NC's Oldest Baptist Church - Shiloh Baptist Church
When the first worship service was held in the Shiloh area in 1717, no one had heard of Napoleon or George Washington. At the time, George I was King of England and his wife had just died in prison where George had kept her for 32 years for carrying on with a Prussian nobleman. England was growing stronger militarily but was still a second rate power. The total population of North Carolina was 30,000. Sixteen years earlier, the Tuscarora Indians went on the warpath and almost overwhelmed the area colonists. Very likely there were more Indians than Englishmen living in the Albemarle.
Since they had no meeting house, a small group of Baptists met at the home of William Burges near Raymond Creek in 1727 and organized a church. Once a month the few colonists congregated on Saturday for worship. The group was organized into a church by Paul Palmer, a Maryland native who settled in Pasquotank and married here.
The Shiloh Baptist Church has survived five wars, four name changes, heated internal controversies — and is still going strong. The attractive frame building which stands today was built 120 years ago at a cost of $2,400.00. Originally a 50 by 60 foot structure, the building has been enlarged, improved and air conditioned. Sunday school rooms and other facilities have been added to form a comfortable and functional church.
For nine years the founders met at the home of William Burges who served as pastor. A small building was erected in 1736 but was soon outgrown by a membership increase from 30 to 200 in 21 years. [Editor's Note: the small building referenced above was replaced with the larger building that is the current Shiloh Baptist Church.]
Under the influence of two visiting ministers, an effort was made in 1757 to change the church from General Baptist to Particular Baptist. There was a split-up and a faction led by Burges built a 25 by 50 foot church on the present location. During the next 13 years the Burges-led faction again reached a membership of 192.
The early church was led by many able pastors, including Rev. Henry Abbott who served during the American Revolution. Abbott was elected to the State Congresses meeting in 1776 and is credited with the authorship of Article 19 of the Bill of Rights: "That all men have a natural and inalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences."
Shiloh leaders have earned many distinctions, another of which cannot be overlooked. According to N. C. Baptist Historical papers, the church's deacons were asked in 1776 by a newly elected governor to serve as magistrates and conservators of the peace until the machinery of state government could be put into operation.
Dr. Charles Bray Williams, a more recent pastor, was one of the translators of the New Testament.
During the Civil War, the meeting house was occupied by Federal troops and used as an arsenal. Just before the Civil War there were 448 members, of whom 79 were colored. In 1890 the total membership consisted of 412, of which 316 were female.
More than 20 ministers have gone from Shiloh and she is the mother of nine area churches, the oldest of which was organized in Princess Anne County, VA, in 1762. Yeopim Baptist in Chowan was founded in 1775 and Coinjock in 1780.
The church was named after Shiloh, the ancient city of Ephraim, one of the earliest and most sacred Hebrew sanctuaries. The word Shiloh means peaceable or pacific and with a few exceptions has proven to be a significant name for North Carolina's oldest Baptist Church.
More Pictures of Shiloh Baptist Church
Reprinted from an article published in "The Daily Advance Centennial Edition," Sunday, November 12, 1972.
Additional information is available from
Shiloh Baptist Church
PO Box 31
Shiloh NC 27974