--- Our Church

 

Middlesex Church of God

A Short History

by Joel Trammell

 

            The Middlesex Church of God traces its origin to a tent revival conducted in the Spring Hope community in 1917.  The Church of God was rather small in North Carolina at this time.  From this tent revival a church was set in order on Route One, Spring Hope, the fourteenth Church of God organized in the state of North Carolina.  Rev. Blant Brantley served as first pastor.   The congregation held services three times on Sundays, 10:00 A. M., 2:00 P. M., and 7:00 in the evening.   Horses and wagons brought most of the early attendees to the church services.  Because of the three services, many brought their lunches and stayed all day on the property, worshipping and visiting with each other.  The entire day was dedicated to worship and church activities.  Services were also held on Wednesday nights and on Saturday evenings.

            The 1919 Minutes of the General Assembly of the Church of God lists 41 members of the Spring Hope Church of God.  In early 1923, General Overseer A. J. Tomlinson visited the area and preached at the Spring Hope Church.  Tomlinson stayed in the home of Fed Stone during this visit.

A division of the church occurred in the summer of 1923 and a group from the Spring Hope Church started services in a tent just across from the present church building on Highway 231 near Middlesex.  Charter members of the newly organized 1923 Middlesex Church of God included Arvie and Lydia Brantley, Clem and Lola Deans, Ella Deans, Isaac and Mary Hinton, Oda Hopkins, Cliff and Rada Medlin, Iola Murray, and Fed Stone.  Clem Deans served as the first pastor of this congregation.   A short time later several others joined the growing congregation including Dwight and Dottie Lee Stone, Jim and Lettie Stone, Tassie Cone, Jessie Cone, Betsy Griffin, Mamie and Hassel Cone, Charity and Daisy Glover, Willie and Minnie Vick, Candice Whitley, Milie Lewis, Charity Bryant, and Nettie Pace.  The original officers of the new church were: Clem Deans, pastor; Rada Medlin, clerk; Arvie Brantley, Sunday School superintendent, and Tassie Cone, secretary.

Church services were conducted in homes of the members until a church building could be erected.  Arvie Brantley gave the first acre of land to the church and a building was planned.  Arvie Brantley had cut timber to construct his own home, however, he felt so strongly about the need for a church building that he donated his logs for the construction of the new church.  Members sawed logs and constructed the church in stages.  Arvie Brantley, Willie Vick, Pharaoh Vick, Odie Hopkins, and Jim Stone donated logs and materials for the first church building.  Clem Deans crafted and built the first pews for the new church.   Several logs were placed out in front of the church and this became a favorite place for young people to congregate and “court.”

Music was provided by a pump organ, played by Lola Deans.  It was not unusual for the congregation to stand around the pump organ and sing hymns during the services.  Lighting was provided by oil lamps and heat by a “pot-bellied” stove.  When a piano was purchased for the church, Iola Murray served as pianist.  A favorite trio in the early days consisted of Iola Murray, Cliff Medlin, and Jim Stone.

From the beginning God blessed the congregation and many were added to the church.  The early issues of the Evangel, the Church of God’s weekly publication, contained numerous articles of testimonies, healings, revival reports, and accounts of the blessings of God being poured out on the local congregation.

In 1943, Sister Odie Hopkins organized the first ladies ministries group in the church.  Iva Deans served as the first secretary and Iola Murray served as leader of the ladies in the late forties and fifties.  Over the years, the Middlesex ladies have contributed greatly to the ministry and mission of the local church.

A home for the pastor was constructed next to the church in the early forties.  Pastor Herman Smith led a parsonage remodeling project in 1953.  During this time, an indoor bathroom was added to the parsonage.  In 1958 the Church building was refurbished and new pews were purchased for the sanctuary under the leadership of Pastor L. F. Hare.  Under the direction of Pastor Walter Barwick, a brick Sunday School annex was constructed in the early sixties.

By the seventies, growth demanded a new facility.  J. W. Stone donated land and served as general contractor to construct the new sanctuary.  The building committee consisted of I. H. Hinton, Floyd Whitley, Donald Stone, Rudy Perry, Harold Stone, Doliver Hopkins, and Jim Stone.  Pastor Eugene Powers led the project which resulted in the construction of a new brick sanctuary attached to the Sunday School building.  Groundbreaking was held on September 29, 1974, and the new sanctuary was dedicated on August 24, 1975 by General Overseer Wade H. Horton.   

Following the completion of the sanctuary, a spacious new parsonage was constructed just north of the church building in 1977.   This beautiful brick facility served as home for six pastors.  The parsonage was remodeled into an office complex in 2003, to accommodate the growing needs of the church.

Under the supervision of Pastor Dale Brown, the church constructed a large family life center connected to the other properties.  The building committee for the family life center consisted of J. D. Burnette, Grady Goodman, I. H. Hinton, Donald Stone, Tony Stone, and Andy Sullivan.  Groundbreaking occurred in July, 1992 and the new building was occupied in February, 1993.  This family life center contained Sunday School rooms, a fully equipped kitchen and a large gymnasium.

In July, 1997, Pastor David Whitley led the congregation in a note burning ceremony to mark the retirement of debt on the church facilities.  Because of the faithfulness of the Middlesex congregation, the family life center was debt free in less than five years.   

Because of growth of the congregation, Pastor Steve Edmondson began two Sunday morning services in 2006.  The Sunday church services were moved into the family life center on Easter Sunday, 2008, in order to accommodate the continuing growth of the congregation.   This expanded facility provided adequate room for growth of the congregation and enhanced the ministries of the Middlesex Church of God. 

Over the years, the Middlesex Church of God has been served by twenty-four pastors and has been a shining beacon of light to the Middlesex community.  In 2013, the leadership of the church consisted of Pastor Ed and Dana Toler, ministers of music Tim and Connie Toler, and youth ministers Scot and Crystal Barnes.

During 2015, the Middlesex Church of God entered into a period of transition.  The nearby Spring Hope Church of God, inactive for a number of years, was reorganized by Pastor Larry Perry and his wife Faye.  A number of Middlesex families chose to move to the resurrected Spring Hope Church and help them establish their congregation.

In November of 2017, the two Toler families resigned from the Middlesex Church of God.   Pastor Ed and Dana Toler returned to their home state of Kentucky to pastor the Harvest Church of God in Louisville, KY.  Tim and Connie Toler chose to remain in the area and on February 2, 2018, they organized Grace Church in Raleigh as an independent congregation.  Because of the popularity of Tim and Connie Toler, several Middlesex Church of God families chose to join them in their new work in Raleigh.   

On November 19, 2017, Rev. Joseph Leonard of Goldsboro, North Carolina began a four and one half month tenure as interim pastor of the Middlesex Church of God during a period of transition for the church.

Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, Rev. Mark Ingram began his tenure as Lead Pastor of the Middlesex Church of God.  He and his family were met with a great heartfelt anticipation for revival and explosive growth in the local congregation.  A feeling of unity and divine guidance from God has enveloped the entire body of the church.  Great things are in store for the Middlesex Church.

With a colorful background of ninety-five years of history, the Middlesex Church of God is poised for growth and ministry to its nearby region as a beacon of light in the twenty-first century.  We are dedicated to offer to our community LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, and FORGIVENESS! 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Spring Hope (Middlesex) Church of God         1918 — 1923
 
Middlesex Church of God
1924 — 1975
 
Middlesex Church of God
Since 1975