Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 22, 1953
NUMBER 24, PAGE 4-5b

Progress In North Carolina

F. Y. T.

These lines are being written from Hickory, North Carolina. It was just one year ago that the editor from this same spot wrote, "If any congregation is interested in supporting a man to go to some 'mission' field, we know of no place in the nation that offers richer possibilities than North Carolina." In that article we told a bit of the history of the church in this state — how North Carolina had once ranked among the strongest states in the nation in the number of New Testament congregations; but how that digression had almost swept the state bare of faithful churches. Only about ten or twelve small, struggling, rural groups were left to carry on. That was the condition until about ten years ago. Then things began to happen.

Within ten years time the number of faithful congregations rose from about a dozen to more than forty; and full-time preachers in the state increased from one to twenty-five. That was the situation last year as reported in our editorial in the Gospel Guardian of December 18.

And now, one year later, what is the score? Well, to those forty-three faithful congregations of last year we can add the following either as established and going strong, or as in the process of being established: Lenoir, Jamesville, Kinston, Candler, Jacksonville, Ashboro, Elizabeth City, Burlington, Albemarle, Valdese, and Lumberton. Indeed, there may be even more than these; but of these eleven towns we have definite information. And instead of twenty-five full-time preachers in the state, there are now thirty-one. Most of these are supported either in part or in whole by churches in other states who have become aware of the wonderfully fruitful and promising field which is offered by the "Tarheel" state.

The church here at Hickory is quite typical of the sort of growth being made all over the state. Started with only six members in 1945, they were able to go into their own small but very attractive church building in 1949. We reported last year, "Present membership of the Hickory church is 45, with an average attendance on Sundays of 55, and a weekly contribution of about $65.00." But for 1954 we can just revise those figures upward like this: "Present membership of the Hickory church is 55, with an average attendance on. Sundays of 60, and a weekly contribution of about $80.00." William E. Wallace preaches for the Hickory congregation, receiving approximately one-half of his support from this church, and the rest of it from the Tenth and Francis Streets church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Brother Wallace has baptized twelve people here since the meeting last year.

Other congregations in the state have made notable progress this past year. New buildings have been completed at Statesville, Raleigh, Jacksonville, and Boone. Several others are under construction at this writing.

Particularly gratifying is the interest being shown in this field by churches outside the state. This writer, for instance, is being supported in one mission meeting in the state by a church in Texas; in another by a church in Kansas; and in still a third by a church in Kentucky. Brother John T. Overbey of Fifteenth and Delaware congregation in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was sent by that church last summer for a six weeks preaching tour in North Carolina. The work was cut short by the polio epidemic, but he did a great work here, and is given credit by these brethren for furnishing the spark that started at least one new congregation. The Tulsa congregation plans to send him back next year for further work. Churches in Tennessee are contributing generously to the furtherance of work in this field, supporting either in part or in whole several of the thirty-one preachers whom we mentioned as now working in the state.

What of the future? We see no serious problem of any nature threatening the future of the church in North Carolina. The faithful preachers here are for the most part young men. But they are so busy fighting the errors of sectarianism, battling for their very existence, they have little time for the promotional schemes and institutional projects which so plague the churches in other areas. They have not yet grown "great" enough to have any desire to make an impression on the sectarian world by huge houses and multiplied institutions. All they are interested in right now is establishing New Testament congregations and saving souls from the errors of false teaching. They are not timid or shy about debating with the proponents of error; and have no embarrassment at all about drawing the line against such. The church is young, militant, and aggressive.

Once again we would like to encourage congregations over the nation to investigate the possibilities of this field. It is a "coming" state so far as New Testament Christianity is concerned. An investment in souls made here will bring returns in abundance. It is this writer's hope and determination to be returning to the state year after year, working among the weak and struggling congregations, or helping to establish new churches. This is the sort of work that thrills the heart of any gospel preacher.