A HISTORY OF
SCOTTSBURG BAPTIST CHURCH
1005 MacDonald Road, P.O. Box 85 • Scottsburg, Virginia 24589
Musterfield Baptist Church
In 1779 a “band of devout men” met in a log cabin about 2½ miles northwest of Scottsburg and organized Musterfield Baptist Church. According to records of C.A. McKinney, the cabin was on or adjacent to a field which had been used for military instruction. It was located ½ mile west of the old Frances Store where troops were “mustered into” military service with General George Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. According to previous members the site on our present map was the field in the southeast corner of the intersection of highways 360 and 749.
Elder Leonard Baker was the first pastor of the newly formed body of about 20 people. Elder Baker was the brother of Rev. Elijah Baker who was distinguished for establishing new churches. There is no record that Elder Baker had ever been ordained, but his leadership was strong and acceptable to the membership, and he was licensed to perform marriages. There were no revivals, but there were additions by baptism. Baker served 40 years until his death in 1819, the longest of any pastor.
Originally Musterfield Church was a member of the Roanoke-Pittsylvania Association which held its annual meeting with Musterfield on October 7th, 8th, and 9th, 1797. Elder Baker was the delegate.
In 1819 Elder John Britton who had been baptized in Musterfield Church became Pastor. According to Halifax County court records, one acre of land was deeded to Musterfield Baptist Church on November 22, 1819 as a gift from Henry Throckmorton. Under Elder Britton, the church held its first recorded revival in 1830. Before the revival there had been additions of about 34 members by baptism, but there were withdrawals also which reduced this number. In that same year Sunday School and a prayer meeting were instituted which added to the progress of the church. Mr. Henry Clay Whitworth was the first Sunday School Superintendent.
Two acres of land on Moseley’s Ferry Road were purchased for $20 from Frederick and Susan Stigall. On October 3, 1932 the deed was recorded and states the land was “especially for the Old Musterfield congregation.” The following trustees were named: John Britton, John McGhee, Beverley Fleming, John Moorefield, Juilius Watlington, Robert Morefield, William Walden, and William Puryear.
In 1835 Elder D.B. McGhee became pastor. The Dan River Association was organized in 1839. In July, 1848 Musterfield sent delegates W.C. Cole, W.C. Womack, and W.H. Rice to the 19th annual meeting. The Musterfield Church letter in 1839 indicated that the church had 81 members.
Strict discipline was characteristic in the early church. One article of the church constitution states that any male member absent for three Sundays in succession without due cause shall be cited to appear before the church to show cause for his absence. Women were discouraged from taking part in discussions in business meetings.
During the 1850s a number of black slaves including carriage drivers and nurses were accepted into membership, and at one time they composed about 75% of the membership. As the Civil War approached, activities in the church almost came to a halt. Rev. J.E. Montague was the Pastor during the mid-1860s. In 1874 an offering for the purchase of Bibles was taken for the Confederate soldiers under General Robert E. Lee at the request of Rev. Elias Dodson.
Rev. H. G. Crews became pastor in 1879 and the 41st annual session of the Dan River Association met with Musterfield. Church membership was about 100. Captain Crews had been a chaplain in the Confederate Army, 56th VA infantry. “Truth from his lips prevailed with double sway, and fools who came to scoff remained to pray.”
The First Scottsburg Church
Rev. S.G. Mason, who was “a humble soul, filled with the Spirit of God,” became pastor in 1881. During his tenure the church was moved to Scottsburg and was known as Scottsburg-Musterfield Baptist Church for a while. Property was purchased from the Roanoke District School Board for $37.50. On July 18, 1884 the deed conveyed 1¼ acres in the fork of Allen’s Mill Road and Dryburg Road at Scottsburg where they would build the church.
In the spring of 1885, a committee of Mr. Calvin Hudson, Mr. W.B. Chandler and Mr. H.C. Whitworth approached Mr. R.D. McKinney to build the church without any competitive bids. When Mr. McKinney was putting the finishing touches on the weather vane in August, Mr. Hudson came by to inspect the work for the first time. This frame structure stood 23 years.
Rev. S.H. Thompson became pastor in 1890 and served until 1899. The Dan River Association held its 54th annual session on July 25, 1892 in the new location. Rev. Thompson was the founder of the Scottsburg Normal College. He was an inspiring teacher and a brilliant preacher. A vocalist himself, Rev. Thompson did all he could to develop a love of sacred music in the congregation. Several early instructors (Miss Emma Averett, Miss Kempe Carlton, and Miss Carrie Lee Stewart) of the Scottsburg Normal College deserve credit for the development of a music program. The business manager of the college, Mr. W.E. Thurston lent his talent also. By 1955 a Hammon organ had been installed, choir robes were bought, and the choir was led by Mr. George Walden as director and Mrs. C.A. McKinney as organist.
For a year the church was without a pastor and in 1902 Rev. J.M. Luck who was described as a preacher of the “Old School” came and served until 1908. “A number one pastor, children loved him, and he was a pastor to the community, visiting everyone. He walked with God.”
On March 30, 1908, the church was destroyed by fire. It was reported that burning leaves were blown under the building causing the blaze. On that afternoon, the High School baseball team was practicing on the lot where the church parsonage was later built. When someone cried, “Look at the church!” the team saw wisps of smoke curling from the belfry. Aubrey Chandler raced down the road with a bucket of water and the team made a “mad dash” for the church. They began carrying the clock, the furniture, the pews, the blinds and the organ out of the church. Several boys tore up the carpet runners and raised a stifling cloud of dust as they raced for the door. Charlie Hines cried, “Kinny, look! There’s the pulpit!” They ran to it, and when they tipped it over, Sunday School papers, quarterlies, and small testaments scattered over the floor. As they struggled down the litter covered the aisle, fire was eating through the ceiling, and splinters were falling on the remaining pews. Mr. Jim Lacy warned the boys not to go back in and from the doorway they could see the frame holding the bell give way and crash into the floor. Instantly, the whole auditorium became a sea of flame.
The New Scottsburg Church
A few days later on April 4th, the church met and drafted plans to rebuild. The result of that meeting was $2150 subscribed and a campaign started which resulted in the brick structure which is part of the church today. After the fire, the members of Scottsburg held worship in the high school until they occupied the church early in June of 1909. Their pastor, Rev. Robert Edward Lee Aylor, was “a big man with a big heart. His religion was Christianity in action and often he reached the bed of a sick one before the doctor arrived. He gave himself.”
Exactly five years from the day the original church burned, the dedication service for the new brick church was held on March 30, 1913. The Building Committee was comprised of Mr. J.T. Lacy, Mr. Louis Wimbish, and Mr. Julius Hudson. The front of the church was modeled after the Baptist Church in Chase City. Mr. M.D. Blanton was the construction contractor and his workmen were Ulysses Richmond and John W. Hatcher, Sr. Among the church members who helped were Jim and Ernest Lacy, home from Hampton-Sydney. They spent the entire summer hauling sand and bricks for the contractors. All of the brickwork was done by “Buddy” West and Will Davis who were just out of St. Paul’s Industrial institute.
Chairs were first used for seating until Mr. Lacy ordered pews from the American Seating Company. One Sunday morning, “Uncle” Jim Bailey slipped quietly into the rear of the church and placed a package of money in the offering saying, “My people at St. James want to help our white friends rebuild their church, so please accept this modest gift and may the Good Lord bless you all.”
In May 1915 the Germans sank the Lusitania and America was drawn into World War I. Rev. Charles T. Kincannon came and did all he could to “Keep the Home Fire burning. He supported the Red Cross, the Army Y.M.C.A., and the Salvation Army. He displayed a service flag on the wall in back of the pulpit and urged the congregation to send gift boxes to the soldiers.” In 1915 and in 1942, the Dan River Association annual meetings were held at Scottsburg.
The First Parsonage
The Ladies Aid Society purchased the old school property behind our present church building and built a parsonage in 1927. They maintained the home until 1957 when they deeded it to the church to manage. Rev. Richard Lloyd was pastor in the 1920s. Rev. Lloyd was “a Welshman with a deep spiritual life. He participated in every worthwhile activity in the community. He gave weekly talks to the student body of the High School and did all he could to make it better. When Brother Lloyd moved into a community, that community moved closer to God.”
During his year at Scottsburg Church, Rev. A.L. Young assisted in organizing their first Boy Scout Troop. “He holds the distinction of winning a convert at his first service.” Rev. Raymond Long served in 1932-1933 and was “a handsome young bachelor who acted as a judge to select the queen of Halifax County Schools at the annual track meet of nine high schools in the county.”
Rev. Norman Jacobs guided the church through the uncertain days of World War II from 1943-1947. “He accepted a plaque for the church bearing the names of all our boys in the service.” It was Rev. C. E. Gerringer’s vision that first started the movement for an educational annex.
The First Addition
Under Rev. Warren Bush’s leadership in 1954-1956 a program to build the annex was started. The Building Committee was led by George Walden. Plans for this building were obtained from the Department of Church Architecture and with a few alterations were accepted by the church. Rev. Bush organized the men into teams with a captain responsible each day for a group of men. The trees donated by the church members and friends were taken to McCall’s Sawmill to be cut into lumber to frame the building. In all they gave 66,000 board feet of lumber. Maude Puckett remembers her family giving trees that had been blown down by Hurricane Hazel to the project. Inside and finish work was done by Bebber Construction Company. N.F. Jacobs, Jr. was the construction engineer. Mr. John W. Hatcher, Jr. supervised the carpentry for the building and the education annex was dedicated on November 5, 1955. The new building included: 23 Sunday School rooms, a pastor’s study, 3 toilets, and a kitchen. The men of the church appreciated Rev. Bush so much, they collected money and presented him with a new Chevrolet automobile.
The Present Day Parsonage
After 43 years, the parsonage the Ladies Aid Society had built deteriorated to the extent that the church needed to either renovate or sell the old house and apply the proceeds to a new building. The church decided to sell the parsonage to Arron Throckmorton for $10,551 on February 13, 1971. Fred Smith was the Chairman of the Building Committee to build the new parsonage. A groundbreaking ceremony was held on November 8, 1970, and the new home was dedicated on May 30, 1971 when Rev. R.W. Ellington was pastor.
The church voted to build a cabinet of light birch for the silver of the church with locks on July 25, 1971. The silver included a silver tray inscribed to Mrs. Cameron Reese with appreciation for her 51 years of service as church clerk, a centerpiece (epergne) presented by Carol Smith to Mrs. McKinney from the church, and an inscribed silver tray to George R. Walden in appreciation for 29 years as the Music Director. In 2008, a lighted cabinet was purchased to display the silver.
In 1975 Rev. Earl Marshburn saw the possibilities of improvement to our sanctuary. A renovation program was undertaken with Hudson Reese leading the Building Committee. The original pews were repaired and refinished. The choir loft was relocated from the side to behind the pulpit, and an elevated baptistry was installed.
In 1988 when Rev. John Key came to Scottsburg, the church maintained a pastoral ministry, music ministry, Christian education ministry, fellowship ministry, shut-in ministry, missions ministry sponsored by the Sallie Russell Circle and participated in helping the community through the Volunteer Fire Department.
The Second Addition
After a little over 25 years, Scottsburg Church voted to buy back the old parsonage for $54,000 in January 1997. It would provide additional classrooms and be used as a place for Summer Youth Ministers to stay. On August 26, 2004 the building was torn down to make room for additional parking and another addition to the church.
The church voted on November 21, 2004 to build a new fellowship hall, with a kitchen, more bathrooms, 2 additional classrooms, a new Pastor’s office, a library, and an entrance way into the educational buildings. Dr. Bobby Hall was the Building Committee Chairman and he over saw the building project. Terry Scearce was the pastor during this expansion.
In October 2014 the church voted to renovate the entire sanctuary. The Building Committee was led by Dr. Bobby Hall. Plans for this renovation were obtained from architects Ken Calvert and Mike Maurakis. McDannald Construction was the contractor. The inside of the sanctuary was entirely gutted. The baptismal pool was removed and a balcony was added. A concrete slab was poured and the building was renovated from the ground up. New church pews were ordered from Kivetts Inc. and plans include ordering a portable baptistery. Total cost for the renovation was $435,000. Also the stained glass windows were cleaned and upgraded with new glass coverings. The new sanctuary was dedicated during our annual Homecoming Service on October 2, 2016.
Scottsburg Baptist Church has sent several of its own young men into full time ministry. Rev. William M. Hudson served as pastor in several churches in Southern Virginia and was ordained by Musterfield. Rev. James P. Wilborn, who was born in the Scottsburg community and baptized at Scottsburg Church, went to college and seminary and became a renowned minister of the gospel until his death.
This information was taken from the following papers:
- Memories of Maude Puckett
- Highlights in the History of Scottsburg Baptist Church 1779-1955 by C.A. McKinney
- History of Scottsburg-Musterfield Baptist Church
- Tidbits of History since 1884
- A Brief History of Scottsburg Baptist Church 1779-1979 by George Richard Walden on its 200th Anniversary
The following is a list of the pastors and the years served:
|Warren T. Bush||
|Parker L. Hay||
|Hiram G. Crews||
|John F. Carty||
|Earl W. Marshburn||
|James W. Wilson, Jr.||
|Thomas W. Fryer||