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
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
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.