The History “A Dream Worthy to be Told”


Years of Struggle

In 1729, Scottish settlers came up the Cape Fear River by boat and settled in the area that is now Harnett County.  People of African descent came almost as soon as the white settlers did, but as slaves.  A few Africans were free men. Some of the white people and very few slaves settled in the eastern part of Harnett County, North Carolina in the area known today as Lillington in the Asheboro Township area known as Linden, in the Barclaysville area located between Coats and Angier, and near Buies Creek, in the community now known as Mount Pisgah.  The ministers in the area during that time were Rev. James A. Campbell, who preached in the Lillington and Broadway areas, and Rev. Dushee Shaw, who preached near Turlington’s Crossroads.  Both were white ministers. The slaves and their masters attended church together.  This is very significant for Mount Pisgah because some of the original members first attended Prospect Missionary Baptist church as slaves.  The church deed indicates that Prospect Church, which is located on the same road less than a mile from the present location of Mount Pisgah, was organized in 1846, but later changed to Free Will Baptist in 1853.  After the Civil War the colored families were asked to leave the churches and to worship on their own.  This was one of the first steps towards the beginning of Mount Pisgah Church.

According to old records and stories passed down through generations, with the end of the Civil War, the former slaves began to form their own churches. Mr. Neil McLeod, who was a member of Prospect Church, offered to let the original church members use an old shanty to have worship service.  Later Mr. McLeod decided to use the shanty as a mule shed which resulted in the services being discontinued for a while.  The members then began to hold services at Mr. Dave Holiday’s house, a log cabin located near Bob’s spring. The Mount Pisgah Church was known then as “Old Egypt.”

In 1867, Mr. Bill McKoy gave Mr. Jack McKoy an acre of land for the purpose of building a church. The African Free Will Baptist Church, later named Mount Pisgah, was built with Elder Bright Richardson and Elder Bright Walter serving as its first two ministers.  According to conference records, Mount Pisgah was one of the first colored churches in the Cape Fear Conference.  Mr. Jack McKoy, Mr. Sandy McKoy, and Mr. Thomas Ryals were the first trustees.  This is confirmed by the original deed to the church property that was found in 1891.  Mr. William Bill McKoy and his wife Anna Stacy McKoy officially deeded the land to the church trustees.

In the 1870’s, Harnett County purchased land in the proximity of where the members of Mount Pisgah were holding services and built a one-room schoolhouse for the education of the colored children.  The school was named Mount Pisgah School.  Mr. William Shaw was the Superintendent of the school in the 1880’s.  Many of the children that were members of Mount Pisgah Church attended the Mount Pisgah School.  When the Mount Pisgah Church burned down, the members were permitted to use the school for church services until the church was rebuilt.  The school remained in the same location for 56 years until it was declared unsafe.


“A Dream Worthy to be Told”

The church continued to experience consistent growth over the years. The church flourished under the leadership of Rev. A. B. Massie and Rev. George Ewing.  The lighting for “Old Egypt” was provided by the use of Coca Cola bottles filled with kerosene and rags for wicks.  The church was heated with a pot-bellied stove and cooling was provided by raising the windows and fans usually provided by the local funeral homes.  These meager conditions continued through the years until the erection of the second church when electrical lighting was added.  The construction of the third church included indoor plumbing and the church eventually added indoor restrooms in the front of the church.  Tap water replaced buckets and dippers.  Hardwood seats, dusty floors, cold winters and hot summers in the sanctuary all gave way to padded seats, carpeted floors, central heat and air conditioning.  The Lord blessed us to make the church a comfortable place to worship.

From 1960 to 1973, Vice Bishop Clifton Rouse served as pastor of Mount Pisgah Church and was instrumental in moving the church forward.  Elder Ulysses S. Wade was pastor from 1973 to 1975.  Elderess Rosa Burt served as interim pastor for a short time in 1975 after Elder Wade left and before Elder Elijah Newkirk was elected pastor.  Elder Elijah Newkirk served from 1975 until 1979.  Elder James Randolph served from 1979 to 1982 and was very progressive in leading the church, bringing in new ideas that blessed the church family.  Elder Jule Bradford served as interim pastor during 1982.

In 1982, Elder Reginald S. Hinton became the youngest pastor in the church’s history.  Under God’s direction and Pastor Hinton’s leadership, the dreams and visions of the members of Mount Pisgah Church began to unfold.  The church continued to experience growth under his leadership spiritually and numerically.  In January 1984, construction began on a new addition to the church. The two-story structure included a lunchroom, kitchen, supply room, closets, pastor’s study, baptismal pool, two medium-sized classrooms, a copier room, small library, and a secretary’s office.  The vision continued to grow as the members sought God’s guidance.  The church was rapidly outgrowing the existing sanctuary and needed room to expand.  Many prayers were uttered and as a result, God touched Mrs. Flora Clayton’s heart and she sold the church the land needed to extend the vision.  On December 11, 2002, Pastor Hinton and the Board of Deacons met with the general membership of Mount Pisgah Harnett OFWB Church to discuss and approve the proposal to finance the building of the new sanctuary.

January 25, 2003 at 3:30 P.M., Mount Pisgah Harnett Original Free Will Baptist Church held its ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a new 700-seat sanctuary and administrative offices on its campus at 145 Prospect Church Road, Erwin NC.  The ceremony was the next step in moving forward to the commitment to the church vision.  On January 18, 2004, the church family held its first worship service in the new sanctuary.  God has continued to bless His people as we focus on being a witness to the world and making a difference in our community.


Elder Bright Richardson
Elder Bright Walter
Rev. Daniel Hicks
Rev. Steven McKoy (1865-1938)
Rev. George Bailey
Rev. Arthur F. Lofton
Rev. Clyde McKethan
Rev. Doug Shaw
Rev. Abe Massie (1920-1924)
Rev. James F. Elliott (1942-1947)
Rev. John D. McKoy
Rev. George D. Ewing (1948-1960)
Rev. Clifton Rouse (1960-1973)
Rev. Ulysses S. Wade (1973-1975)
Rev. Rosie Burt (Substitute 1975)
Rev. Elijah Newkirk (1975-1979)
Rev. James Randolph (1979-1982)
Rev. Jules Bradford (Interim 1982)
Bishop Reginald S. Hinton (1982 to Present)