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 school house was built in the center of this community.
The school needed a name and the people of the community chose “Bay Leaf”. This name sounded like “Bailey,” a common family name in the community, 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.
Sunday Schoolstarted meeting in the little schoolhouse, and 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. Also, the church was effective in reaching people in the community for Jesus, and many were baptized in the Neuse River!
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 1958, new buildings were again needed, and a series of building projects were voted on, funded by the growing congregation, and completed. Pastor Ron Rowe led the church through this period of expansion, and in the 1980’s and into the 1990’s, a new sanctuary, gymnasium, and educational buildings were all completed! Tremendous prayer and sacrificial giving undergirded this growth.
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. This house has been used continually by missionaries related to Bay Leaf Baptist Church as they are on stateside assignment.
Church membership has increased from approximately 120 in 1987 to over 3,000 today. Bay Leaf started as a family and community church, and despite its rapid growth, it still retains the family and community feel today. There are opportunities for members of every generation to serve, worship, and grow together!
In 2016, Bay Leaf leadership prayed, studied, and refocused the church on a new strategy, with the goal of creating many new disciples for Jesus. As this strategy unfolds, and with a goal of more than 1000 families , we can expect to see new services, new small groups in our neighborhoods, and ultimately new congregations, expanding God’s Kingdom!