Ephesus Baptist Church
7300 West Old Spring Hope Road
Spring Hope, North Carolina
Ephesus Missionary Baptist Church was constituted on August 14, 1880, under the primary leadership of the Reverend George Washington Coppedge, who had been conducting occasional preaching services under a brush arbor in the vicinity of the present church edifice. Formal constitution took place at Bryant School House, which was located on the parcel of land where the present church facilities stand. The following charter members entered into the constitution through presentation of letters of dismission from sister churches: Mary G. Fulford (Peachtree), Anne Warren (Peachtree), H. M. Warren (Peachtree), Mahlia Warren (Peachtree), Willis Marion Warren (Peachtree), J. H. Valentine (Peachtree), and S. G. Batchelor (Pleasant Grove). Earliest elected church officers included George Washington Coppedge, Pastor; Willis Marion Warren, Clerk; and G. H. Valentine and Willis Marion Warren, Deacons.
Associational records for 1880-1881 noted a Sunday School of forty (40) scholars, with James T. Webb, Superintendent. A Woman’s Missionary Society was organized in 1914, with Clara Warren, President. One year later, that Society reported fifteen (15) members, with Nettie Edwards, President. This initial missionary society was short-lived, however, with nothing more reported on missions auxiliaries for women and girls until 1947-1948. At the latter date, Nannie Mae (Mrs. Willis R.) Warren was noted as WMS President, with an auxiliary unit for women (WMS) and one for girls (GA). Although the Reverend Alfred Allen Pippin is reported to have organized a Baptist Young People’s Union in 1927, the church’s letters to the Association record no data for either Baptist Young People’s Union or Baptist Training Union prior to 1951-1952, when J. Phillip Murray was elected Director of Baptist Training Union. Ongoing church training sessions were then discontinued after 1967, except for periodic short-term or modular study units. Provision for Baptist Men’s Brotherhood and Royal Ambassadors was effected in 1955-1956, with H. M. Denton, Brotherhood Director, and the Reverend Cline Wilson Borders, Chairman, Royal Ambassador Committee. While the organization for Baptist Men was short-lived until the 1990s, some provision has been maintained for Royal Ambassador units throughout the years since 1956.
The church’s initial meeting house, a one-room frame structure, was erected in 1882 at a reported cost of $800.00. Six Sunday School rooms were annexed to this building in 1936. An educational annex was then built in 1955, with renovations thereto in 1967 to include an additional wing, fellowship hall, and kitchen facilities. Construction on the present sanctuary was begun in 1967 and completed in 1968. Construction on the present fellowship hall was completed in January 2001. A church parsonage had been built in 1959 on land adjacent to the church’s facilities which had been purchased for that purpose one year earlier.
Services of worship for Ephesus Baptists were scheduled once a month, 1880-1915; then twice monthly, 1915-1950. Services have been conducted weekly since early in the ministry of Jackson Lattimore Falls (1948-1951). Church membership reached one hundred one (101) in 1905-1906; two hundred three (203), in 1954-1955. Revisions to membership rosters in 1893, 1919, 1930, and 1939 contributed to keeping such rosters current. Total membership in 204-2005 was two hundred eighty (280), with only sixty-five (65) persons classified as “non-resident” members. Average weekly attendance upon Sunday morning worship services was reported to be one hundred forty (140); average weekly Sunday School attendance, eighty-six (86).
A succession of twenty-four (24) pastors has been called to serve the church and congregation since 1880. These have included: George Washington Coppedge, 1880-1885; Marion J. Willoughby, 1885-1895; Rayford Payton Driver, 1895-1899; Roderick Duncan Carroll, 1899-1906; Joseph Edward Hocutt, 1906-1926; Julius Paul Gulley, 1926-1927; John Wiley Noble, 1927-1928; Alfred Allen Pippin, 1928-1937; J. N. Stancil, 1938-1942; Ernest Carl Upchurch, 1944-1945; Harvey Louis Coppedge, 1945-1948; Jackson Lattimore Falls, 1948-1951; Cline Wilson Borders, 1953-1958; Hugh Leslie Borders, 1958-1961; Daniel W. Smith, 1961-1963; Kenneth L. Payton, 1963-1966; Julius H. Lee, 1967-1970; Donald Lee Hunnings, 1971-1973; Douglas S. McLeroy, 1973-1975; Ronald Dennis Arndt, 1975-1978; John N Browder, Sr., 1978-1979; Danny Wayne Bullock, 1980-1982; Clark J. Rounds, 1982-2002; and Felix Anthony “Tony” Futrell, 2003-.
In addition to some who have been called to the pastoral office at Ephesus, the following “sons” of the church and community have been ordained to the Gospel ministry at the hands of this church: W. V. Denton, Sanford L. Lamm, Albert S. Lamm, Hassel Lamm, David Edwards, and Cecil Carroll Edwards. The church hosted meetings of the Association in 1914, 1932, 1966, 1976, and 2003. Ephesus Church united with Tar River Baptist Association in 1880.
The church has hosted the Tar River Association in 2003 and 2013.