On August 20, 1858, Ashland Baptist Church was organized by 15 members who came from nearby Winn’s, Taylorsville and Walnut Grove Baptist churches. That first meeting was held in the Union Meeting House (currently the Masonic Hall) on England Street and served as the worship center until the dedication of the new church on Railroad Avenue (now the Hanover Arts and Activities Center) in September 1859. During the Civil War, the church was used as a hospital.
Through the years membership increased, and land for a new church complex was purchased west of town. The last service held in the original church was on June 25, 1967. On the following Sunday, services were held at the new church located at 800 Thompson Street.
The Rev. Ryland O. Reamy, after leading the church for almost 14 years, retired in 1969. He and his wife Alde chose to remain in the Ashland community. In July of that year, Dr. James Ellis began his 22 ½ years of dedicated service, which gives him the distinction of longest-serving minister. The church name was changed to First Baptist in 1970. A substantial addition was made to the church. Retiring in 1992, he and his wife Betty make Ashland their home and are much beloved members of the congregation. Our current minister, the Rev. Robert E. Thompson, accepted our call in late summer 1992. His wife Kathy graces our church services with her wonderful musical talents. Church membership continued to grow, and under Rev. Thompson’s leadership and spiritual guidance, a beautiful new and larger worship center was built. The first service in the new sanctuary was celebrated on Christmas Eve 2006.
The church to date has been served by 27 ministers. For 150 years, the mission has been to win souls for Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. That mission continues as we grow in God’s grace.
From: Ashland, Virginia 150 Years: 1858 – 2008, p. 27. Article submitted by Brenda Gilman.