Church History



1862 – 1915   The Church’s Beginnings and its First Pastor Reverend Abraham Murchinson

“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It was upon this rock of faith that our Lord and Master established His Church.Many organizations have been created in the history of man; but none was to be as prevailing or lasting as the Church of Christ. We have the Word of Jesus for this established fact - “Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).” God knew that freedom from chattel slavery was not enough, not only must my people be free, they must serve me. The FirstAfricanBaptistChurch was organized in the Village of Mitchelville on Sunday August 17, 1862. An article published in the “New South Newspaper”, dated August 30, 1862 outlined the official Ordination of Rev. Abraham Murchinson as the Church’s first Pastor. It was reported that the number of members present at the service was 120, 70 of which were professing Christians under the rule of their late masters, while the others had been converted and baptized since the Military Occupation of the Island. The Order of service for the Ordination was as follows: Ordination Sermon - Chaplin H.S. Wayland,7th Connecticut Volunteers; charge to the Candidate – Chaplin W.C. Patterson, 1stMassachusetts Calvary; Ordination Prayer and right hand of fellowship – Chaplin H. Hovey, Volunteer Engineers; and charge to the Church – Chaplin Whitehead, 97th Pennsylvania Volunteers(1). The following men served as Deacons under Rev. Murchinson: Ceasar Jones, Jim Riley, Stephen Hamilton, John Riley and Simon Grant. 

As the people began moving to other parts of the Island, the church moved from Mitchelville to its present location and was referred to as “Cross Roads Baptist Church”. As time passed, the “Cross Road” reference was dropped in favor of its organizational name “First African Baptist Church”. The Church purchased ten acres of land from E. M. Murray for five dollars around May, 1889. This church was to grow and prosper, and while it’s still the fountainhead among Baptist churches on Hilton Head Island, five other churches have grown out of this beginning. They are, (First African Baptist Church of Bluffton) now First Zion Missionary Baptist Church of Bluffton, SC (Oct. 1862), St. James Baptist Church (1886), Central Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church (1887), Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church (1915) and the New Church of Christ of Hilton Head (August 1938).

After the death of Rev. Murchinson, came Rev. Waddell from Beaufort, SC who served only for a short period of time.  The Rev. B. W. Williams from Jacksonboro, SC came and served as pastor also for a short period of time.  Rev. A. P. Hamilton took the helm and sailed the ship in perfect harmony until his death.