Savannah Baptist Church was founded in 1873. Oral history identifies its namesake as a very devout school teacher called Miss Savannah. Located on what is now the Old Savannah Church Road, the first church was a very crude framed building made of logs. There were no windows and it is said that a guano sheet was put up to keep out insects. Log stumps and pine slabs served as seats. There were no choirs or musical instruments. Members sang and praised God as they were directed by the Holy Spirit. This building also served as a school for those children and adults who found the time during their long days in the fields for limited instruction.
As a part of the church history, the Rev. Robert Lee McMair who served as one of the many minister of Savannah Missionary Baptist church, attended the School on Old Savannah Church Road. Rev. McNair was the longest living member to serve at SMBC. He was called from labor to reward on 10 July 2015 at the age of 100.
In approximately 1885 a larger church was built on the same site. Ministers usually came on a monthly basis. According to church annals Rev. Sam Boone, Rev John Granlon and Rev. Henry Anderson were among the first pastors of the church. Although limited in education these men were inspired by the spirit and knew the word. Other ministers who served during the early 1900′s were Rev. Peter McMillian, Rev. Justice, Rev. IP Pearson, Rev. Nelson Dunhan, Rev. Talmon Council, and Rev. Oliver Watkins. Early deacons of the church were Tom McDonald, Ben Melvin, and Isom McDonald.
From 1925 to 1939 Savannah Baptist Church continued to grow and meet the spiritual needs of the community. Rev. Lonnie Raeford and Rev. Johnny Simpson served as pastors of the church during this period. Some of the deacons were Dan McDonald, Arthur Fisher, Ben Melvin, Bright Williams, Amos Burns, John Are, and Bill McDonald.
In 1940 Rev. Lacey Jones was called as pastor of the church and remained a good shepherd of the flock for 37 years. During his tenure the church continued to grow spiritually and to improve on the physical structure. However, during the early 50′s misfortune struck when the church was totally destroyed by fire. While the members were making plans for and building a new structure, services were held in the school building. In 1953 another edifice was built at its current location.
With a new structure and an increase in membership, the church decided to expand spiritually by adding a worship service on the first Sunday. Assistant pastors who served under Rev. Jones on the first Sunday were Rev. Eddie Jenkins, Rev. J Ezzell, Rev. Lacey Simpson, Rev. Theodore Patterson, Rev. C. C. McLaughlin, and Rev. James Simpson. Deacons who were added under his guidance were Edmond Fisher, Ander Fisher, Joe McMillian, James Burns, and Maurice Hayes.
In 1976 Rev. Jones submitted his resignation and the church called Rev. C.C. McLaughlin to serve as pastor in May 1977.
Deacons who were ordained under his leadership are Hilery McDonald, David Fisher, R.L. McDonald, Bobby Fisher, John Robinson, Moses McElvine, Lenwood Edwards, Roscoe Howard, Lewis Tucker, and Ernest Carroll.
Ministers who served under his leadership are Rev. James Simpson, Rev. Robert McNair, Rev. Mark Rowden, Rev. Josephine McElvine, Rev. Bernard Hayes, Rev. David McLaughlin, and Rev. Thomas Bridges.
Our church has been fortunate to have strong devout women to be chosen as Mothers of the Church. These women have included Mrs. Annie Burns, Mrs. Claudia Williams, Mrs. Callie McDonald and Mrs. Retha Fisher.
Under the leadership of Rev. McLaughlin and with blessings from God, Savannah continued to progress by making various additions and improvements to the church. Some of these include carpet and pews, a PA and lighting system, a baptismal pool, and an annex which houses the pastor’s study, restrooms, and various offices. Additionally, Children’s Church has become a part of our worship service.
In the year 2000, we extended the Church’s front portion adding two additional restrooms, and a bridal room. A paved church parking lot was also completed in 2000.
In December 2000, Rev. C.C. Mclaughlin resigned as pastor and Rev. James R. Simpson became interim Pastor.
On 28 January 2002, Rev. Mark A. Rowden was officially elected pastor for Savannah Missionary Baptist Church. Deacons ordained under his leadership are: Vernon Fisher, David Holmes,Murphy Coleman, Steven Duggins, and James Lavell Powell Sr. Ministers ordained under his leadership are: Ernestine Tucker and Yolanda George. Under his leadership the church has purchased a church van , renovated the entire sanctuary, and established a church Tape Ministry. The church became a full service church 29 January 2006 by adding to its worship services a fifth Sunday.
In 2007 the Tape Ministry was upgraded to a full Multi-Media Production Center. Through God’s vision and ferverant prayers, on 22 March 2008 the church broke ground for a new Multi-Purpose Community Resource Center. The 1.3 million dollar facility was completed on 6 March 2009. It has additional office space, fitness room, conference room, class rooms, computer lab/library, banquet hall, commercial kitchen, multi-media room, and more.
For 143 years Savannah Baptist Church has been a guiding spiritual force in the Cedar Creek community of Fayetteville North Carolina and continues to build on the foundation laid by our forefathers. Christ is the head of the church body, and when He comes to rapture His Church, may He find the laborers in this vineyard working together in love as Christ loved the Church. May we “grow up in every way into Him who is the head, into Christ from whom the whole body joined and knitted together by every joint with which it is supplied, which each part is working properly makes bodily growth and upbuilds itself in love.”
Savannah Missionary Baptist Church has been recognized in Capsules of Black History in the Fayetteville North Carolina area as one of the oldest churches in Cumberland County.
Lacey Jones, Sam Boone, John Granior, Henry Anderson, Peter McMillian, Rev Justice, IP Pearson, Nelson Dunhan, Talmon Council, Isom McDonald, Clyde C. Mclaughlin