Our History 1876-2001

All of the details concerning the beginning of Ringgold Baptist Church are not fully known. It is fairly certain, however, that the church was constituted in 1876 by a group of Baptists who had formerly attended Sandy Creek and other nearby Baptist churches.

For several years around the 1850s, Baptists in the area operated a school, the forerunner of Averett College, known as the Ringgold Academy. This school was located at what was later called Sam Taylor’s store, about two miles south of the Ringgold station. Among the instructors at the Ringgold Academy were two brothers, professors Sam and Jack Averett, who later served as presidents of the College and for whose family the college was named. When the academy was discontinued, the property was sold to William M. Vernon who gave a promissory note to the trustees. Later, the trustees sold this note to the Baptist people in the Ringgold area, who made temporary use of its abandoned buildings for their worship services.

Ringgold Baptist Church officially came into being in 1876 when this group, along with some members from County Line, began conducting services in the Old Norman House, located a few hundred yards south of the Ringgold rail station. Services were held there for two or three years prior to the erection of the first building. This house was later moved to another location and used as a school building for the conducting of a private school for the neighborhood. The former location of the Old Norman House, the actual birthplace of the Ringgold Baptist Church, is marked by a lone tombstone – the grave site of a little girl, Fannie McDowell, who was the daughter of the farmer who lived in the house.

In the early days, a singing school was conducted in the community for the purpose of training choir members. Several members became excellent singers and down through the years, many members of the church choir have
been descendants of those trained in this singing school. It is believed that much of the zeal and enthusiasm for singing that prevails in the congregation today can be attributed to the interest and accomplishments of these
ancestors more than a century ago.

Around 1877, payment of the promissory note was requested in order to erect a building for the church. The edifice was constructed and on April 5, 1879, John Adams, the contractor, gave the building committee a receipt for
$874.81, payment in full for the building and work done on the church. This first building was located in a grove of oaks on the rise in front of the present parsonage. Most of the lumber came from the plantation of W. E. Clark, sawed at his own mill, and only the heart of the lumber was used. A few years later, this structure was dismantled and moved to the corner of the Milton and Clark’s Mill roads in an effort to enlist some large families living in the Mountain Hill area. The same plans and lumber used for the first building were used for the second.

Two of the earliest pastors during this period were a Rev. Hite and Rev. Henry Petty. The members were never quite satisfied with the new location of their church. In the early 1890s, the next pastor, Dr. C. F. James, who was also president of Averett College, helped move the church back to Ringgold to its present location, once again using the same plans and lumber. The one acre of land on which the church is now situated was donated by Tom Bradley and in later years, the Howard Terry family donated additional property.

Almost from the beginning, the Women’s Missionary Union has played a key role in the life and prosperity of the church. Ringgold holds the distinction of organizing the first WMU in Pittsylvania County in 1894 under the direction of “Aunt” Rose Alderson and aided by her husband T. C., who served as pastor at the time.

Early in the 1900s, Rev. G. W. Reid became pastor and served until 1909. Rev. C. Almond Upchurch was pastor for about a year when S. J. Beeker accepted the call and served until 1914 at a salary of $150 per year. From 1914 to 1916, the pastor was W. S. Brooks. Rev. T. Ryland Sanford served from 1916 to 1919, Rev. H. T. Wright from 1919 to 1920, and Rev. J. D. Kesler from 1920 to 1923.
Minutes of the church business meetings from 1906 reveal that the church made a five dollar donation to help in the building of a church at Schoolfield, and another donation of $1.35 to the Weatherford Memorial Fund although $2.50 had been requested. An organ was purchased for the sum of $75 during this period, and the annual meeting of the Pittsylvania Baptist Association convened at Ringgold in 1907.

For many years the church business meetings were conducted on Saturday afternoons, after a preaching service. The roll of male members was called at each meeting and a committee appointed to contact all absent members. The committee reported at the next meeting and valid excuses were accepted, but fellowship was withdrawn from members having three unexcused absences.

The roll of female members was called only occasionally, and no disciplinary action was ever taken for female absences. New members were accepted into the fellowship of the church at these meetings, and the salary for the sexton was also collected. According to the records, fellowship was withdrawn from members for such offenses as non-attendance, non support of the church,
and for unchristian conduct which included cursing and drinking.

From its very beginning the church has made contributions to both state and foreign missions and always sent delegates to meetings to the district association. A revival was held each year, usually in July, with two services daily, one in the morning and one in the evening.

In 1914, Rev. W. S. Brooks was called as pastor to serve one Sunday each month. For many years Ringgold was in a field with two other churches: Sandy Creek and Union Hill (now Glenwood Baptist Church). In 1915 a woodshed was built and the question of Sunday School rooms discussed, but the decision was made not to build. In 1917, when the roll was called, each member was asked to make a pledge for the financial support of the church, and this was the first form of an every-member canvas.

Some progressive steps were taken in 1919 when the pastor was called to serve two Sundays per month for a yearly salary of $600. On August 21, 1921, the church voted to conduct a prayer meeting twice a month. Rev. Charlie M. Robertson was called as pastor in 1923 and served for the next eight years. Up until this time, there had been no planned financial program.

In 1926, the envelope system was adopted and a finance committee was appointed to draw up an annual budget which totaled $1,663.80. On September 18, 1926, the church voted to organize a Baptist Young People’s Union, later known as the Training Union. Election of the Sunday School superintendent and the BYPU president by the church began in 1928.

On October 25, 1928, during a homecoming service, Otis Brantley Mylum was ordained to the Gospel ministry. On October 20, 1929, a motion was passed to build a brick building for the church 62 feet long, 42 feet wide, and 18 feet high with eight Sunday School rooms in the basement and two on the first floor, with a porch 10 feet wide, 42 feet long with four large Roman columns. Construction was to have begun in March 1930 but was postponed.

The same year J. T. Clements was made an honorary deacon, the only person ever to be so elected by the church. As years passed the membership grew steadily from 38 male members in 1911 to 73 in 1915. A total of 287 (135 male
and 152 female) was reported in 1928.

The custom of reading the constitution orally before the church once or twice a year was eventually abandoned, and the requirement of giving excuses for absences at business meetings was voted out in 1929. On March 13, 1932, the church voted to accept the bid of Charlie Flora to build a new frame church at a cost of $5,110. The building was completed and dedicated on August 7, 1932.

The old building was sold at auction for the sum of $70,and for the third time the building material was moved and now stands well preserved as a barn on the farm of the late O. H. Mylum. The balance due on the new building and equipment, when the church moved in, was $900. Due to the serious financial climate of the time, the roll was called and each member assessed his proportionate share of the debt.

In recent years the church has continued to grow under the able ministry of pastors: L. C. Hall, 1931-35; Jesse F. Colston, 1936-41; George L. Euting, 1942-46; Mott Cumby 1046-51; F. Bernard LeSueur, 1957-58; Ross L. Range,
1958-67; and Jim G. Henry, 1967-68. In 1940 the present building was brick veneered. In 1945, Larry N. Gravely donated property for a new parsonage. A comfortable, spacious brick home was subsequently erected. In 1948, a new church constitution was drafted and approved by the congregation.

During the 1950’s, additional Sunday School rooms were constructed in
basement and the interior of the church redecorated. Training Union, Vacation Bible School, Sunday night services, choir practice, and Wednesday evening
prayer meetings became established functions.

The Woman’s Missionary Union has played an important role in the life
and progress of the church. For a third of a century (from 1912 to 1945), the W.M.U. work took place under the able leadership of the late Janie Terry Adams.

The idea for a church library grew from a sermon preached by a Mr. Parker, and as a result, the Junior Training Union, under the leadership of Claire Wilson, agreed to bring a nickel each Sunday evening to be used in
purchasing books for the library. The following year, one hundred dollars was left to the Ringgold Baptist church by the late Glenn Wiles. At the request of Mr. Parker, the deacons voted that this money be used for a library. Today, the library has hundreds of volumes and is undergoing additional expansion.

During this period, new pews were purchased for the sanctuary, an extension department organized, and the grounds landscaped. Rev. Ross L. Range assumed the pastorate in July 1958 and served most ably until February 1967. His eight-and-one-half year ministry was one of the longest pastorates in the history of the church and was a period when great progress was made.

In 1959, the church completed a two-story brick educational building which provided space for a fellowship hall, a well-equipped kitchen, an air-conditioned four room modern nursery, assembly areas, classrooms, and restroom facilities. In keeping with the church’s tradition, this addition came about through the generosity of its members. All lumber for the 30-room educational building was donated and Abner Foster, chairman of the Materials Committee, did the sawing. Roy Ford, a road contractor, did the grading that provided the church and parsonage with landscaped yard areas. The dedication service for the educational building was held August 2,1959, with 301 present for the Sunday School hour.

A scholarship fund was started for the purpose of providing financial assistance to students from the church who were preparing educationally for full-time Christian service. Ringgold has continued to maintain its strong affiliation with the Pittsylvania Baptist Association, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and the Southern Baptist Convention. On October 19, 1960, the annual meeting of the district association convened here for the second time in the church’s history.

A new piano was purchased for the sanctuary in 1961 and the music program of the church was greatly enhanced with the purchase of a Hammond organ for $2,537. In 1962 stained glass windows were installed and the portico, with four large Roman columns, was added to the front of the building. During the 1960’s the church carried on a 15-minute weekly radio ministry over WDVA, a Danville radio station, spreading the Gospel over a large area.

In a note burning ceremony in January 1964, all indebtedness incurred from the erecting of the educational building was satisfied. That same year the
pews in the sanctuary were refinished. Two years later the sanctuary was
completely redecorated with a new wall finish of spray plastic; new light fixtures; carpeting, and the sanctuary air-conditioned. Financial support more than doubled during the ministry of Rev. Range from around $11,000 to $23,000 annually. Following his resignation in 1967, the parsonage was partially remodeled and redecorated, with a new roof added in 1968.

On April 13, 1967, the church extended a call to Rev. Jim G. Henry, a Tennessean, working in Berea, KY with the schools and pastor of the Kerby Knob Baptist church. The Henry’s (Sue and the 3M’s – Mona, Mark and Melody)
moved to Ringgold on May 31, 1967. During his fifteen-month ministry in the church, the church experienced significant growth with 45 additions, 29 by baptism. Sunday School enrollment increased from 265 to 376 with the
weekly average 235, and in August of 1968, achieved its goal of becoming a Standard Sunday School. Special mission offerings also increased to record highs. Additionally, 24% of regular tithes and offerings were given to world missions through the Cooperative Program. The church also supported the work of the associational mission program on a monthly budgeted basis.

In 1967, The Ringgold Baptist Reflector, a weekly paper, began publication during this time and was distributed to more than 400 homes. A Church Council was formed. Another highlight involved Sue Henry’s direction of the
Christmas drama, “They That Sit in Darkness,” with more than 100 persons participating.

On June 30, 1968, Roy N. Ford, Jr., who had been licensed by the church in November 1961 to preach the Gospel, was duly ordained into the ministry. A month later, Rev. Henry announced his resignation and accepted a
professorial appointment at Eastern Kentucky University, Richmond. The church had been sharing its pastor with Averett College during this period as he taught psychology classes there.

In 1969, Rev. John Groff began his ministry at Ringgold Baptist Church which proved to be the longest pastorate in the history of the church and a most fruitful one. In order to establish the property line of the land on which the parsonage garage stood, additional land was donated by Mr. and Mrs. John Gravely who had donated the original plot.

During an extended improvement program begun in 1971, the sanctuary floors
were refinished, the carpet cleaned and new cushioned pews installed. In 1972,
a third story was added to the Educational Building and air-conditioned; the
Social Hall was remodeled; and a new church roof replaced the old one. Other
improvements included hard surfacing the church parking lot; and new shrubbery for the parsonage.

In 1973, additional land was purchased on the north side of the church for the site of a new parsonage. The land was purchased from the J. H. Terry family for the sum of $4,500. One thousand dollars ($1000) was returned to the
church as a memorial to their father, J. Howard Terry, to be used in the construction expenses of the new parsonage. Construction began in 1975 and was completed in 1976, the old parsonage was sold for the sum of twenty-two thousand dollars.

Again, the church launched an extensive interior remodeling program, giving the sanctuary a completely new appearance. Both the sanctuary and the choir loft were enlarged, and stained glass windows and wall-to-wall carpeting installed. As a final touch, a memorial window was installed above the baptistery in memory of Cornelia Marshall Terry, devoted and loyal WMU leader for many years.

The year 1976 marked the Church’s one hundredth Anniversary and was celebrated with special commemorative services and “dinner on the grounds.”
In 1987 the church completed the look of its current sanctuary with the addition of a new steeple. Rev. John Groff offered his resignation as pastor in December of 1988, concluding a faithful 19 year ministry.

Rev. Carl E. Burger accepted the call as Pastor on September 1, 1989. The J.O.Y. club (Just Older Youth), a ministry to senior adults, was organized in the same year. Under the leadership of Tom Clark, a tape-ministry was revised and resumed to shut-ins and incapacitated members.

Kathy Andrews was employed as choir director in 1991 and continues to serve
in that position. Ringgold also, for the first time, united with a number of area churches to celebrate a Community Thanksgiving Service at Kentuck church. This service continues yearly, alternating between the Kentuck and Ringgold churches.

During the morning worship hour, September 13, 1992 a note-burning ceremony was held recognizing the liquidation of the indebtedness incurred during the reconstruction of our sanctuary. In 1996 a new Ford Van was purchased for use by the church. In 1997, a scholarship fund in memory of Misty Adkins, was established and funded by voluntary contributions.
The church also purchased a new computer system and a new sound system. A new church sign replaced one destroyed by hurricane force winds.

At a called business meeting on November 9, 1997, the deacons presented
a recommendation that the church purchase from Jay Terry the land and house located on the only land adjacent to the current church property at a purchase price of $150,000. In January of 1998 an affirmative vote was given and the transaction completed in February of 1998. On Sunday evening February 6, 2000, the Planning Committee conducted an open forum at the church to present a proposal for the plan of building a Family Life Center. A regular church business conference was held on Wednesday night, February 9th at which a secret ballot was taken. The final recommendation for the Family Life Center was approved with the contract going to the John W. Daniels Construction Company at a cost of just over $741,000.

Ground breaking for the Family Life Center was held on April 2nd, 2000 and although the weather was cool and windy and the ground hard, thehearts of the members were warm and excited about the building of a new facility to the glory of God’s work. Dedication of the new Family Life Center took place on Sunday, March 25th, 2001.

Click here for our church history from 2001-2013

Contributing church historians include T. Ryland Dodson and Eva M. Mylum Walton.