JOHN D. FULLER, SR.
(Build a People and They Will Build a Church: God’s Uncompromising Servant)
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
John D. Fuller, Sr., the son of the late Deacon Leon and Mrs. Pearlie Mae Fuller, was born May 23, 1946, in a “shotgun house” in Thomson, Georgia. The Fuller family sharecropped on forty acres of land in the Brier Creek Community of Thomson, Georgia. He appreciated the fact that though they were poor and struggling, they were a proud family.
He received his early education in the McDuffie County School System, Thomson, Georgia and graduated from R. L. Norris High School in 1965. Despite the many hardships, typical of a sharecropper’s family, education was foremost in the mind of Rev. Fuller. As a young lad, he missed numerous days out of school while working with his father on the farm, but still maintained an “A” average.
CALLING TO THE GOSPEL MINISTRY
John D. Fuller, Sr., was called to the ministry at the age of sixteen. On September 23, 1963, at the age of seventeen, he preached his initial sermon during a church business session at Jones Grove Baptist Church in Thomson, Georgia. His zeal for God and service caused Baptist Union Church in Hope Mills, North Carolina and Beauty Spot Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina to call him to pastor. The Union Baptist Association ordained him July 12, 1970. Despite pastoring both churches (Baptist Union and Beauty Spot), it was necessary financially for him to work full-time as the Day Care Coordinator of the Cumberland County Community Action Program, Inc. in 1973.
During the early years of 1973, Rev. Fuller was approached by a small committee from Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church to discuss the possibility of his becoming their pastor. He often visited the grounds of Lewis Chapel Church, and it was during the early part of the summer that he went to the back of the small building and knelt down on his knees and sincerely asked God for wisdom. Accordingly, he prayed this prayer: “Lord, if you, indeed, want me to pastor this church, give me a ministry for those who are not only presently here, but for those who could come to Lewis Chapel.”
This youthful minister assumed the pastorate of Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church the third Sunday in October 1973. In August 1974, Rev. Fuller resigned his job as Day Care Coordinator for Cumberland Community Action, Inc. to become a full-time pastor. This was done at a great sacrifice on the part of the pastor. Several members of the Church questioned his sanity over such a drastic move. One member stated, “It is nice of you to think so much of us to sacrifice all that money, but we won’t have any to give you to make a difference.” The Pastor simply replied that he had faith and trust in the Lord to see him through, for he was called to serve and obey.
Eleven months after Rev. Fuller’s arrival at Lewis Chapel, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the new facility. In late November of 1974, the Church began construction of a new church building. Such construction was completed through his skillful leadership in seven months. Through God’s blessings and Rev. Fuller’s leadership, our physical facilities were greatly improved. Numerous ministries and new auxiliaries had their beginning during this period.
Expansion of the Lewis Chapel Baptist Church facility continued with groundbreaking ceremonies being held in September 1980 for the addition of an education wing. The Olen Gerald Learning Center, named in honor of Deacon Olen Gerald, was formally dedicated on August 8, 1981. The growth was not just tremendous in the numerical and physical sense, but the spiritual realm. His charisma and enthusiasm for the work of God brought about the formation of an 8:30a.m. “Early Informal Worship Service,” the first in Cumberland County. Each year, the church gained more than 150 members. Currently, there are four Worship Services, 7:15a.m., 8:30a.m., 11:00a.m. and 6:00p.m.
Rev. Fuller strongly encourages stewardship of time and talent. He also emphasizes the biblical principle of tithing. The Pastor’s ministry is not only limited to the local congregation but extends to the local, state, national and global levels. He was the organizing president of the Ministers and Pastors Conference within the Union Baptist Association. He further served a four-year term as the President of the Union of Union Baptist Association.
Among his many leadership roles beyond the local church, Rev. Fuller is the immediate Past President of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, Inc. He has served as Moderator of the Union Baptist Association, which encompasses 50 churches. He has held the office of 4th Vice President of the General Baptist State Convention of North Carolina, the Vice President-at-Large, as well as Vice Chairman of the General Board, and Secretary for the Lott Carey Foreign Missionary Convention. He currently serves on the Shaw University Board of Trustees and a member of the Morehouse School of Religion Board of Directors. He was appointed by North Carolina’s Governor, James B. Hunt, as Vice Chairperson of the Task Force on Racial and Religious Violence. Locally, he serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the Cumberland County Community Action Financial Counseling Service, Fayetteville State University Alumni Association and a Life Member of the NAACP.
Rev. Fuller has the ability to make people feel comfortable, and he enjoys a rapport with people from all walks of life. Because of his calling to reach the masses for Christ, he has fashioned the Lewis Chapel Baptist Church into a community with the many different economic levels and value systems working on one common goal for Christ. Among his wealth of gifts from God is the ability to remember each member’s name, which enhances the personalization of his Ministry to meet each parishioner’s needs. He encourages his congregation to be community oriented through participation in volunteerism, support of school and political awareness. He is a known advocate of education – especially for the Black community. Rev. Fuller established the Lewis Chapel Day Care Center in 1984. The Center received a Four-Star rating.
Guided by the Holy Spirit, sound doctrine and visionary leadership, Lewis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church has grown to a membership of over four thousand three hundred (4,300). To God Be the Glory!
PUBLICATIONS BY DR. FULLER
“Making It Plain”(Building a Congregation Through Practical Teaching and Preaching)
“ A Simple Guide For Filling The Pulpit”