The Saint James Missionary Baptist Church is located on the East side of Rocky Mount.  It came into being on June 8, 1885, when Peter and Edna Darden, Henry Harvey, Charlie Rivers, Lena and Alice Sessoms, and Mahaley Sherrod met to discuss the organization of a Baptist Church.  Rev. James Norwood temporarily led the church.  The first church building was a 16 feet by 16 feet slab structure erected southwest of the present facility.  In 1886, the Reverend Allison W. Ivey was selected to serve as the church’s first official pastor.  After six years, Rev. Ivey resigned to follow other pursuits.  The next pastor of St. James was Reverend Berry Powell.  During his four-year tenure, the church increased its membership.  In 1898, Reverend Mack D. Matthewson took on the role as pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church.  A new and larger church facility was constructed the same year.  Rev. Matthewson resigned his post after six years due to poor health.  However, he was affiliated with the church for the remainder of his life.  In 1904, Reverend J. H. Thompson assumed the pastorate of St. James.  He filled this role for one year, and was followed by Reverend Annianas S. Croom who served from 1905-1908.  The next pastor was Reverend John Henry Martin.  During his tenure, the present church and a parsonage were built.  He faithfully led the church for 26 years until his death in 1934.

Abstract from the article, “Our History,” in the About section, found on the website, St. James Missionary Baptist Church (, accessed 17 January 2021.

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