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Our History

The History of Olin T. Binkley Memorial Baptist Church

Binkley Baptist Church, founded in 1958, is a fellowship of active, ecumenically minded Christians with a strong commitment to inclusiveness and social ministries. The present membership comes from a wide variety of Christian backgrounds, theologies and traditions.

The church is named for Dr. Olin T. Binkley, who served as a professor and minister in Chapel Hill and later as president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and whose Christian witness was an inspiration to the founding members. Playing a distinctive role Binkley’s history is Dr. Robert Seymour, Pastor Emeritus. His prophetic ministry of three decades (1958-1988) energized Binkley and Chapel Hill around racial inclusion and social justice. 

The worship of God is central to the life of this congregation. We believe that being Christian is a lifelong journey and that the life and teachings of Jesus are the surest guide on that journey. In worship we are re-created in God’s image and challenged to put our faith to work in the world. Worship services at Binkley Church provide preaching that is Bible-based, intellectual and relevant to our lives. Preaching and worship nurture the prophetic, fostering reverence and awe. Spiritual formation through prayer, small groups, retreats, and Sunday School deepen and strength the individual and shared commitment to this path.

A major principle of Binkley Church throughout its history has been inclusiveness. The founding members sought to establish a multi-cultural worshiping community early in the Civil Rights era. Binkley has encouraged the full participation of women who have served at every level of lay and ministerial leadership and have been licensed and ordained to the ministry. This openness has extended to a strong spirit of ecumenism. While originally organized as a Southern Baptist congregation, Binkley Baptist Church soon aligned with the American Baptist Churches and was a founding member of ABCOTS (American Baptist Churches of the South).

Binkley Baptist Church has been an individual congregational member of the North Carolina Council of Churches for many years and more recently the Alliance of Baptists and the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists.

From its earliest history, Binkley Baptist Church has made social justice ministries a significant priority. The church was a founding congregation of the Inter-Faith Council of Social Services in Chapel Hill and participates actively in all Inter-Faith Council projects. In addition, our church building is used during the week by many service-oriented organizations from the community.

Andrew Gardner and Binkley Book Cover