Upon his arrival from Virginia, Reverend George Washington Holland (above) held worship services in the brush arbors of Winston-Salem. He also conducted services at the homes of his followers and at Hinshaw Hall at the corner of 4th & Chestnut Streets. In early 1879, Rev. Holland officially organized First Baptist Church, the first African American Baptist church in Winston- Salem. He was assisted by Rev. Henry A. Brown, the pastor of Winston Baptist Church, which later became the white First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem. On July 23, 1879, the newly formed congregation took deed of the property on the southeast corner of 6th & Chestnut Streets. This land was purchased from the United Brethren of Salem for $75.
The congregation worshipped at various locations until 1882 when it was able to erect a large wooden edifice that fronted on Sixth Street. This building is reported to have housed the first grammar school for African Americans in the city. The congregation grew and in 1897, construction began on a new edifice. Five years later, “a magnificent brick-faced structure with impressive stained glass windows was completed”. This structure was considered as one of the most modern churches of its era constructed solely by African American artisans and builders. The new church was dedicated on Sunday, July 27, 1902. After 27 years of dedicated service, Rev. Holland passed away in 1906. First Baptist has been led by nine subsequent pastors:
Dr. John A. Whitted (1907–1911)
Dr. George O. Bullock (1912–1918)
Dr. Edward Gholson (1919–1924)
Dr. Junious H. Thomas (1925–1928)
Dr. Joseph C. White (1929–1944)
Dr. David R. Hedgley (1944–1975)
Dr. William S. Epps (1975–1983)
Rev. Wendell A. Johnson (1985–2005)
Rev. Dr. Darryl W. Aaron (2008–2015)
The church continued to worship at 6th & Chestnut facility until, under the pastorate of Dr. David R. Hedgley, it moved to its current location. The new sanctuary was completed at a cost of over $250,000. The dedication and first worship service was held on Sunday, May 1, 1955. The Education Annex was added in 1968.
In 1982, FBC sponsored the construction of a 114- unit housing development for the elderly. The development was named in honor of Rev. George W. Holland, founder and first pastor of First Baptist Church. First Baptist has had continued growth over the years. It is the hope of the congregation to truly be that “beacon on the hill” attracting unsaved souls to Our Savior, Jesus Christ. We pray that God will continue to be praised and His will be done as we labor in the vineyards for many years to come.