Historical records of the Rowan Baptist Association of North Carolina indicate that Morning Star Baptist Church was meeting in the year 1888. The Reverend R.A. Smyre was the pastor at that time and services were held on the first and third Sunday of each month. The church owned property valued at $500.00 and had a membership consisting of 11 males and 9 females.

To date, we have not located any information for the years 1889 through 1895, but we have not given up our search.

The Branson North Carolina Business Directory, for both the years 1896 and 1897, list the Reverend B.F. Watts as the Pastor of Morning Star First Baptist Church. The Reverend B.F. Watts is also listed as one of the founders of the Mountain & Catawba Missionary Baptist Association of 1870.

The Reverend P.R.D. Gore was sent to serve this congregation by the Rowan Baptist Association from Winston-Salem, NC in 1898. When Pastor Gore came to serve this congregation, its house of worship was in bad repair, standing on three pillars. However, under his leadership, the church grew with the organizing of a small Summer School and a Pre-school for children. The fee for those enrolled in the school was five cents per week. Pastor Gore continued to serve Morning Star until 1903, when he left to organize another Baptist congregation in the city of Hickory.

The Reverend Joseph James, who was a member of the church, accepted the call to serve as the interim pastor of the church from 1903-1904.

The Reverend M.C. Rice was called to serve as pastor of the church in 1904 and continued to serve until 1909. Under his leadership, the church reunited with the Mountain & Catawba Missionary Baptist Association, and a number of achievements were made, including the selection of a Building Committee, the implementation of a central Treasurer, improvements to the church building and the organization of a Sunday School and other groups.

During the early days of the church, several members assumed leadership positions, including the Rev. Joseph James, Mr. Isreal J. James, Mr. George Hambrick, Mr. Joseph Morrison, Mr. Ed Starling and Mr. J.R. Myers. After a brief period, the Reverend I.W. Adams was called to serve as pastor of the church and continued to serve until 1914.

In 1914 on September 28th the Reverend W.M. Hooper was called to pastor Morning Star Baptist Church and he continued to serve until 1917. During his tenure of service, the church continued to experience growth and many improvements were made to the building and new organizations were formed. The church structure was renovated, the B.T.U. was organized, the Missionary Department grew and the choir was organized.

From 1917 to 1934, the following men served as pastors: The Rev. G.I. McCree (1917–1919), the Rev. P.D. Glover (1919-1920), the Rev. W.M. Parrat (1920-1924) and the Rev. Gill, Rev. Crosby and Rev. Campbell (1924–1930).

The Reverend C.R. Harper of Statesville served as pastor of Morning Star for the next 42 years until his retirement in 1972. Under Pastor Harper’s leadership, the church membership increased from less than 100 to over 400, an educational unit was added to the church structure and the entire facility was bricked. Numerous auxiliaries were organized and flourished, a new pastorium was built, additional land purchased for future growth and many other improvements were made. Upon his retirement, Pastor Harper moved to his home in Statesville.

The Reverend D.I. McQuire served as interim pastor from 1972 until June 1973, when the church called as its pastor the Reverend Webster E. Lytle. Pastor Lytle, his wife Raquel and their three children relocated to Hickory, NC and he began his Pastorate on the third Sunday of June 1973.

A new era was born in 1973 with the arrival of Reverend Webster E. Lytle assuming the leadership of the church. Under his leadership, Morning Star’s membership grew and many auxiliaries were established or improved to meet the spiritual needs of the congregation. The church purchased additional property and construction of the new sanctuary and educational building began in October 1977 and was completed November 1978.

During his time as Pastor of Morning Star First Baptist Church, Reverend Lytle led the congregation in increasing its outreach ministry in the community, statewide and nationally. Our missionary efforts can be seen by our contributions to the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina Christian Education Fund, the American Baptist Churches USA Incorporated of the South and the Progressive Baptist Convention. Our giving to Missions has earned the church numerous certificates of appreciation. The Vacation Bible School in 1987 had an average daily attendance in excess of 300. Senior members of the congregation are remembered in numerous ways, most notably through the efforts of the Y.L.C.A. Club. Through the interest and cooperation of the church, college students were awarded scholarships. In the summer of 1987, the church sponsored a Summer Day Camp for children of working parents. Morning Star is a very active and involved member of the following organizations: Cooperative Christian Ministry of Greater Hickory; The Chaplaincy Program of Catawba Memorial Hospital; Habitat for Humanity of Catawba Valley; The Meals on Wheels Program of the Catawba County Department of Social Services; The Broughton Hospital Volunteer Program; The Western Carolina Center Volunteer Program and Hospice of the Catawba Valley. Morning Star is also co-founder of Inter-Faith Housing and Development Corporation and a Golden Heritage member of the NAACP.

The membership is also actively involved in the civic affairs of the city with several members now serving on numerous boards, commissions and committees of the city of Hickory and Catawba County. Pastor Lytle served two four-year terms as the first black elected to the Hickory City Council. Rev. Lytle retired in 2005, after having served as pastor for 32 years.

During the illness that proceeded Rev. Lytle’s retirement, Rev. Millard Harris, Rev. Alfred Wright and Rev. Crawford stepped into the leadership role as interim pastor from 2005-2007. We the members of Morning Star are most grateful for this leadership and concern for our spiritual welfare.

On September 9, 2007 the Lord blessed Morning Star First Baptist Church with the Reverend David E. Roberts, II. Under the leadership of Rev. Roberts, Morning Star’s membership continues to grow. Many church auxiliaries have been established or improved to meet the spiritual needs of the congregation. Morning Star has made many improvements to the church structure such as: new audio and security system, added restrooms and installed new carpet and flooring. Morning Star continues to support higher educational development and growth through the Webster E. Lytle Scholarship Fund.  Realizing our youth are the future of Morning Star First Baptist Church, we continue our focus of youth development through youth revivals and youth mission.

Believing that the Christian Church is called to minister to the whole man, the congregation is seeking to reach out to all mankind wherever they may be found and to help heal the brokenhearted and to build up the weak as well as to help strengthen the strong. At present, the church is blessed to have a growing Church School, eight choirs, an active Missionary and Layman League, numerous auxiliaries and committees, children, youth, young and mature adults who prefer not to look back, but to look forward and to seek improved means to please God and to be a blessing to others. Some of the descendants of our church’s first founders are still working faithfully in our church today.

Morning Star First Baptist Church is: