Carlton’s Bluff Mission

Rev. James T. Nichols of Wilkesboro was employed as a door-to-door salesman in Winston-Salem. He became very much concerned about the conditions that existed in the part of the town known as Carlton’s Bluff. He asked permission to hold services in private homes. Mr. & Mrs. J. M. Chappel invited him to hold a service in their home on May 13, 1930. Regular weekly meetings were held for sometime. Fourteen conversions had been noted and many renewals. Also, the spiritual morale of the people had been raised to a higher standard.

At the suggestion of Mr. I.F. Brown, a Mission was organized. A vacant house in what was known as Carlton’s Bluff was secured for the purpose of regular services. The Mission was known as Carlton’s Bluff Mission. Rev. James T. Nichols was asked to be the preacher. There were fourteen Charter Members of Carlton’s Bluff Mission. The membership grew to more than fifty. James T. Nichols was retained as pastor until May 1932, when it became necessary for him to return to his farm home near Wilkesboro.

The work was carried on and at a later date, under the direction of Pastor W.S. Luck, it was mutually agreed to organize a Missionary Baptist Church. On March 3, 1935 Urban Street Baptist Church was organized with 18 charter members, all of which are now gone on to glory.

125 Urban Street, 1st Building

Urban Street Baptist Church

The congregation secured a building at 125 Urban Street, formerly used by a Lutheran congregation for $1,767. After securing this building, the congregation proceeded to call the church after the street, thus Urban Street Baptist Church. On April 1, 1944, a new pastor came, G. Elmo Renegar.

In October of 1947 the lot at the corner of Urban and Devonshire Streets was purchased for $2,700 and in July 1948 the building was begun, being completed for the Easter Service on April 17, 1949. The total cost of the building was $45,000.

A three story educational building was constructed in the early 1950’s to be used for classrooms, assemblies, and offices. During these years our church had several Ministers of Music. Chester Utt and Rev. Elmo Renegar helped lead the music as well as others in the church. Two of the first full-time Ministers of Music at Urban Street were Dale Loftis and Tom Anderson.

With the congregation continuing to grow, another auditorium was built beside the first one for an approximate cost of $115,000. The first services were held in this new auditorium on June 18, 1961 with Homecoming dinner afterwards.

Elmo Renegar resigned as pastor in 1964 and on June 28, 1964 the church voted to call Rev. Billy Martin as pastor. Joe McWethy was our Minister of Music, and George Law served as Part-time Minister of Visitation.

In March 1974, the church voted to purchase some 35 acres plus on the Mt. Vernon Church Road in Davidson County. The following summer, several men of the church erected a covered pavilion and the grounds were landscaped. It was decided that this property would be called Extension Ministries of the Urban Street Baptist Church and would be used by the church members for fellowship purposes.

On April 15, 1980 a Groundbreaking Ceremony was held to begin a Multi-purpose Activities Building. Rev. B.A. Carroll brought a dedication message. The cost of the building was $400,000.Pastor Billy Martin resigned as pastor on December 30, 1980 and Rev. Ronald Reinert of Piedmont Bible College served as Interim Pastor from February 8, 1981 until May 17, 1981.  Bro. Reinert also served as Interim Pastor between Pastor Renegar and Pastor Martin.

On March 22, 1981, the church voted to call Rev. Sammy Shoaf as pastor and he began his pastorate with us on May 18, 1981. Pastor Shoaf brought the first message in the Activities Building on May 31, 1981 from Romans 8:37, “More Than Conquerors.” In 1982 the church voted to begin a Preschool and After School Daycare program in the Activities Building which was called Urban Street Baptist Church Training Center, and later Vernon Forest Baptist Church Training Center. The full-time Minister of Music and Youth at this time was Pat Taylor. When Pat Taylor resigned in 1983, the Music Director’s position was filled part-time by Barry McKenzie, and other lay leaders.

The Youth Director’s position was filled part-time by Jim Dunn, Mark Clark, Danny Linville, and Bryan Crumpler. Jim Dunn also served as Part-time Minister of Visitation and was instrumental in beginning the AWANA program at Urban Street Baptist Church.

February 14, 1988 was one of the many highlights in the history of Urban Street Baptist Church. It was Note-Burning Homecoming Day for the $175,000 that the church borrowed in 1979 for the construction of the Activities Building. Former pastor, Dr. Billy Martin preached in the morning service from Luke 19:11-27, “The Note in the Napkin.”

Urban Street/Vernon Forest Baptist Training Center

“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

The Training Center has had 7 Directors. Mrs. Dot Bowden, our longest serving Director, served in this position since November, 1999. She retired as of the end of the 2017 school year. Josh and Jordon Oliver serve as a team Directorship.

The goals of the Training Center are to minister to the spiritual, educational, physical, social, and emotional needs of the children in our community. Our preschool and kindergarten curriculum includes hands-on lessons that teach children how to think, grow, know, and live “God’s way.” After school daycare is provided for Wallburg and Friendly Elementary Schools, as well as a summer daycare program.

Vernon Forest Baptist Church

On November 4, 1990 the church voted to relocate the church to the Mt. Vernon Church Road property. On December 16, 1990 the church voted to rename the church to Vernon Forest Baptist Church. On January 20, 1991 the first service as the Vernon Forest Baptist Church was held in the Activities Building. On August 11, 1991 the church voted to sell the property at 2315 Urban Street to the Living Water Non-Denominational Church. On May 5, 1991 our Building Fund Commitments began in order to erect a new sanctuary on Mt. Vernon Church Road. On September 29, 1991 Groundbreaking Ceremonies were held to begin construction of the new sanctuary and educational building. Pastor Shoaf spoke from 1 Kings 6:1 and 9-14, “A Mind to Work.”

On June 23, 1991 Pastor Shoaf announced his retirement. Rev. Ronald Reinert again became our Interim Pastor. On November 17, 1991 the church voted to call Rev. Terry Coats as pastor. A special Installation Service was held for Pastor Coats on January 11, 1992 with over 350 in attendance in our Activities Building. Under the direction of Pastor Coats services were continuing to be held in the Activities Building with construction under way on our new sanctuary.

On May 1, 1992 a special Prayer and Praise Service was held in our new sanctuary. On May 2 and 3, 1992 Dedication Services were held with three of our former pastors speaking, Dr. G. Elmo Renegar, Dr. Billy Martin, and Dr. Sammy Shoaf; two of our former Ministers of Music singing, Joe McWethy and Pat Taylor; and our former Interim Pastor, Rev. Ronald Reinert leading in prayer. On Sunday, May 3, 1992 a special Cornerstone-laying Service was held along with Dinner on the Grounds.

In September of 1993, the church voted to call Scott Compton as the full-time Minister of Music and Youth. We had another special Note-Burning Homecoming Sunday on May 7, 1995 for the $630,000 that was borrowed in 1991 to build the new sanctuary. Former pastor, Dr. Elmo Renegar preached in the 11:00 service.

Scott Compton resigned in July of 2000 and Matthew Griffin came as Associate Pastor of Youth and Music in January 2001. On June 8, 2003 Pastor Coats resigned and Matthew Griffin filled the pulpit until September. Rev. Nat Thompson was called as the Interim Pastor and served from September 2003 to May 31, 2004.

In April of 2004 the church voted to call Rev. James M. Brown as pastor. Pastor Brown began his ministry on June 1, 2004. August was a great time in church history as a home was established on the property and designated as a dwelling for the Pastor and as a Mission House.

In January 2008 Matthew Griffin resigned as Associate Pastor. Lay persons have since filled in directing the choir and leading the congregational singing. T.W. Webb became the Interim Youth Pastor part-time until Joshua Oliver became our Part-time Youth Pastor on June 1, 2009.

The ministry of Urban Street and Vernon Forest has been blessed to be the catalyst for other ministries. Calvary Baptist Church of King, NC is the product of one of Urban Street’s members, Dr. Roger Baker and his wife, Diane. Mark and Celeste Clark have established a Camp Ministry, Camp Nathanael, in Kentucky. Wes and Suzanne Yerkes had an effective ministry to the military for a number of years. Charles and Susan Pugh had an effective ministry with Campus Bible Fellowship in VA. Jeremy and Mattie Benbrooks are embarking on a ministry in Togo, West Africa.

Only God knows the future reach of the ministry of the Carlton’s Bluff Mission/Urban Street Baptist Church/Vernon Forest Baptist Church heritage.

God has blessed Vernon Forest Baptist Church. He is to be praised for the many souls who have come to know Christ as Savior, for the believers who have found the will of God in their life, and the missionary outreach that has been made possible through the faithfulness of His people.

We have had eight pastors:

W.S. Luck, 1935 – 1943

Joe Belton, a few months in 1943

Walter Crouse, a few months in 1943

Elmo Renegar, 1944 – 1964

Billy S. Martin, 1964 – 1981

Sammy Shoaf, 1981 – 1991

Terry Coats, 1992 – 2003

Jim Brown, since 2004

Let us “Celebrate the Journey” we have taken so far and look forward to the journey that is yet to come.