Dr. Brightie Elkanah White, Jr
Pastor FBC Hillsborough, 1989-1996Dr. Brightie E. White, Jr. was called to be the senior pastor of the church on March 5, 1989. He arrived on the scene in April and in May, he, his wife Billie, and their three children, Julie, Mark and David joined the church by transfer of membership from First Baptist Church, Elizabeth City, NC. He came at a challenging time in the life of the church. An effort to establish a mission church south of Interstate 85 had not materialized. The conservative movement to take control of the Southern Baptist Convention and especially Southeastern Seminary at Wake Forest caused tension and alienated a congregation who supported the ordination of women as deaconesses, missionaries and ministers. Accordingly, the church was hesitant to call a senior pastor for more than a year. It needed a “seasoned” pastor of White’s stature and leadership capabilities.1
In many ways, White’s ministry paved the way for the beginning of a new millennium for the church. Soon after his arrival, the church decided to end efforts to establish a mission church south of town and to refocus efforts on home missions. The Alamance-Orange County Prison became a formal outreach Ministry in 1990. In May 1991, the church paid off its education building debt and held a note burning. The church withdrew from the Mt. Zion Baptist Association and joined the Yates Baptist Association headquartered in Durham in October 1991. For legal protection, the church became incorporated on February 18, 1993. Discipleship training was enhanced by White’s teaching, membership stabilized and grew, and major improvements were made in the church’s children and music programs.1
Brightie White Jr. was born on August 5, 1931 and reared in Thomasville and Morganton, NC.2 His father managed “dime” stores and later owned one in Marion.3 White attended and graduated from Wake Forest College in 1953. He was an outstanding student, president of the Baptist Student Union, member of the Omicron Delta Kappa fraternity and senior class speaker at commencement. White was ordained into the ministry on June 14, 1953. The ordination service was held at First Baptist Church, Morganton, NC. The church’s pastor, Rev. John D. McCready, presided.4 White continued his education by attending and graduating twice from Southeastern Seminary with both master and doctorate degrees.
His pastorates include First Baptist, Snow Hill, Green County, NC (1955-1958 while in seminary); Park View Baptist Church, Durham, NC (1958 to 1974); First Baptist Elizabeth City, NC (1974- 1989); and FBC Hillsborough, NC (1989-1996). Under his leadership, the Snow Hill Church grew to the point that they were able to call him as their first full-time pastor and build an addition to the church’s physical plant. The church expressed its appreciation saying, “for those accomplishments under his leadership which are not easily visible, which we cannot express in words – those spiritual advancements – individual and as a church” and to Mrs. White, “who has contributed much to the progress of the church – especially to the music program.”5 Park View was a young church when White became their pastor and grew under his leadership, adding members and new facilities. It was a dynamic community with a large turn over in families; much different from his next church in Elizabeth City, historic with a stable community and families that went back many generations.6
White married Billie Curtis of Granite Falls, a schoolteacher and church organist at the time. They have three married children: Julie, Mark and David. Billie passed away in 2005. Since then Brightie has written a book, A Funny Thing Happened, about his humorous experiences in the ministry. It was edited by his second wife, Frances Westbrook White. They are retired and live in Hillsborough and Wilmington, NC.6
- Minutes, 1989-96, from First Baptist Church, Hillsborough, NC Records 1853-2010.
- Brightie White 1940 Census. Ancestry Com. Accessed on January 28, 2013 at: http://www.ancestry.com/1940-census/usa/North-Carolina/Brightie-E-White_5cqp4t
- Miller's Morganton, N.C. City Directory [1943/1944]. Accessed on January 28, 2013 at: http://archive.org/stream/millersmorganton03mill/millersmorganton03mill_djvu.txt
- Young Minister Ordained at Morganton (July 11, 1953) Biblical Recorder, p.23, Retrieved at: http://recorder.zsr.wfu.edu/Default/Skins/WakeforestA/Client.asp?skin=WakeforestA&AW=1333247219577&AppName=2
- Appreciation of Rev. and Mrs. White (March 1, 1958) Biblical Recorder, p.9, Retrieved at: http://recorder.zsr.wfu.edu/Default/Skins/WakeforestA/Client.asp?skin=WakeforestA&AW=1333247219577&AppName=2
- White, B.E. Jr. A Funny Thing Happened. Published by B E White, Jr., 2007.
Last Updated: January 25, 2013