FIRST CHRISTIAN CHURCH’S HISTORY
Major Benjamin May, born in Scotland, came to this area in 1750. He was granted thousands of acres of land by the State of North Carolina. Part of the grant included land on which Farmville was developed.
In the mid 1800’s, James William May, grandson of Benjamin, inherited and bought land in this area, eventually becoming Farmville. There was one resident at that time, Miss Sallie Williams. Miss Williams lived in a log cabin where J & D Loan and Pawn Shop are located today. She walked four miles each Sunday to Church at Tyson’s Meeting House on Stantonsburg Road. This was a Primitive Baptist Church and when dissention occurred over the Temperance Movement, several members sought land to build a new Church.
James May was instrumental in building Antioch Church on some land he owned, now the corner of Main and Church Streets. It was the second building in the area, the first being Miss Sallie Williams’ log cabin. On December 12, 1854, James May deeded an acre of land to Antioch Church. The deed indicated that the church was already on the property when it was recorded. Mr. May later built his own residence adjacent to the church which is now the May Museum and Park.
Upon completion in 1854, 96 members from Tyson’s Meeting House, and eventually the entire congregation from Corinth Church at Lang’s Crossroads, came to Antioch bringing many of the founding fathers to Farmville. These people built homes and started businesses. The community grew up around Antioch Church, later renamed First Christian Church. Historical records indicate that the boundaries of the Town of Farmville were set around First Christian Church, and that one acre of land.
As the town grew, so did the congregation. In 1908, when the primitive frame building became too small, it was moved to another part of town and continued in its use as a church. It had served the community well for 54 years. The present facility was completed in 1910. The Church majestically sat in the very same place as the original structure, corner of Main and Church Streets.
Even though, First Christian is a historical church, it has maintained sustainability through the years. Sixty years later, in l954 an education/fellowship hall addition was built connected to the original structure with a courtyard. Modern bathrooms have been added, along with new carillon, playground, and “state of the art” video and audio equipment. The original basement has been totally renovated and is now usable space.
The members of First Christian Church in Farmville have long served their community and will continue to do so. There has been a viable, thriving Church on that property for 167 years, even before the Town of Farmville existed. The members pride themselves on their history, their contribution to Farmville’s beginning, Farmville’s present, service to every corner of the community, and the continued growth of our town in the future.