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Excerpt from The History of New Prospect Baptist Church ……

Exciting things were going on in that fabulous year of 1849. Gold had been found in California, and sensible, sane people of the country over were joining the mad rush to claim a fortune. Texas became a state; railroads and steam engines were making the scene. Great minds were putting forth efforts to remove the threat of war, which was slowly creeping through the country.

In the midst of all these tremendous happenings a conference was held in Hurt, Virginia, which was destined to make a terrific impact on the lives of those there, and on thousands of others who would come after them for the next one hundred and twenty-one years hopefully until the end of time!

On April 28, 1849 Samuel B. Pillow, Jesee D. Green, William Dove, Overton Pugh, and Sisters Sarah A. Pillow, Sarah M. Pillow, Elizabeth Elizabeth L. Pillow, Anna Irby, Mary E. Green, Permelia Dove, and Elizabeth Irby met at a schoolhouse near Jesee Green’s for the purpose of constituting at that place a church. Others present at the meeting were Elder Robert Hurt, Elder Robert Lewis, Elder John D. Hankins, C. Gilbert, and Elder William H. Plunkett.

Elder Brother John D. Hankins was chosen moderator and C. Gilbert acted as clerk pro tem. Elder Hankins examined the faith and practice of the members and being satisfied that they were sound in faith and practice, the church members were led in a constituting prayer by Elder Robert Hurt. Brother Robert Lewis gave the charge and Elder John D. Hankins gave the right hand of fellowship. The members then unanimously chose John D. Hankins as their first pastor.

Imagine that small group as they prayerfully drew up their constitution and their first rules of decorum. There they sat behind those old-timey school desks with the inkwell in the upper right hand corner. As the dim light from the kerosene lamps fell across the room, C. Gilbert, clerk pro tern sent his stalk pen flying across the now-yellowed pages, which are now assigned, to the archives of our church.

Maybe someone said, "Expect great things"--or reminded the group that where two or three are gathered in my name there will I be. We don’t know all the thoughts, words, deeds, and acts that transpired that night, but we do know that to God goes the Glory of that meeting.

The simplicity and sincerity of that constitution for the new church was the beginning. God must have looked at the labor of its members and said that it was good. Maybe He said, "I’ll give them a blessing--I’ll make them grow in warmth and numbers." In the 121 years of its existence one can easily see that the word, "Growth" is synonymous with the church.

At the very next meeting on May 12, 1849 the church received Henry G. Walker, his wife, and daughter into the fellowship of the church by letter from the Greenfield Baptist Church.

On June 9,1849, it was decided to buy land near Cool Spring at $3.00 per acre to build the meeting house.

On July 7, 1849 the church met and chose Brethren H. G. Walker and J. D. Green as delegates to ask for communion church’s with the Roanoke Association as provided in Article 15 of the Constitution. Delegates. were also given one dollar to give to the association in the event they were received. Also at this July meeting Brother Henry Walker and brother William Dove were appointed deacons and Brother Jesse Green was appointed treasurer.

At the meeting held on August 11, 1849, on a motion, trustees to manage and arrange the meeting house near Cool Spring were chosen. They were Captain Thomas W. Wooding, Shubal P. Barnard, Overton Pugh, and Henry G. Walker. Jesse D. Green was appointed trustee to superintend the building and management of a house of worship for this church.

The next noticeable growth was on March 9, 1850. The church met at the school house and when the meeting was opened for business, Sarah Pugh came forward and related her experiences which the church thought to be good, and she was received. Wyatt G. Walker was also received by letter.

On May 11, 1850 Brother Joel Hubbard was chosen to preach to the members. Brother Samuel B. Pillow and Brother Overton Pugh were sent to the meeting of the Roanoke Association.

From August 20 through November 20 the church enjoyed a tremendous growth in church membership. On August 20, 1850 Mrs. Nancy Farmer and Mrs. Matilda Pugh were received as members. On the 2nd and 3rd days of September, William W. Walker, Thomas Pugh, Ezekiel H. Pillow, Thomas F. Chumley, William T. Adams, Nathaniel C. Adkinson, and Thomas W. Irby came forward and related their experiences which the church thought to be of grace and they were received. On October 19, 1850, The Baptist Church of Jesus Christ met at the school house and Florence H. Walker and Nathaniel B. Walker were received into the fellowship of the church. On the same date at night the church was called to Brother Henry J. Walker’s, when Mrs. Julia Thurman and Mrs. Fanny F. Rowlin related experiences which the church thought to be of grace and they were reéeived into the church. On the next day, October 20, the church was called together at Brother Thomas Irby’s and James T. Irby related his experiences and was received by the church. Then on October 22 the church met again at the school house and Mrs. Sarah Lane came forward and was received by the membership...."And the fields were white unto the harvest..." could have easily been spoken of oi~t church at this time, for on the next day, October 23, 1850 still others were added to the church family! Miss Jane Walden, Duncan Grubbs, Anna Dalton, Miss Sarah A. Cox, Henry Adams, Miss Nancy Wilson, Abigail Simpson, Harriet Irby, Mary A. Pillow, Jane Simpson, Sarah F. Jarrel, and John Wilson. Then on November 15, 1850, Mrs. Colby McNealy, Mrs. Catherine McNealy, Sarah F. Watlington and John Rowlin came forward and were receive.d~ These activities remind us of the very early churches which met in homes and glorified God with more souls for the Kingdom.

On the 16th of November 1850, the church met at New Bethel and added an additional committee to attend the building of the meeting house. Brothers Thomas Irby and William Roark were appointed. The Rules of Decorum were changed to state that fiye male members (instead of the previous three) would constitute a quorum to do business.

Thirty-five members were added to the church in the months of June, July, August, and September in the year of 1851. We might say that the church had token integration as far back as August 16, 1851. The following statement was made--"A door was opened to

receive members and Julia A. Wilson, and also Mrs. Cox’s "Willis," a colored lady, all related experiences which the church thought to be of grace and they were received. At the water Sunday morning Henry Colbert, Molly T. Vaughn, Julia A. Vaughn, Eliza-’ beth Bruce. Royal Walker, A. J. Vaughn and Tincy Mitchell all related experiences and were received.

In those days ladies’ dresses were quite long and cumbersome and the dresses had a tendency to float with the tide when the women were baptized, but not for long. Our ever resourceful females sewed stones to the hems of their dresses to hold them down. The favorite baptizing pool was located in Sycamore Creek near Wayside Park today.

From the beginning our church has relied strongly on the power of prayer. Mr. Amos Hudson once said that he would rather have the prayers of this church than all the medicine in the world.

There were no minutes in the church records from November 18, 1871 until November, 1872. The minutes for the November, 1872. The minutes for the November 18, 1872 read thus--"There was no business done by the church. I. H. Lacy was chosen moderator or pastor and was with us a few meetings only and the church was not brought up any during his stay with us from the fact that he did not labor with the church scarcely any." It takes little imagination to feel the despair that is evidenced in those minutes. No doubt some concerned brothers and sisters went on their knees and prayed to God for help and He heard and He answered their prayers in a glorious way as the reader will see when he reads the following minutes which will give him good cause to rejoice too.

"November 1872 Brother W. M. Reed, missionary for the bounds of the Roanoke Association, knowing that Brother Lacy had given up the care of the church under her deplorable condition without taking any final leaf of the church came here in November and held a protracted meeting at Mount Pleasant Church after the manner of the Apostles and preached the gospel in its purity and his labor has greatly helped which the record will show."

During the meeting under Brother Reed’s leadership fourteen new members were added to the fellowship. The malady which had plagued the church so long was being cured. If the health and spiritual well being of the church had relapses from that time until now they were slight and of short duration.

On November 23, 1872 it was resolved to call a meeting of the deacons and clerks of Gum Spring, Reed Creek, and Edge Hill to assist in examining the records during the late war.

On March 16, 1873, the church selected Brother W. M. Reed as their pastor.

In April 1873 there was no regular church meeting because of the great fires all over the county!

In June 1873, three new members were added to the church membership. These were the vitamins that the ailing church needed as it made its way back to a healthy body once more.

July 12, 1873 a committee consisting of N. C. Adkerson, M. W. Reed, and N. B. Walker were chosen to sell the church building at Mount Pleasant and appropriate the money for a new building.

On September 20, 1873 the above committee reported that they had sold the building for two hundred dollars to the Staunton Township for a school house and it was appropriated to the building of the new church.

On the first Sunday in April 1874 at a call meeting of the male members it was decided that no other church meeting will be held at Mt. Pleasant, but that the next will be held at the new church on Saturday before the 1st Sunday in May.

According to appointment the church met at the new church May 27, 1874. After preaching by the Rev. H. Petty from Pittsylvania County, the church was called to order by the pastor and invitation given for brethren to sit with us. First the resolution and minutes of former meeting was read. Second on invitation Mrs. Sallie W. Whitehead was met by letter and Bro. Hundley returned his letter and was welcomed back. Third on motion it was unanimously carried to change the name of the church. According to Mrs. Mabel Green of Altavista the name "New Prospect" was suggested by Mrs. Mary Green. Mrs. Green said that it was a fitting name for there will always be a new prospect at New Prospect for as long as the church will stand.

More of The History of New Prospect Baptist Church can be found in the church library.

Brady Willis

Senior Pastor

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