Lexington’s First Baptist Church celebrates 154 years

Published: Sep. 24, 2021 at 10:32 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ) - The First Baptist Church is a landmark in downtown Lexington -- “Can you believe it’s still here, after 154 years?” church member Gayle Porterfield asked -- the oldest, independent African-American church in the area.

“I think about it every time I come down Main Street and turn into the church lot,” Porterfield said. “And in front of the church, where the people had to build it, they just had horse and buggy. It’s amazing. It’s unbelievable.”

It’s something worth celebrating.

“It’s rich with history, and we have a wonderful cadre of membership that are walking historians. Not just the pastor but the people are walking historians,” said Pastor McKinley Williams. “They could tell you what happened. We have people here, their grandmothers have been here. We have generations of members.”

Something they have documented in a new history room, telling the story of First Baptist’s 154 years.

“I felt there’s a great sense of history in this church,” artist Beverly Tucker said.

She was inspired by the church and its congregation to paint a series of portraits of noted African Americans, a collection Pastor Williams installed in their own gallery.

“He said, we need to be able to celebrate ourselves,” Tucker said.

“It’s almost like a treasure hunt,” said Pastor Williams. “Every day you’re finding out something new and something wonderful about this particular people and this local.”

A history marked with a new plaque out front, and a special Sunday.

“We’re very happy and very excited that the good Lord is blessing,” said Williams.

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