Main Street Baptist Church History
During the years immediately following the emancipation there was no organized congregation for the black baptist believers within the town limits of Smithfield, but there were two congregations nearby in Isle of Wight County, namely Emmanuel Baptist and Little Zion Baptist.
A group had been meeting for prayer and study but had no recognized leader. Rev. Jacob Jordan, a Smithfield resident and a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church was sent by Emmanuel to organize the group and in 1881 the Second Baptist Church came into existence. Second Baptist being chosen as the name because Smithfield baptist was the first baptist congregation in the town. A building on Hill Street which had been the home of Smithfield Baptist Church was secured for the worship services and the congregation grew and prospered. The Rev. Thaddeus Nettles was the first official pastor. Shortly after the beginning of the century the name of the congregation was changed to Hill Street Baptist Church.
Hill Street Baptist Church
A new edifice was constructed and dedicated in 1923. The Great Depression also affected the church and mortgage payments were difficult to make but the congregation never faltered in their trust in God and He continued to bless us. The mortgage on the building was paid off on the first Sunday in July in 1943. The building, being the largest black church in the area was also used for high school graduations and other community functions. An auxiliary building, (what we would consider today as a mission center) located on Cedar street known as the annex was purchased and used as the educational and social facility for the church and community. The first parsonage was located on the corner of Main Street and Great Springs Road.
The congregation celebrated its 100th anniversary in 1981 and the mortgage was paid off three years earlier than negotiated. Later on, in recognition of our location, the name was changed to Main Street Baptist Church.
Main Street Learning Center
In 1956, a house with a three-car garage and a servant's quarter residence, located on Main Street between Grace Street extended and Great Springs Road, belonging to David Rawls, and 40 acres of land was purchased. The house became the church parsonage and the Martha James Godwin Kindergarten occupied the two-story slave house.
The Martha James Godwin Memorial Kindergarten is the outgrowth of a private venture started in 1942 by Mrs. S. R. Williams. When Mrs. Williams returned to teaching in the public school, the kindergarten was taken over by the church and was operated at the Church Annex. Mrs. Clara L. Miller of Rushmere was the first teacher. She was succeeded by Mrs. Ida W. Herring who decided that this auxiliary should have a name. The Kindergarten was first named “The Mother Goose Kindergarten”, and later renamed as a memorial to the later Martha James Godwin. The kindergarten operated at the Annex until the church purchased the new site on Main Street. It then moved to this location because this site afforded a larger play area.
When Mrs. Herring’s health prevented her from serving as teacher any more, she was succeeded by Miss Thelma Wilkerson. When Miss Wilkerson moved from our community, Mrs. Mary Ford, assumed the position as teacher. She worked alone for several years until the school grew too large for one person to handle, Mrs. Doris D. Blount was then asked to assist Mrs. Ford as a teacher. Eventually the Day Care became so large that Mrs. Martha Evans was added to the staff. Mrs. Doris Blount was placed in Church Manor. In the room which is now the Church Manor office.
Mrs. G. L. Williams remained the School’s Supervisor until her death. The School’s P.T.A. under the direction of Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Blount, proved quite active and through its efforts, purchased regular kindergarten furniture and play ground equipment.
MSBC Men of Music
Main Street In the Community
The vision to build a new house of worship, the establishment of a multi-family housing project and a single family project was put before the congregation and it was approved. In 1971, Church Manor Apartments, a 50 unit project consisting of one, two, and three bedroom units received its first residents. On the first Sunday in September 1974, the congregation marched from Hill Street to its new facility on Main Street. Covenant Place Apartments, a 40 unit one bedroom project for senior citizens was opened in 1990. Evergreen Acres, the final phase of the original project was occupied by its first homeowner in 2004. Additional units are now being constructed and were available for occupancy early in 2009.
Recognizing the need for expanded facilities for ministry, the Samuel and Georgia Williams Mission Center was completed in early 2014 and was dedicated in December of that year. God has given us the gift of dedicated members who were willing to make personal sacrifices to the work of kingdom building. It is through the work of many who loved God and served as officers, auxiliary leaders and auxiliary members and regular "bench members" that we enjoy and share this blessing today. God has also provided dedicated leaders for this church.
Recognizing that our ministry is not restricted to those within the sanctuary walls, our mission statement reflects how we will meet the needs of today's generation.Yes, we are God's representatives in this community, following His will by preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that men, women, boys, and girls will be saved, and we share the love of Jesus by ministering to and meeting the spiritual, physical and social needs of people as led by the Holy Spirit.