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First Baptist Church

In 1866 the first meeting of First Baptist Church was held at the home of Alexander Day, Sr.  near Heathsville, Virginia.  Day and Paymus Nutt led that historic worship service.  (The Day family had been free for many generations and Paymus Nutt was a former slave.)  Those present included Benjamin Taliaferro, Beverley Taliaferro, Henderson Pope, Adam Butler, John Lawson, and Griffin Williams.


The group called Rev. Daniel Payne as their first Pastor and appointed Paymus Nutt as their first deacon.  However, in 1867, he became Rev. Nutt—ordained at Shiloh and called to pastor both Shiloh and Zion, Lottsburg.  Rev. Payne is mentioned in the book written by his brother, Lindsey Payne who escaped from slavery.  The book indicates Rev. Payne also pastored a church in Lancaster County.  It can be read on line under: Autobiography of James L. Smith.


Ms. Emily Howland of Sherwood, New York  purchased two cottages near Courthouse Road and Knights Run at what came to be known as Howland Corner, developing one of them as a school.  The church was given permission to worship in the school building which then became known as Howland Chapel.  A large brush arbor was also built for August revivals.  The area also had a store and a community well.


The 1st deacon, Paymus Nutt maintained cordial relationships with ministers of churches of former slave owners.  Northumberland County licensed him to perform marriages in 1866 and the Freedman’s Bureau named him to a panel of distinguished citizens.  In 1880 he was one of the founders of Lively Hope Baptist, bringing the total to four churches which he helped birth.  He and Rev. Daniel Payne remained  friends with Rev. Payne performing the marriages of Rev. Nutt’s children and his third marriage, at age 78, to Mariah Williams.


Deacon Nutt and Rev. Daniel Payne led the community to build a building of their own for First Baptist Church in 1892.  Rev. Nutt (a carpenter) had already led Shiloh and Zion in building their own houses of worship.  FBC claims the distinction of being the first black Baptist congregation organized in Northumberland County. 


The church building was remodeled in 1919 while being pastored by Rev. David Bryant.  In 1922, FBC was  blessed with a new shepherd Rev. Henry C. Roane.  A man of vision, in 1938 Rev. Roane put into motion a plan to bless the Lord and community with a new brick edifice.  He created a consortium between selected Trustees and Deacons of FBC and sons and daughters of FBC, who had moved to Baltimore, MD for better employment opportunities.  From this consortium emerged the FBC Baltimore Building Club.   Rev. Roane’s leadership permitted the doors of our current main sanctuary to open for worship in 1941, at a cost of $55,000 without any congregational indebtedness.  (Many refer to it as the H.C. Roane sanctuary.)   Dr. Roane’s plaque and pictures can be viewed in Baptist Memorial Hall of Virginia Union University, Richmond, Va.  FBC Building Club of Baltimore, MD is still an active ministry of FBC, having an impact on numerous projects.


In 1976, the FBC sons and daughters residing in Northern Va., the District of Columbia, and Southern Maryland  formed the First Baptist Benefit Club of D.C. with the blessing of Pastor Oliver Brinkley and full sanctions of the church body.  The Benefit Club of D.C. consistently contributes financial and spiritual support as FBC reaches current and future goals. 


Today under the leadership of Dr. John Fountaine, both clubs are actively assisting the church and recruiting new members.  Dr. Fountaine recently celebrated his 18th anniversary as Pastor of FBC. 


          FBC is celebrating our 150th anniversary throughout the summer of 2016.  We invite all to come and bless and share our celebration events.  Come and find a church home with us.  God has blessed us with a complete facility, classrooms, pavilion and banquet hall.  These facilities enabled us to offer space to the Anglican church, Light of Christ, during their efforts to build their own building--a remarkable change from the early days of FBC when African Americans were required to sit in the balcony of white churches.


Today we remain a servant church to the local community.  Our wings spread wide and far throughout the world.  FBC has been a catalyst from which 15 sons and 1 daughter have emerged to nurture God’s sheep.  In 150 years we have been under the leadership of 8 ministers:


Rev. Daniel Payne 1866-1898                    Rev. Alonzo Walker 1889-1911

Rev. H.V. Washington 1911-1917              Rev. David Bryant 1917-1922

Rev. Dr. Henry Roane 1922-1953              Rev. Dr. A.J. White 1954-1963

Rev. Oliver Brinkley 1963-1997                 Rev. Dr. John Fountaine 1998-present

The information on this page was submitted by First Baptist Church. 

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