It’s been said, “A dollar won’t buy much anymore.” Yet, on November 22, 1876, the land for the original Fullview Missionary Baptist Church cost just that when early church pioneers took an option to purchase it at the northeast corner of Memphis-Arlington and Oak Road. Now, more than 100 years later, we as a congregation take a look back at that one dollar purchase which has led, we believe, to a church history worth more than millions of dollars.
The stately oak trees that surround our present campus were mere acorns in March of 1877, when church pioneers filed an application to buy the property. Within a month, the application was approved for the sale. Within just two years, members gained full ownership of the property from J.K. and Mary Felts, owners of the historic Evergreen Plantation.
Since there was no building, worshipers gathered under a tent which they called “the bush arbor.” The exact date of the first building wasn’t recorded. But we know there was an early sanctuary situated on the land when visited by census workers in 1880.
That first decade marked steady growth. Two more acres were purchased from the Evergreen Plantation which was then owned by the Arbuelel family. Church trustees: Brother Marshall Jones, Sr., Brother E. Mullins, Brother James Williams, and Brother Frank K. Westbrook had oversight of the sale.
The first “Shepherd” was Reverend Lem Reed who preached under the “bush arbor.” Following him were other devoted ministers who include: K.J. Leatherwood, Wainwright, Charlie Guy, H.R. Brown, Maboh, W. P. Tate, J. S. Jackson, Greenwood, D. T. Tate, D. W. White, G. D. Jones, U.S. Beard, R. V. Jackson, George Anderson, Leroy Anderson, Williams, Bob Smith, Luke Bentley, Willie Cook, and C. L. Watkins, and our pastor for the past 36 years, Walter L. Peggs, Senior who passed away in 2021.
Currently, our Pastor Warrie Williams was commissioned and took on the role as Interim Pastor at the request from the Pastor Peggs, and the church’s official board members.
The Fullview Missionary Baptist Church has been blessed with great leadership and outstanding deacons and trustees. Some of the early servants were: John Street Bentley, Joe Westbrook, Frank K. Westbrook, Mose Bell, Ben Smith, Joe Justice, Alex Hulon, Solomon Westbrook, Joe A. Taylor, Reddick Winfrey, Saul Winfrey, Frank Cook, Joe Nathan Justice, Clym Cross, Sr., Billy Williams, D. J. Thomas and Clarence Gray.
Through the years, music and Christian education have been priorities for the church. The first choirmaster was Brother Doc Westbrook followed by Brother Joe Nathan Justice. The first pianist was Brother Ezekiel Claxton followed by Sister Isabella Westbrook. Mrs. Levina Jones who at age 13 began playing the piano for Fullview Missionary Baptist Church. Mrs. Jones retired after more than forty years service as pianist.
The early leaders of the Sunday school were Brother Joe Alexander and Brother E. L. Gray who served as the first Sunday school superintendents.
In April of 1976 the Reverend Charles L. Watkins became our pastor. He preached his first sermon on May 16, 1976. Through much prayer, Pastor Watkins and the church leadership decided to take another significant step in the growth of the church.
The old fieldstone one-story building had become too crowded for Sunday worshipers. Plans were made to demolish the old structure in September of 1976 and replace it with a bigger sanctuary.
In February of 1977, members moved into a new church which cost $125,000. By 1982, members had sacrificed and tithed to pay the note in full. (Pictures from the last service and the new building dedication may be seen in the church narthex.) Through their spirit of giving, the members had indeed met the church goals of: personal consecration, dedication to a Christ-Centered life and helping those in the community in need.
In April of 1983 a distinct honor was bestowed upon Fullview Missionary Baptist Church when the Shelby County Historical Society included the church in its annual spring tour.
The church, now known for its outreach to others, was honored by many who donated special gifts. There are too many to name, however; one noteworthy gift was donated on November 28, 1984 by the Anderson family. It was the picture of Jesus on the Jordan River which was placed at the Baptistry.
In the spring of 1984, Fullview chose a new pastor. On October 11, 1984, Walter L. Peggs, Sr. was named to serve the church. He preached his first sermon on October 14, 1984.
In 1990 Pastor Peggs told the congregation about a revelation from God, one he believed would serve as a guide for the church in its service to the Bartlett community. Pastor Peggs had three priorities for the church. First was to build a family life center where members of all ages could learn about the Gospel and enjoy church events and recreation. The building opened in August of 1997.
The second priority was to move the ministry to new heights of service to the members and the community. The theme was, “There is something for everyone to do at Fullview.”
The third priority was to build a new sanctuary to accommodate the growing congregation.
The building committee members were Reverend Walter L. Peggs Sr., Deacon Jerry Becton, Trustee Nancy Edwards, Sister Hannah Hirsch, Trustee Tom Cook, Trustee Sidney Howard, Trustee Sidney Howard, and Trustee Audra Melvin.
By 2001, the vision of the church had changed and the by-laws were rewritten by Brother Willie H. Justice, III. The official church board and members approved the changes.
Through Pastor Peggs’ leadership, Fullview soared to greater heights with more than 20 ministries for people of all ages. Weekly Prayer meetings and Bible classes helped members to learn about the Gospel and to apply what they learned by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Under Pastor Peggs’ administration, there have been many new assistant ministers to help him with service to the congregation and the community. Reverends Willie Butler (deceased), Eddie L. Cross, Roland Person, Patrick Henry, (deceased) Warrie Williams, Curtis Reeder, Rumell Bowens and Theodis Maclin, Jr., Mark Johnson, Dwight Fryer, Rodney Kirkwood Sr., Michael Harris, Kenneth Harris, Davion Wallace (youngest) and Juwan Harrison. Reverend Warrie Williams was elected Assistant Pastor on November 5, 2008.
With the congregation growing and maturing in Christ, there have also been additions of women ministers including Reverends Dell Stokes, Janice Hollowell-Wiseman, Marsha Chism, Wilma Peggs, Cassandra Blake, Marlene Harrison, and Deborah Akuchie. Reverend Akuchie became the first woman to preach from the pulpit at Fullview Missionary Baptist Church in 2002.
The vision of church leadership and the programs available for the membership could not be accomplished without the dedication and hard work by the church deacons and trustees. We appreciate their service and countless hours of taking on the business affairs and spiritual direction of the church.
Deacons: Glen Baity, Johnny Barbee, Jerry Becton, Edmond Blake, David Crutchfield, Curtis Ervin, Michael Johnson, Charles Marshall, Barry Mustiful, James Nelson, Joe Nunn, Walter Somerville, Darnell Watkins, Kadel Macklin, and newest additions included Christopher Jackson, LaCoy Barbee, Mandrill McLaughlin, Jr., Daisy Coleman (retired), Tiffoney Jackson, and Elaine Hulon (retired).
In 2016, Pastor Peggs prayed and appointed new deacons which for the first time women were included: Jafina Griffin, Tiffoney Jackson, Daisy Coleman, and Elaine Hulon.
Trustees: Lemon Lowery, Angelia Allen, Benjamin Banyon, (retired) Marsh Campbell, (retired), Dr. Michael Alston (retired), Dr. Chandra Alston, Paul Edwards, Phyllis Fickling, Willie Justice, Audra Melvin, Willie Hulon, Carl Person, Kecia Bradshaw, Kina Triggs, and Wanda Webb, (deceased) and Rufus Wilson.
In August of 2008, The Bartlett Historic Society selected Fullview Church Cemetery as a historic landmark. The proposal was submitted to the City of Bartlett Planning Commission and Board of Mayor and Alderman and unanimously approved.
A ceremony to unveil the Historic Marker took place on October 28, 2008, at 4:40 P.M. in front of the church. Mayor Keith McDonald was present along with a host of city leaders including representatives from the Historic Society. It was a proud event for Pastor Peggs, Deacon Jerry Becton, Deacon James Nelson, Trustee Willie H. Justice III, and members of the congregation.
Through the years, countless members of Fullview Missionary Baptist Church have been ushered into the loving arms of their savior, Jesus Christ. Some will long be remembered for their service. There is no way to name all of the departed saints from our church family. But some of those are still in spirit with us each time the doors of the church open: Mrs. Florence Rhodes (deceased) served as a Sunday school senior class teacher for 33 years. Brother Douglas J. Thomas (deceased) served as chairman of the deacon board for forty years and Brother Clarence Gray (deceased) served as chairman of the trustee board and a deacon for forty years.
“Equipping Saints for Service through Ministries,” Ephesians 4:11-13, provides the motivation for our members to tell others about the saving Grace of Christ. While the church reaches countless people in the Bartlett and Shelby County communities, the Word must be proclaimed to other parts of our globe.
The first Foreign Missionaries were established at Fullview and commissioned in June 2009 to their first assignment in the Dominican Republic. Reverend Verlinda Baity and Sister Lisa Simmons spent six weeks of training to prepare themselves for their soul-saving mission. Fullview has continued the foreign missions by sending its first team of missionaries to the Dominican Republic in 2010. The missionaries spend a week in the remote mountains of Barahona, Dominican Republic evangelizing door-to-door, holding Christian Bible Study for the adults, Vacation Bible School for the children, and providing personal hygiene supplies to the women. In 2013, the first Medical Ministry was formed and served over 600 patients with various ailments.
The greatest way to predict the future is to look at the past. And what an occasion that will be in the year 2082. That’s when the members of our church will break open a time capsule buried by the corner stone of our former church sanctuary near the cemetery. Through the vision of the membership in 1982, relics and memorabilia were placed in the capsule which is buried nine feet from the cornerstone of the sanctuary.
We are thankful to the pioneer men and women, some who were born into slavery that had the courage to look beyond their conditions and soar to greater heights. For this—we are Fullview Missionary Baptist Church—A church in the heart of the community with the community at heart—bringing Christ to families and families to Christ with a Fullview.
“In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; By pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, By love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right-hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” II Corinthians 6:5-10