The First 100 years
Having already celebrated its centennial, Millbrook is a church with a rich heritage. Its ministry has and continues to reflect a changing community and a call for involvement as a progressive people of God. Millbrook continually seeks a vision of church as a committed people called by God for service.
Even before 1875, the rural farm people of Northern Wake County gathered together at a “brush arbor” for corporate worship to seek God’s blessings.
The Baptist people of the Millbrook area felt the need for a place to worship convenient to their homes, the nearest Baptist Churches being Mount Vernon and New Hope. At first an arrangement was made with Millbrook Methodist Church for joint use of their building. Then in October/November 1875, on land donated by Elias K. Chappell on the corner of Spring Forest and Falls of Neuse Roads, a one-room frame church was erected and called Midway Baptist Church. It was named Midway because it was located about halfway between New Hope and Mt. Vernon churches.
Architecturally, it resembled a small New England church. It was white and had one front door and a door on either side. The pews were handmade of heart pine and were sanded and polished until they shone. A well was dug near the church from which water was drawn for the thirsty members when there were occasional all-day services.
Services were held once a month, and the first preachers came by horseback or on foot, spending the nights in the community.
At this time the Millbrook Community consisted of the church, the school, a post office, a general store, a sawmill, a cotton gin, and several homes.
The people who founded this church were devout Christians having great faith by which they lived. The story is told that one summer there was a terrible drought and crops were wasting in the fields. The members of the church decided to meet and pray for rain. On the appointed day there was not a cloud in the sky. The sun was blazing down upon the dry earth. One man entered the church for the meeting carrying a big black umbrella. A friend asked why he had brought the umbrella and he replied that he had come to pray for rain and that he had faith that his prayer would be answered. The prayers were answered promptly for as the group left the little church the heavens opened up and a torrential rain came down. This is a true story. The man was Mr. Green Sanderford, the grandfather of one of our present members, Mrs. Elma Haithcock.
Regardless of the weather, Sunday School was held every Sunday. The members were faithful in supplying plenty of wood to be used in a large iron heater that stood in the center of the church. Joyously this service was rendered, because on entering the church on Sunday morning, it would always be warm and inviting. Someone who served his Lord had been faithful.
Preaching services were held twice a month on Saturday and Sunday. The Lord’s Supper was observed once a month. This sacrament was observed by passing the bread and one glass of wine from which all members drank.
After the crops were laid by (this means when work in the making of the crops was over and the farmers had a rest period while waiting for the harvest time), the church held its protracted meeting beginning on the second Sunday in August and lasting one week. Every day a picnic basket of good old country cooking and plenty of custard pies and fried chicken was spread at the noon hour after the morning service. This was very much enjoyed. After this, the group met for an afternoon service. Later in the afternoons, the ladies of the church would be busy at home preparing food for the next day. Soon after the meeting was over, baptism was held at some nearby pond.
In the spring of 1905, Miss Fannie E. Heck of Raleigh, who had previously been made State W. M. U. President, issued a call to the neighboring churches to send representatives to meet with her at a church in the Bayleaf section. She wanted to talk to the women about organizing missionary societies. Eight women met with Miss Heck and she pleaded with them to organize for work. Soon after this, the women of our church did organize. Mrs. Sam Harp was named President, Mrs. Olivia Sanderford was Vice-President, and Mrs. Eugene C. Beddingfield was Secretary-Treasurer. It seems that there were about seven women in this first group.
In 1906, a singing master was hired by the church. He used a tuning fork for pitch since there was neither an organ nor a piano at this time.
Mr. J. S. Farmer came to our church as pastor around 1910. He urged the women of the church to reorganize a missionary society, which they did.
These meetings of the Missionary Society were still held after the Sunday morning service. The husbands, who were having to look after the children while their wives were meeting, peeped in the doors with wondering looks as to what the ladies could be doing for so long a time. This was really an inconvenient time for the men and the children and so again the Missionary Society disbanded – not to be reorganized until Mrs. J. S. Farmer became our wonderful and inspirational leader.
Deacons had always been elected for an indefinite term. Many of them remained deacons throughout their lives. Not until the Midway Baptist Church was moved to Millbrook in 1922 was the practice of rotating deacons established and the accepting of women as deaconesses. Mrs. J. S. Farmer and Mrs. Charles A. Beddingfield were the first deaconesses in this church.
First services in the new church building were held on April 27, 1924. The “Chapel” with some additions that were added in the years to follow is still in use today.
At an Associational WMS meeting at Millbrook Church, Miss Leachman of The Home Mission Board spoke, and the “colored friends” at Wake Chapel Baptist Church were invited, and large numbers attended.
From the Church Minutes, February 9, 1947: “Mrs. E. B Haynes made the recommendation that our pastor’s salary be raised from $83.50 per month to $125. After discussion, Mrs. A. C. Green moved that we pay the sum recommended by Mrs. Haynes. Mr. Roy Beddingfield seconded the motion, and the vote was unanimous.”
Mr. Robert L. Newton was called as pastor in 1948, and by the time he left in 1958, the membership had grown to 239 members. Ray K. Hodge was called as pastor and served until 1960, during which time plans were drawn for an Educational Building and a baptistery was installed. The Church Newsletter, The Messenger, was begun during this time.
Jack L. Bullard began his ministry in September, 1960. During this time the Educational Building was completed with dedication services held in October, 1961. The Sanctuary was renovated and air-conditioned and kitchen improvements were made. The Kindergarten and Family Night Dinners were begun. An additional 3 1/2 acres of land were obtained from the Green estate.
For years the pastors of the church have been closely identified with the educational program of the Baptist Churches. Dr. Farmer was editor of the Biblical Recorder. Dr. J. Allen Easley taught at Wake Forest College. The Rev. Robert L. Newton taught briefly at Wake Forest and is now Dean of the Chapel at Campbell College. The Rev. Ray K. Hodge taught at Southeastern Baptist Seminary while pastor of the church. The Rev. Jack L. Bullard did extensive graduate work in Biblical languages and literature. As a result, a major emphasis of the church through the years has been its program of Christian education. This program expanded in the fall of 1965 with the opening of a week-day kindergarten program.
From the WMU Minutes 1958: Mrs. Mary B. Green would take an armload of library books to the Sunday School Classes on Sunday mornings, and also to the Missionary Society meetings. These library books were purchased from the sale of eggs, and from a five-cent donation by members. In 1958 a room was “fixed up” in the Church and thus our first Church Library. In 1970, in the new Sanctuary Building, the “Mary B. Green Library” was lovingly dedicated and continues to carry her name and serves a wonderful ministry in our Church.
From the Church Minutes, June 26, 1963: “Motion was made and carried that the Millbrook Baptist Church adopt the policy that if any person of any race should come to our church for worship, that he be ushered in and seated.”
The Kindergarten, under the direction of Jean H. Morris for 21 years, has become recognized as one of the best in Wake County. The present educational building was completed in 1961, and by 1973, a new sanctuary was completed and dedicated.
Dr. William H. Puckett, Jr. served the church from August 1968 to December 1989. Dr. Randall Robinson became senior minister in February 1991.