VBHS Marked 300 Years of Baptists in Virginia
In May 1714 English Baptists appointed a "messenger" to Virginia and this man - Robert Norden - planted the first Baptist church in Virginia. For 300 years there has been a continuous Baptist presence in Virginia. The 300th anniversary of Virginia Baptists was observed in two special events: An Evening of Remembrance & Thanksgiving held on May 16, 2014 at River Road Church, Baptist in Richmond and at an outdoor Heritage Festival held on the campus of the University of Richmond next to the VBHS Memorial Building.
The evening program included a litany of remembrance and thanksgiving which included 11 different voices representative of various phases of Baptist life and work; a medley of favorite hymns of Virginia Baptists as played by Paul Honaker; a choral presentation by the Virginia Baptist Women's Chorale under the direction of Deborah Loftis; and an historical address by Fred Anderson entitled "The Genesis & Genius of Virginia Baptists."
The Heritage Festival included the exhibit gallery of the Historical Society with its mural and the "free indeed!" exhibit on emancipation. There were about 35 exhibitors represented in a garden-like setting next to the Historical Society and these included a wide range of Baptist agencies, organizations, churches and educational institutions.
The Society's annual journal, the Virginia Baptist Register, to be published late in 2014 will include articles relative to the 300th anniversary and emphasize the beginnings of Baptist work in Virginia. Copies of the journal are mailed to all annual members and others can order copies once they are published.
POWERFUL PREACHERS salutes
early Virginia Baptist Preachers
in new Virginia Baptist Register
The latest issue of the Virginia Baptist Register (No. 52, 2013) carries the special title of Powerful Preachers and is a salute to the Baptist preachers of Virginia in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. Three preachers are highlighted with feature articles: William E. Hatcher (1834-1912) in an article by Fred Anderson; Joshua Brown Hutson (1844-1922) in an article by Donald Traser; and Jeremiah Bell Jeter (1803-1880) in an article by Arden Sizemore, the Heritage Fellow for 2012-13. Also included is James Edward Hutson (1841-1915), a traveling evangelist and brother to Joshua Hutson. Fred Anderson shared stories associated with his portrayals of William E. Hatcher in an article entitled "My Life as Doctor Hatcher." Also included is Rachel Cook's award-winning essay on racial reconciliation which won first place in the 2013 Roots & Wings Young Scholars Essay Contest sponsored by the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies. The annual essay contest is open to high school students and Miss Cook is a home-schooled high school student in Blacksburg, VA. Copies of Powerful Preachers have been mailed to all current annual members of the VBHS. Copies can be ordered by sending a check to the VBHS in the amount of $17.80 which includes sales tax and shipping and handling. Send to: Elsie Richards, VBHS, P.O. Box 34, University of Richmond, VA 23173.
Major New Biography
Published on Life & Times
of George White McDaniel
MY DEAR DOCTOR MAC is the title of a new book published by the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. ( It also is The Virginia Baptist Register for 2012, No. 51) MY DEAR DOCTOR MAC is a major biographical treatment of the life and times of Dr. George White McDaniel who served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Richmond, VA, from 1905 until his death in 1927 and who during the last three years of his life was president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. McDaniel's life story was based upon researching some 25,000 letters to and from McDaniel which are in the collection of the Virginia Baptist Historical Society and which have been examined for the first time. His story is one of heroics as he addressed social issues of the times, saved the SBC from division over the controversy of evolution, rescued the SBC from near bankruptcy and led his congregation to build a new house of worship against all odds. It is a human biography which brings to life a man who virtually has been forgotten. It tells his personal trials and how he faced them. My Dear Doctor Mac explores his lasting legacy especially in scotching a Bible bill which would have enfringed upon religious liberty. He enjoyed two things in life: evangelizing and fox hunting and not necessarily in that order!
Copies can be ordered by sending $20 plus $1 sales tax plus $4 for s&h= $25 to VBHS, P.O. Box 34, University of Richmond, VA 23173. Pre-publication orders can be received.
free indeed! project
The Virginia Baptist Historical Society and the Center for Baptist Heritage & Studies at the University of Richmond have collaborated to produce the "free indeed!" project which is both organizations contribution to the 150th anniversary of emancipation.
"free indeed!" is a three-fold project:
1) It is an exhibit which tells the story of the relationships between blacks and whites especially within the Baptist churches of antebellum Virginia. It includes numerous original documents, old church records and artifacts. Individuals can visit the exhibit most weekdays at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society's building on the campus of the University of Richmond. Groups including church groups must schedule a guided tour of the exhibit. The exhibit is scheduled to be on view through March 2014. Hundreds of individuals and numerous church and civic groups have toured the exhibit.
2) It is a book which was written by Michael Whitt, special projects assistant for the Virginia Baptist Historical Society. It covers many aspects of slavery especially as related to life within the Baptist churches of Virginia. Also included are several period writings on the subject. The book is also entitled "free indeed!" and can be ordered for $15.75 plus $5 shipping and handling.
3) It is a name registry which includes upwards of 51,000 names of slaves, freedmen and white surnames which Michael Whitt pulled from the manuscript pages of over 200 antebellum church record books in the Virginia Baptist Historical Society's archives. The registry offers names as well as supporting information such as baptismal or death dates and names of slave owners. It is anticipated that the registry can benefit family and social historians. The registry is available at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society's library by research appointment.
For further information and to schedule group tours and research visits or to order books, please contact the Virginia Baptist Historical Society at (804)289-8434 or by mail at VBHS, P.O. Box 34, University of Richmond, VA 23173. To schedule a group tour ask for Elsie Richards. To schedule a research appointment ask for Darlene Slater Herod.