After the dissolution of the Majority Baptist Church; the St. Stephen Baptist Church was birthed in March of 1935 and established a place to Worship at 10th and Hickory Streets in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There were a total of 16 members, including A. H. Howard, Sidney Hanks, Ben Green, and Leonard Dunovant who were appointed and served as the church’s first cadre of Deacons.
Rev. L. Hines served as St. Stephen’s first shepherd. As the Lord blessed, the Church grew spiritually, numerically, physically and financially. In August 1938, the Church purchased a sanctuary formerly used by the members of Collette Tabernacle for $4,500 and held the first service at the new site on October 1, 1938. Thanks be to God, a ten-year mortgage was liquidated in five years and the mortgage was burned in October 1943. By this time, under the spiritual leadership of Pastor Hines, the membership had grown from the 16 charter members to 310.
On September 20, 1947, after 12 years of outstanding service to God and to St. Stephen Baptist Church, Rev. L. Hines passed and the Church was without pastoral leadership. However, the financial status of the Church was excellent. There was no indebtedness!
Rev. E. G. Williams of South Boston, Virginia was called to St. Stephen and was installed on November 1, 1948. Under his leadership, the Church purchased a parsonage on Hattie Avenue, Winston-Salem, NC. As a result of the numerical growth of the Church, the Righteous Church of God located on Ogburn Street (later renamed O’Connell Street) was purchased. The members marched to their new House of Worship in February 1949. Many capital improvements were made at this location, which included the purchase and installation of a new furnace and hot water tank. God continued to bless and the Church’s membership increased to 500. The original parsonage was sold and another purchased on East 4th Street. This mortgage was burned on November 30, 1954. The Church experienced many triumphs as well as trials. Sadly, over time, the Church experienced unrest and irreconcilable differences that the congregation could no longer worship together. As a result, the Church split and Rev. E. G. Williams and some of the members left and organized Galilee Baptist Church.
In 1956, Rev. C. M. Freeman was called and served as the third Pastor of the St. Stephen Baptist Church family. Although this union had some difficulties; he served for one year. After a period of one year the church was without a shepherd. Rev. Freeman left St. Stephen to pastor another church, but would occasionally be called back to preach.
Rev. Joseph R. Samuels was called to serve as a supply preacher in 1957 and formerly installed as the fourth Shepherd of St. Stephen Baptist Church in 1958. After five years under his dynamic leadership, the Lord prospered the Church and she was once again faced with the need to relocate to a larger facility. The O’Connell Street location was sold and several lots were purchased on Bowen Boulevard and Manchester Streets. After securing a $50,000 loan from Standard Building & Loan, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 11, 1961 and the Church continued praying and serving faithfully. The total cost of the new edifice, furniture, equipment, and grounds, etc. was over $100,000.
The members of St. Stephen marched to their new Church on Bowen Boulevard on August 19, 1962. The seating capacity for the newly erected facility was 800. Over time many capital improvements were made which included the completion of a pastor’s study, a reception area, finance room, and a deacons’ room on the second level; on the lower level, new sanctuary lights, two side exits to the parking lot, kitchen was refurnished, acquisition of two lots for additional parking, and the purchase of a bus and two vans.
The Outreach Ministry of the Church included a weekly Sunday afternoon broadcast on radio station WSMX.
After 29 years of faithful service at the Bowen Boulevard location, Pastor Samuels was lead by the Holy Spirit to erect a new Church home. As a result of this vision, eight and one-half acres of land on Pressman Drive and Noble Street were purchased from the estate of Frank Murrell at a cost of $56,000. The Architect, Clifton E. Gravely & Associates drew the plans and Cogun Industries, Inc. constructed the new church. Groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Saturday, January 11, 1990. The total cost of the facility was over $3.7 million.
On Sunday, June 23, 1991 a motorcade from the Bowen Boulevard location arrived at the newly constructed church building at 5000 Noble Street, and the inaugural worship service was held. Open house was held on July 14-19, 1991 and dedication services were held in November 1991.
The Lord blessed St. Stephen with an educational wing that includes eight large classrooms that can be divided into 16 smaller ones; an equipped nursery, library, administrative offices and nurses’ room. The board room and conference room are located off the main entrance foyer; the main entrance has a covered driveway that leads to the parking area. On the upper level there are other vital areas that are used for ministries
Under Rev. Samuels’ leadership, the Church’s name was officially changed from St. Stephen Baptist Church to St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church of Winston-Salem, NC on February 7, 2007. Pastor Samuels retired after serving faithfully for 50 years and is currently Pastor Emeritus.
Once again, the church was taxed with searching for a new pastor. Therefore, a search committee was appointed to identify a qualified candidate who would become the fifth Senior Pastor of the St. Stephen’s Church family.
On October 7, 2007 God answered the church’s prayers. Reverend James E. Cook was installed as the fifth Senior Pastor of St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church. He purposefully endeavors to flesh out Church’s motto, which states: “We are family. We care, we share, and we work together in love.” To that end, under his leadership the Church began a spiritual revitalization and reorganization through developing and implementing relevant and transforming ministries. The emphasis of these ministries is Christian discipleship, congregational empowerment, and community development—purpose driven ministry.
Pastor Cook’s leadership is inspired by his conviction that: “The Church has marching orders to turn the world upside down through praying, preaching, teaching, and witnessing in a spirit of love, grace, and courage until Christ returns for His Church.”
To God be the glory for the great things he has done!