The Knollwood story

Knollwood Baptist Church was born in the 1950s as a mission of the Pilot Mountain Baptist Association to serve Winston-Salem’s growing neighborhoods.

Worship service in the new educational building, 1960s
At first, we held worship in a funeral home and Sunday school in the homes of members, before constructing our first building. Constituted as a church on Feb. 10, 1957, with about 80 charter members, Knollwood called its first pastor, Dr. Jack R. Noffsinger, later that year.
Constitution Day, Feb. 10, 1957
Middle school youth retreat at Calabash, N.C., 1988
More than 60 years later, Knollwood’s people have grown through the leadership of four senior pastors, and our campus has expanded to four separate buildings and a memorial garden. Following the vision of our beloved “Dr. Jack,” Knollwood has always been known as a different kind of Baptist church.
Intentionally inclusive
When we grapple with the issues of the day, we tend toward grace and welcome.
Over the years, we have stepped forward to support women as deacons and in ministry; develop an open baptismal policy; leave the Southern Baptist Convention to align with more like-minded Baptists; participate in interfaith partnerships; and adopt a welcoming statement that clearly states that we welcome everyone.
During the turbulent 1960s, Knollwood and Dr. Jack took leading roles in racial reconciliation in our city.
Refugees, Neighbors, Friends: An Interfaith Celebration at KBC, 2017
Being missional
From the beginning, Knollwood has found creative ways to serve actively alongside partners in our community and beyond.
Examples through the years include a coffeehouse program for community youth in the 1960s and ’70s; sponsorship of a Cambodian family of 11 in the 1980s; decades of personal support for a missionary couple serving in Indonesia; youth and adult mission teams sent to Kenya, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua; disaster relief for numerous East Coast hurricanes; interfaith Habitat for Humanity builds; and much more.
And toward local seminary education, Knollwood also participated in the early dreams about establishing a divinity school at Wake Forest University in the early 1990s.
Knollwood youth in the Dominican Republic
God’s message through the arts
We have invested in music from our very beginning: The very first official staff member in 1957 was an organist and choir director. Within a few years, the adult choir began presenting cantatas and oratorios accompanied by guest instrumentalists, and a pipe organ arrived in the 1980s. Periodically, hymn festivals have brought internationally famous hymnologists to inspire congregational singing.
During his 32-year tenure—the longest of our ministerial staff members—Dr. Ken Wilson developed a ministry that ranged from a children’s Hymns for a Lifetime memorization program to choirs for all ages to Knollwood Brass to the musical Christmas Festival for the community.
In the early years, youth and adults regularly presented drama—directed and often written by Louise Noffsinger—and youth also performed musicals such as Celebrate Life and Godspell. We’ve also held arts festivals featuring pottery, music, drama, and the visual arts; and in 2012 we hosted an interfaith storytelling festival. Members also contribute writing and art to occasional devotional booklets for Advent and Lent.
For the visual arts, we offer our Arts & Hearts Ministry, inviting friends and neighbors to explore their God-given creativity.
Youth drama presentation (undated)
Combined choirs in Christmas Festival, 2015
Distinctively Knollwood
We have been known since the early years for our tradition of warm and thoughtful worship based on liturgical traditions. Another beloved tradition since the early 1970s is our annual Agape Feast, a nod to our Moravian neighbors’ Love Feast. On the third Sunday of December, our worship service continues with movement into the Fellowship Hall, where we celebrate with abundant food, fellowship, and a tree decorated with ornaments for the children.
Two signature ministries that embody our commitment to community service are our Through-the-Week School, a half-day early childhood program opened in 1972; and our Wellness and Community Center, opened in 2017. Our campus also welcomes numerous community group meetings.
In character, throughout the life of Knollwood we have been missional, gracious, thoughtful, and free, genuinely welcoming those wounded and excluded by others.
Agape Feast, 2014

Pastoral leaders who shaped us

Dr. Jack Ricks Noffsinger
First Pastor, 1957–1988
Dr. Thomas D. Austin
Pastor, 1988–1996
Dr. Christopher C.F. Chapman
Pastor, 1998–2009
Dr. Bob Setzer, Jr.
Pastor since 2011