HISTORY OF THE MOUNT VERNON BAPTIST
On the fourth Sunday in November, 1865, Reverend W. Hills, Deacon Joe Dixon and Deacon William Brown met at Deacon Brown’s home at Remount Depot to discuss organizing a church; they decided to form the church and name it Mount Vernon Baptist Church. The church began having services at various places and after receiving four converts, Rev. Taylor was called to be the first pastor. Under the pastor-ship of Rev. Taylor, Mount Vernon began to grow, fulfilling the spiritual needs of the African American community of Front Royal and Warren County, and vicinity. Land was also purchased and construction of the first church sanctuary began.
The events that took place to purchase the land and erect the church show the enormous faith of the members of the Mount Vernon Baptist Church. The trustees first met on October 17, 1881 to discuss the purchasing of land and building a log church. Several months later, March 23, 1882, the trustees Willis Beeden, Beverly Howard, Thomas Jones, Lewis Moten and Moses Taylor purchased a lot from Adonizah and Mary M. Shipe. This lot, number 19 measured 36 feet on Church Street, 42 feet on Boundary Avenue and was 143 feet deep. The money to purchase the land and erect the church was obtained from the American Baptist Home Mission Society of New York. This organization loaned money to churches so that they could erect places of worship. The deed of trust was for $200.00, at 6% interest, and was signed by Trustees William Beeden, Benty Standard, Thomas Jones, Howard Moten and Moses Taylor. Robert L. Buck was a co-signer for the loan.
Before the log church was completed Rev. Taylor died. He had served Mount Vernon for nineteen years. That same year, 1884, Rev. G.C. Bannister was selected as the second Pastor of the church.
In 1885, the log church was completed. The congregation and Pastor were overjoyed that God had affected a victory. They sang praises and gave God the glory for their success. Also in 1885, on August 11, 70 feet in the back of the church were sold by Trustees Willis Beeden, William Brown, Jack Poles, Webster Smith and James Walker to Thomas Jones.
During the pastor-ship of Rev. Bannister, the original log church was replaced. A larger church was built to serve the need of the growing membership at Mount Vernon. In 1903, W.F. Oliver was hired to erect a frame church. To pay for the construction, a loan for $850.00 was taken out by Trustees Carter Alsberry, Willis Beeden, and William Brown. Justice of the Peace C.W. Forsyth co-signed for the loan. The loan was payable in six bonds of $106.25. The bonds were paid each year in installments of $8.00 per month.
During the next 20 years the church added fixtures and furniture for aesthetic improvements. Feeling the need for additional land, the Church purchased a lot from Jessie Jackson and his wife Julia. The lot was purchased for $250.00. Jessie had inherited this lot from his father Albert Jackson, who purchased the lot for $150.00 in 1916.
In 1924, Rev. Bannister died. He was the pastor of Mount Vernon for 40 years. Later that year, the Rev. Nathaniel Johnson was selected to serve as the third Pastor of Mount Vernon. During this time Rev. Daniel Baltimore served as Assistant Pastor. In 1935, more renovations and additions were made at the church. The basement was dug and completed. Two indoor restrooms, a furnace room, and a dining room were located in the completed basement. Upstairs, new pews, pulpit chairs and a communion table were added. In 1955, the Rev. Thomas Proctor built a rostrum, new pulpit furniture, and lamp stands for the church.
On November 15, 1959, Rev. Johnson, the third pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church died in the pulpit after delivering a sermon at Beulah Baptist Church in Markham, Virginia. Rev. Johnson served the church well. He added to the building, to the congregation, and to the accomplishments of the church. Rev. Carter Alsberry, Sr., who was assistant pastor at the time, was selected to become the fourth pastor of the church. During the pastor-ship of Rev. Alsberry, the Mount Vernon congregation grew to over 100 persons. Rev. Alsberry licensed four ministers and ordained two of them. He also married many couples, christened many babies and eulogized at many funerals. Many improvements to the church were done under the pastor-ship of Rev. Alsberry. The church expanded to make room for additional Sunday school space, and an enlarged pastor’s study, a larger choir room, and a bigger choir loft. Rev. Alsberry died on May 3, 1991. Due to his illness, several weeks prior to his death, he submitted his resignation to the Deacons. Rev. Alsberry served Mount Vernon for 31 years. He was a good steward and a good shepherd.
Rev. Alfred Woods was elected as the Pastor by the church after the death of Rev. Alsberry. He was installed on June 23, 1991, becoming the fifth Pastor of Mount Vernon. Under the pastor-ship of Rev. Woods, Mount Vernon continued its onward and upward march for kingdom building, such as the establishing of the Christian Education and Out-Reach Ministries, and a Men’s Chorus. Church services were increased from two Sundays per month to four. Pastor Woods also resumed the weekly Bible study and Prayer meeting. The church continued to assist in meeting the needs of the congregation and the community at large.
Renovation projects continued and improvements were made to the church building. In 1997, the church purchased from Brother Robert Barbour and Sister Hilda Barbour another plot of land which was part of the Stinson property. This property is located between Osage Street and the paved alley of East Prospect Street. In 2007, the late Rev. William Robinson and Virginia Robinson willed all of their worldly assets to Mount Vernon for our Lord’s service. Also in 2009, the late Robert A. Barbour willed a generous financial donation to Mount Vernon’s building fund to continue with the beautification and improvements of the church. In 2011, the late Brother Charles and Sister Alice Baltimore in their will also left a financial donation to the church to help with the spiritual growth of the church. Rev Woods retired as pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church on December 31, 2011, after more than 20 years of faithful and dedicated service to this church and the community.
Mount Vernon moved forward after being faced with several deaths and the retirement of our pastor in December . The church body pulled together and continued to carry on giving praises to God, and even made further building improvements which included new air conditioners, a new audio/visual and alarm systems.
In July 2013, after almost two years without a pastor, Rev. Harold L. Brown, Sr. was selected as the sixth pastor of Mount Vernon. He was officially installed as pastor on October 7, 2013. We thank the Lord for sending us a God-fearing servant. Since his arrival renovations have been made to the rooms in the near of the sanctuary (to include two handicap accessible restrooms), and the basement.
Just like in the Bible, we can say that many admirable things have been done, but may not have been mentioned due to time restraints; but what really matters is not all the physical improvements, but the spiritual legacy that has been left for us to continue to build on and move forward. While all the individual contributions are most appreciated, it is all for the purpose of glorifying God corporately as the Body of Christ. We have come a long way since that fourth Sunday in November 1865, and with our faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, we will continue our Christian journey to fight the good fight, and run the race that is set before us. The Mount Vernon Baptist Church Family asks that you continue to pray for our strength in the Lord and in His service.