GREENLEAF CHRISTIAN CHURCH DISCIPLES OF CHRIST
When Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, stood before the Pharisees, they told Him that He could not testify on His own behalf. However, Christ said His testimony was indeed valid, “for I know whence I came and whiter I go”, John 8:14.
Christ came down through 42 generations to be the savior for the world.
As Jesus Christ knew his history and his purposes; in trying to emulate Him, we must know our own history. We know that Greenleaf Christian Church is determined to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And another thing, we must also understand the record from whence this ministry came.
In the year of our Lord 1886, from the meager beginnings of the Sandy Plain bush shelter, what we now know as Greenleaf Christian Church by means of the servants of whom God gave a vision a bush shelter was erected in the community of Sandy Plain. After a short period of time the sanctuary transformed from a bush shelter to a one room building, which stood on the land where the current sanctuary stands.
Almost ten years after the initial vision to build a church, in 1895 God sent the leadership of Pastor C. R. D. Whitfield. Under his leadership, the church began to grow, and after a storm damaged the structure, they decided to rebuild the sanctuary. Christ dared the Jews to tear down the temple and He would rebuild it in three days (speaking of His body), low and behold after the storm the church was rebuilt in three months (90 days), a multiple of three -see John 2. Pastor Whitfield would serve the Greenleaf congregation for forty-seven years. During his tenure, he baptized 1600 individuals into Christ. Upon his retirement, his assistant, Rev. E. F. Johnson, became pastor and served until 1944.
As the years passed the building was remodeled and rooms were added. On the third Sunday in February 1952, we dedicated our new cinder blocked sanctuary, and shortly thereafter, the J. W. Hood Lodge No. 8 laid the cornerstone. During this period, Rev. William Best served from 1945-46. In 1947, Rev. W. S. Keys served us for ten years and became out pastor along with assistance of Rev. C. L. Parks.
In 1956, Rev. James L. Melvin came to lead us into 1960 where Rev. S. F. McMillan picked up the charge and started us into 1964. In 1965 Rev. F. J. Matthews came to us as a pastor. During the year of 1967, there was a split in the church over policy issues. A majority of the membership voted for the church to remove itself from the Goldsboro/Raleigh District Assembly and the Covenant with the Christian Church (D. O. C.) in North Carolina.
Though the split represents a difficult time in the history of Greenleaf, the grace of God sustained the church to continue to move forward. All details of the split are not known. Today we have renewed fellowship with the assembly and other congregations born out of this period of division.
Under Rev. Matthews’ leadership, we purchased property around us, and planned and constructed an education building, conducted for two years, a child development program and made $12,000 in improvements to our old sanctuary with new furniture and other items. We embarked upon plans for this new sanctuary that now stands and in August 1979 stretched out on faith by becoming a Station Church (having church every Sunday).
Rev. N. C. McNair became our pastor after Rev. Matthews’ occupancy. Rev. Levi Braswell became pastor in 1980. Upon Rev. Braswell’s induction into the Army’s Chaplin Program, Rev. Desmond Walker was extended the call to pastor in 1984. He served two years. Under his pastorate we were able to organize our functional committees: Community and World Outreach, Membership, Christian Education and Stewardship and Finance. We also celebrated our Centennial
Church Anniversary, bestowed emeritus status on Mother Eunice Thompson and Mother Bessie Parks, set the final steps in motion to begin the construction of our new sanctuary. In order for the current structure to be completed the building committee chaired by Deacon Cary Barnes had to for a team to oversee the construction. The team of men virtually served as a subcontracting team in order to keep the building cost within the original budget.
Rev. Kenneth Matthews came to pastor in 1986. Under his leadership we left the old sanctuary and marched into our new church on the first Sunday in March. On the first Sunday in April, we held our dedication service. On June 7, 1986, the cornerstone was laid by the J. W. Hood Lodge No. 8. We opened a nursery that is in operation during worship service and the Gospel Choir was formed.
During 1988, we purchased the land adjacent to the church. Hymnals and bibles were purchased and dedicated as well as a renovation of the fellowship hall in 1990. The lot adjacent to the church purchased by Deacon C. Earl Davis’ family was recorded and deeded to the church in 1990 as well.
On June 12, 1993, a call was extended to Rev. William J. Barber, II. Through the leadership of Pastor Barber and support of the church membership, we have been able to accomplish many things for the Kingdom of God. Through evangelism, the membership has grown. Our youth Sunday school curriculum changed to the Afro Centric Urban Ministry curriculum which includes all people. Our Bible study attendance has steadily grown.
During 1996, the church completed the payment of the sanctuary loan 13 years ahead of schedule. We instituted the Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Cooperation. We developed the Church’s Seven Point Vision. In 1997, the church negotiated the purchase of a five and a half acres track of land and a 26,000 square feet building to house a fellowship hall and new ministries to include a preschool, job and computer training center, and an office for Rebuilding Broken Places, CDC.
During 1999, Rebuilding Broken Places CDC, an outgrowth of Greenleaf Christian Church, was granted a 501 (c) 3 status. In the old Greenleaf Community, this ministry leads to Christian, economic and community development. Projects will include business development, development of single family housing and housing for moderate to low incomes, job training and computer literacy as well as other initiatives. We have received over $600,000 in initial grants for capacity and the church has invested more than a million and half dollars toward community development.
These efforts have led to the establishment of the Greenleaf Vision of Faith Community Center Rebuilding Broken Places Christian Academy, computer job skills training, Faith Estates Housing Development, Willing to Touch HIV Aids Initiative and NBA Greenleaf Grace Village Senior Housing Development. In total Greenleaf Christian Church and Rebuilding Broken Places CDC have led to the development of over 7 million dollars of assets specifically designed to help the poor and the needed. In 2003, we completed the third addition to the church which included an educational wing and administrative office.