…many have undertaken to set down an orderly account of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed on to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word.
“We firmly believe,” wrote John Knox in the Scots Confession of 1560, “that from the beginning there has been, now is, and to the end of the world shall be one Kirk
. . . chosen by God, who rightly worship and embrace Him by true faith in Jesus Christ.” First Presbyterian Church of Rocky Mount, organized by Orange Presbytery in 1878, understands itself to be part of that living tradition.
By November 1889, the congregation consisted of 42 members who believed their church was “specially constituted for missionary purposes.” That belief launched the mission enterprises of this church and eight others in Rocky Mount (Second, Bethlehem, Edgemont, Englewood, Morton, Mt. Pisgah, and West Haven Presbyterian Churches), five of which continue today. Today, First Presbyterian is a part of the Presbyterian Church (USA) with an active membership of 418.
The present church building is located on the original site, which was given to the congregation in the late 1870’s by Mr. George Allen of New Bern. The first wooden sanctuary was built in 1879. In 1909, the first brick sanctuary was dedicated, and the corner stone of the Memorial Sunday School building was laid in 1923. The first educational building was constructed as a memorial to the Reverend W. D. Morton, who served as minister from 1899 until his death in 1918. In 1938, work began on the Thorpe Memorial Chapel, which was commissioned as a testament to the service of Mr. A. P. Thorpe, “as elder, deacon, and dedicated disciple.”
During the 1960’s, the original education building was demolished and a new one was constructed. The sanctuary, which was entirely remodeled in 1979, was again renovated in 1997 with the acquisition of our new tracker pipe organ. Each addition or modification was intended to help the congregation to glorify God and to increase their love of neighbors. Our first sanctuary was built in the same era in which John Holt Rice encouraged individuals to view their churches as both “mission stations” and “missionary societies.” In their own way, every generation of worshippers has not only supported the global mission enterprise of the Presbyterian Church but has also accepted their responsibilities to and for the city of Rocky Mount.
A more detailed history of First Presbyterian Church is available in A History of the First Presbyterian Church of Rocky Mount written by Dr. David Jones and published in September, 2005.