Dover Church History

September 1994

On May 25, 1833, a group of people met with the purpose of forming a new church. It is not known where the people attended church before they formed their own church, but since churches in those days were far spread, it was probably created out of necessity. The Dover Church began as a brush arbor meeting. The first church building is reported to have been a one room log church. The church building had a dirt floor on which the members put down straw to keep the dust down.

Dover appointed Huston Holsclaw as their first Church Clerk. W.P. Swanson was elected as their first pastor. The newly formed church decided to meet on the “first Lord’s day in each month with the Saturday before the 5th.” They declared the “name of our meeting house is Dover.” The doors of the Church were opened and Stephen Medlock was received as the first member. The same evening, the Church met and opened the door of the Church again. Joseph Pennell and Mary Johnson were received into membership.

On July 6, the Church met again. After services, the doors of the Church were again open. George W. Barnes, Christeny Tetor, and Hanah Pennell were received. The same evening, the Church met and received Amy Barnes, Nancy Tetor, and Rachel Johnson into the Church.

The above nine members along with Huston Holsclaw and Robert Barnhill formed the first Church. Stephen Medlock and Robert Barnhill were chosen as the first deacons. On August 30, 1833, George W. Barnes and Huston Holsclaw were ordained as deacons.

Early Dover also met in the homes of the area. On Tuesday, July 30, 1833 the Church met at the home of Joseph Holsclaw. Seven new members were received. They were Hugh Reed, Margaret Reed, Bethiar Pennell, William Barnes, C. Holsclaw, Mary Reed, and Sarah Milstead.

The Church grew rapidly. Although the Church met only once each month, new members were received each time the doors were opened. From time to time, it was necessary for the Church to change its time of meeting. Pastors were in short supply and most churches had to share their pastor with other churches in the area.

Dover Church also joined itself to the Catawba Association. On August 31, 1833, the Church chose three delegates to attend the Association meeting and appropriated $1 for the “use of getting the minutes.” On August 12, 1837 the Church voted to leave the Catawba Association and joined the Lewis Fork Association. However, at some unknown date the Church voted to leave the Lewis Fork Association and joined itself to the Brushy Mountain Association. In August, 1887, the Church asked for a letter of dismission from the Brushy Mountain Association and affiliated itself with the Alexander County Association. In October, 1951, the Church voted to attach itself to the Rocky Face Association and at the present date, is still a member.

In 1891, Dover Baptist Church hosted the Association meeting for the first time. Rev. L.P. Gwaltney preached the introductory sermon. His text was Judges 7:20. In 1910, Dover hosted the association for the second time. The sermon was again preached by Rev. Gwaltney. His sermon came from Mark 16:3-4.

The Church grew with a strong foundation, and seemed untouched by the national events. In April, 1861, the Civil War began, taking more American lives than any other war in its history. It divided the people of the United States and divided many families. Church records show only one mention of the Civil War. On April 12, 1862, the record states; “On motion, the Church agrees to travail on with her present officers until a more favorable time as the brother who was called to the office of deacon has enlisted and gone to the war.”

As the Church continued to grow, it found it necessary to make another change. The Church had apparently outgrown its present meeting house and plans were being made to build another building. The record states that on April 18, 1891, “Steps were taken to put our house in better order for the Association and it was thought that we needed a treasurer.” P.C. Downs was appointed the first Church Treasurer.

On May 16, 1891, the Church was seated in conference and “A motion that we appoint a committee of three to attend to getting up materials for building the church and appointed Brethren A.M. Pennell, J.C. Brookshire, and W.D. Mooney. No further mention of the size or type of building being considered was mentioned but apparently the Church wasted no time in obtaining materials and finishing the work. On July 16, 1891, the record states that the Church “took up a subscription for furnishing the Church.”

The church building which was constructed in 1891 was reported to have been a weather board building. The pulpit was in the center of the church, and was raised up two or three feet from the floor, with a railing around the entire pulpit. This enabled the preacher to walk around the pulpit as he preached.

On January 2, 1910, the Church appointed a committee of five; W.D. Mooney, G.B. Pennell, J.L. Pennell, R.A. Pennell, and H.C. Pennell “In order to build a new house at this place.” Again, there were no references to the type of building to be built, but it is believed to have been the building which was torn down and removed in November, 1965. In June, 1914, a series of events led to the beginning of World War I. Although the U.S. did not officially enter the War until April, 1917, the war came to an end on November 11, 1918 when Germany signed the Armistice. Church records do not show any references to the war or those who may have participated in the war. Only one reference is given to the effects of the war. On March 1, 1919, the Church took up a collection of $16.50 to go “For those starving women and children.” Records do not indicate if the money was used at home or if it was sent abroad to the war shattered countries.

The early Church also elected to hold a revival or “protracted” meeting each year. The revivals were usually held in the late summer, usually August or September and lasted for a period of one week. The revivals were looked forward to as a chance to fellowship with each other and be able to hear the Gospel preached. Until 1942, Church services were only held once a month so a week of preaching and worship was indeed “food for the soul.” In addition, there was a morning service with dinner on the ground and then an afternoon or evening service. Revivals were looked forward to with great anticipation.

In August, 1927, the Church held a revival meeting that lasted 11 days. According to records, the revival produced 20 additions, 18 by baptism and 2 by letter. Rev. Isaac Watts was the minister and was assisted by Rev. Finley Watts. In September, 1938, Brother Edd Mooney agreed to give one half of a acre of land adjoining the church cemetery for a burying ground, provided we paint the church inside and outside. The offer was accepted.

The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, plunged the United States into war again. On March 26, 1944, the Church elected to hold a special service on the 4th Sunday of May, 1944 for the service men. Letters from the service men were read by Rev. F.A. Pennell and Rev. Harvey White, and songs by the Harrington girls were sung. On January 10, 1943 “Pray for Peace in 1943″ was adopted. No further mention of the war is found in the records.

On September 12, 1943, the Church voted to build Sunday School rooms. There were to be four rooms on the north-east side of the Church. The rooms were to be 12′ x 12′ and 7’4” in height. The house was to be raised 16 inches. Eight inch cement blocks were to be used on the outside and four inch blocks on the partitions. The estimated cost was to be about $100 per room. Again, the church had outgrown its present facility.

On July 16, 1950, more remodeling was in order. The church voted to cover and remodel the roof “by cutting down the top of the roof.” In January, 1952, the church took an offering for constructing the church bell. The age of the present bell in the church tower is unknown. It was purchased by Will Teeters from Jonas Hollar at an unknown date, and presented to the church. The bell was moved from the old church to the present building in 1965.

On April 12, 1953, the Church took a collection for a communion table. Two communion plates were presented to the church by Fred Pennell. Both the plates and table are still being used in areas of the Church.

In March, 1958, the Church voted to buy a church bus. In the following months, with the arrival of the first full-time pastor, the church experienced rapid new growth. In May, 1958, it was decided that the Church would build six additional Sunday School rooms. A motion to brick the church was also discussed but was discarded. In September, 1958, a central heating system was installed. Before the central heating system, the auditorium was heated by a wood heater and the class rooms with space heaters.

Dover Baptist Church has always been proud of its service men and has prayed for the safety and return of each soldier. In the 1960’s the United States became involved in the conflict of Vietnam. Dover Church was fortunate during this conflict that each of her sons who were called to serve our country returned home. Members of the church who served were Arnold Pennell, Darrell Holsclaw, Eddie Dillard, David White, and Randy Hamby. Prayers were answered when each of them returned safely home.

In November, 1962, the church was seated in conference for the discussion of building a new church. A committee of Clarence Dillard, Glenn White, and Ned Pennell was chosen. In November, 1963, the completed plans were shown to the church. In October, 1964, Edd Mooney agreed to give land for a new church building. A plan was agreed upon for building the church and a committee was formed. Clarence Dillard, Glenn White, Kearney Pennell, Elzie Walker, and Herman Pennell agreed to serve.

Everyone began to donate time and money. One night a week and Saturdays were set aside for all who could work on the new church. The new church was completed and on October 31, 1965, the first service was held. The record reads, “Today we moved in our new church. Everybody was thankful for the new building and we had a good spiritual service in it.”

The old church building was torn down and removed and the pews were given to Rev. Everette Walker and his church. However, there are many memories shared among the membership of the “wonderful services” remembered in the “old church.” These memories included: singing, shouting, souls saved, rededications, and fellowship shared. These continue to be precious to all who remember.

The church continued to make improvements in its appearance and for the comfort of its members. In June, 1967 a baptistry was installed. On August 23, 1967, a background picture for the baptistry was chosen by Mr. and Mrs. Harry Pennell.

On May 22, 1968, it was recommended that the church pay off the church debt out of the treasury. There was a motion, a second, and the motion carried. On June 2, 1968, at the conclusion of the service, pictures were made of attempting to burn the church note. The following Sunday, a second attempt had to be made to burn the note.

In August, 1969, the church purchased a new piano. In May, 1970, the church installed carpeting and in August, 1970, air conditioning was installed.

In February, 1970, Mr. Byrd Pennell was appointed Church Custodian. Before his appointment, the families of the church took turns in cleaning the church and grounds. In April, 1971, Mr. and Mrs. Lindsay Pennell assumed the duties. Later, Mr. and Mrs. Ned Pennell with Donnie and Kim Pennell assumed the work. Betty Rector, Bobbie Nail, and Michael Nail began this work in 1992 until the date of this writing.

On October, 1975 the parking area and cemetery roads were paved. In May, 1977, signs were erected at intersections to point the way to Dover Church. In July, 1979, astroturf for the front of the church and drapes for baptistry were purchased. In May, 1981, the church received candelabras and flower baskets were donated to the church in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Edd Mooney by their children. These are available for use by the church and its families.

On May 30, 1982, the church began another construction project. The church voted to build a fellowship building adjoining the church with two class rooms and two additional restrooms. Also, the project included additional storage space underneath the new building. This project was completed in December, 1982. On August 22, 1991, the church voted to buy 7.5 acres of land for additional cemetery and parking space.

The church constructed a new front to the sanctuary in early 1992. The work included a sound room which is used to tape record the services. Four new Sunday School rooms were added in May of 1994.



William P. Swanson 5/25/1833- 5/22/1835
M.D. Holder 5/22/1835- 5/11/1839
William P. Swanson 5/11/1839- 5/29/1840
Cornelius Livingston 5/29/1840- 1/28/1843
Smith Ferguson 1/28/1843- 5/10/1845
Wm. Goforth 5/10/1845- 1/10/1852
James Reid 1/10/1852-12/12/1853
Burton Bradley 12/12/1853- 3/10/1855
Edmund Tilley 3/10/1855- 6/02/1857
J. Chrouch 6/02/1857-10/02/1858
J.H. Brown 10/02/1858- 4/12/1862
S. Meadlock 4/12/1862- 5/09/1863
Smith Ferguson 5/09/1863- 4/09/1864
D.B. Brown & H. West 4/09/1864- 5/13/1865
D. Wilborn 5/13/1865- 5/08/1875
D.M. Knight 5/08/1875- 4/13/1878
D.M. Knight & W.F. Knight 4/13/1878- 4/08/1882
S.D. Barnes 4/08/1882- 4/11/1885
D.M. Knight 4/11/1885- 4/10/1886
S.D. Barnes & A.M. Pennell 4/10/1886- 4/09/1887
D.M. Knight 4/09/1887- 9/10/1887
S.D. Barnes 9/10/1887- 5/19/1888
J. B. Pool 5/19/1888- 9/16/1890
J.F. Eller 9/16/1890- 7/16/1892
A.M. Pennell & S.D. Barnes 8/20/1892-10/20/1894
J.A. Downs 11/ /1894- 2/29/1896
C.C. Pool 3/24/1896- 7/24/1897
A.M. Pennell 8/22/1897- / /1900
O.A. Keller & A.M. Pennell / /1900- 9/22/1905
J.K. Fox 3/24/1901- 3/ /1902
G.Z. Bumgarner 4/13/1902- 4/01/1911
J.W. Watts & A.M. Pennell 5/06/1911-11/21/1914
B.F. Austin 12/26/1914-12/27/1920
W.J. Bumgarner 12/26/1920- 9/24/1922
S.I. Watts 9/24/1922- 2/13/1944
Wade Rogers 3/26/1944-12/08/1957
Henry McDuffie 12/15/1957- 9/25/1960
Devon Dyson, Supply 9/25/1960-11/20/1960
Buster Treadway 11/27/1960- 9/27/1961
Wade Rogers, Supply 10/01/1961-12/31/1961
Allie Walker 1/07/1962- 5/22/1966
C.A. Mayberry 8/14/1966- 6/16/1968
Ralen Day, Supply 7/21/1968- 1/05/1969
Bill Ricks, Supply 1/19/1969- 5/25/1969
Darrel McGuire 6/29/1969- 8/29/1976
Edwin Price, Supply 10/10/1976- 3/11/1979
Randy Bumgarner 3/18/1979-10/25/1981
Elbert Goble 2/21/1982- 9/13/1992
Eddie Shumate 2/14/1993- Present

See also Dover Baptist Church in NCGW Cemetery Gallery