Reaching a New Generation with a Message of Christ
The Early Years
Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1970 under the leadership of the late Rev. J. C. Brewer. The first service for this fellowship was held on August 23rd of that year at 2919 West Trade Street, formerly Faith Methodist Church. On September 27, 1970, the Mount Peace Missionary Baptist Association with Rev. J. A. White, as the moderator, officially organized the church. Though starting out with approximately fifty members, the continuous growth of the church soon made the physical building too small for its use, and the they began to look for another worship site.
The Lord continued to work with this small group, establishing a Church Sunday School with Brother James Samuel elected as Superintendent. Sister Martha Davis became president of the Missionary Department and Sister Dixie Lewis became the first president of the Usher Board. The first elected Deacons were: the late Willie Howze, Sr. and Eugene Lowery, Sr. It was during this period that Rev. Brewer’s health began to fail and he was unable to fulfill his duties as pastor. Rev. Gus Moore was chosen as assistant pastor of the church during this time and he assisted the ailing Rev. Brewer with pastoral duties.
However, the group was determined, and the Lord blessed them with a preacher to lead the services each week. In 1971-1972, the late Deaconess Vera Howze became the church clerk, and Barnetta Carter was chosen as church secretary. The late Deacon Walter Goode was elected as Church School Superintendent. The late brother Ulysee Dixon (who was later ordained as a Deacon) and the late brother Willie Howze, Jr.( who was later ordained as a Deacon and subsequently ordained into the ministry) were added to the Trustee Board.
In April 1973, God blessed the efforts of this small congregation with the purchase of the church at its present site, 211 Lakewood Avenue. The first service at this location was September 2, 1973, the Sunday before Labor Day. This service was held after the death of Rev. Brewer, with Rev. B. M. Hambright assisting in the ministerial duties. The church’s progress seemed to slow after this tremendous undertaking and it was decided that the church needed a leader for God’s people. After hearing other preachers who were invited to speak, Rev. Wilch H. Caldwell, Sr. among them, the people decided to extend the call to Rev. Caldwell.
Rev. J.C. Brewer
The Next Twenty Five Years
Following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Caldwell accepted the call and began pastoral duties with Faith Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, the first Sunday in November, 1974. Under his leadership, the membership more than doubled and we became known as “The Little Church with the Big Heart”. Improvements were also made to the buildings and grounds. The church purchased a bus and a van, pulpit furniture, and sound equipment. Office equipment and a full time secretary were added during his first years. Seeing the need for various ministries, Pastor Caldwell also organized the Songs of Faith (Youth Choir), Faith Male Tones (Men Choir), the Nurse’s Guild, and the Pastor’s Aid. Dear to his heart were the Youth Ministries (one of the strongest in this city), and the American Red Cross Blood-Give In, during the annual “Family and Friends Day” that he established during Church Anniversary.
During his lifetime, Rev. Caldwell himself donated nine gallons of blood. He also licensed four ministers to preach, the late Revs. A.W. Anthony, Pearlie Millsaps, and Willie Howze, Jr. One of his sons in the ministry, Rev. Burrell Brooks pastors St. John Baptist Church in Statesville, NC. In 1998, he ordained the late Rev. Mark A. Perryman in the ministry. Under his guidance, the church sponsored two evangelistic campaigns per year, “The Week of Decision” in January and the annual “Fall Revival” during the month of October.
In 1991, the church began to look towards building a new sanctuary. The building expansion committee was formed, with Deacon Wilch H. Caldwell, Jr. as the chairperson. As Pastor Caldwell trained and taught the members of Faith Memorial that proper stewardship and obedience to God as glorified in Malachi 3:10, the vision of renovation and expansion became a reality in 1994. In December of 1996, the church held its first service in the new sanctuary and continues to experience growth and development, to this day.
The Millennium Years
In July of 1998, Pastor Caldwell announced his retirement, and a search committee was formed with Deaconess Wilhelmina Burton as chairperson. After much work, prayer and meditation, and many interviews with prospective candidates, the call to pastor was extended to the Rev. Dr. Nevalon Mitchell of Laurel, Maryland. He accepted this call in January 2000 and brought with him an extensive background in pastoral care and organization, along with the tremendous ability to preach and teach God’s Holy Word.
Following Dr. Mitchell’s brief tenure as Pastor, the church welcomed Rev. Billy H. Casey in late 2001, who served as Pastor until 2003.
In June of 2004, Faith Memorial extended the call to our present pastor, Rev. Dr. Dennis R. Williams. Pastor Williams is serving our congregation as a prolific teacher, preacher and administrator. Since accepting the call, the church has seen tremendous growth both spiritually and physically. Through his deliverance of the preached Word, over 200 souls have accepted Jesus Christ as their personal savior. He licensed Johnny Sibley, Sharon Torrence-Dwiggins as Ministers of the Gospel in 2004. In 2014, he licensed Deacon Barney Clay and ordained Dr. Donald Etheridge. In 2011, Pastor Williams licensed Rick Jackson and Anna Perryman to preach the Gospel.
In 2008, he led the drive to sponsor the citywide, evangelistic effort –WOW JAM in the Lakewood Community. Faith Memorial Baptist Church is now involved in the campaign to expand its facilities with the addition of a multi-use building on its campus. Many upgrades have been done to the present facility. It’s footprint in the community and beyond is far-reaching because of the evangelism and mission efforts by the Faith Memorial Baptist Church leadership and membership.