East Sylva Baptist History
East Sylva Baptist Church came about from a heartfelt need to have a Sunday School and church in the Pleasant Hill Community. A community member offered her house for the purpose of beginning a Sunday School. The house was located near the spot of the old rock church building on East Sylva Circle.
As interest grew among the community, a group of members at the Sylva Baptist Church respectfully requested the church grant letters of dismission from her body that they could constitute a church at Pleasant Hill Mission site in East Sylva believing under God the time fully right for such.
Having obtained a letter of dismission from the Sylva Baptist Church for the purpose of organizing a Baptist Church in East Sylva at the Pleasant Hill site, the East Sylva Baptist Church was organized December 11, 1921 with 31 charter members.
The body was constituted into a working body for Christ by a presbytery consisting of regularly ordained ministers with the Reverend T.F. Deitz, chairman. The Reverend A.C. Queen presented the Bible and the Reverend John Hoglen led the prayer of consecration. Thus the body was dedicated: “to the service of the evangelization of the world for Christ.” The church elected Reverend A.C. Queen as pastor and set the first and third Sundays in each month for services. Also on Sunday, December 18, 1921 the church was named East Sylva Baptist Church and during the first year, 19 new members were added.
East Sylva Baptist has had 4 buildings used for churches – the house where the church was originally organized, then around 1925 a white building was built near the site of the house, in 1940 a rock church was built near the same location as the white church. Men of the church hauled rock from Fisher Creek to use in its construction. On December 12, 1971, ground-breaking ceremonies were held for a new $190,000 educational building. On November 12, 1972 over 400 people attended the moving day services and the current sanctuary was started in 1977 and dedicated on Sunday, April 13, 1978 (ESBC History book).
East Sylva has had 20 pastors since the formation of the church in 1921. Reed Benson, who currently serves as senior pastor, began his service in January 2013.