Where We've Been - Our Church History

I.  Origins

New Hope Baptist Church traces its roots to the 12th of June, 1857, when a regular Baptist church was constituted, New Hope Meeting House, in Orange County, Virginia.  Several ministers were invited to attend the occasion, but only Melzi S. Chancellor attended.  After preaching a sermon suitable for the occasion, he went through the usual solemn and sacred services for such events, and afterwards, the members entered into and subscribed to the following covenant:

Article 1

We, the Brethren and Sisters of the neighborhood of New Hope Meeting House, desiring to worship God, according to his revealed will, feel the necessity of constituting a Church to be known as the regular Baptist Church at New Hope.


Article 2 

We believe in the divine inspiration of the Old and New Testament scriptures, as the only infallible rule of faith, and practice the depravity of the whole human family by the fall of our first parents and salvation by the Grace of God through the Atonement of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Article 3

Justification by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the obligation of every intelligent creature to love God supremely, to believe what God says and practice what God commands.

Article 4

The necessity of regenerative believers, baptism by immersion only, as necessary to Church fellowship, the Lord's Supper a privelege peculiar to baptized believers.

Article 5

On regard to the settlement of difficulties which may take place among the members of the Church, we will be grounded by God's Holy Word, as set forth in the 18th chapter of Matthew.


Signed:  Thomas Tinder, Weedon Wiltshire, William Lancaster, William Wiltshire 

II.  The Early Years

New Hope Baptist Church first appears in the Goshen Association report in 1858.  The Letter of Constitution was read, and delegates admitted into the body in the usual way.  The delegates were Thomas Tinder, James W. Webb, and Thomas T. Chewning.  The association report showed New Hope on record as receiving 30 by baptism, 11 by letter, and a total of 50 members as a newly-established church.  In 1860, the first record of mission gifts was recorded, showing $5.00 to domestic missions.  Missionary support continued from this point onward, even though the Ladies' Aid Society was not yet established.


Melzi S. Chancellor was called to be New Hope's first pastor in 1857.  He served in that capacity for 32 years.  Reverend Chancellor was also the pastor of Piney Branch, Salem, and Wilderness Baptist churches when he accepted the call of New Hope and added it to the field.  New Hope remained in the field with a number of different churches until 1888, when Rev. Chancellor resigned as pastor of all churches except for New Hope.  He retired from the ministry in 1890, and passed away at his home in Fredericksburg in 1895.


The original New Hope Meeting House, located just east of the present building, was destroyed sometime around 1860.  The second building had been constructed by 1863, when it was comandeered by the Confederacy and used as a field hospital during the Mine Run Campaign and 1865's Battle of the Wilderness.  An interesting story involves the son of famous poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, who was injured very close to the church and  brought there for immediate medical attention.  A bullet had just missed his spine.  It was while sitting at his son's bedside following this injury, in December of 1863, that Longfellow penned his famous words,


               I heard the bells on Christmas Day

               Their old familiar carols play,

               And wild and sweet

               the words repeat

               of peace on Earth, good-will to men! 

III.  The Pastors

Following the retirement of Melzi S. Chancellor, the following gentlemen served New Hope as pastor:


     1891                M.E. Hatcher

     1892                W.H. Reynolds

     1893-1915       James M. "Gum" Beadles   

     1916-1919       M.G. Loaman

     1920                S.T. Habel 

     1921-1923       George C. Venable

     1923                Paul G. Wetson

     1924-1937       Edgar G. Stephens

     1938-1940       Horace L. Ford

     1942-1952       Stanley F. Williams

     1954                Jesse Parker

     1954-1957       John Gordon

     1958-1960       Robert Paciocco

     1961-1965       Wendell R. Patterson

     1965-1966       W. Wright Webb

     1966-1973       Roy Orrell

     1973-1981       Christopher C. Rackley

     1981-2006       Wilson M. Corr

     2009-2010       Dennis Martin

     2011-2014       E.N. Haynes

     2015-Present   Shaw Henson

IV.  Post-War Modernization

During the pastorate of Rev. Parker (1954), the church shared its pastor with Zoar Baptist Church.  In 1956, the church appointed trustees to make improvements in the church and on the grounds.  The parsonage was built and then dedicated on May 20, 1956.  In 1962, the education annex was built and dedicated, adding Sunday School classrooms, a fellowship hall, and kitchen.  Stained glass memorial windows were added in the late 1960's, and the church portico was dedicated in 1970.  


Under the leadership of Rev. Chris Rackley, a rotation of deacons was instituted, a softball team organized (which required church attendance to play), and the music program expanded.  He directed the choir and played the piano.  


Beginning in 1982, a number of upgrades and renovations were completed.  During the pastorate of Dr. Wilson Corr,  the wood floors were refinished, a new piano and organ were purchased, a sound system installed, and -to the relief of so many summer worshipers- a central air system was installed.  By 2000, a lighted sign had been installed in front of the church, and a church van had been purchased.  2001 saw the erection of a new steeple.  


In 2000, the Women's Missionary Union, affectionately known as the "Tea Ladies", was re-organized.


Following the death of Dr. Corr, the church navigated a difficult period as it sought to both understand God's will for New Hope and to find a new pastor.  Dr. Dennis Martin served as our pastor briefly, from late in 2009 to May of 2010, at which time he returned to his home state of Missouri to attend to urgent family matters. 


From February of 2011 to April of 2014, Brother Eddie Haynes served as the pastor, and led the church through a time of considerable change.  During this period, the church experienced dramatic growth in attendance. A mens' group (The Tender Warriors) was initiated, a new church van was purchased, the property was annexed to include an adjacent parcel, the bylaws were updated, and planning was begun for a new, 6000 square foot fellowship hall.  The church initiated an electronic phone notification system (OneCall), a popular Tuesday morning bible study, a food pantry ministry, a (sermon) CD ministry, and an evening VBS concept.  Furthermore, Pastor Haynes worked to cultivate the musical talents of many church members, as every Sunday service included some form of "special music".  Pastor Haynes announced to the church on March 30, 2014 that God was leading him to pastor Crewe Baptist Church, in Nottoway County. 


In the wake of Pastor Eddie's departure, God revealed that Brother Shaw Henson, who had been attending services at New Hope for some time with his family, was the next man that God would use to lead the church.  He initially served as interim pastor, but ultimately realized that God and the church wanted him to stay and lead our flock.  For more about Pastor Shaw, please read the Our Leaders page.