Temple Memorial Baptist Church had its beginning on the third Sunday in October, 1938, when a small group of devout Christians left the mother church, Bethlehem Baptist Church, and met under a tree at the corner of Fairview, Taylor and Loflin streets, with Rev. A.S. Townsend for the purpose of organizing a church. The founding of the church, which later became know as Mount Zion Baptist Church was the result of a few dedicated believers, who sought peaceful worship, and an opportunity to serve. The Mt. Zion Church opened its doors in a storefront on Loflin Street. The able leadership and powerful preaching of Rev. Townsend was an anchor for the young church.
In less than thirty-six months from its inception, a lot had been purchased on Taylor Street. The erection of a house of worship was realized. From 1938 to 1941, Rev. Townsend served with youthful vitality that gave impetus to the growth of the church.
In February 1941, Dr. Fisher R. Mason accepted the call to serve the church as pastor. It was determined that the congregation needed a fresh start and a name change was suggested. An
alumnus of Temple University in Philadelphia, Dr. Mason had maintained a close relationship with an official of the university over the years. As Dr. Mason’s friend and teacher at Temple had
recently died, he asked the congregation to rename the Church “Temple Memorial” as a tribute to Temple University (where he had studied) and to his deceased friend. The congregation
enthusiastically embraced his suggestion and began anew as Temple Memorial Baptist Church.
On Sunday, May 8, 1960, the Rev. Dr. Leonard L. Macon assumed pastorate of Temple Memorial. Dr. Macon was widely known as an accomplished and skilled preacher of the Gospel. His gift in the pulpit translated into broad support of his program by the congregation. A builder of churches, Dr. Macon led the congregation to add a modern educational wing to the Taylor Street building and the addition was dedicated on April 21, 1968. Possessing a broad vision for what Temple Memorial could be, Dr. Macon was at the helm when the church was relocated from Taylor Street to its current home at 1458 Cedrow Drive.
A one-half million dollar sanctuary and one wing of the Educational building were constructed on five and one-half acres of land. Six missionary groups were formed, a Young Adult choir was organized and each auxiliary celebrated an annual day. Dr. Macon wanted every member to work in the church, asserting that “Everybody is Some body”. Our membership steadily increased. He served as pastor of Temple Memorial faithfully for twenty-eight years, until his untimely death in May 1988.
Dr. Arthur L. Byrd in May 1989 began a new chapter in the history of Temple Memorial as he began his tenure as pastor. New programs and organizations were implemented. These programs included: The Deacon Ministry, The Sanctuary Choir, Male Chorus, Young Adult Usher Board, Educational tours for the youth, recognition and cash awards to honor roll students, and most academically improved students, monthly and/or quarterly plaques to members for outstanding achievements, senior citizen outings, the church anniversary picnic (the third Saturday in July) and an Annual Awards Banquet.
Following the plans originally developed during Dr. Macon’s pastorate, Dr. Byrd led the congregation to erect a new educational wing on the Cedrow Drive facility in 1995. This new addition
brought the value of Temple Memorial’s property into the multimillion dollar range. On Sunday, February 9, 1997, Dr. Byrd resigned his position as pastor of Temple Memorial Baptist Church.
On Christmas Day, 1997, Rev. Haywood T. Gray accepted the call of Temple Memorial Baptist Church to become the church’s fifth pastor. Temple grew by leaps and bounds and progressed in many ways. Some of the major achievements under the direction of Rev. Gray included the Cassette Tape Ministry, Computer Lab, Commission on the Constitution, increase in Sunday School enrollment, Bible Study, a Daily Bible Reading Program, Deaconess Ministry, organization of the Laymen’s League, Youth Ministry, SWAT Team, Young Adult and Youth Missionary groups, Rev. Haywood T. Gray resigned his position on December 31, 2004 to accept the position of Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the North Carolina General Baptist State Convention.
Dr. T. Ashby Banister, III assumed the pastorate of TMBC, the first Sunday of March, 2006. Since his arrival the church has grown spiritually and numerically. Several ministries, including a new disciples’ training class have been implemented, and the TMBC Bible institute was established which provides sound biblical instruction to every age group within the congregation. Technology has also become a priority as a means of serving this present age, with the addition of a state-of-the-art audio system, video system, and an upgraded computer lab to accommodate instruction in Microsoft Office. The church has also expanded its footprint by purchasing a piece of property next door. Plans are now underway to build the Dr. L. L. Macon Center for Community Excellence, a standalone structure for the sake of doing community ministry and other entrepreneurial pursuits.