Excerpt from Good Hope Baptist Church History Book

Catherine Debnam 
Chairperson and Editor 

A History of Good Hope Baptist Church 

Early Roots in Hephzibah Baptist Church 

From all available records, Good Hope Baptist 
Church is a daughter of the Hephzibah Baptist Church, 
white, which is situated on Highway 64 East, about 
four miles west of Wendell. Black members were 
recorded on the rolls of that church as early as May, 
1810 and thereafter until 1912 when the last one died 
in the person of "Aunt Hixie Merritt." She was the last 
black member buried in that cemetery. In 1823 
Hephzibah Baptist Church's membership consisted of 
88 males, 120 females and 40 blacks. The record of 
1832 mentions two black deacons serving the church. 

"Hephzibah Baptist Church was constituted by 
Elder John Purefoy of Wake Cross Roads and John 
Galley of the Rock Spring Church of Johnston County. 
The ten original members were: William Broadwell, 
Henry Jordan, Reuben Jordan, Lott Robertson, Martin 
Hall, Savina Bagwell, Christina Bagwell, Mary Jordan, 
Sophia Hocutt and Martha Hall. The date of this 
organizational meeting was December 30, 1809. John 
Purefoy was elected pastor." (1) 

Prior to 1865 the custom and practice was for blacks 
to worship in white churches. They were not accepted 
on par with their white sisters and brothers. The 
records of Hephzibah show that blacks were taken into 
membership constantly. In September, 1863 the Min- 
utes of Hephzibah state: "Received by experience 
John Morgan (Colored) ; Louis, servant of B. Y. Deb- 
nam; Grizzie, servant of A. B. Foster; Lewis, servant 
of G. W. Scarborough." (2) 

The October meeting of that same year shows : 
"Betsey, servant of Joseph Fowler; Badger, former 
servant of Jackson Terill; Mazie Hall, a free Colored 
woman, were received in membership." (3) 

Between 1840 and 1860 there was much growing 
discontent among the colored brethern and sisters all 
over the county. It was during this period that many 
of our independent churches and denominations were 
born. Hephzibah was no exception. In the December 
meeting of 1865, a motion was recorded which stated: 
"Granting the colored brethern and sisters the privi- 
lege of worshipping among themselves rescinded." (4) 
The meaning of this motion is that the blacks had 
already been granted the privilege of leaving the 
Mother Church, but at this meeting, this action was 
rescinded. This shows further that there was much 
confusion in the church over the status of blacks. 

The Minutes of 1866 states: "Agreed that the 
church grant her colored members a letter in a body 
and constitute them into a separate church." (5) It is 
unfortunate that we do not have the details of the 
organization of a separate church. Just how many 
members formed this church is not known. We do not 
know how much assistance the white brethern gave 
the colored, if any. If the colored brethern and 
sisters came out of Hephzibah Baptist Church, 
as this motion states, in 1866, it is probable that Good 
Hope Baptist Church is 105 years old. There is much 
validity in this motion because in a regular worship 
service, as the colored members were worshipping in 
the balcony, a deacon Scarborough asked them to leave 
because of emotional outcries. 

After the colored members came out of Hephzibah 
Baptist Church, they seemed to have followed patient- 
ly like the Children of Israel in "Wilderness Wander- 
ing." They seemed to have moved from first one place 
and then another for a period of about 10 or 12 years. 
It seems that all of the colored members did not leave 
the Mother Church. According to relatives testimonies 
those members who did leave, the number unknow, 
met first under "Brush Arbors" at a place called 
'"Butterstump," between Eagle Rock and Buffalo. 
We do not know how long they remained there, but 
a few years later we were told that they met at a place 
called "Black Anchor" near Brother Ruth Dunn's 
farm. Some time around 1875 this little band is re- 
ported to have built a log hut about "twenty by 
twenty" some where in the neighborhood of the old 
rock near S. M. McCullers' farm. We are not able to 
document with any degree of certainty the activity 
of this period. 

Brother Sylvester Mial related that a John Curry, 
known as "Father Curry" and the Reverend Essie 
Blake were instrumental in the organization of Good 
Hope Baptist Church. When the question of a name 
came before the members, Father Blake said call the 
church, "Good Hope." It is my candid opinion that the 
Reverend Mr. Essie Blake aided in the organization of 
The First Baptist Church, Clayton; Springfield Bap- 
tist Church, Auburn; Wake Baptist Grove, Garner; 
and the Wakefield Baptist Church, Zebulon. Reverend 
Blake was instrumental in organizing the Johnston 
District Association and perhaps was its first Modera- 
tor about the year of 1885. I am told bv those who re- 
member Reverend Blake that he was of small stature, 
but possessed great power as a preacher. 

We know with certainty that by 1878, the Good 
Hope Baptist Church had been organized with deacons 
and trustees. A deed recorded in the Wake County 
Court House in Book No. 56, page 8 is dated December 
1878, made to: 

"Banks Price, Simon Price, Isham Pair, 
Allen Miles and Haywood Wilder, Trustees of 
the Good Hope Baptist Church all of the State 
and County Aforesaid, Witnesseth: That in 
consideration of twenty-five dollars, in hand 
paid to said Wm. B. Doubd and L. L. Doubd 
have bargained and sold, and they do hereby 
bargain and sell and convey to said trustees 
and their successors in office, all their rights, 
title and interest in and to the following tract 
of land, situated: 

Begining in the Middle of the Smithfield Road near the N.W. Corner of the Shuck House field and running just north of a large pine side tree Due East (3.1) Three and one tenth chains to the line; Thence with said line North 3 degrees. East (3.1) Three and one tenth chains to stake and pointers; Thence due West to the Middle of the Smithfield Road; thence down the said Road to the beginning, containing one Acre, More or less. (6) It is further mentioned in the records of Hephzibah Baptist Church that twenty-five dollars was given to the colored brethern to purchase a church site; ant' the records also show that twenty-five dollars was the purchase price for the original tract. The first pastor of the Good Hope Baptist Church, as far as the available records go, was the Reverend Essie Blake, who at this time must have been in his early years. Some other early leaders, other than those mentioned in the deed were, "Brisker Jones," Sonnie Powell, Green Hinton, Ransom Mial, Clark Griffis an^' Fenner Terrill. About 1894, or there about, the church must have realized the need for a cemetery According to a deed, made this the 7th of March, 1894, C. Hendrick Williamson of Wake County, and State of North Carolina, of the first part, to Haywood Wilder, B. T. Terrell and Isham Pair, Trustees of Good Hope Baptist Church, Shotwell, N. C, of Wake County and the State of North Caro- lina, of the second part, Witnesseth : That said C. H. Williamson in considera- tion of twenty-five ($25.00) dollars to him paid by said Trustees, Haywood Wilder, B. T. Terrell and Isham Pair, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged, has bargained and sold ... to said trustees ... a certain tract or parcel of land in Wake County, State of North Carolina, adjoining the lands of L. L. Doubd, Good Hope Baptist Church and C. H. Williamson (said land being designated a graveyard for Good Hope Baptist Church. (7) According to this deed the graveyard is 420 feet by 210 feet being two acres, more or less. The deed is recorded the 12th of Novem- ber, 1894. Millard Mial was the Register of Deeds. The second pastor of Good Hope Baptist Church was the Reverend Robert Shepherd. (Bob Shepherd). We don't know the end of Reverend Blake's pastorate nor the beginning of Reverend Shepherd's; but some of the older members who knew Reverend Shepherd said he pastored about fifteen or twenty years. Accord- ing to the Minutes of the Wake Baptist Association for the year 1881, fifteen years after the constitution of the church, the total membership was 100 persons; thirty males and seventy females. The delegates that year were Clark Griffin, F. Terrill and Haywood Wilder. The total valuation of the church was listed as $2,000.00. In the year of 1892 the Minutes of the Wake Baptist Association list the Reverend S. B. Barker as the pastor of the church and a membership of 210. The Minutes of 1893 listed Reverend Joseph Perry as pastor of the church. He was also at that time, the Moderator of the Wake Association, and the teacher in the Shotwell Community. The records of 1901 list the Reverend A. T. Price as pastor and G. H. Williams as clerk. The membership was 220. The Reverend Price served this church on two different occasions. He must have been a young man at this pastorate which covered a period of two or three years. The year 1905 records the Reverend W. S. Wyche as pastor and Arthur Jones as clerk. We do not know just how long Reverend Wyche served, but we are led to believe that it covered several years. It was report- ed of him that he was a "powerful preacher." It is thought by some of the members that the Reverend Dr. George W. Moore followed Reverend Wyche, but I do not find any records to substantiate this assertion. Sister Mazie Johnson, Cora A. Watson and Brother Joseph J. Blake state that he did con- duct a great revival about this time when many per- sons came to Christ. Whether he was pastor or just the evangelist is not clear. The year 1912 found the Reverend A. B. Vincent as pastor and R. G. Dunn as clerk. Reverend Vincent served until 1917. The North Carolina Edition of the American Negro states that he pastored for seven years. It is probable that he assumed the pastorate around 1910. If this is the case his tenure woud be around seven years. His biographical sketch lists him as A.B., A.M., and D.D. and a member of the faculty of Shaw University. (8) The Reverend A. T. Price came back to Good Hope for a second pastorate in 1918 and served until his death in 1928. The Reverend John Henry Clanton served as pastor from 1929 through 1930. The Reverend Clanton was followed by the Reverend E. M. Saunders who served several years. He was followed by a local son of the church, the Reverend Charlie Jones who served about one year. In 1938 the Reverend A. B. Johnson became pastor and served until December, 1942. Under his leadership the church was covered with tin shingles and a con- ference room was erected. About the early part of 1943, the Reverend C. L. Faison was called to the church, but chose not to serve. On the second Sunday in February, 1943 the Rever- end Claude R. Trotter was invited to supply the pulpit and that following April the church extended him a call. He accepted and has served the church through some of the most productive years of its long history. After about a year's observation and study of the church, Pastor Trotter saw the need for better organ- ization. He recommended the "group system." The church was divided into six geographical areas. The original areas and their leaders were as follows : Shot- well, Mrs. Carrie McCullers, who declined in favor of her daughter, Mrs. Hattie Bryant; Good Hope Group, Mrs. Bessie Hinton who declined in favor of Mrs. Laura Ruth Hinton who served for about fifteen years ; Eagle Rock, Mrs. Viola Johnson who served until Eagle Rock merged with Shotwell and other groups ; Knight- dale, Mrs. Annie Jones; Auburn, Mrs. Zenobia Jones; and Raleigh Group, Mrs. Mary Jane Adams. The groups have been a real blessing to the church both financially and spiritually. The deacons have played an important role in the long history of our church. Some of the deacons were: Isham Pair, Brisker Jones, Simon Price, Banks Price, Haywood Wilder, Conley Bryant, Fenner Terrell, Sr., Allen Miles and Green Hinton. The next set of deacons were Rufus Merrit, Felex Watson, Richmond Hinton, Porter Powell, Badger Terrell and Arthur Jones, Sr. These deacons were followed by Sylvester Mial, Ruth Dunn, Augustus Goodson, Sr., S. M. McCullers, Collins Hinton, Henry Coffey and James H. Watson. About ±944 the church elected the following brothers as deacons: Fred Debnam, Fenner Bryant, Marion Goodson and Early Johnson. Some years later Norman Dunn, Lemuel Mials, Henderson McCullers and Ollie Dunston joined the ranks. Brother Nathan H. Watson moved his membership from Lee's Cross Road Baptist Church and was accepted with full rights as a deacon. The next men elected to the deaconship were Leonard Williams and Walter Williams. The last set of men to be elected as deacons were Theodore Goodson, One? Polk, Walter Hinton and Willie E. Jones. Dalon Free- man moved his membership from Smith Temple Free Will Baptist Church, and was later accepted as a dea- con of Good Hope Baptist Church. The present roster of deacons are Nathan H. Wat son, Fred Debnam, Dalon Freeman, Marion Goodson, Fenner Bryant, Walter Williams, Ollie Dunston, Ones Polk, Theodore Goodson, Walter Hinton and Willie E. Jones. The present roster of trustees are J. W. Evans, Isaiah Goodson, Arthur Barbour, Garfield Bryant, James Coffey, Sidney Lee Hinton, Otis Williams and Joseph J. Blake who is also the present treasurer. In 1948 the church engaged Mr. Eugene Savage to design a new church edifice 42' x 90'. By 1951 sufficient funds, with the help of members and friends who do- nated timber, had been gathered for the erection of a new church. Pastor Trotter was engaged to supervise the construction of the building, and by the end of 1952 the building project was well on its way. On June 30, 1957 the new church was dedicated formerly by the Reverend Samuel Moss Carter of Richmond, Virginia. The stain glass windows are donations from individuals and groups. The H. R. Coffey family, the Johnson Family, the A. I. Goodson Family, and the S. M. McCullers Family gave the windows which bear their names. The window which bears the name of Deacon Collin Hinton and Mrs. Zenobia Jones was donated by the Auburn Group in their memory. The window which bears the name of Mr. G. H. Williams and Mrs. Alex Hines was donated by the Knightdale Group. The window which bears the name of "Aunt Jane Jones" was donated by Mr. Carl Williamson. The window which bears the name of Mrs. Cora Pair Thomas was given by the church in memory of the distinguished Christian work of a former member in Liberia, West Africa. The large window in the front of the church was given through the efforts of Mrs. Bessie Coffey. The window which bears the name of Mrs. Inez Dunn was donated by the Shotwell group. The picture of "Jesus in the Garden" was donated by the Debnam Family several years later. On June 3, 1957, the church purchased thirty-six pews fifteen feet long from Southern Desk Company at a cost of $4,025.00. A few years later the church installed a new Hammond Organ. In the spring of 1967 the church launched a building program to include Sunday School rooms, kitchen and dining area. During this time the membership doubled. In 1970 the church purchased four acres of additional land, making a total of eight acres of land owned by the church. All of these physical accomplishments have occurred under Pastor Trotter's long pastorate. The new pulpit set is a donation to the church by the deaconess, under the leadership of Mrs. Annie Bryant. The Bulletin Board in the front of the church is a donation of Miss Elmira Pace, given in the honor of James and Hattie Pace, her father and mother.

Mrs. Thomas 

No true history of the Good Hope Baptist Church can be written 
without some mention of the unique contribution of Mrs. Cora Pair 
Thomas. Many persons, men and women, have left their foot prints upon 
the sand of time, but thou excellest them all. 

Cora Ann Pair, the fourth child of the late Harmon H. Pair and 
Allie V. Pair was born September 8, 1875 in Shotwell, Wake County, North 

After her basic schooling in the local community, she graduated from 
Shaw University in 1895. She also did further work at Fisk University 
and the J. R. Moone Fireside School in Nashville, Tennessee. Miss Pair 
seemed to have possessed a great humanitarian spirit, perhaps greatly 
influenced by her pastor, the Reverend Robert Shepherd. 

"She taught in the Public Schools of Wake and Nash Counties; while 
thus engaged she was invited to accept the principalship of the Colored 
Orphanage, Oxford, North Carolina. She held this post until she felt 
strongly urged to the work of the foreign field — Africa." 

While at Shaw University she met the Reverend William H. Thomas 
who was pursuing training both in the arts and religion. After both com- 
pleted their courses and were prepared for the work to which the Master 
had called them, they were married November, 1908 and sailed the follow- 
ing month for Liberia, West Africa. They arrived January, 1909 in Brewer- 
ville where they labored together for thirty-three years.