Calvary’s historical highlights.


Calvary Presbyterian Church had its beginnings in the concerns and missions of Cape Fear Presbytery. This fledgling judicatory of the National Church in its efforts to establish churches in Eastern North Carolina included Wilson in its missions. The Reverend H.H. Boone, a pioneer in the organization of Cape Fear Presbytery, became its first Sabbath School missionary. He and Mr. S.H. Vick shared the honor of advancing Presbyterianism in Eastern North Carolina.

The Reverend Mr. Boone was succeeded as Sabbath School missionary by Mr. S.H. Vick who continued to expand the area of Sabbath Schools and the church in Eastern North Carolina.

Calvary Presbyterian Church, one of the original sixteen churches of Cape Fear Presbytery, was organized on August 1, 1889 by a committee whose chairman was the Reverend H.H. Boone of Tarboro, N.C. The Reverend C. Dillard of Goldsboro, N.C. and Mr. S.H. Vick of Wilson were members of this committee.

The Reverend George Carson was the first minister of Calvary. The first session consisted of Ruling Elders G.A. Farmer, William Cannon, W.B. Winstead, and S.H. Vick.

Twenty-one of the twenty-five original members included Ms. Mahalia Artis, Ms. Hattie Barnes, Ms. Lillie Barnes, Mr. F.O. Blount, Mr. William A. Connor, Mr. A.D. Dawson, Mr. G.A. Farmer, Mr. John Gaston, Ms. Susie Harris, Ms. Abbie Holloway, Ms. Lucy Dawson, Mr. Patrick Leach, Mr. A.J.C. Moore, Mr. L.H. Peacock, Mr. Edmund Poole, Ms. Mary Stephens, Mr. Hardy Tate, Mr. S.H. Vick, Mr. Daniel Vick, Mr. B.R. Winstead, and Mr. J.J. White.

Calvary occupied a unique position among the churches of the community in that it was the only “colored” Presbyterian church. It differed in its polity, doctrine, discipline, and order of worship.

The first two structures of Calvary Presbyterian Church fronted East Green Street; however, the present edifice is situated on Pender Street on the former Celia Norwood property which the Reverend O.J. Hawkins persuaded the session to purchase in 1957. The original church building, a wooden structure, was completed in 1893. Mr. Gray A. Farmer was the architect and builder who also constructed the altar and pews. These were the first pews that were used in the second church building. Other helpers were Mr. William Cannon, Mr. B.R. Winstead, and Mr. Sam Vick, Sr.

In 1924, the first structure was replaced with  brick building. Mr. O.N. Freeman was architect and builder. Mr. Benjamin Harris, Sr., was one of the brick masons. Mr. E.L. Joyner was the plasterer and continued to serve as such.

This building served the growing congregation until its doors were closed after the celebration of the Lord’s Supper on October 6, 1968. The idea and plans for the new structure began in 1961; however, later plans came to fruition with groundbreaking ceremonies being held on October 15, 1970, for the present sanctuary.

When the doors were closed in 1968, the congregation graciously accepted the kind invitation from St. Mark’s Episcopal Church to worship in their facility. It was truly a blessing from God, for their services were held at an earlier hour, making their church available for our regular eleven o’clock services. For the next few years, St. Mark’s was Calvary’s home away from home.

For the third time in the life of Calvary, the leaders and builders began their planning. In June, 1969, a Building Fund Campaign was launched. On Sunday, October 15, 1970, a Groundbreaking Ceremony was held. And, on December 12, 1971, Calvary’s Current church was completed and occupied, with the help of Calvary’s beloved builders: Mr. John H. Hagans, Mr. Benjamin Harris, Jr., Mr. Paul Jenkins, and Mr. Eddie Lee Joyner.

Others serving on key committees were Dr. Frank N. Sullivan, Mrs. Connie Banks, Mr. Carl Hines, Mr. Elmer J. Cummings, Mrs. Flossie Barnes, Mr. James E. Farmer, Jr., Mrs. Grace Johnson, Mrs. Betty Lucas Grissett, Dr. J.F. Cowan, and Mr. William Hines.

On Sunday, January 30, 1972, a Service of Dedication was held in Calvary’s new sanctuary. It was truly a time to rejoice, for a long-awaited dream had come true.


  • S.H. Vick — Samuel H. Vick (1863-1948).
  • G.A. Farmer — Gray A. Farmer (1853-1893).
  • William Cannon
  • W.B. Winstead
  • Mahalia Artis (1830-bef. 1910).
  • Hattie Barnes
  • Lillie Barnes
  • F.O. Blount — Frank Oscar Blount (1860-??).
  • William A. Connor (ca. 1830-1895)
  • A.D. Dawson — Alexander D. Dawson (ca. 1860-??).
  • John Gaston — John A. Gaston (1858-1930).
  • Susie Harris (1867-??).
  • Abbie Holloway — Abigail Holloway McLeod (1869-1925).
  • Lucy Dawson — Lucy Hill Dawson (1860-1917).
  • Patrick Leach — Patrick Leach Jr. (1871-??).
  • A.J.C. Moore — Andrew J.C. Moore (1861-??).
  • L.H. Peacock — Levi H. Peacock (1858-1934).
  • Edmund Poole (1846-??).
  • Mary Stephens (ca. 1856-??)
  • Hardy Tate (1854-1938).
  • Daniel Vick ().
  • B.R. Winstead — Braswell R. Winstead (1866-1926).
  • J.J. White
  • Celia Norwood — Cecilia Hill Norwood (1879-1944).
  • O.J. Hawkins — Obra Jeffrey Hawkins (1905-1982).
  • O.N. Freeman — Oliver Nestus Freeman (1882-1955).
  • Benjamin Harris Sr. — Benjamin Amos Harris Sr. (1896-1955).
  • John H. Hagans — John Hubert Hagans Jr. (1929-1988).
  • Benjamin Harris Jr. — Benjamin Amos Harris Jr. (1935-1981).
  • Paul Jenkins — Paul Raymond Jenkins (1919-1982).
  • Eddie Lee Joyner (1895-1989).
  • Frank N. Sullivan — Frank Noble Sullivan Sr. (1926-1984).
  • Connie Banks — Connie Freeman Banks (1915-2006).
  • Carl Hines — Carl Wendell Hines Sr. (1914-1985).
  • Elmer J. Cummings — Elmer Jerome Cummings Sr. (1930-2013).
  • Flossie Barnes — Flossie Howard Barnes (1905-1993).
  • James E. Farmer Jr. — James Edward Farmer Jr. (1934).
  • Grace Johnson — Grace McNeil Johnson (1913-2007).
  • Betty Lucas Grissett (1940).
  • J.F. Cowan — Joseph Franklin Cowan (1898-1985).
  • William Hines (1883-1981).

Text courtesy of Adventures in Faith: The Church at Prayer, Study and Service, the 100th anniversary commemorative booklet of Calvary Presbyterian Church.