In the summer of 1891, a violent windstorm came through the growing town of Benson, destroying the small sanctuary of Benson Baptist Church, erected 1887-1888.

News of the building’s disaster came to the attention of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, which donated to the church a lot located at the corner of West Church and North Wall Streets.

Construction immediately began on a second sanctuary building. In 1914, this wood-framed building was relocated further down Church Street to make way for new brick building on the same lot, the one which still stands. The 1891 building now serves as a residence.

Recently, the Johnston County Heritage Center, directed by our Minister of Music, Todd Johnson, discovered an article from the dedication of the 1891 building originally published in The Biblical Recorder, a publication of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. (Below)

The window frames of the 1891 Benson Baptist building are walled in, but still visible today in the sanctuary turned residence. Photo by Shane Booth.

Dedication of the New Church Building at Benson, N.C.

Originally Published: December 9, 1891 The Biblical Recorder (Raleigh, North Carolina)

As I did not arrive at Benson until Saturday evening, I did not hear the sermon by Bro. W.B. Oliver of Fayetteville, but it was pronounced by those who heard it as being able and impressive, showing in strong terms from Isaiah and others the strength of the church of the living God.

At night Brother M.W. Page preached a good, practical sermon to a good congregation.

In spite of the rapidly falling snow, a good congregation assembled in the new and attractive house at Benson to take part in the dedication.

A number of visiting ministers were present, brethren Allen Betts, M.W. Page, A.N. Campbell, J.A. Campbell, E.B. Johnson, and the writer, besides the pastor, Rev. J.M. Holleman. The music, under the management of Miss Nolie Benson, was good.

The dedication sermon was preached by Rev. J.H. Edwards, after which was given the interesting history of this enterprise.

About six months ago the former house of worship was blown down and broken to pieces by a violent storm. The brethren here had just finished paying a debt of three hundred dollars on it, and were planning to complete it. With heroic faith the pastor and his flock set about restoring the waste places of Zion. A citizen of Benson, who is not a member of any church, was the first to propose that he would be one of ten men to rebuild and pay his proportion of the cost. The ten men offered themselves three of them not professing Christians, and two others members of other denominations. 

The pastor labored faithfully gathering the money, and when the committee held their final meeting the other day, they divided the deficit among themselves and paid it. So the new building was dedicated without a cent of debt upon it, and without the necessity of taking a collection for it on the day of dedication.

The R.R. Company gave them an eligible lot in the heart of town. The new church is a thing of beauty; painted white outside, with arched door and windows, and neat steeple containing a good bell. Within, the pews and high wainscoting are native pine, oiled and varnished; the walls plastered; beaded ceiling, painted pearl gray; door, window-facings and pulpit grained oak. The house has a seating capacity of 250, and is thoroughly warmed by a stove.

All honor to the pastor and his faithful people and to this community, for rearing this tasteful church and paying for it in six months. The cost was just $700. It is the first house of worship in this thriving young town, and is another monument of the enterprise and efficiency of our State Mission Board and our tireless Secretary. It shows, too, what can be done by the right man in the right place as pastor.

They have a flourishing Sunday school, also, of forty or fifty members, whose bright young faces were to be seen there yesterday afternoon. Yes, and now they are going to make a Christmas offering to help to send out the two new missionaries to the North China Mission. When people get in the way of working, it is easy to keep on.

J. Hartwell Edwards

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Article Courtesy of the Johnston County Heritage Center

Rev. Allen Betts, Pastor

1888-1889

Preached in the first sanctuary

Rev. J.M. Holloman, Pastor

1890-1893

Pastor during the second sanctuary’s dedication

Rev. James A. Campbell, Pastor

1896-99

Preached in the second sanctuary. Founder of Buies Creek Academy, now Campbell University.

Benson Baptist Men’s Sunday School class inside the almost completed third (and current) sanctuary, 1915.

Benson Baptist Church Sanctuary Building

1888-1891

Destroyed in 1891 due to a violent windstorm.

Benson Baptist Church Sanctuary Building

1891-1915

As it appears today (now a private residence). This sanctuary was the first to sit on the lot where the current sanctuary is now located. 

Photo courtesy of Shane Booth.

Benson Baptist Church Sanctuary Building

1915-Present

The current sanctuary building that the congregations at Benson Baptist have worshiped in since 1915. 

Photo courtesy of Ken Tart.