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More Bethel History

(This little piece on the history of Bethel is provided courtesy of Rev. Dr. Charles D. Lumpkin.)

Bethel Baptist Church (1804-1941) under the able leadership of William F. Broaddus, was a founding congregation of the Salem-Union Baptist Association (1832), which later merged (in 1856) with Columbia Baptist Association to become the Potomac Baptist Association. In 1882 the churches west of the Blue Ridge formed the Shenandoah Baptist Association in a friendly split from Potomac Baptist Association. The formation of the Salem-Union Association was the result of Bethel's belief in Missionary practices, which were not supported by the Anti-missions Baptist churches, which made up the majority of the Ketoctin Baptist Association.

From 1907 until its deconstitution Bethel was on the church field with Mountain Baptist Church, Millwood Baptist Church (which moved to become Boyce Baptist Church), Rockland Baptist Church. The church joined Rockland, Boyce and Mountain in building a joint parsonage in Boyce for their shared pastor. Its last pastor, C. V. Van Der Linden, did not believe that Mountain and Bethel was worth his pastoral efforts and rarely attended to his duties with these churches. He expected payment of his salary from these churches, but would often miss his preaching appointments for months at a time. He abandoned all work at both in 1938, leaving the few remaining members at Bethel to falter. Because World War II greatly restricted the supply of Baptist ministers, the church could not find able leadership and deconstituted. Those few remaining members joined other churches in the area.

This can be verified by research at the Virginia Baptist Historical Society on the campus of the University of Richmond, and the annuals of the Shenandoah Baptist Association located in Front Royal, Virginia. Both Mountain and Boyce Baptist Churches are still active congregations. Mountain Baptist Church almost faltered when it, like Bethel, could not secure a pastor.

I wrote the following while I was the Interim Director of Missions of the Shenandoah Baptist Association. Although complicated it gives insight into the great place Bethel Baptist Church had in the Missions movement of the Baptist of Northern Virginia. It, along with Long Branch Baptist Church, can well be named the founders of that movement in the region. Those mission minded churches would join the Southern Baptist Convention in or after 1845. Today those same churches are members of the Shenandoah, Potomac and Mount Vernon Baptist Associations.

Rev. Dr. Charles D. Lumpkin

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Northern Virginia Baptist Associations and Associationalism

Philadelphia Baptist Association was formed in 1709. Mill Creek Baptist (1743/1752), Ketocton Baptist (1751) and Smith Creek Baptist (1756) joined the Philadelphia Baptist Association, but began holding meetings on their own in 1756. In 1765 these three churches, along with Broad Run Baptist (1761) petitioned Philadelphia to form their own association. In 1766 the Ketocton Baptist Association was formed.

As the Revolution began to unfold, Separate Baptist churches in the northern most part of Virginia but still aligned with the General Association of Separate Baptists of Virginia, Northern District [North of the James] began to associate with the Regular Baptists of Ketoctin over issues of religious liberty and congregational polity loosely. These groups sought no formal merger of association and district.

This changed in 1787 when the Regular Baptists and the Separate Baptists formally united as a single denomination. The Separate Baptist Churches in Northern Virginia were accepted into Ketocton Association. In 1789 the Ketocton Baptist Association was divided into two, the southeastern portion becoming Chappawamsick Baptist Association. Chappawamsick Baptist Association and Ketocton Baptist Association were reunited in 1792, under the older established name of Ketocton Association. The southeastern churches could not sustain their associational structure. Columbia Baptist Association split from Ketocton Baptist Association in 1820, with churches in the old Ketocton Associational area being allow to align with either association.

In 1832 Salem-Union Baptist Association was formed by one Ketocton Baptist Association church (Bethel of Clarke County, Virginia), one Columbia Baptist Association church (Long Branch Baptist), and four newly constituted churches (2nd Upperville Baptist [Upperville Baptist], Liberty [Bealton Baptist], Providence Baptist [Mount Holly Baptist] and Cedar Creek Baptist after Long Branch Baptist and Bethel Baptist disassociated from their associations for their beliefs in missions.

By 1856 the Columbia Baptist Association, which had turned to support the missions movement, merged with Salem Union Baptist Association to form the Potomac Baptist Association. During the Civil War, Primitive Baptists were neutral or sympathetic with the Union. Thus both regionalism [North vs. South] and doctrinal conflicts prevented any thought of merger of the declining Ketocton Baptist Association and the growing Potomac Baptist Association at any time.

By 1882 Potomac Baptist Association found itself grown too large to support all its territory. The churches in the Shenandoah Region grew tired of coming across the mountains for meetings, and the increasing “eastern” predominance of the association. Shenandoah Baptist Association was formed that year out of the western portion of Potomac Association [thirteen churches] and one church [Luray Baptist - now Main Street Baptist] from the Shiloh Baptist Association. Some churches to the west that remained in Potomac Baptist Association later joined Shenandoah as that association gained strength and resources.

In the 1890s Ketocton Baptist Association took on the Primitive Baptist name, having never moved from its Calvinistic, anti-missions, roots. It remains today, with a very few loosely aligned Primitive Baptist Churches.

In 1952, Potomac Baptist Association split to the east to form the Mount Vernon Baptist Association, leaving Fauquier, Loudoun and Prince William County churches in Potomac Association.

(Rev. Charles Lumpkin also wrote:)

Bethel, from its beginnings, was a loving, progressive and visionary congregation. I doubt if it ever lingered long in the anti-benevolence or anti-missionary camps of Christian thought. When Dr. Broaddus was called to pastor there, he was also the pastor of Long Branch Baptist Church south of Middleburg, and most of the other churches that would initially form the Salem-Union Baptist Association. He found a congregation with courage and love who was willing to stand up against the "popular notions" of the surrounding Baptist and go it alone. It is not a stretch to say they blazed the trail for other churches to follow. Many other churches were supportive of missions and benevolence, but did not declare themselves such until Bethel and Long Branch valiantly stood up for those Biblical principles of loving neighbor as oneself. You will note in your research that Ketoctin Baptist Church and Buck Marsh/Berryville, two the most influential Baptist congregations soon joined the Salem Union Association.

Bethel was a church founded by people who attended Buck Marsh, Berryville and found it more convenient to build a church never their homes. It remained, like its parent church, in the Ketoctin Baptist Association until its split to form the Salem-Union Baptist Association. Thereafter, being a charter member church of both the Potomac and Shenandoah Associations as well. Members of the Kerfoot and Sowers families were prominent in support of missions minded principles. They can be found as associational representative and supporters in Bethel, Millwood, and Boyce Churches.

Shenandoah Association records indicate that Bethel, Boyce, Rockland and Mountain shared the following pastors: Henry Bryant Stoneham (1908-1911); George T. Schools (1911-1913); Thomas Dunlap Duglas Clark (1914-1915); Augustus S. Buyck (1917-1919); John B. Williams (1920-1927); and C. V. Vanderlinden (1928-1938). In 1935 Rev. Vanderlinden added Summit Point Baptist Church to his field, he resigned that church at the same time he resigned Bethel and Mountain. He continued to hold Boyce and Rockland until 1942.

Charlie Lumpkin

Bethel Baptist Church's Latter Years

In reveiwing my notes from the Mountain Baptist History I came across the following:

1931 - C. V. Van Der Linden is the pastor of the Boyce Field (Boyce, Rockland, Bethel, Mountain). According to Shenandoah Baptist Association minutes of the annual meeting, the pastor only commits to Mountain one Sunday a month (the 4th), Boyce every Sunday, Rockland two Sundays and Bethel two Sundays. A recommendation to the Acting Board for $300 aid to the Boyce field to pay the pastor was not approved, thus no action would be recommended to the State Board for funds. This had the effect of cutting the smaller church, Mountain, from greater support by the pastor. (membership records show Bethel - 58; Boyce - 107; Mountain - 42; Rockland -56).

The state missions board routinely sent funds to associations to suppliment salaries for pastors of small churches. This was only done if the association requested such. Likely the association's acting missions board felt that between the four churches Vanderlinden's salary should not be an issue. However, in those poor economic times, larger churches sometimes did not vote to share their bounty with other churches for fear that they would come up short. Pastors, knowing on which side their bread was buttered on, gave more to those that paid more and gave little to those that contributed little. The missions spirit (of sharing money for the poorer churches) founded at Bethel in 1832 was glowing very dimly in 1931.

Charlie Lumpkin

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