Our Church History


Brief history written in 2002

Our History

As we gather in celebration of the 104th anniversary of Falls Church, it is significant
that we recall past times in our church's history as well as the community. We realize
the village or community has no boundaries in this day, 2004. We cannot designate
ourselves from the Ice House Curve as we have for at least a hundred years.
The Falls of yesteryear consisted of about 11 homes plus mill village homes
consisting of 35 houses has given way to 80+ houses with its boundary enhanced
with the addition of the Bolton Farm. As the Lowery and Leonard Farms are currently
being developed and the development of the Fonville farm a few years back —
from Dunn Road to the bridge will extend to more than 300 homes within the next
year or so. How unreal to realize from country dirt roads meandering through
farms and forests to the village of Falls and on down to the river, up the hill
and beyond is sandwiched in between the City of Raleigh’s most elite subdivisions
and plantations of Wakefield with three large public schools, a championship
golf course and more homes than can be easily counted. We are only a few minutes
away from three major grocery stores, restaurants, clothing stores and other
businesses known to us years ago in Wake Forest or found on our sometimes trips
to the big city, Raleigh. Yet we come, even more than ever, to appreciate the
people that walked this way before us — for the values they instilled in us
— the love of God, family, friends and America. We cherish each teacher, pastor,
and leader that gave of themselves to our church. Remember the curtains that
were pulled between Sunday School Classes prior to 1950, the big old heater
that was so cozy in winter, those church fans the funeral home gave us, a valuable
asset in the months of summer. The special occasions of church life are our
fondest memories — Christmas Eve Services with the blue lights on a cedar tree
from the field, revivals with great preachers and extra singing with the children,
homecomings with guest preachers, homemade stew and lemonade in the wooden washtub,
Vacation Bible School, and those wonderful missionaries that came to share their
experiences of the mission field introducing us to faraway countries and sharing
their winning of souls - not our color nor our language - but our brothers and
sisters in Christ. Baptisms at the river realizing that we were blessed to be
in the family of God. The touch of God's people when those sad occasions came
- the prayers for us and our families - prayers at the bedside — the ability
to sit, without complaint, at the bedside of a dying friend — all these memories
and many more make us what we are today. The spirit of love that surrounds -
your wedding day — the birth of your children — The great songs of the choir
from the Broadman — Hallelujah for the Cross, Peace be Still, Praise Ye
the Lord, Whispering Hope
— wonderful voices lifted these songs to heaven
and the words of those great songs taught us children the stories of Jesus and
his love. We, as children, learned our lessons — not through the talk but by
the walk of the saints of Falls. They inspired us to do great things with our
lives and following in their steps we seek to inspire our youth to His service.
Today we walk down the paths of old — to renew our faith, to enrich our spirits
— to face the tomorrow of our lives — thanking our Father in heaven for his
salvation and for placing us among friends and family in this place. May we
touch someone as we leave this place — to say thank you — I love you — you have
been a blessing to me.

— Barbara Barham
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Baptism In Falls River Poem

Baptism In Falls River
by Viola Mangum Coppedge


It was a very special Sunday
  Skies blue and serene —
Marching to the river
  Was a beautiful scene.

Mama made my white dress
  With beauty and charm —
Folded in a willow basket
  She took on her arm

We gathered at the river
  Near the weeping willow trees.
Heard soft water music
  In the quiet evening breeze.

Dr. Cullom ministered baptism,
  The water crystal clear —
The service was very sacred,
  It seemed God was near.

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History written for 104th Anniversary

Falls Church
1900 - 2005

The Setting

Neuse River meandered as the natural boundary between Barton’s Creek and New Light
Township in Northern Wake County and came to a great falls that separated Piedmont
and Coastal Carolina. Just below the falls where a wooden dam was encrusted with a
rock overlay, was a village. The village swept to the north and south on Oxford-Raleigh
Road and west toward Bay Leaf only short distances before farmlands occupied the rolling
hills.

Significant to the scene was the river bridge, a structure of steel overhead and a wooden
bridge. Spring rains would sometimes bring floods to the area and we remember water
sloshing through the slats of the old bridge and covering the road to Bay Leaf often in
several locations.

Also, significant to the scene was the mill built before 1854 and served as paper mill,
making the finest paper in the state and later as a manufacturing plant offered
employment to the men and boys of the village.

There was the village school — built to bring together the one-room schools that dotted
the map. The school was new in 1899 with one teacher, Mrs. Sanford Thompson, wife of the
village doctor, whose home was just north of the present church property.

A Post Office was located in the village until it was later moved near the railroad
station at Neuse. The village birthed its babies and buried its dead. Some people
lived out their lives never leaving Falls.

And then a Church

The setting was complete with homes and stores but with one exception. As Dr. W. R. Cullom
traveled by horseback or by foot to preach at Mount Vernon Church, he envisioned a church
in the village of Falls.

And so it was in September of 1900, the village residents were excited as they gathered at
Mr. E. O. Penney’s General Store, on the south side of the river. They met on the upper
floor to organize the new church. Dr. Cullom was the first pastor and enlisted pledges from
his other pastorates including Rolesville and Mount Vernon, to start the new church at Falls.
We were admitted to the Central Association and with the leadership that transferred from Mount
Vernon Church and later from Woodland and Wake Union, the church grew and well served the village.

Miss Sallie Fort gave an acre of land for the new church and with the willing hands of the village
men, a building was constructed in 1902-1903. Its timbers were large and it’s hard to believe how
they lifted them to fit the width and length of the new church. under the direction of master
builder Henry Bolton, the building and furnishings were completed. the village was proud of the
new structure for worship and on their church Sundays, the congregation would bring dinner and
spread it outside enjoying the fellowship and wonderful food by the best cooks ever, our grandmothers.

The church’s pastors were from the Divinity School at Wake Forest College. Sometimes their only
pay would be home cooked meals. As Dr. Cullom had in the beginning, they often walked to the
church and sometimes stayed with a church family overnight. As the pastors graduated from college
and went out to full-time pastorates, the church would seek a new pastor. Many young men came our
way and each left an imprint on the congregation that is remembered to this day and their ministry
spoke of fondly. Some parents named their sons after a favorite pastor!

The church’s bonding was through a strong Sunday School and later the BYPU, the forerunner of Training
Union and Discipleship Training was added along with WMU and Brotherhood and their auziliaries,
(YWA/Acteens GA's/Girls In Action and Sunbeams/Mission Friends, and the Royal Ambassador Programs).

Our Music Ministry has always been a strong feature of Falls Church. participation in the Raleigh
area vocal unions was a highlight of years past under the direction of Music Director Benny Morton.
Our first Minister of Youth was called under the pastorate of Bob Bodenhamer in the 1970s. Our youth
programs included summer camps and ball teams.

Highlights of the church were spring and fall revivals, and baptismal services that followed down at
the river just east of the big rock that extended out into the stream. Homecomings, Christmas Eves
and Easter Services were very special; that is when the aunts, uncles, cousins and other kinfolk from
near and far would journey home. Prayers around the old altar and gathering across the front of the
church to join in one accord are the memories of the years gone and the saints of old.

The church parsonage was built and first occupied by Pastor Duncan Futtrell and his family in the mid
1950s. The new and more modern church was built in the mid 1960s under the pastorate of Leon Keefe.
Under the direction of Clifton Jackson, draftsman, and the expertise of the Church Building Committee,
Young Construction Company built our present building and it has, with modifications, served our
church well for nearly forty years.

Each age group has their special memories and we hold dear those memories shared by our parents,
grandparents and great grandparents. From the first day in 1900 until this day, 105 years later,
Falls Church has stood tall in the village that now has become part of the metropolis of Raleigh.
From the dedication of the first members, through the years of toil and prayers, we endeavor to
continue, until the day is done and the crown is won.

— Barbara Bridgers Barham, September 11, 2005

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