Mount Carmel Baptist Church began in the year 1803 at Prichard’s Meeting House, near Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The first president of the United States, George Washington, had been dead a mere four years and the Louisiana Purchase had just doubled the size of the United States. In 1814, Matthew McCauley deeded the tract of land to the church trustees – Abner W. Compton, William H. Merritt, and Thomas Weaver for exclusive use of the Church known by the name of Christ’s Church at Mount Carmel. The land and church was located on a hill overlooking Morgan’s Creek about two miles southwest of Chapel Hill, situated beside a main plank road on which Lord Cornwallis traveled from Hillsborough to Fayetteville during the days of the America Revolution.
One certain fact about this young church is that it served a far larger purpose in its community than churches do presently. All schooling, political, and public functions were held in the church and it was a main source of authority in matters of community order. Mount Carmel, at this time, was the only Baptist church serving Chapel Hill and the University located there.
Mount Carmel has belonged to four local Baptist Church associations during its long history – the Flat River Association until 1827, the Sandy Creek Association until 1870, the Mount Zion Association until the 1950’s, and then the Yates Association in which we presently belong.
Three times Mount Carmel members have extended an arm of Mount Carmel to form new churches. Mount Gilead Baptist Church was founded in 1823, Lystra Baptist Church in 1853, and University Baptist Church in 1854. All three churches are still active.
Mount Carmel’s membership dropped during the hard years of the Civil War; but growth began again after the cessation of this conflict. The original location of the church was moved in 1873, after Elder George Purefoy donated the present property on which the church stands. After the crops were laid by that year, a working was held. Old Mount Carmel was torn down and hauled by wagons to a site just ten feet from the location of our present structure. There it was reassembled. Additions were made in 1903 and 1931.
Mount Carmel progressed rapidly during the first half of the twentieth century. Saturday meetings with a ‘circuit’ preacher gave way to regular Sunday meetings. In 1945, our first full-time pastor, Rev. C. E. Byrd was called. A parsonage fund was begun and in 1948 this structure was ready for occupancy. Sunday School, Training Union, WMU, and other phases of the church’s work flourished. By the late 1950’s, it was apparent that the membership was outgrowing the frame structure and in March of 1959, the groundbreaking for our present brick sanctuary was held. This was completed in 1962 and on October 28, the first sermon was preached there. Two years later, the educational plant was finished. In 1978, renovations to our Fellowship Hall were completed.
The 1990’s were years of growth for Mount Carmel. Additional acreage was purchased for both the church and the cemetery. The church building and the parsonage were improved. New recreation areas were developed, and a multi-use shelter was erected behind the educational building.
In February of 2013, Mount Carmel began a second worship service, The Altar at Mount Carmel. This worship service was offered as a mission to reach more people for the Kingdom of God by offering an alternative time and style for worship.
Abstracted from ‘A History of Mount Carmel Baptist Church’ by Mrs. L. W. Sparrow and from Church Minutes by Ruth Hundley Vickers.