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St. Mary's Baptist Church

St Mary's Free Will Baptist Church

Elder Daniel Davis established St. Mary's Free Will Baptist Church in 1881 in Wilson County between the communities of Lucama and Kenly. The little church originally consisted of but twelve members. Later that same year The North Carolina General Conference of Original Free Will Baptist Churches officially received the fledgling church into its membership. Two years later Jesse and Polly Kirby gave an acre of land to the church. On this donated land, the church erected a white, one-room wooden building.

The church has remained on that original piece of land, but has expanded greatly from its humble origins. A revival in 1932 was very important in the church's history because nearly sixty people made professions of faith. That same decade the little white building received electric lighting, Sunday School rooms, and a choir loft. During the hard years of the Great Depression when the church struggled to pay its minister, its members provided food such as chickens, hams, and vegetables and helped the minister pick his cotton crop.

Since then, the church's facilities have grown steadily. In 1949 the church bricked its original sanctuary and added stained glass windows and a vestibule. Just eight years later church members themselves built a two story educational building with twelve Sunday School rooms. Doing the labor themselves, they completed the expansion without the church incurring any debt. In 1973 the church purchased land across from its sanctuary on which it built a fellowship hall. In 1985 the church undertook a major renovation of its sanctuary including expanding its size, adding a large steeple, and enlarging its vestibule. In 1998 the church added a new annex.

Today, twenty-nine pastors after its founding, St. Mary's Free Will Baptist Church has over two hundred members, and holds two revivals each year. Six people from the congregation have entered the ministry, and the church supports a wide assortment of programs. Its Sunday School has operated since before 1930. Additionally there is a Senior Ladies' Auxiliary, Junior Ladies' Auxiliary, Youth Fellowship Auxiliary, and Ambassadors for Christ for small children. There is a church choir and choir for youth and hand-bell choir as well. The church helps support the Carolina Bible Institute in Pine Level, the Kenly Area Ministries, The Kenly Fire Department and the Kenly Rescue Squad. Through the North Carolina State Convention of Original Free Will Baptist Churches, St. Mary's also helps support a children's home in Middlesex, Mt. Olive College, retirement for ministers and their wives, scholarship programs, and home and foreign missions among other outreach ventures.

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