In 1918, a band of faithful believers began meeting in homes and at the Ferguson Elementary School to worship and to witness. That same year, the Ferguson family donated a parcel of land for the purpose of building a church. Six years later, in 1924, our first building was erected in West Dunbar. The church was named Farm First Baptist Church and was pastored by The Reverend John Robert Brown, who served faithfully from 1924 to 1926. In addition to pastoring our church family, Rev. Brown held offices in the Ministers and Deacons Union and the Mount Olivet District. At the time the church was built, Trustees Elizabeth Ferguson and Thankful Friend guaranteed payment of the debt.
Following Rev. Brown’s resignation, The Reverend Bishop Hill accepted the Call to Pastor Farm First Baptist Church; however, he died before beginning his assignment. Rev. Turpin and Rev. Gregory followed Rev. Hill. During Rev. Gregory’s tenure, Farm First was renamed Ferguson Memorial Missionary Baptist Church, in memory of Deacon Daniel Ferguson.
In 1928, The Reverend John Shadrack Tyree accepted the Call to Pastor Ferguson and served for seven years, offering guidance to the people of this community during the tumult of the Great Depression. Following Rev. Tyree’s resignation, Reverend John Quincy Adams and Reverend J. J. Clark served between 1935 and 1958.
On September 25, 1960, The Reverend C. C. Corbett accepted the Call to Pastor and he served faithfully until December 1979. Rev. Corbett was instrumental in re-building the Ferguson edifice, located across the street from our present location. That structure is located on the parcel of land donated by the Ferguson family, as was the original building. By the unction of the Holy Spirit, under the leadership of Rev. Corbett, Deacon Archie McClain and Deacon William Mosley, and with help of the membership and the community, the Ferguson family marched into the new study, choir room, kitchen, dining area and baptismal pool in 1970. Land for a parking lot next to the church was also purchased at that time.
Rev. Corbett was called from earth to glory on November 3, 1982. During the 20 years that Rev. Corbett pastored Ferguson, many souls came to know Jesus. In addition, several persons acknowledged their call to the ministry during Rev. Corbett’s tenure: The Reverend James Mosley, Bishop Melvin Mosley, The Reverend Edward Smith and The Reverend John Reese.
Our current pastor, The Reverend Emanuel Alphonso Heyliger began his tenure on May 1, 1980. Rev. Heyliger is a native of Guyana, South America. Before emigrating to the United States in 1977, Rev. Heyliger served as Minister of the United Mission of the Baptist, Congregational, Methodist and Moravian Churches; Director of Youth for Christ; an Executive of Jaycees International; Youth Advisor to the National Government; and in numerous other capacities. In 1978, Rev. Heyliger was licensed and ordained a Baptist Minister and served as an Associate Minister at the Metropolitan Baptist Church in Charleston. He served at Metropolitan until accepting the Call to Pastor at Ferguson.
Under Rev. Heyliger’s leadership, our church family has been bountifully blessed. Our membership has grown to more than 400 members; we have purchased a church van, a sound amplification system, computer equipment, kitchen equipment and a host of other amenities which enhance the beauty of our church home and make it a comfortable environment for those who worship here. Perhaps the influence of Rev. Heyliger’s leadership is most noticeable in the successful completion of our church building program, which began with the April 5, 1988 ground-breaking. By the unction of the Holy Spirit, Rev. Heyliger has spearheaded one of the largest African-American Church building programs in the history of the State of West Virginia and in 1998; we celebrated the retiring of the debt. We thank God for the victory!
The church family looks to the future with hope and anticipation, knowing that eyes have not seen, nor ears heard, nor has it entered into the hearts of men those things that God has prepared for the Church of the Lord at Ferguson Memorial Missionary Baptist Church. God, our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Ghost, has blessed us with a majestic array of pastors, past and present. While some of them planted the seed of faith and others watered that seed, we thank God that He gave the increase, as this branch of Zion has grown spiritually, numerically and financially from its humble beginnings eighty two years ago. Though we do not know what the future holds, we know Who holds the future. We shall go forth confidently, for our assurance is in Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us.
A few of the milestones along the journey are as follows:
May 7, 1989 Congregation marches from the old sanctuary (across the street) to the new sanctuary.
June 18, 1989 Baby grand piano, purchased by the Music Department, dedicated.
July 9, 1989 Edifice dedicated to the Lord’s service. The Reverend Carlton A. Heyliger, Rev. Heyliger’s father, delivered the morning message, and Rev. Ronald W. English, delivered the dedicatory sermon.
We gratefully remember the inspirational leadership of Sisters Alice Mason and Zeona Haley, during the building program. We are also thankful for the contribution made by Governor Gaston Caperton and his family.
In addition to the building program, our church has been engaged in many other activities in recent years. The following is a partial list of our accomplishments:
1990 Classrooms, kitchen and dining area completed;
1991 Larger organ purchased and dedicated;
1992 Additional land for parking purchased; Mt. Olivet Association and Women’s Convention for the first time in the Ferguson’s history hosted;
1993 Seventy-fifth Anniversary celebrated; Women’s Retreat initiated; computer and copy machine purchased; external work on church completed;
1994 Additional equipment for nursery and music department purchased; City Wide Revival hosted; Dr. Henry J. Lyons, then-Presidential Candidate, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. welcomed to the church and community;
1995 Additional land for parking in rear of church purchased;
1996 New ministries, including Big Sisters, Computer Learning Center, Daughters of Sarah, Family Literacy, Ferguson Institute for Christian Education, Membership Ministry, Pioneer Clubs, Steppers for Christ, Total Praise Dancers, Tape Ministry, Tutorials, birthed;
1997 Project 2000 initiated; first church leadership retreat held; KISRA established;
1998 Property at 131 Perkins Avenue purchased to house Empowerment Center and Family Life Center.
Celebrated the 80th Church Anniversary with the burning of the mortgage and the laying of the cornerstone!
Church hired Sister Michelle Foster as the full-time Administrator and Executive Director of KISRA. Sister Foster provides advanced level administrative support to the Pastor and church ministries. She also provides leadership in the planning, implementing, directing and reviewing of programs for the church and the community.
Added Steeple to Church; Sound System Ministry established; New system installed; Tape ministry up-graded; Pew Bibles donated; New hymnals purchased; Improvements made to front parking lot; New copier purchased; Computer Learning Center for adults and youth established; Held First Annual International Fire & Glory Bible Conference.
2000 Held First Fire & Glory Lenten Bible Study Series in Charleston; Appointed Minister of Music, Assistant Minister of Music, three Deacons, twelve Deaconesses, and three Trustees. Projection system was installed in the sanctuary.
2001 Consecrated twelve Deaconesses; Ordained three Deacons; Licensed one Minister and one Evangelist; Consecrated one Minister of Music, one Assistant Minister of Music, and one Minister of Administration; KISRA, the faith-based initiative of the church expanded its mission and currently has four full-time staff members to implement job training and placement, homeownership, afterschool, and wellness initiatives; Held first Family Forum; Sis. Sara Mosley hired as a musician; Sis. Dominique Byers hired as a drummer.
2002 Held the first Women with a Mission Services; KISRA hosted its first Summer reading program, Energy Express, for children from the community; Bought additional land for parking; Held first Black History is World History Program.
Initiated College Support Ministry; Initiated Video Ministry.
2003 Added Brother Harold Bradford & Brother Luther Feazell to the music staff. Started planning for the Choir CD Recording; started planning for the TV Ministry.
2004 The Jubilee (Combined) Choir recorded first CD.
Published Spiritually Seasoned Soul Food- the church’s first cookbook.
Purchased property next door for church expansion.
2007 Purchased additional property nearby the church; Purchased two new buses for the transportation and evangelism ministries; Mass Choir celebrated its 25th anniversary; Minister of Music Daisy Clark retired as minister of music; Hired Brother Jonathan Wesley as the new minister of music.
2008 Completed the expansion of the 18,000 square foot Empowerment Center.