In 1779 the Capital of Virginia moved from Williamsburg to Richmond. The next year fourteen persons met for prayer and conversations about the need for churches in Richmond. As they prayed, the group was led to constitute the Richmond Baptist Church (now First Baptist). Other churches began to emerge as Richmond grew.
From the beginning, the concerns of the Baptists were for the physically and spiritually destitute people arriving in Richmond. Caring for these needs quickly became the hallmark of Baptists. To function more efficiently and effectively, the Baptist Council of Richmond, Manchester, and vicinity was formed. This was the forerunner of the Richmond Baptist Association.
In 1914, Richmond Baptists opened a pioneer institution, the House of Happiness. It quickly became a lighthouse for the needy in Richmond. Physical and spiritual needs were met in a loving, caring way. To meet the needs of the people, the activities being offered were increased and the participation at this center grew rapidly.
As populations shifted and the needs of the people shifted, the need for more centers became evident. In 1937, the South Richmond work began. Shortly afterwards, in 1940, the Cary Street Center opened; in 1943, the Fulton Baptist Chapel was started; and in 1955 the Association opened its fifth Center in the Hillside area of South Richmond.
Communities continue to change, populations change, and needs of the residents continue to shift. The Baptist Centers have adapted well and continue to make a significant impact on those in need. Now Richmond Baptists support three centers: Church Hill, Oregon Hill, and South Richmond. River Road is actively involved in the ministries of these centers.
Over the next three weeks, the work of the current three centers will be featured on the Pastor’s Blog.
Written by Bob Shoemake