The first service was held as a mission on Wednesday evening, December 11, 1965, in the home of Pastor James L. Upchurch, which was located off Poole Road. Twenty-eight people were present and an offering of over $250.00 was received. The Pastor had resigned the first church he had founded, Faith Baptist Church of Raleigh, on December 8, 1965. Those he had led to Christ wanted him to start another church; therefore, they met in his home to discuss the matter.
This young pastor had worked for two years to get Faith Baptist Church started. To his dismay some of the membership began to attack him for preaching hard, winning too many souls to Christ, and talking about sending missionaries around the world.
Therefore, Pastor Upchurch wanted to be sure of God’s will in starting another church. That Wednesday evening, the group decided they would meet as a mission. The home of Tommy Layton was offered for the first service. This home was a small white house located in the middle of K & L Iron Works located on Old Garner Road. Mr. Layton was the owner of a scrap iron business and was very gracious to extend his home for the first service. There were 68 people present on the first Sunday and a great spirit of anticipation as to the future of this Baptist Mission.
The next week, the congregation met and held services at the YWCA, located in downtown Raleigh. After two or three services, the Pastor shared with the Mission Group that he could no longer preach at the YWCA. For two years he had worked to build Faith Baptist Church in that facility, and it was too heart breaking to start over in the same location.
For years, a man by the name of Virgil Sorrell had been praying for God to send a man to start a strong Gospel preaching church in the Fayetteville Road area. Mr. Sorrell expressed that he would be honored for the church to meet in the basement of his home, which is across the street from our current location.
Upon moving to the basement of Brother Sorrell’s, the mission began to grow by leaps and bounds. God was sending precious souls from every part of the area and souls were being saved under the carport, in the living room, in the basement, and outside of the house.
Today, we have members who accepted Christ in that home across the street from the church. God continued to bless the mission. Souls were being saved and attendance exceeding 125 in the small basement. It was very evident that God had His hand upon this work. Therefore, Mid-Way Baptist Church was organized on February 10, 1966. James L. Upchurch was called as Pastor. He was paid a salary of $67.00 per week, but was responsible for all other expenses, such as social security, car expenses, etc.
Pastor Upchurch and his wife, Rennie, were blessed with three children, Kenneth, Renna and Joseph. Renna was the first baby born in the church and all the people spoiled her from week to week.
In 1966, construction on the first building was started on two acres of land donated to the church by the Sorrell Brothers Lumber Company. This building was completed and dedicated in April of 1967. Albright and Woodrow Sorrell, brothers of Virgil Sorrell, joined hands with Mid-Way Baptist to help it move forward. Without these men doing everything they could to help the church, Mid-Way Baptist would not have the 89 acres of land we have today.
In 1969, the church was running 69 in attendance and held a fundraiser called “The Giant Step Forward.” The membership went to First Citizens Bank and borrowed from $1000 to $3000 on personal notes and gave the monies to the church. With these monies, we enlarged the first Worship Center to seat over 500.
From that campaign, Mid-Way began to explode. We doubled in 1970, ‘71, ‘72, and ‘73. In August of 1973, we had an attendance of over 1300, with over 600 riding on our 22 buses. By the year 1973, the church had built mission hall, the office center, and a 1500 seat Worship Center.
For the first five years of the church, Pastor Upchurch sold books and cookware to support his family. He used his church salary to pay for gas and maintenance of his car. In 1973, he was placed on full time salary at $125.00 per week. God continued to perform miracles and save souls.
In 1976, the church purchased the Sorrell Brothers Lumber Company, which was adjacent to the two acres donated in 1966. The purchase price of the lumberyard was $250,000. On the day of the first payment, the church did not have the money to meet its obligation. Albright said he knew God was in what we were doing and God would provide all our needs. We never missed another payment and paid off the loan in 1981. At that time we gave Albright the pay off figure and he smiled and said, “ you are one payment off”. We had forgotten that we had missed the first payment.
Brother Albright was a great businessman and Pastor Upchurch learned so much from him. At the passing of Brother Albright in early 2006 Pastor Upchurch had the honor of preaching his funeral service. He passed away at the age of 86, and he loved Jesus until his last breath. Pastor Upchurch called him the “old gray fox,” and loved him dearly. Pastor Upchurch exclaimed, Praise God, one day I will see him again!! Amen! Amen!
In September of 1971, Mid-Way Baptist Church established the Mid-Way Christian School. We had grades 4 year Kindergarten through 11th grade. In the fall of 1981, we combined our efforts with Wake Christian Academy, which is only a few miles down the road.
Until 1973, we had experienced the supernatural fulfillment of God doing a mighty work. However, at that time God decided to put some things in us that we needed to prepare us for a greater work.
In 1974, a recession hit America. Banks, insurance companies, and private businesses went bankrupt. Mid-Way had the expense of a very large staff along with all the expenses of the 1500 seat Worship Center, and was crushed from the recession. From 1974 until 1981 many times the Pastor did not know how the church was going to survive. It was such a hard time that everything was being done to get through the financial pressure, so the cause of Christ would not be hurt. The church held a campaign called “a dollar or more in 74.” The Pastor went before the church and asked God’s people to pay certain invoices that the church could not pay. One Sunday morning the membership raised over $32,000 to pay invoices for Mid-Way.
It was during this time of great financial pressure that God was molding the pastor to put together a stewardship process that is now being used to mold churches all through out America. The Baptist Bible Fellowship International uses this material to teach all young pastors who are starting new churches how to build God’s people in the area of tithing and giving.
In 1987, Mid-Way established “The Chest of Joash/All Tithes Sunday.” This emphasis takes place the first Sunday of each December. God has truly blessed this time of giving back to Him and our people now look forward to this time of celebration and worship, every year.
Since 1981, many miracles that have taken place to which one can only say, “To God be the glory, great things He has done.” Some of these miracles include, the establishment of the Family Life Center, Baptist Park Athletic Center, and a 1.5 million dollar Preschool Pavilion. Additionally, the complete re- grading of the entire campus provided 667 additional parking spaces. At the present time, the campus has 89 acres of land. Which were all paid for in cash between 2001 and 2004.
We marveled over God’s blessings when the campus was graded for these new parking spaces. It was in the spring of 2002, there were only 60 on campus parking spaces. Each week during that spring and summer, we chartered eight large tour buses and shuttled over 1000 members per week to and from the Wake Technical College parking lots. During this time of great sacrifice, God blessed His people and Mid-Way had a surge of growth in the midst of the summer.
All building areas are being remodeled, staff office spaces being relocated, the permit for the new Atrium area has been applied for, and plans are in the works to enlarge the gym to full size. All these are projected for completion in 2007.
Mid-Way Baptist Church is truly “A Miracle Of It’s Day” and it is very evident that no man could accomplish what has been accomplished since 1966. Therefore, “To God be the Glory…Great Things HE HATH DONE!
A note of interest: the name of Mid-Way was the idea of Brother Virgil Sorrell. Mid-Way with a dash means in between two objects or areas. So we are Mid-Way between Raleigh, Fuquay, Garner, Apex, Cary, and Holly Springs.)
Finished Atrium on 05-02-07
Started Gym extension