Celebrations are exciting! Holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries are important milestones in our lives. Did you know that Crabtree Valley Baptist Church celebrated a big milestone recently? April fourth is the 50th anniversary of the signing of the church constitution, the official founding document of this church.
On April 4, 1971, Palm Sunday, fifty-six men and women took a leap of faith and signed their names to the first constitution of Crabtree Valley Baptist Church. Another member would sign later, bringing the total number of charter members to 57. The constitution was the culmination of months and years of hard work, prayer, and preparation. It began in 1963, when the Raleigh Baptist Association thought northwest Raleigh would need a new church to serve its growing population in a few years. They bought the property at what was then the corner of Leesville Road and North Hills Drive. At the time, Glenwood Avenue was the far edge of town, so this was a visionary step for the RBA. The land where the mall now sits would remain undeveloped until five years later with the first work on the site. Crabtree Valley Mall would not open until 1972. People who worked at the North Carolina State Baptist Convention also saw the need for a new church. Roy Smith and Ted Williams, both employees of the State Baptist Convention, decided to begin the process of starting a “new Baptist work” in 1970. They sent questionnaires in the mail to residents to determine the interest in starting a ‘new Baptist work.’
On Sunday, September 27, 1970, an organizational meeting was held at J.W. York Elementary School. Hayes Barton Baptist Church was asked to sponsor this “new work”. At this meeting, Ted Williams was elected clerk and treasurer. Four families (consisting of eleven people) committed to joining this new church. The next week, the official Sunday morning service of the brand-new congregation was held at York Elementary School on October 4. As the time for the service drew near, Roy Smith and his wife Doris realized there was a terrible oversight. There were no offering plates! Roy Smith made an emergency drive to his house to grab pie pans to use for the collection plates for the first service. Members presented transfers of letter from their previous churches to officially join the ‘new Baptist work.’ One member joined by profession of faith. At the service the following week, they had forgotten hymn books, so Leroy Martin, Jr., a member of Hayes Barton Baptist Church, rushed to that church and borrowed hymn books.
The small group of believers kept growing that year. The first official business meeting was held on Sunday night, November 8, 1970, at the Smiths’ house. Three important decisions were made at that meeting. The first was to accept the Raleigh Baptist Association’s land at the corner of Leesville (now Lead Mine) Road and North Hills Drive for the location of the church building in the future. The second decision was to officially name the church Crabtree Valley Baptist Church. The third decision was to ask Roy Smith and Ted Williams to write a constitution and the by-laws for Crabtree Valley Baptist Church. Several months later, they presented a constitution to the church, which was officially signed on April 4, 1971.
Throughout this 50th year anniversary of Crabtree Valley Baptist Church, we will be highlighting more important events in our church’s history. We hope this will help you appreciate our church’s heritage.
Robert B. Best, Church Clerk and Member of History Committee