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Founded 1758
124 Barbecue Church Road,  Sanford, NC 27332

Click here to see the Article on the 250th Anniversary Celebration from the Fayetteville Observer.

History in the Making:

 A resolution honoring Barbecue Presbyterian Church’s 250th anniversary was sponsored by Jimmy Love and David Lewis who are members of the North Carolina House of Representatives. The resolution was read three times and ratified by the General Assembly on June 12, 2008. We thank Representative Love and Representative Lewis for sponsoring the resolution. We also thank the North Carolina General Assembly for ratifying the resolution.  Read the complete resolution here.

A Brief History of Barbecue Church:Orriginal Church Building 1765-1800

      Barbecue, mother church to all the early churches in this area, possessed with a dignity and heritage all its own, was formally organized in 1758. The first church, a one room log building, was erected in 1765. A larger one room frame building replaced this one in 1775. The third church, which is the present sanctuary remodeled and enlarged, was built in 1896. In 1945 a building program was begun that changed the one room church into the church of today. This program was completed in 1958.

     In 1965, the Young People erected a marker to “The Stranger’s” grave and a Cairn of Remembrance, containing stone from the old parish , Kirk and Flora MacDonald’s home in Scotland. A Cemetery and Grounds Fund was set up and a Heritage Room was organized.

     In 1971, plans were made to construct Barbecue’s first manse. On February 1,1975, Rev. James Waldo Dodson, Barbecue’s first full time minister, occupied the debt-free manse. A dedication service was held on October 26,1975. Two years later on August 11,1977, Barbecue’s first steeple was erected. It was on Sunday, June11,1978 that a two-fold dedication service was held. The steeple was dedicated and a playground and a paved recreation area equipped with lights, was also dedicated.

     Barbecue’s first missionary,

  • Page Cameron, went to Spain in August, 1984 to serve two years.

    With the union of the Presbyterian churches, rotation of officers began. The first lady officers elected were

  • Laura Shaw Cameron, elder in 1985 and
  • Alta Warwick, deacon in 1987.

On Sunday, April 6, 1986, Rev Peter Youngston, of our Scottish homeland of Jura, Scotland delivered the sermon, part of which was in Gaelic.

    Expansion Over the Years:

  • The two paved parking areas were completed in 1986.
  • In 1987, a new organ was installed and additional acreage was purchased from Mrs. Dave Godfrey, Sr.
  • The organ was dedicated July 24, 1988.
  • The new fellowship hall was dedicated March 22, 1992.
  • The enlarged/renovated sanctuary was dedicated March 3, 1996

     Barbecue, endowed with a rich Scottish heritage, which has stood for over two centuries, has been led by “God’s man at God’s place in God’s time”. Deeply religious people, whose faith and belief in God, has molded the church into what it is today. Surely God is in this place.

     ---- Adapted from Colorful Heritage, Rev. James MacKenzie

Historical Marker:Historical Marker Sign

Location:NC 27 at SR 1285 (Barbecue Church Road) southeast of Olivia
Original Date Cast:1950-P
Marker Text:Presbyterian, founded in 1757 by Scottish Highlanders. Present building, the third, erected about 1895, is 200 yds. northeast.

Essay:  Barbecue Church, named for nearby Barbecue Creek, was founded in 1757 and formally organized the following year by Presbyterian Scottish Highlanders who had settled in the region. Services initially were held in the backroom of John Dobbins’s Ordinary, but in 1765 the first sanctuary, a log building, was constructed. Ten years later a larger, wooden frame structure was completed. The first services were overseen by the Reverend James Campbell of the Philadelphia Presbyterian Synod who had settled near. He ministered to the congregations at, Longstreet, and Barbecue. Under his tutelage the first sanctuary was constructed. During the Revolutionary War, Barbecue Church congregants served on both sides, and Scottish heroine Flora McDonald and her husband both were members on the eve of the conflict. In 1813, the congregation left the Orange Presbyterian Synod and joined the newly-formed Fayetteville Synod. Twelve years later the Fayetteville Synod voted to dissolve Barbecue, since the mother church had lost so many members to its “daughter” churches. However, upon the pleas of Reverend Colin McIver, Barbecue Church was allowed to continue in operation. In 1845 the church building was rebuilt and refurbished. That construction remained the central facility until a new, brick building was completed in 1895-1896. There are numerous myths and legends surrounding the history of Barbecue Presbyterian Church. The first involves the name Barbecue. Some histories have claimed that Cornwallis’s troops camped on the church grounds in late April during his march to Wilmington following the Battle of Guilford Courthouse in the spring 1781. These accounts claim that British soldiers, witnessing fog on the nearby creek, stated that it reminded them of the smoke from barbecue cooking. The only problem with the account is that Cornwallis’s army could not have camped at Barbecue Church, as their maneuvering took them much further north of the site, and by late April Cornwallis was already in Wilmington. Furthermore, several deeds from 1753-1754 already call the local creek Barbecue. Another legend, perhaps from which the Cornwallis camping legend developed, is that on April 29, 1781, a party of local Whig militia attacked Cornwallis’s troops at Barbecue Church in a minor skirmish. Cornwallis’s men had already passed through the area. Therefore, if such a skirmish occurred, it only involved parties of local Tories and Whigs. A story better substantiated within the historical record, is that of “the stranger.” According to tradition, a stranger to the congregation, caught in a winter storm, attempted to enter the church building after hours for safety. Finding the doors locked he huddled near the front door, but succumbed to exposure, and was found the next morning. He was buried in the “stranger’s grave” in the cemetery, and the congregation vowed from that day forward to never lock the church door’s again.


James D. McKenzie, History of Barbecue Church (1965) Victor E. Clark, Louise D. Curry, and James D. McKenzie, Colorful Heritage Documented: The Story of Barbecue, Bluff, and Longstreet Presbyterian Churches (1989) Patrick O’Kelley, Nothing But Blood and Slaughter: The Revolutionary War in the Carolinas, III (2005)


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Barbecue Presbyterian Church

124 Barbecue Church Road,  Sanford, NC 27332

 barbecuechurch@windstream.net ~ 919-499-5211 ~ www.barbecuech1758.org 

© 2008 Barbecue Presbyterian Church, Inc.  Please do not use images without written permission.