History

THE FORMATIVE YEARS

Decades ago, our forefathers set forth to make their visions known through the organization of a church where they could worship God and give Him thanks for bringing them out of bondage. After the Emancipation Proclamation, which was effective January 1, 1863, groups of people were meeting in every community to give thanks to God for their freedom.

Rev. Fountain Perkins, a member of the House of Delegates, was sent to this section of Virginia by a missionary group to assist blacks in establishing churches. In 1866, Perkins officially organized First Baptist Church with assistance from Rev. W. M. Howe and Rev. J. W. Barnett.

Rev. Barnett served as First Baptist Church’s first pastor, followed by several others. The five-acre church cemetery was purchased in 1882. The property was known as The Colored Burial Association and was to be used for the express purpose of providing Negro citizens of Louisa County with a permanent public cemetery.

In 1883, under the pastorship of Dr. David N. Vassar, the construction of this building was completed. Much of the labor and materials were provided by church members. Rev. Vassar faithfully served for 36 years.

In 1918, Rev. B. D. Ellis was called to pastor First Baptist Church. During his time as pastor, spiritual growth of the church continued and many auxiliaries were organized, such as the Missionary Circle and the Baptist Young People’s Union. The church underwent a renovation to install a coal-burning fireplace and indoor restrooms. He served for 30 years.

 

ESTABLISHING THE FOUNDATION FOR MINISTRY

In 1956, under the leadership of Reverend John O. Peterson, FBC became the first church in Louisa County to hold regular services four Sundays a month. This change caused the average attendance to grow significantly. Recognizing a greater need for more ministries to accommodate the needs of the growing membership, several auxiliaries were formed. The Pulpit Aid Society, the Men’s Willing Workers Club, the Busy Bee Club, the Young People’s Gospel Chorus, the DC Workers Club, the New Members Club, Usher Board, the Missionary Circle, the Senior Choir and the Deacon Board progressed during this time. The basement was converted to a dining hall in 1964.

In 1967, Rev. Joseph R. Despot accepted the call to serve as pastor. He served for 12 years. Pastor Despot’s wife, Alberta Guy Despot willed their residence to First Baptist Church to be used as a parsonage, which we still have today.

Rev. George N. West was elected to serve as pastor in 1979. During this time, the members remained loyal in their dedication to the work of the church. Many new ideas came forth under Rev. West’s leadership. The membership continued to grow, new ministries were added, and the Word of the Lord was spread within the church and in the community. Rev. West faithfully served until his retirement in 2000. The church honored him with the title Pastor Emeritus.

In 2002, Rev. Thomas J. Wooden, Jr. was installed as our next Pastor. His ministry focused on evangelism and togetherness. Realizing the importance of studying and understanding God’s Word, he revived weekly bible study. During his tenure, several new Deacons were ordained, Deaconesses were consecrated, and ministers licensed.  Rev. Wooden served until 2009.

 

PREPARING FOR A BRIGHT FUTURE

On Sunday, September 10, 2010, Rev. Bruce S. Jones became the 12th pastor of First Baptist Church. God gave Pastor Jones this vision when he was called to serve here: “Pastor and people committed to glorifying God and kingdom building through unity, restoration, and transformation.” Pastor Jones has a heart for God, his family, this church, and the members. Under Pastor Jones’ leadership, the church has continued to experience spiritual growth as shown through the elevation of several members. New Deacons were ordained, Trustees were appointed, and ministers were licensed and ordained.

The Christian Education Ministry was established and a review of all ministries was completed to ensure the needs of the members are being met. First Baptist Church not only supports the church members and local community with events like Worship in the Park, we also support Compassion, which is a ministry that helps children in third world countries. When it comes to ministry, Pastor Jones also understands the importance of technology and encouraged the establishment of a website, social media presence, and online/mobile giving.

Pastor Jones’ vision for the future was evident as he successfully led First Baptist through a renovation of the sanctuary and dining hall, which was completed in 2019. This renovation will prepare First Baptist Church to be an important part of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the community and the world for many years to come.

 

FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH PASTORAL HISTORY

Rev. J. W. Barnett

Rev. John Patterson

Rev. E. W. Watts

Rev. Priestly

Dr. David N. Vassar

Rev. B. D. Ellis

Rev. John O. Peterson

Rev. Robert B. Hooper, Jr.

Rev. Joseph R. Despot

Rev. George N. West

Rev. Thomas J. Wooden

Rev. Bruce S. Jones