527 East Thomas Street     Post Office Box 2323
Rocky Mount, North Carolina 27802
The Saint James Missionary Baptist Church came into its existence on June 8, 1885, when ​Peter and Edna Darden, Henry Harvey, Charlie Rivers, Lena and Alice Sessoms, and Mahaley Sherrod met after a prayer service to discuss the organization of a Baptist Church on the East side of Rocky Mount. Praying to God for wisdom, understanding, and knowledge to do His will in the organization of the church.   

The Reverend George Norwood was asked to serve as interim minister.  During his short period of service, the members had a great zeal for serving the Lord, as the Spirit of God met them in a 16 feet by 16 feet slab building erected in the southwest area of the present facility.  Though small in structure, it was  dedicated to the service of God, with the members combining their pledges and statements of trust to God for His care and keeping as they framed the first constitution for the church. The purpose of the church was to revive all Christians, to give Biblical instructions to the unsaved, and to give aid to those who mourned and desired the comfort of God’s Spirit.

In 1886, the Reverend Allison W. Ivey was elected to serve as the first pastor of Saint James Missionary Baptist Church.  Reverend Ivey emphasized the complete dedication of one’s self to Christ.  The Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting was one of the leading services of the church.  All members were encouraged to pray for themselves, for their fellow members, and for unsaved souls.  The Sunday School served as the teaching center for studying the Scriptures and learning God’s will for Christian living.  Reverend Ivey established a good Christian relationship for the service of God in the Rocky Mount community.  After a six year tenure, Reverend Ivey resigned to pastor a church in another state.

The Reverend Berry Powell was elected to serve as the next pastor.  During his pastorate, many united with Saint James as the church made spiritual and numerical progress.   After four years as pastor, Reverend Powell resigned.

Early in 1898, the Reverend Mack D. Matthewson was called to pastor.  The Spirit of Christ permeated the hearts and minds of the Christians.  A new and larger church was built in 1898 and was dedicated to be used faithfully for the advancement of God’s Word.  After serving six years Reverend Matthewson resigned because of ill health; however, he continued to be affiliated with the church until his death.

In 1904, the Reverend J. H. Thompson succeeded Reverend Matthewson and resigned after serving as pastor for one year.

The Reverend Annianas S. Croom was the next pastor serving the church from 1905-1908.  Reverend Croom was an evangelist who taught Baptist Doctrine and assisted many ministers and conventions. He was a spiritual and soul-stirring minister.  He taught that all Christians should exemplify real Christian living.  Reverend Croom resigned to accept a call as a pastor in Salisbury, North Carolina.  With his resignation, he made the recommendation that Reverend John Henry Martin succeed him.

The Reverend John H. Martin heeded the pastoral call in 1908 and served the church for 26 years.  He was a far-sighted gospel minister.  During his pastorate, the church grew and hundreds of souls were saved.  It is evident and historically noted that at the close of a fruitful revival meeting, Reverend Martin baptized 125 converts in the Tar River.  During Reverend Martin’s tenure, our present church building and a parsonage were built.  

In l921, one of the sons of Saint James, the Reverend John William Lucas, sensed the need for expanded Christian services for the northern portion of the Rocky Mount community.  From this spiritual insight grew the North End Baptist Church.  Reverend Martin offered Christian fellowship and support by encouraging some of the Saint James members to help plant the new church.

In 1933, an annexation was erected adjoining the edifice of Saint James, which provided an extended worship area to the main sanctuary.  The upper area provided twelve rooms for Sunday school classes and other educational purposes.  The lower level area provided the dining and kitchen sections.  Reverend John H. Martin answered the call of Christ in 1934 and went home to be with Jesus.

The Reverend J. Henry Clanton was elected as the pastor of Saint James in 1935.  He served a brief two-year period.  During his pastorate, he organized our first Vacation Bible School.  The focus was on a Bible Course for children.  Reverend Clanton had the initiative, courage, and enthusiasm to lead the church to host the 1936 Baptist Sunday School Convention.  The convention brought together many Baptist leaders from the various sections of the state to worship and study the Bible.  Reverend Clanton relinquished his pastorate to render services to the General Baptist State Convention.

In October 1937, the Reverend William Lockett Mason, the current longest serving minister in our history (33 years) was elected pastor of the Saint James Baptist Church.  Reverend Mason was an outstanding spiritual minister, preaching sound doctrine.  He loved music and his singing greatly enhanced the services.  This led to the purchase and installation of a pipe organ, one of a very few still in operation in Eastern North Carolina.  During Reverend Mason’s pastorate, the church paid off indebtedness, was renovated, purchased a lot, and built a new parsonage.  He was called to rest and to be with the Lord in June, 1970.

In 1972, the church elected Reverend Charles T. Bullock to serve as pastor.  The church received many new members as he continued to work towards growing our church membership and its ministries.  Members were encouraged to support the Sunday School, Sunday Evening Bible Class and Worship Service, the activities of the five Missionary Groups, and the Witnessing Program. He was also very involved in outreach programs and encouraged us to partner with other organizations as a part of our missionary journey.  The church became involved with Meals on Wheels, Red Cross, and Sheltering the Homeless.  The church itself established a clothing closet and a food pantry for those in need. 

During the years 1985-1991, Reverend Bullock led the members as the church embarked upon a great challenge to completely renovate the edifice.  The work was begun during the first week of June, 1990, and with great joy, was completed and dedicated back to God in February 1991.

In July, l992 the church elected the Reverend Cornolius Moore as its tenth pastor.  During the early years of his tenure, he initiated and organized a New Members Committee, the Children’s Church and established a community outreach program, BYTTE (Bringing Youth Together through Enrichment).  New Deacons and Deaconess were named and the first female Trustees were appointed.  Members were encouraged to participate in the Music Ministry of the church and to this end the Saint James Baptist Church Ensemble was reorganized.

On September 16, 1999, Hurricane Floyd ravaged Rocky Mount and surrounding communities.  People were greatly in need of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance.  Under the leadership of Reverend Moore, St. James was named a major distribution center.  Saint James was selected as a site for a 21st Century Community Learning Center in association with the Nash-Rocky Mount School System.  This program was held after school and during the summer.  It provided academic enrichment opportunities, community service opportunities, and cultural activities for students to complement their regular school program.  Reverend Moore resigned on October 15, 2009 to pastor a church in Kenansville, North Carolina.

After nearly two and a half years without pastoral leadership, in March 2012, we joyously welcomed our eleventh pastor, the Reverend Dr. James Todd WorthyUnder Pastor Worthy’s leadership, the St. James Church has continued its long-standing history of progress and productivity to the city and community, as a physical, spiritual, administrative, and technological transformation has produced tremendous growth and progress in the short time of his tenure.  Under his leadership, our active membership has more than quadrupled as we experience a vibrant and lively worship experience each Sunday.  St. James holds three vibrant Bible Studies each week (with one designed especially for youth), a New Members Orientation program has been instituted, and our weekly television broadcast, “Great Awakenings,” airs each Saturday morning on WHIG-TV in Rocky Mount. 

Pastor Worthy has reorganized our Music Department to implement a Music & Cultural Arts Ministry, and worked with youth leaders to develop and implement Y.E.A.H. (Youth Empwered Always Holy) Youth Ministry.  A Public Relations Ministry has been started, and established a Media and Technology Ministry that oversees sound reinforcement during services, preparing CD and DVD recordings of our services to both members and the sick and shut-in, and manages SJMBC’s new Webcasting Channel implemented in January 2017.  Our church’s Transportation Ministry has been expanded to now include a vehicle to transport the physically disabled to and from our worship services, along with the acquisition of a house adjacent to church that now serves as the St. James Missions and Outreach Center.  Missions, outreach, and evangelism continue to be the central focus of Pastor’s vision, of which the Lord has added to the church as He sees fit.

In 2016, under Pastor's leadership and vision for the year to “revive, renew, repair, and restore, ” St. James is presently embarking on a beautification and renovation of his present facilities, and will soon embark upon the vision to erect a Family Life Center for continued progress of its current and future mission and community oriented efforts.

Pastor Worthy has continued in our work of developing partnerships among fellow churches and community organizations, leading St. James to participate in the Annual God Belongs in my City Prayer Walk; becoming a faith-based partner with the Down East Partnership for Children in Rocky Mount, providing emotional and educational support to the staff and students of three area schools, holding a bi-monthly worship experience with the residents of the Hunter Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, an Annual End of Grade Testing Spring Break Camp with Dynamik Learning, and other projects and initiatives too numerous to name.

Rich in history, rewarding in experience, and resonated to Christian missions and service, we shall continue to strive in advancing the Kingdom of our Saviour until He comes again.