Revival was taking place in Louisa and Albermarle counties, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Elder John Poindexter, clerk for Louisa County and a Baptist minister, was a guiding force for revival in Louisa County during this time. The revival spirit was continued in the Goshen Association by Elder James Fife. John Goss was a guiding force for revival in the Albermarle Association. Baptist work began in the area called Mechanicsville, west of Louisa on the Jefferson Highway, as a result of the preaching of Poindexter and Fife.
The congregation, constituted in 1828, was first named Free Union and was composed of Louisa County families such as Cowherd, Fielding, Goodman, Reynolds, Bragg, Quarles, Vests, and Michie. They shared a frame building with several denominations, on the opposite side of the road from the present Mechanicsville Church. The land for the original church was donated by Captain John Quarles and, today, is the the site of a cemetery for Free Union Church. Services were conducted on the first Sunday of each month and Elder fife assisted in preaching until a pastor could be found. John Goss became the first pastor of Free Union in 1829, while also serving several other churches, including Blue Run. The Goshen Association minutes report a membership of 33 for Free Union Church, in 1829, and it then became part of the Goshen Association. By 1838, the church reported 173 members. In 1832, Free Union had a Domestic Missionary Society and a Temperance Society. In 1833, it was reported that they had a Sunday School Tract Society.
After a decade of decline, from 1839-1849, the congregation moved into the present sanctuary in 1850, with a membership of 168. At that time, the name of the church was changed from Free Union to Mechanicsville to correspond with the name of the area.
The church continued to grow and by 1856, there was a membership of 262, made up of 114 white members and 148 African American members. There were both slave and free African American members. The names of the slaves were recorded under the names of their owners, such as “Captain Lindsay’s Nancy” and “Mrs. Quarles’ Eliza”. In 1866, the African American members began a church across the road, at the old site of Free Union and called their fellowship Free Union.
Four ministers made their professions of faith in Mechanicsville Baptist Church. One of the most prominent, on a state wide basis, was Dr. J. William Jones. In 1855 he accepted Christ during a revival at Mechanicsville, under the preaching of George B. Taylor. In 1860, Jones was ordained to the ministry in Charlottesville by the Goshen Association meeting and was set apart as a foreign missionary to China, at Mechanicsville, in September of that year. He was not able to go to China because of the Civil War, but in 1861, he joined the 23rd Virginia Regiment as a chaplain. He worked closely with Robert E. Lee, in time of war and peace. Jones was a pastor in Lexington, while General Lee was president of Washington University (later Washington and Lee University). He wrote several books including a major writing on General Lee, “Personal Reminiscences of R.E.Lee,” and one on religious life, during the Civil War, “Christ in the Camp.” Dr. Jones became head of the Virginia Sunday School and is remembered for the development of new Sunday Schools.
Dr. Charles Quarles was another minister, who made his profession of faith in Mechanicsville Church. Dr. Quarles grew up in the church and was baptized around 1830. He is listed as a messenger of Mechanicsville Church to the Goshen Association in 1833, which indicates that he became prominent in the work of the church by the age of 20. He completed work for his M.D., at the University of Pennsylvania and returned to his home, in Inglewood, to practice medicine. He had a lucrative medical practice, but felt led by God to become a minister. He was ordained a minister of the Gospel, at Mechanicsville, on Christmas Day 1854. He pastored Zion, North Pamunkey and Orange churches and then became pastor of his home church, Mechanicsville, in 1859. His pastorate at Mechanicsville was his longest lasting, from 1859 until his death on August 20, 1881.
Two other ministers, who made professions of faith in Mechanicsville and were related to Charles Quarles, were the Reverend John Rhodes Quarles, nephew to Charles and Dr. Henry L. Quarles. John Quarles was ordained at Mechanicsville in 1894. He was a teacher and associational leader, in spite of very poor eyesight. He served as pastor of Lower Goldmine and Waldrop Churches. Dr. Henry Quarles made his profession of faith at Mechanicsville in 1861 and is spoken of as a prominent minister, although very little is known of his ministry.
Following the Civil War, growth was slow at Mechanicsville, until 1876, when there were 138 members. A year later, in 1877, it is reported that 39 members were “dismissed.” Confederate General William McComb was a member of Mechanicsville and one of the church’s outstanding leaders.
Mission and Ministry
Mechanicsville Church has been prominent in Baptist work, in the area and state. The ladies of the church are spoken of in the Goshen Association as leaders in missions work, and were present when the WMU of Virginia was organized. The first Sunbeam group in Goshen Association was at Mechanicsville. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Mechanicsville was a generous contributor to missions work, at home and around the world. In 1860, 1883, 1889, 1929, 1946 and 1975, the church hosted the Goshen Associational meetings. For many years, the pastors of Mechanicsville served other churches, including Antioch, Foster’s Creek (Berea), Elk Creek, Orange, Zion, North Pamunkey, South Anna, Forest Hill, Goshen, Lower Goldmine, Gordonsville and Louisa. Mechanicsville remained in a “field” of churches, until 1954, when it called a full time pastor, Reverend Robert Shelton. Under Reverend Shelton’s leadership, in 1955, a parsonage was built and an educational building was erected, adjoining the sanctuary. A large part of the work, on both projects, was done by members of the church.
In 1968, extensive redecoration was done in the sanctuary, during the pastorate of Dewey Warren Ferguson. Reverend Clyde Sears led the church to capture a vision of need for an addition of a church vestibule and front porch. Plans were drawn up, while Reverend Roger Pittard was pastor. In June 1978, the church voted to proceed with the work. Reverend Dewey W. Ferguson returned as pastor, in 1977. The parsonage was sold and he built his own home. He was the second minister to serve the church, on two different occasions. The first pastor to serve, twice, was James B. Cook (1886-1887 and 1910-1914). In October 1986, Reverend Dr. George Alan Willard became the 28th pastor to serve Mechanicsville, in the congregations 158th year. Renovations were made to the sanctuary and educational buildings, during Dr. Willard’s ministry. Also, the Youth and Children’s program was developed, with the staff addition of a part time youth director. Becky Plott and Martha Patrick served in those positions.
During the pastorate of Reverend Gregory Alan Compton, with the assistance of Associate Minister of Spiritual Development, Reverend Sherri Brown, the church endeavored to become more involved in mission efforts. Youth and adults have given time and energy to mission opportunities such as Impact Virginia and Transformers, sponsored by Virginia Baptists. Others who have served in the ministry to Youth and Children are: Martha Parhis and Catherine Dunn. During Reverend Compton’s pastorate, Mechanicsville added the part time staff position of secretary, new bathrooms, a handicap ramp and a picnic pavilion. These additions became the reality through the dedication and willingness of members, lending their gifts and talents to the effort. Dr. Donald Preston Reid came, as interim pastor, in 2007. Soon after, he was called to serve as pastor of Mechanicsville. During the time he served, we began having an annual Hunters’ Dinner, completed the addition, including the newer fellowship, additional Sunday School rooms, pastor’s study and church office.
Following Dr. Reid’s death, Dr. James Riddell came, again, as interim pastor. We began having an additional Sunday service at 8:30 a.m. In March, 2012, Dr. George Theodore “Ted” Williams was called as pastor to Mechanicsville. Mechanicsville has always sought to offer Christian education and discipleship to adults, youth and children. We will continue to make this one of our top priorities. Mechanicsville continues to reach beyond the community, with the leadership of the Woman’s Missionary Union, through efforts such as Seeds for Liberia, sending cookies to aircraft carriers, inmate bags and promoting offerings for local, state, national and international missions. If there’s one thing that has characterized Mechanicsville, it is the desire of members to spend time with each other. It has and will continue to be a spiritual home for families who have represented up to four generations of members, at any one given time. It is the calling of Mechanicsville Baptist Church to continue to connect with the community, as a place of spiritual encouragement and formation as it has since 1828.
MECHANICSVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH COVENANT
Adopted December, 2002
This Body shall be known as Mechanicsville Baptist Church, as established by our forefathers in 1828, Louisa County, Virginia, and affiliated with the Goshen Baptist Association.
Having been led by the Spirit of God to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having been baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God, and this Assembly, most solemnly and joyfully enter into a covenant with one another, as one Body in Christ.
We embrace our mission to equip every member of our Church to effectively and lovingly reach our community and world for Christ.
We covenant to rear our children in the discipline of the Lord and faithfully teach them the scriptures; to seek the salvation of our kindred and acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our dealings, faithful in our engagements, exemplary in our deportment, pure in speech and respectful of our bodies as God’s temples.
We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this Church, in knowledge, holiness, comfort, and spiritual growth; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; to sustain its worship, ordinances, discipline and doctrines; to contribute cheerfully and regularly to the support of the ministry, the expenses of the Church, the relief of the needy, and the spread of the Gospel through all nations.
We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love and to be zealous in our efforts to advance the Kingdom of our Savior; to remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and distress; to cultivate Christian sympathy; to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay.
We moreover engage that when we move from this place we will, as soon as possible, unite with another church, where we can carry out the spirit of this covenant and principles of God’s Word.
We further believe that we are united by the grace of God in Christian experience. We recognize and receive the Bible as the inspired Word of God and agree to accept it as our rule of faith and practice.
Pastoral Leadership of Mechanicsville Baptist Church
|1829-1837||Rev. J. Goss|
|1838-1840||Rev. J. A. Mansfield|
|1841-1845||Rev. L. L. Fox|
|1847-1851||Rev. Stephen H. Mirick|
|1852-1858||Rev. John W. George|
|1858-1881||Rev. Charles Quarles|
|1882-1884||Dr. J. W. McGown|
|1885||Dr. Carter Helm Jones|
|1886-1887||Rev. James B. Cook|
|1888-1892||Rev. F. H. James|
|1894-1895||Rev. William E. Gwatkin|
|1896||Rev. J. W. McMillan|
|1897||Rev. W. W. Sisk|
|1898-1905||Rev. W. R. Flannagan|
|1907-1909||Rev. W. R. Dearing|
|1910-1914||Rev. James B. Cook|
|1915-1919||Rev. J. L. Wiley|
|1920||Rev. H. Goodwin|
|1921-1929||Rev. G. W. Hurt|
|1931||Rev. H. S. Cummings|
|1932-1943||Dr. Joshua Roberts|
|1945-1946||Rev. Paul Blevins|
|1948-1950||Rev. W. E. Smith|
|1951-1952||Rev. Waddell Waters|
|1954-1959||Rev. Robert Shelton|
|1960-1969||Rev. Dewey Warren Ferguson|
|1970-1973||Rev. Clyde Sears|
|1974-1977||Rev. Roger Pittard|
|1978-1985||Rev. Dewey Warren Ferguson|
|1985-1986||Dr. Robert Mobley, Interim|
|1986-1993||Dr. G. Alan Willard|
|1993-1996||Dr. James S. Riddell, Interim|
|1996-2007||Rev. Gregory D. Compton|
|2007-2009||Dr. Donald Preston Reid, Interim|
|2009-2010||Dr. Donald Preston Reid|
|2010-2012||Dr. James S. Riddell, Interim|
|2012-||Dr. George Theodore “Ted” Williams|