In early Albemarle County, Baptists seem to have come from the settlers of the Valley of Virginia. In 1773 the old Lewis Meeting House, just west of Charlottesville, was the center for the Baptist movement. From this branch, activity in Scottsville began in 1840, the same year that Lottie Moon was born. Anna Maria and Edward H. Moon, Lottie’s parents, were leaders of the newly organized church at Scottsville.
By 1842 the church had forty-nine members and had S.B. Rice as its first pastor. Three years later Joseph H. Fox was pastor, and, interestingly enough, in 1849 there were 249 members, of whom 119 were white and 130 black. In 1855 the Sunday School, organized several years earlier, and the church were flourishing with Peter C. Hoge as pastor. A Bible Class was started in 1856, but church membership declined due to other churches being formed nearby. In a very unsettled period beginning in 1860, J. A. Doll, Charles Wingfield and R. Baker Boatwright all preached briefly at Scottsville. During four dreadful years of Civil War there was no minister, and the church became almost disorganized. The church building was used at that time, not as a hospital as some have said, but more as a hospice or shelter for the wounded. Somehow, during this bleak period the Sunday School had survived notably.
In the years following the Civil War, pastors changed rapidly, and there is no accurate accounting; however, the following dates and names are known: 1868, J. C. Long; 1871, J. T. Patterson; 1878, W. C. Hall; 1882, John T. Lynch; and 1883, W. W. Wood. In 1887, J R. Daniel became pastor and served for a long, satisfying period until 1906.
In the late 1800s the Ladies’ Parsonage Society (later the Ladies’ Aid Society) was organized for the purpose of raising funds to build a parsonage, the construction of which began in 1895.
Before Mr. Daniel left, a long concrete porch with wide steps and tall pillars was built across the front of the church, and the clear glass windows were replaced by tinted panes.
The church took on a new vitality when in 1908 Leslie H. Walton became pastor. This man was interested in all public affairs, especially education; he taught in the high school and headed the Boy Scouts, thus making a live relationship between church and community. The Scottsville church was one of a field of four at this time. H. Lee Scott became pastor in 1924 and served for three years.
Scottsville Baptists were alive and well when Oscar E. Northen began his long, successful ministry as pastor in 1927. Under his leadership the church continued to thrive and many developments took place, including remodeling the church in 1930, adding eight new Sunday School rooms, installing a heating plant, and building an archway behind the pulpit.
The 100th anniversary of Scottsville Baptist Church was celebrated on Sunday, July 7, 1940, and with this began what many called “The Golden Era” of the church, which was to continue for the next two decades despite the gloom of another world war. Charles A. Morgan, Jr. became pastor in 1944, and with his love for music, was instrumental in organizing and having a large choir. The church decided to build a modern parsonage (the present one) in 1952, the same year that John P. Elliott, Jr. was called as pastor of the three churches on the field at that time. At Scottsville there were three active circles of W.M.U., an energetic R.A chapter, a vital G.A. group, a Y.W.A. and a Training Union.
Active church leadership combined with the pastorship of Rev. Elliott in the 1950s saw many physical improvements to the church and grounds, including the addition of a parking lot. With an attendance of 150-175 at Sunday School, more classroom space was needed, so in 1957 the purchase of the property and house next to the churchyard provided a useful annex. The building of a new baptistery behind the pulpit was the main feature of the 1959 remodeling. The church became full-time with services every Sunday in 1959, and shortly thereafter a Baptist Brotherhood was added to other activities. Church membership was now over 300.
In the period between 1964 and 1967, a new two-storied, multi-purpose educational building was built adjoining the church, and the old home annex was demolished. The new facility made possible an expanded youth program led by Rev. Elliott and his wife, Nancy, a teacher.
The late 60s through 70s and 80s saw pastorships of Rudolph Ramsey (1968-69), Paul deVries (1971-76), H. Ed Nicholson (Interim 1976-78) and James Jetton (1978-87), each one unique in his ministry as he felt led by God to take up the task. Paul deVries, a former high school teacher with special interest in youth activities and music, quickly organized a “Youth Canteen” club and a youth choir which soon recorded an album entitled “He’s Everything to Me.” James Jetton, who had pastored several churches in North Carolina, immediately saw the need for an air-conditioned sanctuary, cushioned pews and new carpeting so he led the church in these physical traits of progress.
With so much having been accomplished in the socially changing 70s and 80s, it will never be fully understood why there was a faction in the membership of the old Church on the Hill.
In a small town where everyone knows each other and often are kin, a faction in a church is likely followed by a precarious and uncertain period. This is especially so if there is a long tradition of ecumenical spirit among the churches.
In this period of time (late 80s – early 90s) Scottsville Baptist Church was again fortunate to find two supply ministers when they were needed. The Rev. Frank Rice, a retired Air Force Chaplain, effectually served us for several months. Later, the Rev. Marvin Barbre, who was on the staff of the Hospice of the Piedmont, graciously served us when needed.
No less than divine providence, God sent a tall, young minister named Mark E. King, who accepted the challenge of breathing new life into an old established church that had experienced momentary discord, but had not lost its clear sense of purpose, mission and service.
In August 1990, Scottsville Baptist Church was able to celebrate its Sesquicentennial with a homecoming and pageant with community-wide participation.
Pastor King was the one who made “The Children’s Sermon” a feature of worship, and little children led us into the healing process.
In the fall of 1994, the church called Michael Stuart Lee as pastor and ordained him for his first full pastorate. He was the fourth person to be ordained by this church, the other three being Paul deVries and native sons Eddie Goodwin and Bobby Spencer.
Mike Lee’s experiences as school teacher, missionary and church leader in his native Arkansas enabled him to place emphasis on Sunday School, Church Council and church/community relations.
The musically and dramatically talented Lee family was well known locally. Mike’s wife, Luann, became church organist, and the entire family revived our popular bell choir. Mike and Luann both became active in school and community organizations with leading roles.
Pastor Lee challenged church members to experience various forms of worship by introducing activities like “Worship Through the Arts” and “40 Days of Community.” Mike was distinguished in achieving his Doctorate of Ministry from Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond while pastor here!
On September 24, 2006 Dr. Lee resigned to accept the call from a larger church, but he was determined not to leave us without a plan. He had confided his intention with his friend, Dr. William J. “Jeff” Cranford of Virginia Baptist Mission Board, who was available as interim minister. For a year and a half, Dr. Cranford’s inspiring sermons and his expertise in leading a church self-study made us a stronger congregation.
In early June 2008, the Pastor Search Committee announced they were recommending the church call the Rev. Israel D. Maxwell, who had recently received a Master of Divinity degree, and his wife, April, who had a Master of Arts in Missionlogy. The couple had been living in Fort Worth, Texas, and had made several visits to Scottsville. Indeed, on Sunday, June 22, 2008, this couple accepted the formal call of Scottsville Baptist Church.
The new pastor and his wife were given priority charge of making our church more appealing to young couples and their children and to encourage church members to participate more in the conduct of worship. Because of the expanded activities, Pastor Maxwell requested that April be officially ordained – something new to our church.
When 2010 arrived, there had been many accomplishments, including a very special one for the Maxwells – they were expecting their first child. Madeline Danielle Maxwell was born April 30, 2010 and welcomed by our church family.
Indeed church members were dismayed when on Sunday, July 25, 2010, after his sermon Rev. Maxwell read his resignation effective August 8th. Former jobs that both he and April had held in Fort Worth had become available to them again. Following a church recognition luncheon for them, the Maxwells returned to Fort Worth.
With the sudden departure of the Maxwells, the Pastor Search Committee found themselves where they were three years ago; however, again they were fortunate in that almost immediately they were put in touch with the Rev. Dr. William H. Smith, who had recently retired after 19 years at Memorial Baptist Church, Arlington, VA and was available for interim service and only for a limited time. Dr. Smith became our Interim Pastor when we were celebrating our 170th anniversary. His experienced leadership and sermons were just what our church needed, and he and his wife, Judy, became much beloved among us. They were here for a year and a half, and just as he had said, his time was up!
Fortunately upon the scene came the Rev. Leon Castle and wife, Nancy, who had known about our church a long time. Rev. Castle was not only a retired minister but also a noted musician, especially a pianist and music director. The Castles joined Scottsville Baptist Church and he served as Interim Pastor for a year.
As the years passed, it became quite obvious that the Lord was leading Scottsville Baptist Church in a very special way to a greater future.
Dr. and Mrs. Smith kept thinking about the talented young woman who had been Associate Pastor at Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington. They were convinced that she would be a perfect match for Scottsville Baptist Church.
For almost two years (2010-2012) the Pastor Search Committee ardently worked to find a full-time pastor for our church. This committee should have special recognition. They were Phillip Garber and Dorothy Somerville (co-chairs), Robert Anderson, Linda Garber and Baxter Pitts.
On August 17, 2012, they were pleased to announce they had found a highly recommended and promising candidate for pastor of our church. They urged everyone to come on Sunday, September 9th, to meet, greet and hear a sermon by the Rev. Katie McKown. Indeed late that day, Scottsville Baptist Church voted to call Rev. McKown to be the first woman to become pastor of our renowned church. This was confirmed on November 11, 2012.
Katie McKown grew up in a small town in western Kentucky. She is from a strong Christian family, so from an early age she was involved in church life. She loved her hometown, and from her first visit to Scottsville she sensed that she would feel at home here should she accept the call to be pastor of Scottsville Baptist Church.
With an outgoing personality, an enthusiasm for learning and a vision for life’s work, Katie earned her higher education at Georgetown College (Magna Cum Laude) and George W. Truett Theological Seminary (Outstanding Student 2006). Following notable ministerial experiences, Rev. McKown became Associate Pastor at Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington, VA, with much acclaim in many roles.
At Scottsville, it was immediately evident that Rev. McKown had skills to inspire and serve people of every age. She is an outstanding teacher and preacher and is good at details of church administration. She has continued the traditions of ecumenical spirit and importance of wide missions and services. Her leadership of youth and young adults is seen in many new activities including the new Koinonia Sunday School class and Children’s Church at worship. Besides conducting worship, she sings in the choir and plays the usual pastoral roles.
As this abbreviated history of Scottsville Baptist Church is published, this iconic, established old church, founded by the parents of pioneer missionary Lottie Moon, is preparing to celebrate its 175 anniversary. In fact, it also will be the 175th birthday year of the famed missionary.
We welcome all who have come to join us on this special celebration day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!
Through a century and three quarters of another, Scottsville Baptist Church, “The Church on the Hill,” always mission-minded and having lasting community ties, has continued to be as a beacon set on a hill seeking to light the way to Christ’s Kingdom here and hereafter.
Appreciation is expressed to the following people: