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History of Sandy Creek Church PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vandelia Jones   

 The Gospel Messenger--May 1884

Dear Brother Respess,

In order to give a correct history of Sandy Creek Church, I go back to Benedict’s history of the Baptists. In second volume, page 37, we find Shubael Stearns was a native of Boston, Mass., and embraced the sentiments of the Baptists in the year 1751, and was ordained in Tolland, Conn., the same year.

Mr. Stearns and most of the separates had strong faith in the immediate teachings of the Spirit. They believed that, to those who sought him earnestly, God often gave evident tokens of his will; that such indications of the divine pleasure, partaking of the nature of inspiration, were above, though not contrary to reason, and that following these, still leaning in every step upon the same wisdom and power by which they were first actuated, they would inevitably be led to the accomplishment of the two great objects of a Christian’s life—the glory of God and the salvation of men.  

Mr. Stearns, listening to some of these instructions of heaven, as he esteemed them, conceived himself called upon by the Almighty to move far to the westward (not sent by a missionary board with his pocket full of money, mind you) to execute a great and extensive work. Incited by his impressions, in the year 1754 he and a few of his members took their leave of New England. He halted first at Opeckon, in Berkley county, Va., where he found a Baptist church. Here Mr. Stearns, not meeting with his expected success, felt restless. He and his party once more got underway, and, traveling about two hundred miles, came to Sandy Creek, in Guilford (now Randolph) county, N. C. Here he took up his permanent residence. The number of families in Stearns’ company were eight, and the number of communicants sixteen. As soon as they arrived they built them a little meeting house, and these sixteen persons formed themselves into a church, and chose Shubael Stearns for their pastor. In process of time a powerful and extensive work commenced, and Sandy Creek Church swelled from 16 to 606 members, spreading its branches to Deep river and Abbott’s creek. 

Sandy Creek Church is the mother of’ all the Separate Baptists. From this Zion went forth the word, and great was the company who published it. This church, in seventeen years, has spread her branches westward as far as the great river Mississippi, southward as far as Georgia, eastward to the sea, and northward to the waters of the Potomac; it, in seventeen years, has become mother, grandmother and great grand mother to 42 churches, from which sprang 125 ministers. The Revolutionary War and emigration in seventeen years reduced the church from 606 to 14 souls. Purifoy, in his history published since the great division of the Baptists, says, “and the 14 are there yet,” but I am a little inclined to believe there were a few more than that, for I find a record made in the old church book, which is now in my possession, as follows: “The Church at Sandy Creek being determined to stand as they have been formally constituted, on the apostle’s faith, as they believe, do this day, namely, the second Lord’s day in August, 1835, protest against all the institutions of the day which they do believe are not founded on the scriptures, viz: the Baptist State Convention, the Missionary Society the Bible Society, the Tract Society, the Sunday School Society and the Temperance Society, and as such have with drawn from the Sandy Creek Association in consequence of said societies. We have this day appointed our brethren, Abraham Wright, Kingsbury Allred, and Henry Kivett, to hand in our letters and to represent our church in the Abbott’s Creek Union Association, to be held in Davidson county, at Hunt’s Fork Meeting House, on Saturday before the fourth Lord’s day in August, and days following. Our delegates were received, and we now belong to the Abbott’s Creek Union Association.” Signed by 18 members. 

So you see Sandy Creek Church is not a Missionary Church, nor never has been; but as long ago as I can remember I heard it talked that the Missionary Baptists were trying to collect money from the people to raise a great monument over “Old father Stearns” grave. (I forgot to say in its proper place that Shubael Stearns died November 20th, 1771, at Sandy Creek and was buried near his meeting house.) I suppose it has been twenty-five or thirty years since they have been trying for the money, but never succeeded in getting a sufficient amount until some six or eight years ago, and the monument was raised by his grave. And how high do you suppose it is? I imagine some will begin to say, “I think it must be some forty or fifty feet high, as it took them so long to get money enough to raise it,” but no! no! it is just twenty-five inches (not feet) above the top of the ground; a plain tomb stone, I suppose cost about eight dollars, with the following inscription on it: “In memory of Rev. Shubael Stearns, who organized the Sandy Creek Missionary Baptist Church in the ye 1755, and departed this life November 20th, 1771.” But that doesn’t disturb his blessed rest, nor will it prevent his body from coming forth in the morning of the resurrection a spiritual body, all glorious, and perhaps to judge the world. “Know ye not that the saints shall judge the world;” “The queen of the south shall rise up in judgment with this generation to condemn it;” “The men of Nineva shall rise up in judgment with this generation to condemn it,” and why not Shubael Stearns rise up in judgment with this generation? 

Brother Respess, I have not given this sketch of the church half justice, but I feared I would weary your patience. 

Your sister in hope, VANDELIA E. JONES.


P. S.—Henry Kivett, one of those brethren who were sent by the church to Abbott’s Creek Association in 1835, is the same old brother I spoke of; our only male member.



A Brief History of the Sandy Creek Primitive Baptist Church--1755 till 1980  

    Here is a brief history of Old Sandy Creek Primitive Baptist Church, located in the north eastern part of Randolph County, North Carolina, 20 miles southeast of Greensboro, North Carolina, four miles west of Liberty, North Carolina, off of 49-A.

    Morgan Edwards, the earliest historian, was at Sandy Creek in 1772, says that the work existing from Elder Shubal Stearns and fifteen other souls, 16 years early (November 22, 1755), spread so rapidly from Sandy Creek that by 1775, the church had spread her branches southward as far as Georgia, eastward to the sea and the Chesapeake Bay, and northward to the water of the Potomac. It, in 17 years, became a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother to 42 churches, from which sprang 125 ministers. Semple, next in age, 1810, says ... soon after Elder Stearns’ arrival at Sandy Creek November 22, 1755, he and his companions to the number of 16 were constituted into a church called Sandy Creek and to which Elder Stearns was appointed pastor. In this little church in the wilderness, there were, besides the pastor, two other preachers, viz: Joseph Breed and Daniel Marshall, neither of whom was ordained. Thus organized, they began a work, kindling a fire which soon began to burn brightly indeed. Shubal Stearns came into Guilford County, not Randolph, at Sandy Creek and began a work that is almost without parallel. In 1829, Hassell wrote, as of now, more than a thousand churches existing which arose from this beginning.

    The first meeting house built in 1762 was 26 x 30. The present old log meeting house was build around 1802. the present frame house was build in 1946. The first deed to the property at Sandy Creek was made in 1822 by Wm. Welborn. It consisted of one acre or more of land and was filed for registration on December 29, 1885, before W. J. Teague, Register of Deeds.

    On the second Lord’s day in August, 1835, our predecessor protested “against all the new institutions of the day which they do believe is not founded on the scripture, among which were the Baptist State Convention, the Missionary Society, the Sunday School, and other societies which had come into existence. As a result of the declaration, the church withdrew from the Sandy Creek Association and joined the Abbott’s Creek Union Association: the church continued in this association for 124 years. The church now stands independent.

    In 1902, membership had dropped to only one member, a Vedelia E. Jones who died in 1909. From about 1904 till 1909, no services were held. It is said, however, that she refused to accept the closing of the church and continued to come and sit on the steps of the old building each meeting day and sang the old hymns she loved so well.

    In 1926, services were resumed and, in 1929, the church was reorganized back into a church body and has continued ever since. Elder Gurney E. Nance serves as our pastor.

    We were prone to agree with the statement “This is a church where time stands still.”



    In the early part of the church history, our records are lost, but we do have the first original deed. It was not lawful in North Carolina at the time Sandy Creek was organized for churches to own land.

    The old Log Meeting house once had a balcony which some say was used for slaves. There are two doors and two windows. The stand or pulpit is pinned together with wooden pegs.

    About 1905, the “Original” Head Rock of Elder Shubal Stearns was removed from his grave by a Missionary minister. The present stone is misleading. The Primitive Baptists, at this time, have been unable to find the original stone. Stearns’ original head rock was native stone on which was carved “S.S. 1771”.

    In 1951, the Department of Conservation and Development tried to establish Sandy Creek Baptist Church as a historical shrine, but the church refused to turn over to the state the old deed. The Old Baptists believed the old building is to be used for worship of the Lord only.

    In July, 1979, the State Professional Review Committee placed for study Old Sandy Creek Primitive Baptist Church for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places. We have seventeen members. We hope each reader will pray that our endeavors walk in the old paths may continue.

Hal Younts, Church Clerk
Climax, North Carolina

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 21 October 2008 )
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The Primitive or Old School Baptists cling to the doctrines and practices held by Baptist Churches throughout America at the close of the Revolutionary War. This site is dedicated to providing access to our rich heritage, with both historic and contemporary writings.