In 1890, a group of community people from the Holly Grove Baptist Church interested in extending the work of the Lord met for the purpose of forming a church in the Harrisburg Community.
This group met in a “brush harbor” structure, which had only one room, no floors and no chimney. To keep warm, a fire was made on the ground and the smoke ascended through the top of the roof. The location of this structure was a quarter of a mile east of Harrisburg, North Carolina, in Cabarrus County and the church was officially named Oak Grove Baptist Church. The original Trustees were John Cochrane, Willie Reaves, A.B. Nelums and Jack Cochrane.
On the 6th day of October in 1906, these Trustees met with the Harrisburg Improvement Company of North Carolina to execute a deed for the land, which was approximately one and one-half acres on which to build the church. Rats mutilated this deed before being recorded, and on June 25, 1919, these trustees met again with the company and signed what is known as an “indenture” for the land. The sum of thirty-five dollars was paid in hand for the property at the time of this indenture, which was signed by J.A. Harris, Register of Deeds, at 2:00 pm on June 28, 1919. This land adjoined the land of Z.A. Morris and was measured from a stone at the east corner of Mr. Morris’ property to stones north, south, and west and it was marked with 82 square poles.
The first converts were baptized in Rocky River, a stream of water, which still runs through the community, and is still remembered as a landmark of the first effort of Oak Grove’s submerging of a convert.
Through the years the church has made progress. Some of its earlier Pastors were: Rev. Wolf (1899-1914); Rev. Dubose (1914-1915); Rev. Sam Jones (1915-1916); Rev. Wilson (1916-1917); Rev. Caldwell (1917-1919); Rev. J.L. Reid (1920-1922); Rev. Y.S. Horne, Rev. Burns, Rev Marshall, Rev. James Hill, Rev. Will Smith and Rev. W.M. Washington (1922-1942); Rev. W.M. Lee and Rev. A.J. Brewer (1945-1961). It was during Rev. Brewer’s Pastorate at Oak Grove that the church took on a very meaningful program in the community, which has continued through the years.
In 1961, Rev. Henry E. Johnson became Pastor and remained until 1965, at which time the Rev. James McCoy assumed the role of Pastor and continued the upgrading program, which had begun. Rev. McCoy continued to improve the structure both physically and spiritually during his stay and remained until 1968 when Rev. Henry E. Johnson was called to return to Oak Grove. During Rev. Johnson’s Pastorate, the church grew in membership, property improvement and recognition in the community. The church implemented plans for a new sanctuary, and many additional improvements were completed, including establishing a church office in which the first computers were used. With great planning in 1977, the congregation purchased two adjourning lots to add to the present site purchased by the original trustees.
In February of 1978, the Oak Grove Baptist Church family along with Pastor Johnson marched into the new sanctuary. Dedication services for the new sanctuary were held on May 21, 1978. Also, under Pastor Johnson’s leadership the original church’s by-laws were established. God knew that Rev. H.E. Johnson had finished his work and called him home to glory on November 26, 1993.
In October 1994, Rev. Christopher E. Harris was called to the Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church as the sixteenth Pastor of record. Rev. Harris approached the congregation full of new ideas and exuberance. In just a few short years, God continued to bless the church under his leadership by giving the church a vision for a new Education Center and Fellowship Hall. He remained until December 2002.
In April 2003, Rev. Jacob D. Burris was called to serve as our Interim Pastor to preach the Anointed Word of God. God continued to bless and grow the Oak Grove family under his leadership. The ground breaking ceremony for the Education Center and Fellowship Hall was held on May 4, 2003. Pastor Burris remained until March 2005 and we are forever grateful for his service.
On March 13, 2005, God called Rev. Franklin D. Watkins as the current Pastor. He was installed on June 26, 2005 as God’s Under Shepherd of Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church. During his tenure, Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church completed the construction and dedication of the Education Center and Fellowship Hall. Also, three additional properties were purchased adjacent to the church. In July 2013, we were blessed to pay off the mortgage of the Education Center and Fellowship Hall.
Because of the continued blessings of God and the growth of the church, we established two worship services, 8am and 11am each Sunday. The Lord has given us a vision to build a new sanctuary that will accommodate our current membership. Additionally, we are excited to have Village Christian Academy, a Christian School, operating in the Education Center and Fellowship Hall during the week. Also, our church is a proud member of the United Missionary Baptist Association (UMBA). In 2013, an Administrative Secretary was added to the church staff.
Under the leadership of Pastor Watkins, many ministries have been created and are continuing to be created to meet the growing needs of the congregation and the community. These ministries are geared towards every age group of the church. Pastor Watkins has a vision for the youth to be involved in every aspect of the church and its ministries. Youth Directors have been established to fulfill this vision. Other mission ministries have been created, such as: Feeding the homeless in Uptown Charlotte, Meeting the needs of disadvantaged people at the Opportunity House in Kannapolis and Concord, and Providing volunteers to work at the Harrisburg Food Pantry. All ministries are encouraged to serve and make a difference in the church and the community.
We are so grateful and proud of Pastor Watkins, who completed the Doctor of Ministry Degree from Hood Theological Seminary in May 2014. He is firmly committed to seeking the Lord, studying, preaching, and being led by the Spirit of God. His focus is on the Word of God and prayer. He strives to create a church environment where love abounds. The church continues to grow in love, grace, and membership under Rev. Dr. Franklin D. Watkins’ leadership. May God continue to bless the Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church.