PILOT MOUNTAIN — A new ministry has begun meeting in a historic downtown Pilot Mountain church building, sharing the facility with the church that has long called it home.
The Pilot Mountain Primitive Baptist Church building, located at 101 Key St., between its intersections with Main and School Streets, is serving as a meeting place for Canaan’s Shore Old Regular Baptist Church.
The church will continue to be home to the Pilot Mountain Primitive Baptist Church congregation, which holds services on the first Sunday of each month. Canaan’s Shore Old Regular Baptist Church will hold services in the building on other Sunday mornings and once each month on Saturday night.
The new ministry began meeting on the last Sunday of August and held its second service last Sunday morning. During this meeting, steps were made to continue organization of the new church.
In a rare exception, the new church will not hold services this Sunday morning as several members will be traveling to Kentucky for an association of Old Regular Baptist churches meeting. Services will usually be held beginning at 10:30 each Sunday morning, with the exception of the first Sunday of the month. A monthly meeting and service also will be held on the third Saturday of each month, beginning at 6 p.m.
The white wood-sided Pilot Mountain Primitive Baptist Church building is an integral part of downtown Pilot Mountain’s rich history. In her recent book, “The Early Days of Pilot Mountain, A History and Genealogy,” local author and historian Carolyn Boyles described the church’s beginning.
The original church, she recounted, was built and founded in 1896 by Gabriel Osborne Key, a carpenter from the Eldora community. While there have been several changes over the years, the church’s rustic “frame and timber” structural appearance has remained basically the same, adding to the sporadic glimpses of historical architecture that can be found throughout the town.
Elder Chris Newsom of Canaan’s Shore Old Regular Baptist Church acknowledged appreciation for the structure’s history. While the new church’s organizer, he is one of multiple ministers to fill its pulpit.
Newsom is one of three ordained ministers in the church, along with another licensed minister who has yet to be ordained. But in keeping with Old Regular Baptist tradition, he described his role as that of a moderator often aligning three to four ministers each of whom will bring a message during the service.
He describes services as “old fashioned,” with several hymns being sung and no instrumentation used. “Lined hymns” are often used, with a line clearly spoken by a leading individual before being repeated by the congregation.
Newsom’s son, Jeremy Newsom, is another of the elders serving the church and one of several members of the Newsom family to attend.
Chris Newsom had originally left a home in Michigan because of the area’s severe economic struggles. After stints in Kentucky and Tennessee, he and his wife came to Pilot Mountain about one and a half years ago because of a nearby work opportunity with a hardwood flooring company. Old Regular Baptist ministers traditionally don’t receive a salary.
His family of two adult sons and a daughter, along with their spouses and seven grandchildren, the oldest of whom is age 5, also have found homes in the area.
“God has blessed us,” Newsom noted, “to be able to stay together.”
After coming to Pilot Mountain, he explained, he had visited several churches. But Newsom had felt a need to return to the pulpit, satisfying a 25-year call to preach.
In organizing an Old Regular Baptist church, he calls upon a more than 100-year tradition of worship that he said grew out of the Appalachian Mountains of Kentucky and Virginia.
“And when we came here,” he said, “we found people in this area who said they had been praying for 20 years for an Old Regular Baptist church to come along.
“We’re a very small group,” he continued, “but we’ve stepped out on the faith of this and we’re moving forward. We’re really happy.”
Newsom voiced an invitation for any and all to come and join the church in fellowship and worship. He described the atmosphere as “open, heartfelt worship without regard to denomination.”
“And we’d also love to have some of the area ministers come to visit us and to preach,” he offered.
“We’ve found the Pilot Mountain and Mount Airy area to be a beautiful place full of wonderful people. We feel blessed to be here.”