The (Incomplete) History of:
Mill Creek Baptist Church
Much of the content contained on this page was gathered by Mrs. Susie Carson of the Southport Baptist Church from information provided in the Minutes of the Brunswick Baptist Association. Additional content provided through the research of Mr. Dewey Sellers of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church. The coordinator for the collection and publication was Mrs. Vera G. Bowling, long time Clerk of Mill Creek Baptist Church. Additional information provided by the 2008 Mill Creek Baptist Church Homecoming Committee comprised of Mrs. Wana Batson, Mrs. Dianne Gregory, Mrs. Glinda Keppert and Mrs. Cynthia Vestal.
Many other members and friends of Mill Creek Baptist Church too numerous to mention have assisted in the research and have provided information and materials to help complete this "incomplete" history of the congregation of Christians known as Mill Creek Missionary Baptist Church. Thank you to each and every one of you for your assistance.
This story remains "incomplete" for at least two reasons: First, the church is a living, continuing organization which is continuing to write its history day by day. Second, there is always someone, maybe you, who provides us with additional information that can be added to this written historical account of the church. If you have additional information are willing to make it available to the church to be included in this account, please email your contact information to the church's webmaster. All materials provided to the church will be returned to the provider, if requested.
In order to know our background, we must look back to our organized beginnings from Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, Supply, N.C., which is still a very active church today. Mr. Dewey Sellers, a member of the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church provided the information for the Mt. Pisgah Section (below).
Mount Pisgah Baptist Church
The Oldest Missionary Baptist Church In Brunswick County
Sometime in the 1750'S a group of fisherman from New England came down the coast and settled near the mouth of Lockwood's Folly River in Brunswick County. They began to have prayer meetings but had no place to assemble to worship. Being led by the Holy Spirit they joined together in building a one-room log structure where they could meet together. The Lord shed his blessings on this small beginning which was later to become Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, which was organized in 1762, when Ezekiel Hunter, who was pastor of the Baptist Church at New River in Onslow County, baptized a few members and organized a church at Lockwood's Folly.
Apparently this house was used until about 1800. Just after the organization of this church in 1762 Rev. James Turner settled among them and preached with zeal and success. Thus the church stood until the death of Elder Hunter in 1772 and that of Rev. Turner soon after, leaving it without a pastor, but they were visited frequently by Robert Nixon and Samuel Newton.
In 1778, Elder William Goodwin of Duplin County moved into Brunswick County and served as pastor until his death in 1793. Shortly afterward Abram Baker of Pitt County moved into Brunswick County but he found conditions such that he would not accept the pastorate until the church was re-organized in 1797.
The Lockwood's Folly Church, as the congregation grew, moved farther up the river to a site now known as Sand Hill and built another building to worship in. They continued to have prayer meetings and sometime preaching services. Mill Creek Church, which is active today, a branch of the old Lockwood's Folly church. It was established in 1776. In March 1800 the church divided and a new one was founded on the West Side of Waccamaw River, the Seven Creeks Baptist Church.
By this time they had moved to a new Location about two miles south of Supply on the Old Stone Chimney Road which still wasn't far from the banks of Lockwood's Folly River. On April 25 and 26, 1818, according to the minutes, they held a two-day meeting in a frame building about two miles south of Supply on the Old Stone Chimney Road. This was a quarterly meeting and there is a record of another like it on April 22 and 23, 1820.
Conference was held at both meetings and the doors of the church were open to receive candidates for baptism. In 1872, a group of our colored brethren organized the Cedar Grove Baptist Church, which is active today.
Mill Creek Baptist Church
Circa 1776 (1800)
Mill Creek Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1776, and constituted in 1800 by a part of the congregation of Lockwood's Folly meeting house who withdrew for the purpose of establishing a new congregation. The church was a member of Cape Fear Association, 1836-88, 1895-98; a member of Old Brunswick Association 1889-94; a member of Cape Fear - Columbus Association, 1899; and of Brunswick Association, 1899.
Church Building One:
First building, 1800-1816,a log structure. The church was located in the wooded area between the present church and the Willetts Cemetery. No picture available.
Church Building Two:
Second Structure, 1816-1830, a frame structure 20' x 30'.This second church building was located somewhat in the same area as the first church. Mr. Ben Willetts, and Mr. Billy Mills, Mr. Ben Mills, and Mr. Monroe Hickman were some of the men who help build the second church. The church was built from cypress trees that were cut down in Mill Creek Swamp. The trees were cut into 248 blocks to build the church. The shingles, which covered the church on all sides including the roof, were hand drawn. Through the center of the church there was a row of posts on which were hung Laden Lamps. The floor of the church was elevated. There were three sections of seats and two aisles. The outside sections of seats would seat three or four people. In the front of the church in one corner was the Amen Corner. Mr. John H. Mills started the first Sunday school of this church on the church's front steps, the reason being there was no heat in the building. No picture available.
Church Building Three:
Third Building, 1830-1887 a frame structure. No picture available.
Church Building Four:
Fourth Building, 1887-1910, a frame structure. No picture available.
Note: there is no known extant picture of any of the first four church buildings. If you know of a picture of any of then and are willing to help make it available to the church, please email your contact information to the church's webmaster. All materials (pictures, clippings, etc.) provided to the church will be returned to the provider, as requested.
Church Building Five:
The fifth building, built in 1910, was a frame building with cement pillars, bell, plain glass windows, six Sunday school rooms and a seating capacity of 300; dedicated 1911; remodeled 1925. The rostrum was built in the shape of a half-moon. This building stood where the parsonage is now located. Materials from this church were used to frame the present parsonage.
The carpenter-in-charge was Mr. Berry Potter. The story is that when the building was finished, there was no money to pay Mr. Potter. The debt was eventually paid.
This was a very nice building set on cement pillars, with a very unique entrance and vestibule. The floor in the sanctuary was elevated with a center aisle and two side aisles. The inside walls were finished with tongue and groove timbers, finished with a V design above wainscoting on the walls. The ceiling was also finished the same way with appropriate design. There were shelves along the walls that held the lamps that lit the sanctuary. A large wood-burning heater, which set in the center aisle, furnished the heat. The windows were plain glass, and the steeple held a large bell that was rung for all services. The original building seated 300 people and contained six Sunday school rooms. The rostrum was elevated and built in the shape of a half moon.
In 1925 there was some remodeling and more Sunday school rooms were added. For many years there was one man who took care of the lamps, wood heater, and a lot of the cleaning as a Labor of "Love." He was handicapped with a speech impediment but very dedicated to his church. I will always remember Mr. Dempsey Johnson. This building stood where the Church Parsonage is now built.
This picture was retrieved from a scrapbook, kept by Miss Ida Moore Willetts, who was in a sanitarium at the time (Made by State Port Pilot).
Church Building Six:
Plans for a sixth building, the present day Sanctuary, were voted upon and approved by the membership on June 11, 1950.
Land where the present building stands was given by Mr. R. S. Willetts, Sr. & Mrs. Daisy Cumbee Willetts.
This picture was made on the day of the first service in the new church. The gentleman in the center with overcoat and hat with Bible under his arm was the pastor, Rev. Fred Gore. He was also the person who supervised the building. He was a very good carpenter. Some of the work was hired but a lot was volunteers. As you can see there was no porch at this time. This building was a two story with ten Sunday school rooms. The windows at this time were opaque glass. The bell from the previous church had been moved into steeple by 1956. The sanctuary had been completely refurnished with new pews, choir seats and pulpit furniture. Furniture from the previous church was used for about four years. This picture tells a lot about who the people of the Mill Creek Community have been and many pictured are still active today.
The church voted during the fall of 1970, to build a 30' x 60' extension on the left wing of the present building. It would consist of nine classrooms on the second floor and the pastor's study, kitchen, and fellowship hall on the ground level. The sanctuary was air-conditioned. With the construction nearly completed on July 4, 1971, a dedication service was held. The Rev. James K. Johnson preached the sermon. R. S. Willetts Jr., George R. Hickman, and Vera G. Bowling served on the Building Committee for the addition.
In the late seventies the present porch on the front was added, carpet and new furniture were put in the sanctuary. Regular maintenance has been kept up, with a new roof being installed. The heating and cooling system has also recently been replaced with new units.
The granite sign in front of the church was placed in 1982.
The Library was dedicated to Ms. Pauline Lewis on September 28, 1986. Special guests were Brunswick Association Media Director Mrs. Margaret Clemmons and Association Media Education Director Mrs. Susie Carson.
Stained glass windows were installed in the sanctuary October 16, 1990, and were dedicated on October 28, 1990. They were given in memory and honor of loved ones by families and friends from the community. Rev. Mark Owens did the dedication. The trustees who worked hard and faithful on the windows were: Tommy Gore, Jerry Willetts, R.S. Willetts Jr., and J.M. Caton Jr.
In 1998, purchased a Baby Grand Piano; also the altar was renovated to accommodate the piano. Ronnie Drew did the renovation.
In 1999, many of the Sunday school rooms were renovated, new carpet installed in some and a new roof added. The parking lot also has been re-paved.
Coming into the 21st century. In 2000 we were still dealing with a lot of storm damage from Hurricane Floyd in 1998. The steeple had been damaged severely. Due to a lot of leaks, the vestibule was damaged also. The steeple was removed, the copper was repaired, and the original steeple was repaired and replaced. Then the vestibule was renovated with new ceiling, walls, and flooring.
Going forward with our youth program, we purchased our first church van.
In 2003, we incorporated the church, hosted the Baptist Mens Dental Bus and had a very successful Bible School. In all the years, we have had all phases of mission work going on. Always supporting the home and foreign mission work and offerings.
In 2004 we again hosted the Baptist Mens Dental Bus, installed a video screen and projector. We also renovated our 1st-floor bathrooms to make them handicapped accessible. In our Sunday school department we installed new walls to make them safer in case of fire, painted and installed new carpet to make the area more inviting for our youth, and replaced the non-stained glass windows in the original building with vinyl windows.
In 2005 we replaced all windows in the fellowship hall and upstairs classrooms with vinyl windows. This completed our window replacements
In May 2006, a motion was made to go forward with a project to renovate the parsonage. A volunteer committee of three of our ladies, Mrs. Marsena Machino, Mrs.Louise Rivenbark, and Mrs. Wana Batson along with the grounds and maintenance committee, Mr. Al Bevil, and Ms. Blinda Willetts: These two committees took on this project, doing a lot of the work themselves. When the work was completed they had enclosed a carport into a beautiful bedroom and bath. Installed all new electrical wiring, new heating & air conditioning, remodeled the kitchen with new cabinets, new appliances, refinished all the hardwood floors and replaced the carpet and vinyl. The entire inside ceiling and walls were repaired and painted.
In 2007 we were still upgrading the church. Put in a new ramp and rails on front of church to meet handicapped guidelines. Installed new lights in church at front of sanctuary.
In 2008, we installed a flagpole and dedicated it to the Veterans of all Wars, installed a safety ramp and drain to the fellowship hall, refinished the floors in the fellowship hall and storage room, and put in frames and screens on outside of entire building.
Reading the previous paragraphs it may sound as if we were only doing manual work.
While this was going on we had a congregation of believers doing whatever we could to spread, teach and live the gospel. Our people are very mission minded supporting home and foreign missions generously. If a need arises and we know about it, we try to do our part. We have Sunday school classes for all ages. We also have a singing church with a worship choir. We always look forward to Vacation Bible School and getting to interact with the children who come.
Through the years we have been blessed with a lot of dedicated people serving in all positions. At the very end of 2007, we honored Mrs. Marjorie Willetts who had served as church pianist for 60+ years, while also being treasurer for 28+ years. A dedicated life.
We thank God for the people who had a vision for Him over 200 years ago (1776) as they started this church and for the people who have walked in their footsteps. That vision is still Alive and Active Today.
History books written about North Carolina Baptists list 1800 as the date Mill Creek Church was constituted. From 1928, two years after the Brunswick Association Minutes began listing the year the churches were constituted, Mill Creek Church reported the year 1800. In 1949 this date was changed to 1776. The minutes have carried the year 1776 since 1949. From 1911 - 1915 the church was known as Brunswick Baptist Church. The 1916 minutes list it again as Mill Creek Baptist Church.
Mill Creek Church has reported a Sunday School since 1895. Today, Mill Creek Baptist Church is fulfilling it's rightful place in the community with a church program of Sunday School, Youth Programs, Women On Missions, Women Searching God's Word (WSGW), Music Ministry, and Vacation Bible School and to the world through its contributions to the association and the Cooperative Program
Members of Mill Creek Baptist Church who have dedicated their life to being pastors and missionaries:
- Reverend Dockery Lewis - son of Mr. Dunn B. Lewis
- Reverend Thomas Otto Hickman - Son of G. T. & Elizabeth Hickman
- Reverend Elmer Sellers - son of Mr. James Sellers
- Reverend George T. Hickman - son of Monroe Hickman and wife Mrs. Elizabeth Lizzie Robbins Hickman who served as W. M. U. secretary for years.
- Mrs. Marsha Hickman Lineberger - Missionary to the Deaf - daughter of George Rotha and Gladys Lewis Hickman
Lockwood Folly Church:
- William Goodman - 1789
- Abraham Baker - 1794-1806
- Abraham Robins -1814
- Absalom Robins - 1816-1818
Mill Creek Missionary Baptist Church:
- Elder Joe Godwin (1st Resident Clergyman)
- Absalom Robins - 1819-1828
- Arthur Robbins - 1836-1842
- William Ayers - 1848
- G. W. Lennon - 1855
- S. B. Robbins - 1870
- J. Harrelson - 1871-1872
- William Willetts - 1872
- S. W. Hilburn - 1878
- A. A. Edwards - 1887-1893
- D. L. Hewett - 1894-1900
- B. G. Early - 1901-1903
- D. L. Hewett - 1904-1909
- J. J. C. Mizell - 1910-1912
- P. T. Britt - 1913-1914
- J. T. Stone - 1915-1918
- P. T Britt -1919-1921
- A. W. Clemmons - 1922
- D. L. Hewett - 1923
- J. T. Stone - 1924-1925
- J. T. Stanley - 1925
- G. W. Stanley - 1926
- G. T. Hickman - 1927
- K. L. Stanley - 1928-1930
- D. B. Stanley - 1931-1932
- T. H. Biles - 1933-1934
- B. R Page - 1934-1937
- A. L. Brown - 1938-1942
- C. R. Taylor - 1943-1945
- C. E. Brisson - 1946
- C. S. Smith - 1947
- C. E. Brisson - 1948-1949
- Fred Gore - 1950-1952
- F. W. Naylor (with his family)- 1953-1954
- Avery Lumsden - 1955-1959
- Larry McClure - 1960-1962
- Carl Dempsey - 1963
- W. C. Francis - 1964-1966
- James K. Johnson -1968-1970
- Alton C. Bridgers - 1971-1972
- R. L. Younce - 1973
- George Jeffreys - 1975-1979
- Billy Smith- 1980-1981
- Thomas Lambert- 1982-1983
- Jack Robinson - 1984-1985
- Charles Trull - 1986-1987
- Dale Holden - 1988-1990
- Texas FIoyd - 1990-1991
- Rocky Gregory - 1992-1994
- Wayne Tyner - 1996-1997
- Fred Crisco - 1997-1999
- Daryl Oliver - 2000 -2002
- Mark Rogers - 2002- 2005
- Lamar Brooks (Interim) - 2005- 2007
- Roy Lee Vestal - 2007-2011
If you have additional information are willing to make it available to the church to be included in this historical account, please email your contact information to the church's webmaster. All materials provided to the church will be returned to the provider, if requested.
Copyright 2009 Mill Creek Baptist Church. All rights reserved.