Waughtown Baptist Church for the Colored Race was organized by Rev. J. Pinkney with the assistance of Rev. George W. Holland of First Baptist Church. A loyal and devoted group of worshippers met in various locations until trustees Addison Jeffers, Julius Crews, and Walter Clark purchased a tract of land on Waughtown Street – a brush arbor that served as the church’s first home.
Around 1903, Rev. Joyce envisioned a “bigger and better” Waughtown Baptist Church and led an aggressive capital campaign to finance a more stable meeting place. A second lot on Waughtown Street was purchased in 1907, and the congregation quickly grew into one of the largest within the Rowan Baptist Association.
On December 2, 1912, trustees Earl Hines, Jeff Traynham, and Jesse Williams were authorized to sell the property on Waughtown Street and purchase a parcel of land on Moravia Street across from the Colored Baptist Orphanage where Rev. Joyce served as a trustee. The connection became a great benefit to the children’s home. In 1913, Waughtown Baptist Church opened its doors at its new location, offering the orphanage use of its facility.
Having led the church through its founding and significant growth, Rev. Joyce retired as pastor in 1947 at the age of 80. He was elected pastor emeritus and remained an active supporter of the church until his death in 1951.
Rev. James Emmett Huntley accepted the call to serve in 1948 and guided the congregation in a remodeling effort that added a furnace, stained glass windows, baptismal pool, indoor bathrooms, and a fellowship hall in the basement of one of the original structures. Around 1951, the congregation called the Rev. Robert F. Westfield to pastor. He served for less than a year, the shortest tenure of any pastor in the church’s history.
The church was without a pastor until 1957 when Rev. Ernest Lee Grant of Rising Ebenezer Baptist Church was called. A college-trained minister and accomplished carpenter, he provided great stability, vision, and leadership for 25 years. Without the church going into debt, Rev. Grant oversaw the construction of a chapel and a new sanctuary. In 1982, Rev. Grant retired and was name Pastor Emeritus, leaving the church mortgage free with significant financial reserves.
In May of 1983, Rev. Dennis Wayne Bishop delivered his first sermon as senior pastor and began a tenure that has been characterized by tremendous physical and ministerial expansion. In April of 1989, the congregation voted to change its name from Waughtown Baptist Church to First Waughtown Baptist Church to differentiate itself from the Waughtown Baptist on Waughtown Street. During Pastor Bishop’s tenure, the church established membership with the American Baptist Churches, obtained non-profit status as a corporation in September of 1993, and built the 1.9 million dollar D. W. Bishop Full Life Center where worship services are held today. In 2017, Pastor Bishop received the Doctor of Divinity Degree from United Cornerstone University.
With a distinguished history, a gifted pastor in Dr. Bishop, and devoted members, First Waughtown Baptist Church, Inc. continues to serve God’s people in the Winston-Salem community and beyond. To God be the glory for the great things He has done!