The Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church had its beginnings as Hickory Hill Baptist Church
(Hickory Hill Colored Baptist Church as reflected in the 1903 deed). The name Hickory Hill was chosen because of the large hickory tree that stood near the church. Hickory Hill was first located on Greene Street, near what was once the site of the old 5th Street Fire Station. The church was in an area considered downtown Greenville. Rev. Ruffin Carrol was the first pastor, and worship services were held the third Sunday of each month.
In 1903, under the pastorate of Rev. G.W. Bucklum, the church moved to Clark Street, near the northwest corner of 14th Street, in the "New Town" area of Greenville. At that time, Charles Henryham, Edward Carr, and Ted Jenkins were appointed as Deacons; and Violet Henryham, Harriet Jackson, and Sarah Dudley were appointed as Deaconnesses.
Years later, Rev. Ike Tillery was called to pastor Hickory Hill. On Saturday night before the 4th Sunday of April 1923, Hickory Hill Baptist Church burned to the ground. The members were permitted to hold worship services in the Knight of Gideon Hall on 14th Street.
Under the leadership of Rev. W. H. Bryant, the church did not mourn the loss of their property for long because they were able to make a $3000 purchase of real estate located on the southeast corner of Railroad Street and 13th Street. The name of the church was then changed to Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church, and Rev. Bryant laid the cornerstone before he resigned in 1924.
Early in 1925, Rev. J. H. Jones became pastor, but he served only six months. He was followed by Rev. Joseph Tillett, an educator from Edenton, NC, who introduced a second pastoral Sunday each month. Services were then held on first and third Sundays. Rev. Tillett served Cornerstone until early August of 1969.
On August 13, 1969, Rev. William B. Moore began his pastoral duties at Cornerstone. He stressed the importance of having a vision and provided great leadership while emphasizing the theme "The Church where everybody is somebody and Christ is Lord." Rev. Moore resigned in August of 1974.
In August of 1975, Rev. O'Kelly Lawson of Henderson, NC, began his pastorate at Cornerstone. He was a very capable Christian leader with great vision and sensitivity to the needs of the community. He placed great emphasis on long-range plans for rebuilding, remodeling, or relocation of the church. Rev. Lawson resigned in March of 1979.
In March of 1980, Rev. Arlee Griffin, Jr., of Elizabeth City, NC, accepted the call to pastor Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Griffin's leadership challenged the church to a deeper Christian commitment and discipleship. The church membership increased to over 500.
In November of 1981, the church became a member of the American Baptist Churches of the USA. Later that same year, the church made plans to build a new facility because of the proposed acquisition of the then existing building by the South Evans Community Development Project. In February of 1982, six and one half acres of land and a 3000 square foot building on Stantonsburg Road were purchased for the new site. In January of 1983, the church moved to its new building, and on March 30, 1986, new facilities valued at 1.2 million dollars were dedicated to the glory of God. Rev. Griffin led Cornerstone to unprecedented growth and development. In August of 1989, he was called to pastor Berean Missionary Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY.
On July 1, 1989, Rev. Ronald E. Maxwell accepted the position as Interim Pastor at Cornerstone. Rev. Maxwell had a dynamic relationship with the youth of Cornerstone. The teenagers felt comfortable sharing their thoughts with him. Under his leadership a teen choir was developed, and it still exists as The Teen Voices of Victory.
On December 1, 1989, Rev. Sidney A. Locks became pastor of Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. Under his pastorate, the church's vision focused on becoming a 100% tithing church in order to eliminate the need for special fundraising. By December of 1994, the church had paid down the mortgages to $340,000. In January of 1995, Rev. Locks encouraged the church to commit to a three year mortgage liquidation program. In 1998, a 7,000 square foot Child Development Center was erected to serve 150 children and families. The "Flood of the Century" in September of 1999 saw Cornerstone become a regional and national distribution center as President C. Mackie Daniels and the Progressive National Baptist Convention designated Cornerstone as its lead agency for disaster donations. Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church celebrated the opening of the Family Life Center in October of 2004. The facility was designed to host family reunions, wedding receptions, banquets, church convocations, and meetings. Rev. Locks resigned in May of 2010.
On May 1, 2012, Rev. James Alexander was selected as the Assistant/Youth Pastor for Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. During his tenure Rev. Alexander was instrumental in revitalizing youth engagement in bible study and outreach activities, such as the mission trip to New Orleans and Operation Gospel Bird (a program created to feed and provide spiritual support to the homeless on Thanksgiving).
On December 15, 2013 Rev. Chance Lynch became pastor of Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. Under Rev. Lynch’s leadership new signage for the church was purchased.
On May 8, 2015, Rev. Dr. Kenneth Hammond was selected as Interim Pastor of Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. Dr. Hammond rekindled a spirit of hope in the congregation and helped to stabilize the membership in preparation for their new pastor. He emphasized the importance of becoming a true "House of Prayer" and was instrumental in planning a prayer revival, a prayer workshop, and a workshop for church leaders. In addition, Dr. Hammond's debt elimination initiative made it possible to pay for the resurfacing of the facility parking lot.
In July 2016, Rev. Dr. Stephen Greene Howard was called to serve as Senior Pastor of Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church. He began his Pastorate in September 1, 2016. Under his Pastorate, ministry has been reformated and arranged. The church is intentional in being a discipleship church with local, national, and global mission initiatives. Several commissions were established to include, the Prayer Commission, Stewardship Commission, Strategic Planning, Heritage and Disciplship Commisons. A 2nd Worship service is being reinstituted; among other exciting ministry implementations to come!
Down through the decades, Almighty God has granted immeasurable grace to and through our ministry's founding and building leaders. Much fruit for our God's Kingdom has resulted from their many sacrifices to the glory of God.