In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promised to build His church. That promise was fulfilled in Acts chapter 2, on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand Jews became Christians by being baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, and were the first ones to be added to the Lord's church.
Shortly after its establishment, the church underwent a period of heavy persecution by both the Jews and the Romans. Many Christians were forced to leave their homes and literally flee for their lives (Acts chapters 8 and 9). The intent of those who persecuted Jesus' followers was certainly to bring about the demise of this new religious movement. Ironically, however, their actions brought about just the opposite result, because "those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word" (Acts 8:4), and the Lord's church began to grow in numbers and in strength.
During the early days of the church, one name - Paul - stood out among all those who were working so diligently to spread the good news of Jesus. Paul (whose name was originally Saul) was a devout Jew, and had actually started out as one of the most belligerent opponents of Christianity. He was involved in the stoning to death of Stephen (Acts 7:54 - 8:2). According to Acts 8:3, "he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison." The very next chapter of Acts tells us that he was even guilty of murdering Christians.
But the Lord had great plans for Saul. In Acts chapter 9, we find Saul traveling to the town of Damascus, with letters from the high priest giving him permission to terrorize Christians in that town. But Saul's life changed forever when Jesus appeared to him in a bright light on the road to Damascus. Saul was baptized a short time later, and became a Christian - just like those whom he had been persecuting. Saul (who later became known as Paul) spent the rest of his life traveling all over the world, preaching to people about Jesus, and establishing congregations of the Lord's church in the cities he visited. The Lord also used Paul to write much of what we have available to us today as the New Testament.
The other apostles were also busy traveling and preaching, spreading the good news about Jesus everywhere they went, and writing by inspiration of the Holy Spirit the remainder of what would become God's Holy Word - the Bible.
This was an exciting time in the history of the Lord's church. People were "on fire" for the Lord, and were making radical changes in their lives in order to live for God and follow the teachings of Jesus. It didn't take long, however, for people to begin substituting their own ideas, their own teachings, their own doctrines for the commands God had given them through the apostles and inspired writers. The Pharisees had been doing that with the Law of Moses for a long time (Matthew 15:1-9; Matthew 25), and God knew that the same thing would happen with His new law as well. In fact, He used the inspired writers to warn the early church leaders and Christians of apostasies which would arise from within the church (Acts 20:28-30; 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4). And history has shown us that these warnings were completely accurate.
In the nearly two thousand years that have passed since Jesus walked the earth, the Lord's church has been apostatized to the point that there are now hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of religious groups all claiming allegiance to Jesus, yet preaching and teaching vastly contradictory doctrines. That does not mean, however, that it is no longer possible to identify the Lord's church and associate oneself with it. God is still alive and well and working through His people, in spite of all the religious confusion that man has produced in the world today.
Shortly after the birth of our nation, influential leaders of various denominational churches began to see the need to leave their denominational creeds and practices behind, and return to the New Testament as their ONLY source of authority in matters of doctrine. They sought to return to simple New Testament Christianity as it had been established by our Lord some 1800 years prior. What follows is a brief summary of this "Restoration Movement", as it came to be known. This summary has been compiled from excerpts from a gospel tract entitled "What is the Church of Christ?", written by brother Batsell Barrett Baxter.
James O'Kelly: One of the earliest advocates of the return to New Testament Christianity, as a means of achieving unity of all believers in Christ, was James O'Kelly of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1793 he withdrew from the Baltimore conference of his church and called upon others to join him in taking the Bible as the only creed. His influence was largely felt in Virginia and North Carolina where history records that some 7,000 communicants followed his leadership toward a return to primitive New Testament Christianity.
A small church building named O'Kelly's Chapel, and O'Kelly's grave are located in southeastern Durham County, NC, within close proximity of Cary.
More information about O'Kelly, with photos and directions to the chapel and grave, are here.
Abner Jones and Elias Smith: In 1802 a similar movement among the Baptists in New England was led by Abner Jones and Elias Smith. They were concerned about "denominational names and creeds" and decided to wear only the name Christian, taking the Bible as their only guide.
Barton W. Stone: In 1804, in the western frontier state of Kentucky, Barton Stone and several other Presbyterian preachers took similar action declaring that they would take the Bible as the "only sure guide to heaven."
Thomas and Alexander Campbell: Thomas Campbell, and his more illustrious son, Alexander Campbell, took similar steps in the year 1809 in what is now the state of West Virginia. They contended that nothing should be bound upon Christians as a matter of doctrine which is not as old as the New Testament.
The Growth of a Movement: Although these four movements were completely independent in their beginnings, eventually they became one strong restoration movement because of their common purpose and plea. These men did not advocate the starting of a new church, but rather a return to Christ's church as described in the Bible.
The Restoration Appeal: Members of the church of Christ do not conceive of themselves as a new church started near the beginning of the nineteenth century. Rather, the whole movement is designed to reproduce in contemporary times the church originally established on Pentecost, A.D. 30. The strength of the appeal lies in the restoration of Christ's original church.
The present day congregation of the Lord's Church in Cary began meeting on the first Sunday of January 1970. Four families from Cary, worshipping at the Brooks Avenue congregation in Raleigh, decided to start a local work in the small but growing town. The founding group assembled over a store-front in downtown Cary on Chatham Street. One year later, in February 1971, the congregation moved in to their newly constructed building at 500 SE Maynard Road (shown at right). Members of the congregation did much of the construction on the building which would seat approximately 200 people in the auditorium. Within the first year, the congregation had grown to 10 families and 40 members.
The Town of Cary, and the Raleigh/Durham area, continued to grow dramatically and the congregation prospered. Over the next 25 years, the congregation grew in number to almost 200 members. The location on Maynard Road would not accommodate the continued and anticipated growth so the search began for options to better serve the Lord's Church in the community. The town of Cary had grown in all directions and the property, situated near the convergence of the US1/64 freeway, Cary Parkway and Kildaire Farm Road, provided convenient access from anywhere in the Triangle area. In 1998 the Maynard Road location was sold and ground was broken on the seven acre tract on Tryon Road, our current location.
After securing the land, the congregation worked to have the property annexed into the town and began constructing a facility that would seat 375 people in the auditorium, provide additional classrooms and fellowship areas, on a a single level. The first service was held in the new building on Sunday evening, December 31, 2000. The congregation consisted of approximately 87 families with average attendance of approximately 175 at Sunday morning worship services. Since 2000, the congregation has grown to almost 200 families with an average Sunday morning worship attendance of approximately 350 people, which made it necessary to conduct two Sunday morning worship services until a new auditorium was constructed. Our current property allowed us to expand without moving locations. Working with the builder, we were able to effectively utilize the current location, purchased in 1998, adding valuable auditorium space, seating almost 600 people, additional number of classrooms, larger fellowship space and expanded parking. On August 15, 2010, we assembled together for the first time in the new auditorium. Located below the auditorium, a "Family Room" for fellowship was completed for use in the summer of 2014.
God has blessed this congregation through difficult times and the congregation has remained faithful to evangelizing the world, starting at our own front door. God has blessed us such that with these expanded facilities, we're able to host regional events such as the Carolina Lectures, the East Tennessee School of Preaching Lectures, Gospel Meetings, Ladies events, Youth Rallies, and other enriching activities.
Ministers who have worked with the congregation during these years include Wayne McDonald, John Starks, Rufus Bennett, Doug Cook, Bill Pendergrass, Bill Heinselman, Richard Bentley, and Nathan Adams.
Throughout the years, and we pray it will always be, To God be The Glory!