The history of MRBC is unique in how it evolved over the years with founding charter families giving land to the early church, a piece at a time, and then the churches purchaseing small parcels to reach her present day status.
On July 18, 1933, P.M. Duckworth and his wife, M.A. Duckworth, deeded to the church as a free gift, an acre and a half of land that adjoined the land owned by Pink Clark and Abel Watts. This land was deeded to Turstees Vance Watts, Holden Lane, and Herman Watts of the Free Will Baptist Church. This deed is the only mention that the early church was a Free Will Baptist Church.
On November 20, 1936, Abe Watts (Great Grandfather of Ila Chapman's girls-Pearl, Mary, Martha, and Nell) and his wife, Mary Joe Watts deeded an undertermined amount of land to Furman Watts, Z.V. Watts and Holden Lane, Trustees of Missionary Ridge Baptist Church. In the deed, this land adjoined the lands of Watts Free Will Baptist Church. The deed notes that both Abe and Mary Joe placed their marks of an "X" on the deed. Another interesting note on the deed was the Register of Deeds paid the filing fees for the deed.
Thus you have the early beginnings, 75 to 78 years ago of Missionary Ridge Baptist Church. Legal documents don't include the "Ridge" until 1960 when Williw and his wife, Zuley C. Watts, deeded a "1-2/5 of an acre" tract of the land to "The Trustees of Missionary Ridge Baptist Church..." and Hardy J. Duckworth and his wife Gertie Norman Duckworth, deeded to Missionary Ridge Baptist Church, 9/10 (nine tenths) of an acre, for "ten dollars and other good and valuable considerations to them".
On October 1, 1966, a Deed of Trust was signed by the Trustees of the Church: Woodrow Clark, Will Watts, Howard Piercy, Ray Waters, Luther Gurley, Odas Saunders, and Vance Watts for $36,000 from the Burke County Savings and Loan Association. This Deed of Trust was paid off June 10, 1975. The monlthy payments on it were $250.76.
On March 17, 1970, Mrs. "Jo Ann Bass, Single" deeded 0.72 acres to the church. The property adjoined, according to the deed, lands owned by William Watts, Missionary Ridge Baptist Church, and Joe Bass.
On April 12, 1977, Jo Ann Bass deeded to the church 2.10 acres of land. This property adjoined Jenkins Road and is proabaly the piece of land between Mr. and Mr.s Ned Garrison and Mr. and Mrs. Dough Caraway.
On November 3, 1986 Ned T. and Mary Duckworth Garrison deeded a "Right of Way" to the Trustees of Missionary Ridge Baptist Church for the main drive to the church.
On June 5, 1986, McKinley Earwood and his wife, Mildred P. Earwood, deeded a small piece of propery. On August 9, 1986, McKinley Earwood and wife, Mildred P. Earwood, deeded to the church 1.017 acres of land. On October 24, 1986, the Deacons (Trustees) of the Church, deeded all of the land mentioned in the previous deeds, to their Trustee Attorney John McMurry, who in turn the same day deeded all the propery back to the church as on parcel of property.
On April 15, 1988, Vernon Roberts and his wife, Barbara Duckworth Roberts, deeded 4.23 acres to the church. The Excise Tax on this deed was $22.50, which was indicative the property was bought by the church for $22,500. On Decemeber 15, 1994, the Earwoods deeded 1.6 acres, which is part of the land where the Life Enrichment Center is today. The Excise Tax Stamp on this deed was $20.00, indicative of the church paying $10,000 for the property. On Debruary 1, 1995, the Earwoods again deed the church a parcel of property consisting of 0.589 acres of property. The excise tax stamp paid on this deed was $16.00; indicating $8,000 was paid for the property. On December 15, 1995, the Earwoods deeded 1.137 acres of property to the church. The excise stamp was $32.00 on this deed, indicating the church paid $16,000. On January 28, 1997, Steven Donald Watts and his wife, Jacqueline Crystal Cannon Watts deed a piece of property containing 0.796 acres to the church.
On October 5, 1997, with much planning and fundraising in the previous years, ground was broken on the church's largest structure. the Life Enrichment Center. This building was built and equipped without the church having to borrow any money from banks. The building and its furnishings cost around 1.1 million dolalrs. The church had raised close to a million dollard before the LEC was built. This buidling was dedicated in a special service on October 25, 1998.
Wayne Epley related the followin, as told to him by the late Woodrow Clark. Imagine walking along a one-lane dirt road, a quiet summer day during the year of 1937. As you proceed, you hear voices emanating from a distance ahead. Upon arriving closer to the origin of the voices you see six ladies dressed in bonnets, sitting on logs under a brush arbor, singing hymns and praising the Lord.
Mr. Woodrow Clark, while walking to visit Sam Chapman, witnessed this scene in the brush arbor. Upon meeting these ladies he found out that they were Granny Watts, Laura Pearson, Eva Sprouse, Sally Buff, Isabelle Norman, and Zela Watts. As Woodrow Clark approached, they invitied him to stay for a service. Granny Watts was the leader as they sand old gospel hymns. Granny Watts read from the Bible and they has a worship service such as have in Sunday School today. This was the beginning of Missionary Ridge Baptist Church. Folloing the brush arbor meetings came the organization of the church in February of 1939. The church was officially came the organization of the church in February of 1939. The church was officially dedicated in June of 1938. The history of the church was basically divided into three eras:
-1938-1947 The first era was on of instability with preachers lasting only a couple of years at the most. Some of the preachers who pastored the church during these years were Preachers Queen, Reed, Cook, Ball, Albert Hudson, and others.
-1947-1976 The second era was known as the Chronister Era. Chronister was the only pastor of the church during this period. Chronister worked at the Waldensian Bakery delivering bread in Catawba County and later started making icing for baked goods at the bakery.
-1976 to December 27, 2009, Pastor Donald Lovelace pastored the church duing the entire period. Reverend Lovelace was bi-vocational for the early years of his ministry, employed by the Burke County Public Schools as a principal at several of the schools in the county. Pastor Lovelace retired from the Burke County Schools in December 1995.
As far as chruch facilities, where the sanctuary and SUnday School rooms sit today, additionas and improvements were made over the years. In 1946, a basement was dug and the building was bricked, giving the church two levels for Sunday School rooms. This first edition was dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1948. Another addition was added in 1958 with more Sunday School rooms being added.
It all started around a one-room building with a potbelly stove for heat in the lat 1930s. Peraly Piercy recalls during these times the one room church was divided by burlap curtains for Sunday School classes. The curtains would be pulled back for church services.
In 1966, what is called the educational building today, was added on to the exisitng building, giving the church the present number of Sunday School classes. In 1980 the sanctuary was enlarged and the fellowship hall was built. This building project, which provided the Fellowship Hall, also made the sanctuary longer and added Olivette Byrd's class room and teh nursery. This project was overseen by Church Deacon Leroy Pruett, who was a skilled carpenter and contractor.
In 1997 the church entered into the largest building project in its history. The Life Enrichment Center was built and completed in August of 1998 without the church going into debt. On October 5, 1997, with much planning and fundraising in the previous years, ground was broken on the church's largest structure, the Life Enrichment Center. Theis building was built and equipped without the church having to borrow any money from banks. The building and its furnishings cost around 1.1 million dollars. The church had raised close to a million dollars before the LEC was built. This bruilding was dedicated in a special service on October 25, 1998.
The church was close to going into debt for about $100,000, to finish paying for the LEC, but Deacon Denny Watts pleaded with the church to not go into debt with the banks. Gracious members of the church made interest free loans to the church to cover the remaining $100,000. When these loans to the church were due to be paid back to members, the members forgave some of the debts.
(A more detailed history of the history is being compiled by the history committe)