Our History

HISTORY

In 1866, a few consecrated Christians dared to assemble themselves together in order to worship God as their Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer.  First Baptist Church, as we know it today, is a tribute and lasting memory to those who had the vision to venture out during those days of immediate “post-slavery” and the early Reconstruction Era.

During those difficult days those dedicated Christians gathered in a house located in the Cedar Hill Cemetery, Main Street, Suffolk, VA.  Worship was held in this house until 1868, at which time Rev. Corprew, a Circuit Rider, who served the group, moved the congregation to an old two-room brick house on the corner of North Main and Mahan Street, then known as Second Cross and Main Streets.  (It is interesting to note that this house served as one of the impromptu headquarters of President George Washington during the Revolutionary War).

In 1870, this small band of Christians moved into their first church home on what was then Back Street, now known as Church Street.  The land for their first church home was given by Alfred Adkins.  

A total of twelve (12) pastors and one (1) circuit rider have served our church since its inception in 1866.  We have been richly blessed to have had spirit-filled, anointed, and trained ministers in the Gospel to lead, serve, and to teach the word.

Circuit Rider

Circuit rider clergy, in the earliest years of the United States, were clergy assigned to travel around specific geographic territories to minister to settlers and organize congregations. Riding on horseback between distant churches, these preachers were popularly called "circuit riders" or "saddlebag preachers" although their official role was "traveling clergy".   Carrying only what could fit in their saddlebags, they traveled through wilderness and villages, preaching every day at any place available (peoples' cabins, courthouses, fields, meeting houses, even basements and street corners).1

Rev. Edenborough G. Corprew was a former slave and a prominent pre and post Black Reconstruction Politician in Virginia.2  He was one of the first African Americans to serve in the Virginia House of Representatives during the Reconstruction period.  Corprew was a missionary for the American Baptist Home Mission Society, and moderated the Colored Shiloh Baptist Association, the state's largest and most important black Baptist association.3

Rev.  Edenborough G. Corprew

1866 - 1869

Historical Pastors

Rev.  Jordan Thompson

1870 - 1879

Rev. Ashley Lewis

1880 - 1883

Rev. William Cousins

1883-1889

Rev. William Gaines

1889-1911

Rev. James A. Harrell

1911 - 1928

Rev. John B. Williams

1928 - 1937

Rev. C. Lawrence Evans

1937 - 1942

Rev. E.E. Chapelle

1942-1946

Rev. A. Lincoln James

1946 - 1951

Rev. T. Othniel Mills

1955-1960

Rev. Dr. Isaac E. Williams

1961-2000

Rev. Dr. Steven G. Blunt

2002- Present
1. Circuit rider (religious). (2020, March 18). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circuit_rider_(religious)
2. Boone, L. M. (2012). The chronological history of the Roanoke Missionary Baptist Association and its founders from 1866-1966. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse.
3. Irons, C. F. E. G. Corprew (ca. 1830–1881). (2014, July 24). In Encyclopedia Virginia. Retrieved from http://www.EncyclopediaVirginia.org/Corprew_E_G_ca_1830-1881.