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Liberty Baptist Church

LIBERTY, one of the first Baptist churches organized in this section, now serves as the Post Chapel for Camp A. P. Hill. The present building was constructed in 1850. Made of brick, it is a one-room rectangular building with two front doors and two rear doors and galleries running along both sides and across the back.

The church's history, however, goes back further than this, for on August 23, 1796, a contract to build LIBERTY Meeting House was drawn up. (Early records of the church have been lost, but an authoritative copy of this contract was preserved by Miss Augusta BRADLEY. These papers were given to the Reverend Amos CLARY in July of 1938 to have copies made. The Rev. CLARY died in August of that year, and to date the papers have not been found.)

Under this early contract, James PITTMAN and William TALIAFERRO engaged Absalom BRADLEY to build LIBERTY Meeting House for the sum of 50 pounds. The building was to be 20 x 32 feet with a shed 10 feet wide, and there was to be a five foot pitch the entire length of the building. In this building there were to be two galleries, 8 x 20 feet.

LIBERTY was a member of the Goshen Association until 1813; and the Rev. Hipkins PITTMAN is said to have been LIBERTY's first pastor. During the decade of 1790 to 1800, Rev. PITTMAN was a resident member of REED's, now MT. HOREB Church; and the distance was not too great for him to have ministered unto LIBERTY. (REED's Church was, according to CAMPBELL's Colonial Caroline, John YOUNG's church which was actually an "outhouse" dedicated to the worship of God.) It is said that Rev. PITTMAN was once threatened with the whip for preaching, but the threat was never carried out.

There are no records to show who served LIBERTY from 1819 to 1827 when Rev. Lawrence BATTAILE became the pastor. Under his care, LIBERTY grew and prospered. During the years 1830 to 1851, the names of 193 white and 396 Negro members appear on the church rolls.

There were many meetings held for the instruction and discipline of the colored members.

Church discipline was strict and impartial. Throughout the years, charges were brought for non-attendance, intemperance, immorality, dishonesty, dancing, attending balls, barbecues, and the theatre.

In these meetings, held on Saturdays, many members related their experiences and were received for baptism. All business was transacted by the male members of the church.

The Rev. George W. TRICE was pastor from 1848 to 1868. During this time, LIBERTY erected a new house of worship (present building) and it was dedicated in 1850. In August 1868, a resolution provided for dropping the names of Negro members who wished to unite in forming a church of their own.

Following are some of the pastorates of LIBERTY Baptist Church and those serving from August 1868 to June 1906 also served BETHESDA Baptist Church:

Rev. James D. COLEMAN - August 1868-1878
R.H.W. BUCKNER - Supply pastor
Rev. A.B. DUNAWAY - April 1879 - March 1886
Rev. A.G. LOVING - November 1887 - May 1889
H.J. RAMSEY - Supply pastor
Rev. C.W. TRAINHAM - July 1890 - December 1893
Dr. J.W. McCOWN - May 1894 - July 1895
Rev. James T. EUBANK - November 1895 - December 1903
Rev. James LONG - January 1904- 1919
Rev. S.B. OVERTON - January 1920 - November 1923
Rev. Clyde PARKER - Supply pastor
Rev. Amos CLARY - June 1925 - 1938
Rev. J.R. NOFFSINGER - January 1939 - August 1940

Dr. Ryland SANFORD was pastor during the last few months of LIBERTY's existence. Then in June 1941, the church became a part of the miliary reservation now known as Camp A.P. Hill.

Addendum: In 1996 the main focus of the Reunion was the History and Highlights of LIBERTY and the recognition that 200 years had passed since her beginning. The center of the attraction was a handmade quilt with names stitched on it. It was a project of the WMU and the quilt became a gift to the wife of Rev. Amos CLARY, whose son is now the custodian of it.

(I wish to extend my thanks to Linda Butts for sharing this information.)

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