Bethany Baptist Church
Thursday, July 19, 2018

Our History

A Brief History of Bethany Baptist Church

 

Begun in 1770 as Guiney's Bridge Church in Caroline County, the congregation later took on the name of Bethany Baptist Church and re-located in 1818 to the present site at the intersection of Marye Road and Arcadia Road, in Spotsylvania County. A frame building was erected and members worshipped in it until fire destroyed it in 1842. The present house of worship dates back to 1843. When the Southern Baptist Convention was organized in 1845, Bethany affiliated with the newly formed Baptist convention. The side wings, baptistry, and stained glass windows were added during the 20th century. The most recent addition was the construction of the educational building in 1968. 32 pastors have served the congregation since 1770. The Rev. Benjamin E. Thomas is the most recent in this line of distinguished pastors. Ben began his ministry the first week in April, 2008.

Among the distinguished names of the pastors who have served Bethany are several who remain treasured in the annals of the history of Baptists in America. Our founding pastor, Nathaniel Holloway, was jailed in 1772 for "unauthorized preaching", as was John Waller, who would become Bethany's second pastor. These two God-fearing men were leaders among the Baptists of their day, and intentionally disobeyed the Colonial Law requiring licenses for religious meetings. They strongly believed in the principle, which has guided Baptists in this country ever since, that religious freedom was not to be dictated by men or governments, but was rather a God-given right. Absalom Waller, the third pastor of Bethany and nephew of John Waller, carried forth this tradition of religious freedom as the church moved into the nineteenth century. Absalom Waller served Bethany longer than any other pastor, leading the church from 1793 to 1820, a period of some 27 years.

The history of Bethany Baptist Church is rich and deep, and is a facet of church life of which we are very proud. An excellent source of study for more details of Bethany's history is:   "THE GENERATIONS SPEAK  -  A HISTORY OF BETHANY BAPTIST CHURCH 1770-1995"  by Virginia Wright Durrett (1995).