Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church has been steeped in history since its very beginning. Established in 1908, its founder, Dr. John Oliver Crosby, was also elected in 1892 as the first president of NC A & T State University, Greensboro, one of the oldest historically black colleges and universities in the country. The church’s mission was simple, to do God’s will and to serve the community with open doors and open arms. For some time, Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church was the only Black church that held church services four weeks of the month. Others churches would have services once or twice a month. Therefore, the entire Black churchgoing community found its way to Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church when not at their own church homes.
All who attended were spiritually satisfied and enjoyed a wonderful social experience. Stories are told to this day about the large numbers of children from all over the county that attended Sunday school at Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church. The church was also the only Black church that offered Vacation Bible School, a weeklong event that was not only a favorite of the youth of the county, but also always met the spiritual and social needs of our community’s youth.
Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church stood as a safe haven in times of unrest when Jim Crow, civil and voting rights, and integration weighed heavily on the Black community. Violent acts, precipitated by fear and hate, took place not only in Warren County, but across the country. Churches were bombed and/or burned, and many feared that these actions would happen in Warren County.
Again, Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church was utilized as the meeting place for the Black community to discuss problems relating to their rights and freedoms, and to come up with strategies to solve them. Why was Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church used? The church is located directly across the street from Warrenton Police Department which sits next to Warrenton Fire Department, formerly the historic Plummer Hook and Ladder Fire Company. The majority of both fire departments’ volunteers were and still are members of Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church. The church was highlighted in a book published in 2013 titled, “A Quiet Little Civil Rights Project,” by Dr Jodi Beil Vaughn, noting the role it played in voter education and registration for the Black community of Warren County in 1963.
Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church was blessed beyond measure to have had as pastor for over 50 years the Rev. Walter Yarbrough. His retirement in 2019 left a void that will never be filled. This article would not have been possible without his input. One of his many passions is history. He relayed one of his proudest moments to me. A couple of years after taking over as pastor of the church in 1968, he was approached by the Rev. P. G. Davis when the Warren County Courthouse cancelled hosting the Emancipation Proclamation celebration. Being president, he asked Rev. Yarborough if Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church would host the event. Rev Yarborough took the request to the
Church for consideration and it was approved with a resounding YES. For over 45 years, the Emancipation Proclamation has celebrated at Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church on the first day of every New Year.
Warrenton Missionary Baptist Church is truly a Community Beacon of Hope that links the past, present and the future!