South Quay Baptist Church celebrates 240th anniversary
Published 11:01 am Wednesday, March 4, 2015
The congregation and guests of South Quay Baptist Church observed a dual celebration on Sunday. They marked not only the 240th anniversary of the church’s service to God, but also welcomed a former pastor to bring the Good News for the annual Homecoming service.
Preceding the sermon, moments of the church’s history were presented at intervals by Pastor John Watson and members Sam Moon and James Williams.
Through records that have survived the centuries, area historians and congregations have learned that the church was founded by 21-year-old David Barrow in 1775. The building was reportedly the only structure in the South Quay village that survived the British during the Revolutionary War. Barrow, who is said to have fought for American Independence, went to Kentucky in 1798 because of his preaching against slavery.
In 1835, the congregation built a new temple of worship where the current building now stands. That place was built in 1889 after the second chapel was destroyed by fire.
Not incidentally, the church that was standing in 1864 served as courthouse for Nansemond County during the Civil War. Confederate Gen. George E. Pickett’s troops are reported to have used the old church grounds for a campsite. Over the past 150 years, the cemetery was completed and a parsonage, fellowship hall and Sunday school rooms were built. Homecoming was established in 1912 to celebrate the church’s heritage.
Speaking after the service, Donald Sadler said the church’s original site was within five miles of the existing one. An archeologist in Williamsburg and Yorktown, Sadler’s expertise was sought last year in locating evidence for the first chapel. James Williams later said it was on Bethany Church Road.
In addition to using maps, deeds and a picture of that church, evidence was found in the form of bits of what was likely the chimney.
“You could just see brick bits,” Sadler said, adding that he even employed a rarely used metal detector in small 2 foot-by-2 foot units. These and some broken particles of window glass helped the archeologist and other interested persons in drawing the conclusion of the approximate church site.
“We’re hoping to find a well,” he added. “But that’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
The guest speaker was the Rev. Clyde Alderman, who served as pastor of South Quay Baptist Church from 1982-1987. Though now a resident of western Virginia, he’s pastoring Nehemiah Baptist Church in West Virginia.
Taking his inspiration from the Book of Haggai in the Old Testament, the Rev. Alderman said to those present that there are five things a church needs to experience the glory of God.
First, the church should be made of saved people.
“Believe in Jesus without apology. You and I are walking sermons every day,” the pastor said. “We have a responsibility to tell every one.”
Second, be Christ-centered. The head of the church is Jesus.
“People are yearning for a relationship with God. South Quay has a very rich history of being loyal to the Word of God,” Alderman said. “The smell of Jesus is sweet. The smell of the world is death.”
Third, be committed to Christ.
The speaker asked, “Where is our commitment? The church exists to worship the living Lord. We are called to bear a cross when we accept Christ.”
Fourth, be congenial.
“The devil comes to church every Sunday. I do not have the right to judge. We are called to love one another with the love of Jesus,” Alderman said. “The only thing we need is to be loved, understood and accepted.”
Fifth, a church needs to be confessional. Proclaim your faith.
“We spread the Lord’s message. Share it with others. Jesus is the indescribable gift,” he said. “If this is to be a glorious church, we have to tell about Jesus.
“Jesus knows how much we love Him by how much we tell others about Jesus.”