History

Our Heritage…

According to our records, the Mount Vernon Baptist Church was organized on “the Saturday before the first Sunday in July, 1843” by two groups of Baptists from neighboring churches, thirty from the Mount Salem Baptist Church and twenty-three from the Union Baptist Church. That would set the official date of the Church´s founding on July 1, 1843. The founding pastor was Rev. James Mitchell. Among the charter members were a man of color named George and a woman of color named Milly, a unique note since this took place in the Pre-Civil War era and also slavery approved  western Virginia.

According to legend, the first gathering of our church took place in a remodeled sheep barn made of logs. It was on a rolling knoll in the Teays Valley donated by J.W. West for the purpose of founding a new church. This occurred on or very near our present location.

The church records reflect that a presbyter (council of Baptist associational officials) was present and questioned each of the members elect. When they were satisfied with their standing before the Lord and in their congregations and communities, they voted in the affirmative to constitute a new Baptist Church, possibly now the oldest church in the whole Teays Valley. It should be noted that Mount Vernon was founded when this part of the country was still part of the Commonwealth of Virginia and before Putnam County was so designated.

In 1859, the barn church was torn down and a frame structure was built in its place. Though very little is known about the church through these years, this building would serve as the church house until the turn of the new century.

In 1909, a young pastor, Rev. J. F. Cook, was called. Construction of a new building was undertaken immediately. Though initial fundraising efforts were dismal, he was not discouraged and raised the monies needed and the new red brick church, which we still use as our historic sanctuary today, was constructed. It was officially dedicated in 1910.

In 1917, the choir floor and pulpit area extension were finished, providing for a new baptistery, since the older one was located under the pulpit.

In 1947, the first addition to the existing sanctuary was constructed. It provided Sunday School classrooms, and under them in the basement area were restrooms and a small kitchen.

In 1951, the first parsonage was built. The house was located 2/10 of a mile from the church on Mount Vernon Road on property donated by Virgie West. She was a lifelong member and a great granddaughter of the church’s first deacon.

In 1956, the construction of a two-story addition on the back of the existing sanctuary provided additional Sunday School classrooms, a see-through nursery, and an unfinished basement, later to be completed.

In 1960, a parcel of ground was purchased at the intersection of Teays Valley Road and Route 34 about ½ mile from the church for the purpose of building a new and larger brick parsonage. Construction took place during 1960. In 1991, the church approved the sale of this home to provide a housing allowance to the pastor so that he could purchase and maintain his own residence in the area.

In 1973, approval was given by the congregation to undertake a third expansion, and the largest to date. It would provide a fellowship hall, additional classrooms and restrooms, nursery, and kitchen.

In 1999, on the eve of the new century, and the third in which the church has ministered, the largest expansion ever took place. Ground breaking was held in the spring. Members with fifty or more years of membership turned the first shovels full of dirt.

[Ground breakers included from the left to right, Mary Frances Grant, Beulah Erskine, Harry Barton, Ruth Eggleton, Floyd Stricklen, Lucy Stricklen, Helen Eggleton, Mary Loy Oxley, Wanda Gunter, Helen Ellis, Irene Chase, and Orlando Hartman. Absent from the picture were Janice Crouse who,  at the time of this photo, had gone home to be with the Lord, and Virginia Phillips.]

In May 2009 construction of a new sanctuary and renovation of existing spaces began with completion targeted for Spring 2010; on the one hundredth anniversary of the construction of our existing historic sanctuary.

Construction completed and the new sanctuary was dedicated on 7/4/2010.