Experience Gospel Music

Every Sunday is a musical celebration at African American churches

Red Budd Holy Church, Rocky Mount, NC. Photo by Titus Brooks Heagins.

Church hymns, spiritual songs and gospel are at the musical heart and soul of African American communities. So it’s not surprising that many of the artists profiled in African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina were introduced to music through their churches. Some went on to play jazz, funk, or rhythm and blues, while others found their home in sacred music.

For Rocky Mount resident Luther Barnes, spreading ministry through song was his family’s legacy. He readily followed in the footsteps of his famous father, Bishop Faircloth “F.C.” Barnes, who founded Red Budd Holy Church. Now, Barnes, a Grammy-nominated gospel artist, leads the Sunset Jubilaires, a family-based quartet that has been performing for more than three decades. When he‘s not on the road performing, he can be found leading the Red Budd Gospel Choir.

Red Budd and other churches throughout eastern North Carolina welcome visitors to attend services and appreciate their gospel music, hymns, and spoken sermons. These places of worship ask only that you respect their ceremonies and rituals.

Below is a list of churches across eastern North Carolina that welcome visitors, followed by some helpful etiquette tips when you’re ready to attend a service. Several of the churches listed were mentioned and photographed in the guidebook.

Etiquette tips for Visiting Churches

  • Plan to stay for the entire service. (Check ahead for service start times.)
  • Dress should be respectful of the setting. For example, avoid revealing clothes.
  • If visitors are recognized during the service, stand up and introduce yourself.
  • Consider contributing to the offering.
  • Turn off cell phones.
  • Do not use any recording devices (including cell phones, still cameras, audio recorders, or video recorders) unless you have received prior permission from the pastor.
  • Enjoy sharing and interacting with the music!

Red Budd Holy Church
1108 Luper St.
Rocky Mount, NC

United Fellowship Assembly
402 S. Barnes St.
Nashville, NC

St Augustus AME Zion Church
318 E. North St
Kinston, NC

St. John Free Will Baptist Church
405 E. Blount St.
Kinston, NC

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church of La Grange
209 S. Cary St.
La Grange, NC

First African Baptist Church
803 Harris St.
Goldsboro, NC

Victory and Dominion World Outreach Center
1438 Highway 258 N.
Snow Hill, NC

Wilson Chapel Baptist Freewill Church
515 Barnes St. S.
Wilson, NC

Jackson Chapel First Missionary Baptist Church
571 Nash St. E.
Wilson, NC

St. John AME Zion Church
119 Pender St., E.
Wilson, NC