Contributed by by Robert M. Butler. This is an outline the presentation given by D.G. Downing at the dedication of the present church building in 1930. We hope it helps fill in some voids in the records.     Posted July 11th, 2001 by Myrtle Bridges.

The early history of Cedar Creek Baptist Church is veiled in obscurity. It is established, however, that the place where Cedar Creek Baptist Church now stands was a public gathering place for many purposes long before the Revolutionary War. The Whigs met here to lay plans for their operations. The Tories held their meetings here in the interest of King George. It was a gathering place for all kinds of sports.

There was a building located on this particular tract of land where all denominations met to hold their occasional services. The Baptists had a congregation here before 1800; there was a session of one of the Baptist Associations held at Cedar Creek before 1802.

The old deed from Stephen Hollingsworth to Cedar Creek Meeting House is dated July 14, 1801 and is the third church deed recorded in Cumberland County. This deed recites in part as follows:

"That I, the said Stephen Hollingsworth, for the consideration of the necessity of a house for the preaching of the Gospel at Cedar Creek, a small distance from the place where one has been consumed by fire in the aforesaid County, to be known by the name of Cedar Creek Meeting House on a tract of land formerly belonging to John Hollingsworth, doth freely give, and grant for the use and privilege of a house for the worship of God a certain portion of the aforesaid land, containing two acres, and described as follow. beginning at a small red oak, near the South edge of the aforesaid Creek, a small distance below Tolar's said Mill, formerly called Dickson's Middle Mill; thence South 20 poles; thence East 16 poles; thence North 20 poles; thence West 16 polls to the beginning, including a spring or springs in the edge of said Creek."

Just how long the building mentioned in the deed had been used as a meeting house or the exact time that it was destroyed by fire is not known, but it is safe to say that it had been used for a good many years before 1800.

The Cape Fear Association met with Cedar Creek Church October 6, 1810. Ten counties composed the territory of this association: Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, New Hanover, Sampson, Robeson, Onslow and Wayne and twenty two churches were members of this association. Cape Fear Church was the largest in the association with a membership of 273, while Wilmington was the smallest with a membership of only 22. Total membership of all the 22 association was 1557. Among the preachers of the Cape Fear Association Elder William Thames, Davis, Goodman, Garter, Williams, Thigpen, Bryant, Koonce, and White all preached at the stage on Sunday morning. Elder Thames and Goodman [were] appointed missionaries for the next year, 1811. The time, churches and stations at which they were to preach are named in the minutes of that session. Joseph Thames and Samuel Buxton were appointed to get up a circular letter advocating support of the ministry.

Another session of the Cape Fear Association was held at Cedar Creek in 1824, Reverend George Fennell was moderator; the place is frequently referred to, but the church at Cedar Creek was not organized until 1844.

The Presbytery that organized the church were: Reverend Hezekiah Woodward and Rev. John C. Averitt. Rev. John C, Averitt was the first pastor.

Cedar Creek joined the Cape Fear Association October 5, 1845; the delegates were Rev. John C. Averitt, J.F. Tolar, and S.L. Thagard. There were 29 members and the church sent $1.50 association fund.

In 1846, Rev. Hezekiah Woodward was pastor. W.H. Seawell, E.H. Hall and G.S. Jackson were delegates to the association and the church reported 69 members. A gain of 40 members in one year. The following year, 1847, Hezekiah Woodward was still the pastor and the church reported a membership of only 66, a loss of 3 members. In 1848 the church had no pastor but sent delegates to the association. Rev. F. Prevatt supplied for the church and the membership had increased to 72. Rev. F. Prevatt was the pastor in 1849 and the membership had. increased to 75. In 1850 Elder Jessie Rogers was pastor. In 1851 the pastor is not named but the church sent the following delegates to the convention: D.T. Averitt, V. Downing and J.R. Tolar and the membership had increased to 80.

Elder Hugh McAlphin was pastor during the year 1852, and supplied for the Church in 1853. During 1853 they had a great revival here at Cedar Creek and increased their membership to 115.

For the years 1854, 1855, and 1856 the Rev. Furney Prevatt was pastor and during the year 1856, the membership decreased from 115 to 98. Elder P.C. Connelly was pastor during the year 1857. The membership decreased to 87.

The Rev. Elias D. Johnson was pastor from 1858 to and including the year 1865. At the 1858 session of the Cape Fear Association Cedar Creek received a letter of dismissal to assist in founding the new Cedar Creek Association. During the year 1863 the church elected Arthur Melvin, V. Downing, and. D.P. West, who appear to the first trustees of the church.

I have heretofore mentioned the decrease in membership of the church at various times. This decrease was very probably due to the organization of other churches which took away some of the members of Cedar Creek Church. Concord, Cumberland Union, Macedonia and Judson churches were organized after Cedar Creek and in all probability took a very heavy toll from the membership of this church.

In 1866 the church had no pastor. Hugh McAlpin [sic] was called but did not serve. The Rev. A.B, Alderman served as pastor for two years, 1868 and 1869. In April of 1868 the present Sunday School was organized, The following three years, namely 1870, 1871, and 1872, the Rev. B.F. Jessup was pastor, and received a compensation of $75.00 per year. During 1872 John C. Blocker gave the church an additional acre of land on the south and west of the old tract, to be used for church purposes and for the burying of the dead.

Rev. W.S. Melvin was the pastor for two years, 1873 and 1874. In 1875 and 1876 Rev. William Brunt was pastor. For the year 1877 the Rev. W.S. Melvin again served as pastor. The following three years, 1878, 1879, and 1880, Rev. Reuben Newton was pastor. For the years 1881 and 1882, Rev. A.R. Pittman served as pastor and during the year 1881, it was decided to build a new church, the new church to sit between the old church and the road.

For the next twelve years from 1883 to 1894, inclusive; the Rev. J.G. Fisher served as pastor, this was the longest time any pastor had ever served this church. The next five years 1895 to 1899, inclusive Rev. B.A. Hedgpeth was pastor and lived at Cedar Creek the major part of this time. For the next seven years 1900 to 1906, inclusive; the Rev. M.A. Stephens served as pastor and also lived at Cedar Creek several years during this time.

Rev. James A. Smith of Wilmington was pastor during the year 1907. The following year there was a short period that the church had no pastor. This, however, was only a short time and the Rev. W.M. Page came to the rescue and served for the remainder of the year. During this year, 1908, the Cedar Creek Association was formed into the Cumberland Baptist Association. Rev. T.J. Baker served us pastor for the years 1909 and 1910. The next two years the Reverend E.I. Olive served the church faithfully as pastor. The next year, 1913, Rev. W.R. Johnson served as pastor. The next two years, 1914 and 1915, Rev. E. Lee Fox was the pastor.

In August, 1915, this church gave the present pastor, the Rev. I.P. Hedgpeth an indefinite call and he has served the church diligently and faithfully from then until this good hour as pastor. It may be truthfully said of him that no pastor ever served his church more faithfully. Under his leadership, a committee was appointed in 1920 to investigate plans for a new church and in 1922 the plans were accepted. The old church was torn down and this new brick building 40 by 60 feet, was erected, with the Sunday School rooms in addition. In 1923 the Cumberland Baptist Association was turned into the present New South River Association.

The church solicited funds with which to erect this building and borrowed $7000.00 to complete it. The first service held in this new church was on October 25th, 1924. The last penny was paid on this indebtedness on March 22, 1930.

It is not the business of the historian to attempt to deal with the future. The past is his realm. But can we not see the light from the lamp of the past reflected on the first years of the future, We have seen how many decades ago, our Baptist forefathers with axe in hand, cut from the virgin forests of North Carolina the logs and timbers with which to build the first church in this state, and how since that time these heroes of the past have established Baptist churches in all parts of our good state. They were not daunted by the dangers of the inaccessible forest and stresses. They started life in North Carolina with high hopes and with a Faith that knew no fears, waiting and praying for the dawn of a better day. We have lived to see that better day. The erection of this beautiful new building should inspire us with new pride in our grand old church and community, so rich in nob1e heritage and incite us to nobler and better work. With our past to cheer us, and with our present to inspire us, and Jehovah to lend us, I am confident that the Baptists of old Cedar Creek Church will make the entire twentieth century a glorious jubilee of progress for the Kingdom of God in this community, so that when the years have passed and the evening is nigh we can look back, with pride, to this auspicious hour and say, "It was good to be here". —D.G. Downing

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