A Brief History of Waterford Baptist Church



Waterford Baptist Church (WBC) is more than a building.  Although the earliest records of the church no

longer seem to exist, history confirms many Baptists came to Loudoun County in the mid 18th century 

and Waterford was one of the oldest communities in the county.  It is reasonable to assume that 

Baptists were in this community, establishing a strong religious presence and operating as a 

congregation before the building of this church.

The dream of expanding the gospel lead to the completion and dedication of this present structure in 

1853.  The first member to be baptized was Mary Myers, daughter of one of the first Trustees, 

Washington Myers.  The Rev. Thomas Greer was pastor at the time.  

Less than a decade later, political issues that would divide a nation reached into the smallest of 

communities.  Tragedy would strike WBC and its building.  According to John Devine, long time 

Waterford resident, member and Civil War historian, a small band of Union soldiers encamped within 

the walls of the building on 27 August 1862.  They were discovered by a company of Confederate 

soldiers and a serious battle raged for approximately four hours.  It involved foes from the same 

community and even the same household, as was often the case during the war. 

While the battle had little impact on the war, it did on the community.  A telegram to then Secretary of 

War, Edwin M. Stanton, reported at least 8 killed and 23 wounded, 15 surrendered and 30 horses and all 

arms captured by the Confederates.  The building, likewise, became a serious casualty with damage to 

the entrance from musket fire, windows gone, pews that had been used as barricades in splinters and 

the interior generally in shambles.  According to John Devine, Congressional records indicate 

compensation of $1000 was allocated to the trustees of WBC for war damages, but there seems to be 

no record of the church having received these funds. 

 The damage and memory of what happened here left a mark on the congregation.  It would be 14 years 

before they would resume active worship.  Serious consideration was given to selling the building but 

the original dream of a Baptist missionary presence in the community would not die.  A quote from a 

sermon by Dr. Charles Herndon preached on the 50th anniversary of the church states, “Fifty years ago 

this house had been left a wreck by the Civil War; the organization of believers here had become so few 

that they had become pastor-less and scattered to other churches.  All the while, however, they like 

Nehemiah, held to the purpose of rebuilding the walls and reestablishing their organization.”  The 

building and church began to come alive again in 1876.

Reverend R. R. Acree, a young man just out of school was secured “to revive the congregation and repair 

the House of the Lord.”  He would be followed by a host of pastors across the years who would serve 

short pastorates, while many times the church faced lengthy periods between pastors.  The two notable 

exceptions: Dr. Herndon who came in November of 1882 and stayed 26 years, during which time the 

church “grew to great strength and good works;” Reverend R. B. Jennings, “truly a man of God,” who 

served from March 1925 to September 1937.  

The church membership suffered during the economic depression of the 1930s and a world war: many 

of the “old guard” passing on, membership declining; many in the younger generation leaving the largely 

agricultural area in search of more financial security; young men leaving to join the military; a relocation 

of population with the construction of routes 7 and 9—all of which had its effect on church growth and 

membership.   

A number of young student pastors and supply pastors served WBC in the years that followed and, 

though these were men possessing the “fire and enthusiasm” of youth, it was the loyalty and 

faithfulness of the membership which preserved its past and kept the church alive in the Lord.  For 

example, due to limited finances, with their own hands the membership provided Sunday School rooms 

and made other improvements, “that could have only been a dream during the lean years.”

The church was blessed by the pastorates of Reverend John Nichols and Wallace Hale from the late 

1970s to the early 1990s-- each adding to the continuing dream of a viable presence and witness in this 

community.  

During Christmas 1981, a fire severely damaged the building and may have appeared to do what the 

Civil War and depression had not been able to do.  However, again the church took on the task of 

restoration—rebuilding the sanctuary while maintaining the original design.

Reverend Jerry Turner came to WBC as a supply pastor in June of 1995 during another lengthy period in 

which the church had been without a full-time pastor.  He was asked to assume the pastorate full-time 

in December of that year and remains in that capacity to the present time.  

Our history of over 160 years in this community, in this place of worship, gives us a sense of pride in the 

Lord.  As mentioned earlier, the loyalty and faithfulness of membership which preserved the past 

continues to keep the church alive in the Lord.  As people of faith and mission, across the generations, 

we continue to gather for Bible Study, Worship, Prayer, Fellowship, and to extend Loving Support to one 

another, our community and all who pass through our doors.  

Waterford Baptist Church is more than a building.  

Prepared for Homecoming 2014 

Acknowledgement for resources is given to the historical work of John Devine and a brief history of WBC 

written in 1990.

FAMILY

Waterford Baptist Church

CHURCH