As Ephesians we are very grateful for our forefathers in the faith and are particularly thankful for the Rev. George W. Coppedge who began talking to Christian friends concerning the establishment of a church in the late 1870’s. He soon began to hold preaching services under a brush arbor near where the church is now located.
The followship began to grow and some of the believers met and, with great faith and trust in God, started plans for a church. About ten years later, on August 14, 1880, the church was organized at Bryant School House which was located on the same parcel of land where our church now is located.
The charter members were: W. M. Warren, Mahlia Warren, J. H. Valentine, H. M. Warren, Anne Warren, and Mary G. Fulford of Peachtree Baptist Church and S. G. Batchelor from Pleasant Grove Baptist Church.
The first deacons were W. M. Warren and G. H. Valentine. Rev. Coppedge was called as the first pastor at a salary of $60.00 a year. After the election of deacons and the calling of a pastor the church began to minister and witness in the area. Nine days later they baptized three new members, Victoria Lamm, Marzilla Lamm, and Sarah Rackley in the nearby river.
At a church conference held in September of 1880 the church was officially named Ephesus Missionary Baptist Church. W. M. Warren was chosen to serve as the first clerk and the first treasurer. H. M. Warren, S. G. Batchelor and R. T. Matthews were elected as the first trustees.
At that time worship Services were held on Saturday and Sunday, once a month.
In 1882, a church buildings was erected at a cost of $800.00, the lumber having been donated by James T. Webb. Willis M. Warren purchased the Bryant School House, plus one acre of land. The school house was then sold and moved from the site, and the land was donated to the church.
In 1887, in a major step toward equality, the church voted to allow the women to vote in the election of a Pastor.
When the church began to have monthly conferences, church discipline was often a major item of business – as it was in all of the churches of that day. Records show the individuals were excluded for heresy or for failure to attend services regularly. Many of these excluded members would then seek forgiveness and were restored back in the Christian fellowship of the church.
In 1893 the church roll was revised for the first time. It was revised again in 1919, 1930, and 1939. Each of these adjustments of the roll caused diversions and much controversy.
In 1915, Ephesus Baptist Church had grown and prospered and they voted to have services twice a month.
As we look back, we can see how God was present and working in the lives of these people. In 1916, M. V. Denton was the first member to be ordained to the ministry at Ephesus. Since then God has called Sanford L. Lamm, Albert S. Lamm, Hassel Lamm, David Edwards, and Cecil C. Edwards into the ministry. Two of our members have been appointed as Home Missionaries, Albert S. Lamm and former Pastor Douglas McLeroy.
A Baptist Young People’s Union was organized by the Pastor, Rev. A. A. Pippin, in 1927. In 1929, the church was wired for electric lights, the first piano was purchased in 1935, the first Sunday School rooms was completed in 1936, the first Vacation Bible School was held in June of 1947, and Wednesday night Prayer Services were begun in 1948. During this time three acres of land, which had been separated from the main church grounds by the building of State Highway 581, were traded to Hobart Brantley for three acres adjoining the church west of the highway.
Progress continued and gas heat was installed in the church building, to take the place of a tall pot belly wood heater, in 1950.
In 1953, Ephesus Church became a full-time church with services every Sunday and a resident Pastor.
During this same year the system of rotating the service of deacons on the deacon body. The church also adopted a long range building program to construct an educational building, a pastorium and a sanctuary. The old church building was moved a short distance to allow for the expansion.
The educational building was completed in 1955 and was paid for by 1956. The first organ was purchased in 1957.
In 1958, additional land was purchased to build the pastorium, which was completed in 1959 and paid for by 1962.
The old sanctuary was torn down in 1967 and the new one was completed in 1968. The educational building was renovated in 1967 and an additional educational wing and fellowship hall and kitchen were added.
The parking lot was paved in 1975 and a tennis court was built in 1976. Landscaping was done in 1979 and a steeple was erected in 1980. Lighting to shine on the steeple was given in memory of Kim Bryant, who died of Leukemia. Parents, Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Bryant presented it.
Rev. Albert Lamm and his wife, Hettie Lamm provided a trust for the church and mission activities through the Baptist foundation.
Ephesians celebrated their centennial anniversary in 1980.
A new Allen organ was purchased in 1984. And a beautiful cross was placed above the Baptistery in memory of Gregory Hathaway by his family in 1984. The marble insets on the front of the church were given in memory of Louise Murray in 1986 by Phillip Murray and family. Also in 1986, a 15-passenger van was purchased for the use of church members.
In 1990 the tennis court was paved over to provide much needed parking space.
The WMU of Ephesus received a plaque in 1993 for being distinguished for ten consecutive years at the State Annual Meeting held at Ridgecrest.
A new heating and cooling system was installed in 1994 and the restrooms in the church were completely renovated in 1999.
Construction was begun on a new fellowship hall and kitchen in the fall of 2000. It was completed January 15, 2001 and it was paid for in October, 2001.
A new sign was erected in front of the church on June 30, 2002. The sign was given by Barbara Williams, Nannette Warren and friends in memory of Nannie Mae Warren, mother of Barbara Williams and Nannette Warren
Ephesus Church has had 25 Pastors, they were: George W. Coppedge, M. J. Willoughby, R. P. Driver, R. D. Carrol, J. E. Hocutt, J. P. Gulley, J. W. Nobles, A. A. Pippin, J. N. Stancil, Ernest C. Upchurch, Harvey Coppedge, Jack Falls, Cline Borders, Hugh L. Borders, Daniel W. Smith, Kenneth L. Payton, Julius H. Lee, Don Lee Hunnings, Douglas S. McLeroy, Ronald Arndt, Johnnie N. Browder Sr., Danny W. Bullock, Clark J. Rounds, Tony Futrell, and presently David Eidson.
Ephesus Church is now 129 years old. We have had seven church clerks who have maintained the records so we could have this knowledge of our history today. These clerks were: Willis M. Warren, Herbert P. Warren, Cecil Edwards, J. Phillip Murray, Clara W. Strickland, Nannie Mae Warren, and our present clerk, Barbara Williams.
Ephesus has grown and now has almost 200 on our Sunday School roll, with many children and youth group activities. Our first Youth Minister, Rev. Michael Ramsey, was called in 1998, followed by Rev. Johnny Manning who was called in 2001. In 2002 Ephesus so fortunate to once again have Rev. Mike Ramsey return as their Minister of Youth.
It is believed that Tom Poole was our first paid Music Director, who was called in 1979. Since that time the following individuals has served as Music Director/Minister of Music: Rita Vermillion, Laura Yates, Pam Faulkner, Fran Hudkins, Tom Parker, Cynthia Miller, Mark Edwards, Dave Carr, Rebecca Joyner, Lynn Jenkins, Judy Willis and presently Judy Rogers.
Ephesians have always been very mission minded. We have all of the WMU and Baptist Men organizations.
We have had several members serve as Mission Volunteers in such places as Belize, Togo, Brazil, South Africa, Malaysia, Florida, New York, Alaska, and Wyoming. Among these were Phillip Murray, Joseph and Annette Coppedge, Terry, Jenny, Travis and Sarah Alford, Dougald and Linda McLaurin, and Tom Druppel. We have also participated with the Tar River Baptist Association by helping with disaster recovery after tornadoes and hurricanes. Some of those participating in these activities were Gilbert Williams, Phillip Murray, Terry Alford, Chris and Sally Sandifer, Phil Murray, David Harper, and Clark Rounds.
As we look back on our heritage, Ephesus Church members are very grateful and realize that we are where we find ourselves today because of the faithful and dedicated saints that have gone before us. Our prayer is that we will be as faithful, dedicated, obedient, and trustworthy so that we may be a good example to those who follow us. We hope that future generations will remember with joy in their hearts our ministry and witness for God in Ephesus Missionary Baptist Church.