A Brief History
Our beginnings are humble and they span back to 1727, when a Baptist Missionary named Paul Palmer, organized the Shiloh Baptist Church. William Burges (spelled with one s) was the first pastor.
The total population on the area known as North Carolina was about 30,000 people. The entire Albemarle area accounted for approximately 4,000 residents. Sixteen years earlier, in 1711, the Tuscarora Indians went on the warpath and almost overwhelmed the colonists of the Albemarle. Most likely, there were more indians than colonists in this area. That same year the Tucaroras were placed on a 10,000 acre reservation in, what is now known as Indiantown.
As colonists were scattered and with transportation being difficult, the organized church began meeting once a month, in William Burges' home, which was located about 3 miles south of the present location; at the head of Raymonds Creek.
The earliest known existing record of the Shiloh Church is a petition to the Court of Pasquotank Precinct, requesting that the court record the meeting of the Baptist Congregation. This petition was signed on the bottom right by William Burges; also to the left are the signatures of Paul Palmer, Francis Brocket, Thomas Herenton, William Jones, Philip Torksey, Robert Wasson, and Charles Leutrough. The entire petition is legible, except for the date. Though the traditional date of 1727 cannot be proved, neither can it be refused. A photgraphic copy is available in the church today.
According to Morgan Edwards, an early Baptist Historian, a meeting house was built on the land of the pastor, William Burges in 1736. Edwards give the membership at that time as about 30. His records also show January 20,1758, as the date when the constitution of the church changed from the General to the Particular Order. He lists the names of 12 members had "embraced the Particular Scheme" and states that "in 13 years they increased from 12 to 192 and that most of the brethren of the General Persuasion had rejoined them." When these 12 defected to the Particular Baptist, they erected a seperate meeting house, described by Edwards a 50 ft.X25 ft. on the ground owned by the pastor, John Burges, son of William Burges. The meeting house was located on Portahonk Creek, distance of about 3 miles from the 1736 meeting house, and across the road from the present building. A marker was placed on this site in 1974.
The present sanctuary, which originally included a balcony for Negro Members, was built in 1848-49, at the cost of $2400.00 This meeting house was also built on land included in John Burges' estate. In 1774, John' son, Dempsey, conveyed the property to the Baptist Society.
Shiloh Church Congregation 1890's
Several additions have been made to the 1849 structure. The Steeple and bell were added in 1878. The present windows were installed in 1913.
Eighteen Sunday School rooms were built in 1924 and fourteen more were added in 1954-55.
The present entrance and vestibule were added in 1947.
When the sanctuary was renovated in 1949, the baptistery was installed, the choir loft was built and an electric organ was purchased. This organ was replaced in 1973. New pews were purchased in 1955, and the structure was bricked in 1966.
The sanctuary was air-conditioned in 1969, and in 1974, air conditioning was installed throughout the rest of the church.
The Fellowship Hall, Pastor's Study, and offices were added in 1992. In 1994, the Children's Playground was built.
Although the spiritual growth of the church cannot be accurately measured, a glimpse of it's membership at specific times, during it's history, might be significant. We do not know how many members there were when the church was organized in 1727. In 1736, the membership wa given as about 30. by 1800, it had increased to about 200 members. Associational minutes membership in 1848 at about 369, 316 whites and 53 blacks. In 1857, membership had grown to 448, 369 whites and 79 blacks.
Services were interrupted during the Civil War, while Federal Troops occupied the building and used it as an arsenal. Associational minutes of 1890 list 91 make members and 316 female members. In 1925, there was a total of 461 members; in 1961, records show 617 members. In 2002, there were 457 members listed. In 2008, we had approximately 481 members on the church role
The church has not been without some controversy. As mentioned earlier, in 1758 the membership split over doctrinal differences Also, the minutes of the Kehukee Association reveal that Shiloh Church was admitted to that association in 1771, but was expelled in 1775 because the church and pastor, Henry Abbott, took a stand against proposed reforms. The church was readmitted in 1778 and remained with that association until 1806, when the Chowan Association was formed.
There have been four name changes since the church was formed. The first name given to the church was Burges' Meeting House. It was changed to North Meeting House and later, to Camden Meeting House. In 1812, the name Shiloh was adopted. The name Shiloh is biblical and means peaceable or pacific. Shiloh was the ancient city of Ephraim, which was one of the earliest and most sacred Hebrew sanctuaries.
In 1831, Sunday School was organized within the church. We do not know when the WMU (Women's Missionary Union) was organized, but it was listed in the associational minutes in 1906.
In January 1919, Reverand Joel Brown became the first full time pastor.
The first Training Union was organized in 1921.
Shiloh extended it's ministries to the surrounding area by organizing nine churches:
Pungo, now known as Oak Grove Baptist, Princess Anne County, VA, in1762
Yoppim, in Chowan County, NC, in 1771
Cowenjock, in Currituck County, NC, in 1780
Knobs Crook, now known as First Baptist, in Elizabeth City, NC in 1786
Flatty Creek, now known as Salem Baptist, in Weeksville, NC, in 1790
Sawyer's Creek, in Camden, NC 1790
Shady Grove, in Currituck County, NC, in 1828
Oak Ridge, in Riddle (Camden County) NC, in 1889
Pleasant Grove, in Indiantown (Camden County) NC, in 1891
* Cowenjock, Oak Ridge, and Pleasant Grove no longer exist, though Shiloh Baptist absorbed much of the memberships of the latter two churches.
Many ministers have been ordained here at Shiloh Baptist. They are listed as follows:
William Burges Sr. William Burges Jr. John Burges
Joshua White Thomas Etheridge David Duncan
William Lurry David Biggs Lemuel Burkitt
Evan Forbes Jesse Bray Benjamin Dozier
Abner Berry Wells Briggs Charles S. Burgess
John L. Pritchard A.W. Burfoot Gideon Bray
Charles B. Williams M.B. Toxey James B. Sawyer
Don Clinton Steve Hughes Kenneth Wallace
The most noted of these, was Dr. Charles B. Williams. Dr. Williams was ordained in 1890 and later became an educator and author. He taught Greek at Southwestern Seminary, from 1905-1919. He held the position of Dean the last six years at Southwestern. He served as president at Howard College from 1919-1921. Dr. Williams went on to Mercer University, in Georgia, where he taught New Testament Interpretation for four years. He then became a professor of Greek and Ethics at Union University in Tennessee , until 1932. Dr. Williams most noted literary work is hos translation of the New Testament into the language of the people. (Moody Press 1949) In 1941, Dr. Williams returned to Shiloh and served as pastor until 1946.
In 1968, Shiloh Baptist extended it's ministries by broadcasting the Morning Worship Service over the radio in Elizabeth City, NC, at WCNC. The broadcast continued until 1980.
Shiloh Church has also be influential in political affairs. One of our early pastors, Henry Abbott, was elected to both the State Congress Meetings in Halifax, NC in 1776. On April 12,1776, the first Congress adopted the famous Halifax Resolves. The last paragraph of the Halifax Resolves reads in part: "Resolve, that the delegates for the Colony in the Continental Congress, be empowered to concur with the delegates of the other colonies in declaring Independency..."
The Provintial Assembly met again in Halifax, in November of that same year. One of Abbott's assignments was with a "committee to form, and lay before this House a Bill of Rights, and form a constitution for the government of this state." Tradition credits Abbott with being the author of Article Nineteen of the State Constitution, "That all men have natural and inalienable rights to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience."
Dempsey Burges was a member of the majority of the congress convened during the Revolutionary period, including the two at Halifax, in 1776. Burges became Lt. Colonel in the Continental Army, during the Revolutionary War and was a member of the United States Congress from 1795-98.
According to Baptist Historic Papers, in 1776, the deacons of Shiloh Church were asked by the newly elected governor, to serve as Magistrates and Conservators of the peace, until the machinery of state government could be put into operation.
In 1990, Shiloh church history added a new page. Earline Revelle was ordained as the first woman deacon to serve in the church. To date, she has served SBC as an active deacon 3 terms.
In 1995, Andrea Garrett was hired as an American Sign Language Interpreter.
In May of 2000, Shiloh Baptist embarked on a more relaxed style of worship. The Early Worship Service began. It provided a relaxed atmosphere with Praise & Worship Music, a condensed version of the sermon for the 11:00 Worship Service, and a more contemporary worship experience. This worship experience still goes on today.