In the late 1870's a small community of approximately twenty-five families lived nearly fifteen miles north of the capital city of Raleigh. A one-room schoolhouse, whose exact date of founding in unknown, was built in the center of this community. Although the majority of the children enrolled in the school were Baileys, other family names such as Adams, Allens, Belvins and Holloways also comprised the roll.
The school needed a name and the people of the community chose Bay Leaf. This name was as close as possible to “Bailey,” but it is also claimed that the name was taken from the bay trees that grew around the spring from which the school drew its water. The people that lived in this community still insist on spelling “Bay Leaf” as two words.
Sunday School met in the little schoolhouse, but church memberships were maintained at Mt. Vernon and New Light Baptist Churches. On August 19, 1880, the Bay Leaf Missionary Baptist Church was organized. The first pastor, J.R. Maynard, served from 1880-1883.
Present-day members can take pride in the fact that Bay Leaf Baptist Church has always had a commitment to missions. Even when the pastor was paid less than $50 a year, the church gave $8 to missions annually.
By October 1887 there was obviously a growing need for a church building. A collection was taken and $250 was pledged for the construction of a building that was completed in 1889.
By April of 1949 new additions and renovations were in use by a growing church membership. Nine years later a Sunday School building was attached to the back of the original church and was dedicated in October of 1958.
Another large building project was undertaken in 1968. At this time the church agreed to start construction on a recreation building as soon as $18,000 was accumulated. Less than a year later the bid was accepted for $40,000 and construction began. Located at the back of the first addition to the church, the recreation building was connected by a walkway. This two-story building was dedicated in 1970 and housed the library, Sunday School rooms, and a kitchen.
Bay Leaf Baptist Church’s membership continued to increase due to the population growth of northern Wake County in the 1970's. In March 1981 the church membership accepted a recommendation to build a new sanctuary and approved the issuance of mortgage bonds to finance the construction.
Until 1986 the church staff included the pastor, secretary, treasurer, choir director, organist and custodians. In June 1986 the church membership approved hiring a Minster of Education. The position of Minister of Music and Youth was approved in January 1987. In 1989 the position of Minister of Music and Youth was changed to two positions: a Minister of Youth and Activities and a Minister of Music.
On June 30, 1987 the Long Range Planning Committee, Stewardship Committee and Deacons recommended the construction of a Family Life Center. This building provides additional classrooms, a gymnasium and other needed facilities.
In 1989 we began reaching seating capacity in our worship service. A sanctuary expansion committee was nominated to research the possibility of expanding the facilities. After several months of study, this committee was convinced there was an urgent need for expansion. The church membership accepted the recommendation from the committee and the process of design and construction was put into motion. Because of a large estate gift and a pledge campaign, the sanctuary expansion was completed.
Following the recommendation of the Long Range Planning Committee in 1992, a committee was formed to study the need for additional educational facilities. Construction began on this two million dollar building in August of 1994.
Seeing the continued expansion of North Raleigh, a committee was formed that recommended that additional land be brought for a satellite campus in the Wakefield area. On May 6, 2001 this new group our North Campus, began meeting at Wakefield High School. By 2005 the North Campus had adopted the name, Wakefield Baptist Church.
In 2006, the church leadership saw the opportunity for continued growth and expansion of the ministries of Bay Leaf Baptist Church and a 70 acre tract of land was purchased at the intersection of I-540 and Creedmoor Road. This land was owned by the family of charter member, Clina Bailey. The first development on the property was the remodeling of the house to become the Clina Bailey Missionary House. The house has been used continually by missionaries related to Bay Leaf Baptist Church as they are on stateside assignment.
In February of 2007 after serving for 31 years as pastor, Dr. Ron Rowe announced his desire to make a transition in ministry. In August of 2007, the church called Dr. Marty Jacumin as co-pastor. He served alongside Dr. Rowe until September 7, 2008 when the church called Pastor Marty to become the next Senior Pastor.
God continues to draw people to himself through Bay Leaf. Church membership has increased from approximately 120 in 1987 to over 3,000 today. Bay Leaf Baptist Church is a testimony to what God can accomplish through people of faith - people excited to bring the love and good news of Christ to their community and throughout the world. May the Lord continue to bless this church as it ministers in North Raleigh and to the ends of the earth.