A Brief History of First Church of God in Raleigh, North Carolina
On September 23, 1928, a few faithful saints came together to pray and study God’s Word. These cottage meetings were organized by Mrs. Mary Jane Steward and Mrs. Sadie Kennedy, both originally from South Carolina. From there, the First Church of God Raleigh was born. Along with other believers, they worshipped in the homes of Sis. Mary Jane Stewart, Fisher Street, and Sis. Sarah Davis, Lenoir Street. They conducted tent services on a vacant lot owned by Mack Carter on Edenton Street (now Boyer Street).
Founding church members were Sis. Mary Jane Stewart and daughter, Sis. Rhoda Conyers; Bro. Lucius and Sis. Sadie Kennedy; Bro. Eugene and Sis. Alice Gardner; Bro. Etuaw and Sis. Estelle Scott; Sis. Harris and daughter, Sis. Viola Habershaw; Sis. Ella Cooper; and Bro. C. J. Tilley. Added worshippers through the tent meetings were Sis. Sarah Davis; Sis. Elora White; Sis. Ella Powell; Sis. Sadie Short; Sis. Melvina Strickland; Bro. Cornelius and Sis. Annie Bell Smith; Bro. Henry and Sis. Placide Morgan; Bro. Charlie and Sis. Daisy Bell Scott; and Sis. Minnie Copeland.
The sanctuary and parsonage were built in 1929 on two lots purchased from local businessman Mr. A. H. Byrum. Rev. W. H. DeLaine, the first pastor and his wife, Sis. Margaret E. DeLaine, moved from Sumter, S.C. with their four children. He served until 1953. Sis. Rosia Butler, one of Rev. DeLaine’s children, is currently the oldest living member of the FCOG Raleigh.
Though still on the same corner, the sanctuary has undergone several structural changes. The Reverends Edward and Nancy Ford served FCOG from 1954 to 1986. Under their leadership, several building and enhancement projects were completed: a new sanctuary in 1961, a new parsonage, an education building with Sunday School classrooms (now the Fellowship Hall and Youth Center), and the installation of chimes. In 1962, FCOG sponsored its first Cub Scout group, Pack #49, organized by Sis. Fayger White.
Under Rev. Nancy Ford’s leadership, a youth camp was established in 1957 on the Chapel Hill Campground. The Harvest Tea, a FCOG tradition, began in the early seventies, continues today with friends and families in the community sharing their talents and resources to build up God’s Kingdom.
The Rev. James Lewis of Houston, Texas served FCOG from 1986 to 1992. Under his leadership, the Christian Education Department was organized, the mission statement was developed, and a new van was purchased.
Rev. Willie Amerson of High Point, NC was interim pastor from 1992 until 1994 during a lengthy search for a permanent pastor. From 1994 to 2001, Rev. William F. Matthews became FCOG’s fourth pastor.
Under Rev. Velma J. Champlain’s leadership from May 2002 to 2011, annual special days were established and outreach ministry to the surrounding community increased.
Rev. Henry Caldwell was called to be interim pastor in 2012. He accepted the call to pastorate in 2016 with his lovely wife, First Lady Martha Caldwell and their four sons. Currently, FCOG supports Carolina Ministries and several overseas projects in Haiti and Africa. FCOG owns several properties that provide affordable housing to low-to middle-income families. Rev. Caldwell, along with Elders, Minister Odessa Foster, Josephine Walker, Isaac White, Sr. and Minister Joyce White, and faithful men and women continue to guide the church in all its spiritual and business matters with the same dedication as its founders did in 1928.