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History of Nazareth Baptist Church, Orange, Virginia


History of Nazareth Baptist Church

115 East Church Street; P. O. Box 1043

Orange, Virginia

This church had its beginning in 1861, while slavery was a major concern of the United States. A band of slaves was given permission to conduct religious services on the plantation. This group continued their services until the Civil War ended in 1865. Six years later in 1871, they formally organized as the Nazareth Baptist Church in the village of Orange, Virginia.


A parcel of land was donated by W. Watts Jones in a section known as Sandy Bottom, where the first church was erected. The Rev. Barnett served as the first minister. Growth was rapid, and it was not long before a larger edifice was needed. As a result of such rapid growth, the parcel of land on Church Street, the present site, was purchased on December 31, 1872 from William G. and Roberta B. Williams.


Two hundred dollars, in cash, was paid down with a balance of three hundred dollars to be paid in installments. The Trustees were Nathaniel H. Anderson, Benjamin McDaniel, and Edmund Coleman. The balance was paid in full and recorded May 8, 1876. By April 18, 1874, a crude frame building with vertical boards existed.


On May 1, 1874, the Trustees borrowed nine hundred and fifty dollars from C. M. Craven. It was to improve the church structure. One improvement was to cover the existing vertical boards with horizontal weather boards. The method of repayment was to be done in installments with six per cent interest. The balance was paid in full and recorded June 13, 1879.


On December 5, 1914, the Trustees borrowed seven hundred dollars from G. A. Gaines, Esq., and George S. Shackelford. It was used to improve the church structure through bricking.


Since its conception, Nazareth has had eighteen Pastors. They include the Reverends Barnett, Gibson, Robinson, Albert Thurston, Callis, Harrison, Brown, Pressley, Carter, Taylor, Johnson, Ross, Spurgeon, Thurston, Catlett, Dr. N. Howard Stanton, Joseph A. Moore, James Gafford, and our present pastor, Dr. Gene T. Lee. Contributed by Mary E. Ford-Smith, Clerk