Located about four miles northeast of the town of Star just across the line between Moore and Montgomery Counties is the Baptist church called Dover. ( Driving Directions )
Years ago even before the town of Star sprang up in existence the church of Dover was there, but not the Dover as we know it today. Sometime back in the year 1833, a group of people to the Northeast of the present town of Star decided they wanted a church nearer home, so they asked letters of dismission from the Forks of Little River Church to organize a church of their own. A presbytery group, consisting of Elder Noah Richardson, Elder John Monroe, and Brethren James Dunlap and David Kennedy from Forks of Little River Church met at the little log house called Dover September 15, 1833, and proceeded to the examination of a number of people having found them sound in the faith, doctrines, and principals of the gospel in due form constituted a regular church of the Baptist faith and order with seventy charter members.
From 1833 to 1842 they had no regular Pastor. Many preachers however came to Dover and they had services quiet often but their first regular pastor came in 1842 when they called Rev. Eli Philipps. At this time the roads were rough and with no sure means of traveling we find the pioneer preachers preaching only once a month. On up until the later fifties we find Dover having as its preachers Rev. Eli Philipps, Rev. Noah Richardson, and Rev. C. Connely, Pastor and Alexander Leach, church clerk. He served the church until December 1854 when Rev. Noah Richardson began serving as Pastor. At this time Alexander Leach resigned as church clerk and Alexander A. Leach succeeded him. During the period the people saw a great need of a more adequate building and the church met according to appointment and appointed T. T. Leach, W. B. Owen, and Alexander A. Leach as a committee to superintend the building of a new meeting house, and K. Owen, H. Deaton, and H. Miller as a collecting committee. On Saturday before the third Sunday in April 1855 the contract was let out to Mr. Levi Wright for one hundred and eighty dollars and the structure was soon completed.
This body of sacred believers was constituted not only for the white people but for the colored also. We find that they received the colored into this organization from the foundation of the church up until the year 1884. Despite the cruel treatment that the slaves had to undergo they saw the need of power from a far superior being than any of the Landlords of the earth. In the year 1841 Dover Baptist Church record states that there were nine colored members and ninety-six whites. Since slavery was abolished in 1862 the colored have become separate bodies thus”: forming churches of their own and now have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But a number of these colored people still continued to worship with the whites at Dover until October 1884.
In July 1856 Alexander A. Leach resigned as church clerk and Locky Allen was then appointed. Rev. James Jordan was elected pastor in 1864. Rev. Jordan was a typical pioneer preacher. He often went miles and miles on foot and horseback. His services were greatly appreciated by the people of the Dover vicinity, so great that he held that pastorate for fourteen years. He was succeeded by Jesse Lavis Smith in 1879. Rev. Smith had a successful ministry here and remained as pastor for ten years. J. R. Pendergrass was pastor then for a year followed by James Jordan who was pastor again for a period of four years.
It is now interesting to note that Mr. Eli Melton was elected clerk of the church in 1881 and served the church in this capacity for a period of thirty one years, resigning in 1912. His services and records were greatly approved by the church.
Rev. G. L. Merril was pastor from 1895-1896. Then Rev. W. H. Strickland served for two years 1896 to 1898. After Stickland came Rev. E. Lee Fox for a year then Rev. J. G. Williams for one year. After Rev. Williams, Rev. Tryon M. Baldwin served from 1903-1904. John R. Jordan, son of James Jordan became pastor in 1905 and remained until 1911. Following Rev. Jordan, Rev. W. H. Strickland served the church again for two years. He came in 1912 and it was at this time that Mr. Eli Melton resigned as church clerk on account of his age and Frank A. Hogan was elected to succeed Brother Melton and holds the office to the present time (1933). When Mr. Strickland resigned in 1914 as Pastor John A. Summey held the pastorate the following year. In the 1916 John R. Jordan returned to Dover and served again as pastor for another period of six years. At his resignation in 1921 Rev. J. R. Comer became pastor and serviced for three years. Rev. C. M. Strickland then became pastor in 1925.
Shortly after Rev. C. M. Strickland became pastor it was decided that the building needed repair. In conference a committee was appointed to look after the necessary means needed in rebuilding the house. The building was renovated, practically made new except for framework in 1927. The present building (1933) was finished at a cost of ($2,077.33) two thousand and seventy seven dollars and thirty-three cents. It is now estimated (1933) to seat six hundred (600) people. With only one exception it was considered the nicest country church in the Montgomery Association. Dover is an old church and with its memories goes pleasant and dear recollections for many. The first church formed from Dover was in 1865 and was called Forks Creek Church in Randolph County. In 1888 three others were formed. A band of twenty members organized at Star and has grown into the present Baptist Church. Another organized into what is known as Piney Grove in Moore County. The Fourth organized in Randolph County and know as Maple Springs. Dover is still the mother church and from these other churches, hundreds come home semi annually for the Memorial Services which is held the third Sunday in May of each year and at the beginning of the revival meeting held annually the third week in August.
Perhaps Dover church has never accomplished as many great things in a financial way. Perhaps, it has never sent forth so many who have attained worldly fame, yet we say without hesitation that Dover has accomplished much in a spiritual way. The spiritual influence of this church has been felt for miles around. While the waves have not dashed high with a great noise, the stream has been quiet, but deep. It has had many pastors and laymen who have stood the test, and who remained true to the faith. Today Dover has for it’s pastor Rev. A. B. Cranford (1933) one of the most consecrated pastors of its time. Although he has not served the church very long, but he has won great fame and stood a great test.
We feel assured of the fact that all of the old faithful pastors and soldiers of the cross that have passed out of this old sin cursed world are now at rest in the realms of eternal glory where there is no more sorrow, pain, nor death, but is all peace, pleasure, and happiness throughout the endless ages. And those that are still fighting the battle our prayer to God is that when they too shall come to the time and article of death they can say with the Apostle Paul. “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith, henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.”
From Dover’s membership have gone a few preachers. Some who are living and working for the salvation of lost souls today. Among the preachers still living are Rev. A. G. Lassiter of Star who was ordained here in 1915. Rev. George Davis of Gastonia is one of Dover’s faithful boys. Rev. K. W. Hogan of Star, John R. Jordan of Star and Rev. J. G. Williams of Candor.
Dover’s work is not yet done, although it has reached the century mark. May its present membership (1933) of two hundred and fifty still stand by their pastor and cling to the faith and have the same high religious ideals of its founders in 1833.
Ernest D. Hancock served the church until 1957. M. D. Chriscoe was called in July of that year. He served until his death in 1962. James Moon was called in 1963.
1956 – New Pews
1957 – Vestibule in front
1960 – New Sunday School Room in basement
1961 – Organ
1963 – Work begun on Parsonage
1971 - Educational Building added
1994 - Fellowship Hall added
2000 to 2006 - Facillities renovations (Sanctuary, Nurseries, Basement, Educational Building)
2008 - Received donation of Church Bus
2009 - Church Bus shelter completed
History of Dover Baptist Church
Dover Baptist Church continued to heed the 1833 charge of its Mother Church: “In all your undertakings so far as may be conducive to His Divine Will and may you prosper and grow to be a mighty church is our earnest prayer.”
As the Church continued to grow, the need for more renovation and construction grew. In 1945 the church was brick veneered and in 1949 two Sunday School rooms were added as the auditorium received a new drywall “face lift”. Desire for the pastor to live in the community led members to build a new parsonage in 1963. As the membership continued to grow, there was a need for more Sunday School rooms. The Education Building was constructed and dedicated by members in 1971. This building was used for Sunday School as well as other social functions of the church until the Fellowship Hall was constructed in 1994. Building of covered porches, handicap ramps, and paved parking lot has been completed as renovations and landscaping are on going.
Dover Church has been blessed with many dedicated pastors, teachers, officers and members. Several young men from the membership have been ordained as ministers. Music is an integral part of worship and Dover appreciates God’s gift of many talented musicians.
Activities are many, as Dover is “busy about the Father’s business.” There are weekly services and activities for all ages as well as many special events throughout the year. Dover is well know for good food and “old fashioned” Christian fellowship.
As the church celebrates this 170th Anniversary, may its membership strive to uphold the faith and high Christian ideals set forth by the Founding Fathers in 1833.
Written by Jane Greene, 2003