A small group of believers led by Capt. Rhinhold Foster met in the old brick store on Front Street for the purpose of organizing a Baptist Sunday School. Things moved along steadily, and in 1897 it was decided to build a church on the corner of Water and Main Streets in Swansboro.
Labor and materials were contributed by many people. Sawed logs were given by Dr. Montford. Ward’s Mill sawed the logs and dressed the lumber. The lumber was then moved to the building site by an ox team.
This first church was a two story building. It was built in cooperation with the Masonic Lodge who used the second floor for a meeting place.
Soon after the church was built, a four room parsonage was erected on Walnut Street. Rev. Benjamin Ward was the first called pastor.
The small devoted group of charter members included: Miss Narcissa Bell, Mrs. Francis Dennis, Capt. And Mrs. Rhinhold (Reiney) Foster, Mrs. Virginia Heady, Mrs. Armesia Hill, Mrs. Rebecca Moore, Mr. Tyre Moore, Mrs. Rosa Montford, Mrs. Amelia Barnum Russell, Mrs. Nancy Ward, Mrs. Mary Willis and Miss Sabra Willis. Other early consecrated workers in the church were Herbert and Nora Piner, J.E. and Frances Watson, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Parkin, Francis Furlong, Martin and Jenny Heady, Martin and Callie Bloodgood, Rita Littleton, Nellie Littleton, Julia Howland, Major Russell, Lina and Lee Smith, Georgia Bartley, Mr. and Mrs. Dave Ward, Sr.
In 1952, Rev. Laurie Atkinson and member of the church began to look into the future needs of the town of Swansboro. They began to seek the Lord’s will in a new building program. Money began to be donated, and in 1952, land on the corner of Corbett Street and Park Lane was donated by Mr. Clyde Sabiston, a building contractor.
A vision of Rev. Atkinson and others became a reality on September 5, 1954, when ground was broken for the new building on the corner of Corbett Street and Park Lane. The first service held in the new church was a Christmas Cantata on December 16, 1956, with Mrs. Mary Buckmaster Kietzman directing.
The highlight for 1991 was the ground breaking ceremony for a much needed new Fellowship Hall, and then in 2011 when the new Family Life Center was completed.
Melanie Sheldon, Church Historian
First Baptist Church of Swansboro
Florence made landfall near Wrightsville Beach as a Category 1 hurricane early on Friday, September 14, and weakened as it slowly moved inland. Florence produced wind gusts up to 106 mph, saturated Swansboro with 34.0 inches of rainfall and a record breaking storm surge of 9 to 13 feet resulting in the White Oak and the ICW sharing white caps. While all three buildings were damaged, the Sanctuary sustained catastrophic damage. Worship was temporarily moved to the Fellowship Hall.