctuary was done. This was the first major repair since the building was built. Light fixtures were also added at this time. Then in 1955 the first addition to the church was made. Two classrooms were added to the back of the church at a cost of $1,550.
It is not certain but the best we can decide the floor furnaces were added in 1957. The records show $440 that was spent on the building and we can assume that is what the money was used for. It seems as though now there is a new interest in the church. Things are beginning to happen to change the look of the church. New stained glass windows were put in to replace the old windows. Improvements on the doors were made that same time. A total of $703, in 1958, was spent for the two items just mentioned.
The year 1959 looked promising with Rev. W.B. Brookshire answering the call to the Winton-Holly Springs field. That year stands out in our minds because, in the 52-year history of Holly Springs, that year saw the first Vacation Bible School held here. A total of 64 enrolled with an average attendance of 62. Mr. Brookshire’s comments on the school were:
“Workers have been wonderful in making our first Bible School here a success” … “attendance was almost double the expected amount, with a good turnout of all ages.”
The sixties came in and major changes were taking place within the church structure. The old furniture in the sanctuary was removed and replace with new furniture. The floors were sanded and new carpet was installed. The walls received a new coat of paint. The old benches were given away with the exception of a few that still remain in the classrooms today. The pulpit chairs were given to the Masons in Winton which they had redone and are using today still. Carpet had only covered the pulpit area before, with black runners down the aisles. The furniture and carpet installed in the church in 1960 still remains here today.
Mrs. Dudley Witcher organized a G.A. group in 1961. It was the first G.A. group we have record of in the church. The church adopted a budget for the first time. Sunday School was doing well with an average attendance of 62. Church membership had reached 148. Growth and anticipated growth made it necessary to have more classrooms. In 1962, at a cost of $852.60, two more classrooms were added behind the other two classrooms.
Broadman Hymnals replaced the out of date American hymnals. Cribs were purchased and a much needed nursery organized. Then in 1965, we purchased our first electric organ. It was only a used organ but for us it was a big step. That year Holly Springs bestowed an honor on one of her deacons. Bro. Jack Perry, a long time member, was named an “Honored Lifetime Deacon” and presented a Bible to commemorate the occasion. One thing in special comes to mind whenever Bro. Jack Perry is mentioned, people that remember him know that he never failed to bow down on one knee when he was called upon to pray. This he did until failing health and increasingly bad eyesight took him from us.
In 1969 the need arose to replace our organ. A new Wurlitzer organ was bargained for and purchased for $1,700. The next year we closed in around the church. It seems that strong winds were forever blowing the furnaces out. General opinion was this would help with the heating of the church also. Looking back those furnaces never were very efficient. Really cold Sundays, you would find everyone huddled around them trying to get warm.
The year 1971 – remember it – it was the year we came out of the woods. We finally got running water and indoor plumbing. It didn’t take long to get adjusted to no more catalogs, spiders or splinters. There was just no end to our accomplishments now. The next year we installed two air conditioner units in the walls of the sanctuary.
It came to the church’s attention, due to the noise, that the classrooms needed rugs. This was quickly cleared up for the sum of $253. The church members were expressing an interest in possibly buying a cross to be placed in the sanctuary. The matter was settled when John Young made an donated a cross made entirely from aluminum. Along the same time, 1973, Pastor Wyatt from Sweet Haven Baptist Church painted the picture in the pulpit. This painting remains there. We have received many compliments on the work of this pastor-artist.
For a while in 1974 things looked a little dark for Holly Springs. Rev. Don Clinton, our pastor at the time, resigned from Holly Springs; thus separating Holly Springs and Winton. The partnership that began back in the early 1920’s had finally ended. The church accepted his resignation unanimously. Holly Springs was finally out of the nest and about to try her new wings. She instinctively turned to Chowan College. The Lord blessed us with Rev. Hargus Taylor. He seemed to be exactly what we needed during that period. Mr. Taylor had a calming effect upon the congregation. He possessed the talent for working through problems and arriving at a solution. He taught us patience. Needless to say, we made it through that year and every year since. God did and is providing for us even today.
Due to many problems, we were faced with a big question; should we repair the organ we have or consider buying a new one? A new Conn Church Organ was placed in the church on trial. With the cost of repairing and the cost of buying before us, the unanimous decision was to purchase the new organ for a trade-in cost of $2000. This is the organ that is in use today. Since the matter of the organ was settled the church finds itself preparing for the World Missions Conference. Our guest missionary was Mrs. Paul Barb.
The year 1977 was filled with many events worthy of remembering. Helen Smith Miller gave two silver communion plates in memory of her father, L.G. Smith. A young man that was a member of our church was recommended to Fruitland Baptist College. Bro. Tommy Sutton was called to further his education. The church was insulated, with thoughts toward the future. That future included putting in central heat and air. This dream became a reality sooner than we had ever hoped. The new system was installed the latter part of 1978.
Our music was much improved by the addition of a new piano. The other piano had given the church many, many years of service but it had reached the point where it wouldn’t stay in tune. Piano and organ could now be played together. While on the subject of music, it would not be complete without mentioning Sister Edna Terry. Sister Terry loves music and enjoys singing. She is deaf in one ear, therefore she sometimes will sing a little louder then everyone else. Blessed with a good strong voice, she naturally leads the singing when she’s in the congregation. Surely God smiles down on her and the music she loves. I’m sure there will be a place for her in the heavenly choir.
Holly Springs was the site of an important event the 5th Sunday of July in 1979. The Associational 5th Sunday sing and our Annual Homecoming were combined for one big event. I believe we had a record crowd. The church was filled to over-flowing. Music and voices singing praises to the Lord filled the air. After the singing service, lemonade was served from an old time wooden tub. The memories of that Sunday will remain in our hearts and minds for years to come.
Christmas of ’79, a candlelight service was planned. Our program was a beautiful service, with the children in white robes and red bows, and carrying lighted candles. The candle stands made and donated by Eva Pope made the service complete. Many times those candle stands have been of use in weddings, communion services, and at Christmas.
Something needed to be done to the outside of the church; but what. Vinyl siding was selected for two reasons. It never needed painting and would not alter the outside appearance of the church. It would continue to look like a little country church. Three folding tables were bought for the classrooms. The tables could be used inside or outside.
The last several years have been extremely busy for us at Holly Springs. Beginning with 1981, new brick steps were added in front of the church, an improvement that was needed for some time. Seventy-five new Baptist Hymnals were donated to the church by various members. It was at this time that the church presented Sister Beatrice Spivey with a large print hymnal and a “Certificate of Recognition” for the many years she provided the church with music. Her eyesight had reached a point that made reading music difficult. Sister Spivey still looks most natural while seated at the piano.
Azaleas were planted in front of the church by Ann Young. A deep well now would provide us with good clear water. The men of the church put a chain up across the church yard to prevent people from driving and parking behind the church and in the graveyard. Another folding table was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Eddie Hollowell. Winton
Church purchased new choir robes and gave us approximately 15 of their old robes. Once again we took part in the World Mission Conference, this time our guest was Mrs. Houston. The church held Vacation Bible School again for the first time in several years. Total enrollment reached 59.
One can not go on to 1982 without saying a word about Bro. J.N. Baggett. I don’t refer to him as Rev. Baggett at his own request not to. Bro. Baggett certainly must be the type of man God had in mind to spread the gospel. He is a Christian man, and unselfish man, and a truly humble man. He is a blessing to every person that is lucky enough to meet him. I know these words would embarrass him so I won’t go on and on.
The next year starts out just as busy as the year before. The men poured a cement walk in front of the steps. This helped tremendously on rainy days for the water always managed to puddle-up at the steps. Bro. Thomas Mathias is responsible for the lovely sign and flower bed along the roadside. He seems to have a secret fertilizer that makes those flowers bloom more than they normally would. Central heat and air was vented into the classrooms. When those 65 little bodies showed up for Bible School, all was cool. Painting the sanctuary and patching cracks in the wall proved to be a real face lift for the church. Maybe changing the color from green to beige helped too. The Baptist Women sponsored a Christmas Shop that proved to be very successful. Total sales amounted to over $900.
Here it is 1983 and the work of the Lord goes on. Holly Springs Church is still continuing to grow and change. Sister Lila Whitley donated two more azaleas to be put along with the others. Bro. Jerry Blowe rewired the church. Bro. Thomas Mathias worked faithfully to get all 4 classrooms paneled. The Baptist Women then used their Christmas Shop money to improve the teaching conditions in the classrooms. Such things as curtains, clocks, blackboards, bulletin boards, reference books, cassette player, flannel board and other items were purchased and placed in the rooms. Vacation Bible School proved a success again this year with enrollment at 38.
Our church took part in the Missions Fair held last spring at the Armory. It was a big success and an education in mission work. It can’t go without mentioning that during the annual meeting of the West Chowan Baptist Association WMU, our pastor, Phil McCall was the recipient of a Pearl Johnson Scholarship. Each year the WMU awards 2 Pearl Johnson Scholarships, $300 each, to some deserving young person who wishes to continue their education.
Written by – Ann Barnes Young
In 1985, the motion was passed to build a fellowship hall. Before then we had the old fashion “dinner on the grounds” and that was mainly for homecoming. The building was indeed a church endeavor, many members labored weeknights and weekends to see that the building was completed. With the help of local people and members, the fellowship hall was completed in 1986. It has since been a gathering place for members and family for many occasions throughout the years. It has become an important part of our church life. The many dinners we have and celebrations that take place, would not have been possible without the time and effort of Thomas Mathias, Joe and Evelyn Hull, Helen Smith Wall, Evelyn and Jimmy Hoggard and many more.
The church was in decline after the departure of Pastor Phil McCall, but in 1986, God sent us Henry C. Boschen to fill the pulpit and there was a slow but steady increase in our membership. Along with the renewed membership there were several renovations to the sanctuary and other work was done on the church to maintain its “Country Church Flavor.”
In 1989 the church sent the Pastor on mission to San Paulo,Brazil. The church held several bake sales and garage sales to fund the mission. He spent the majority of his time in the small community of Promissao, preaching nightly in an old theater that had been turned into a church and in the streets.
Rev. H.C. Boschen departed in 1993, and was followed by Rev. T.E. Thieman. During his years of service the church added cushions to the pews and new carpeting to the sanctuary. Pastor Thieman departed in 1997, and in 1999, we were blessed with our current pastor, Rev. Gilbert Crawford.
In 2003, the membership was disheartened to learn that the east wall of the sanctuary was horribly damaged by termites. Over the next six months the church spent a total of $45,000 to remodel the entire sanctuary. Without the large donation of Mr. Warren Spivey and the donation of Cool Springs Baptist Church, the church would have had to take out a loan to finish the project. The Lord does take care of his flock. L.T. and BillyDowns led in the demolition of the termite damaged east wall and the necessary gutting of the sanctuary to give the crew that followed a clean slate to start with. Lewis Casper and his crew then came in to fix all structural damage, and then began the arduous task of replacing sheet rock, plaster and fixtures. Our new lighting inside the sanctuary was donated by Raymond and Nicole Eure. The outside fixtures were donated by Lena Ellen Eure. New doors were purchased and new air conditioners were installed replacing one with two. New carpet was purchased and installed. Later the pulpit was remodeled by Mr. Earl Bell. As the members worshiped in the fellowship hall the church slowly came together, blossoming into the lovely church we worship in today. This renovation then gave birth to several new projects in the years to come.
In 2003, Earl Bell installed the screens and louvers that he donated in memory of Cody Downs; he had previously built a ramp onto the fellowship hall. In 2004, Billy Downs, Mr. Bell, and Kent Smith built a covered shelter for grilling. This building was also donated in the memory of Cody Downs. Mr. Bell was commissioned in 2005 to add front porches to the church and fellowship hall. In 006 Mr. Bell was asked to replace the old screen doors on the fellowship hall with new heavier storm doors as well as replace the rear utility door. In 2007 Mr. Bell replaced the rear door to the church and repaired the ramp to that door. The church always appreciates Mr. Bell’s donated time and fine workmanship.
In 2007 the fellowship hall got a face lift. Kent Smith and family painted the interior of it the same colors of the church sanctuary. A few months later new flooring was installed. Curtains were made by Mary Smith and hung that summer replacing old blinds that covered the windows. Earlier in 2007, Wendy Smith and Tommy Powell refinished and painted the front doors of the church with help from Kent and Mary Smith.
In the past few years the church has spent a lot of time and funds to repair and preserve the church. It is not only to insure that we have a place of worship, but to insure that our church will remain for our children and our children’s children.