On June 26, 1859, twenty-three (23) slaves organized themselves into a church and became the Fourth African Baptist Church, the first black church in the Church Hill community of Richmond. Worship services were held regularly on each Sunday afternoon at the Leigh Street Baptist Church. On December 2, 1865, under freedom, the church was reorganized and became known as the Fourth Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Scott Gwathmey. With wood from abandoned and capsized military barracks in nearby Chimborazo Hill, the slaves built a humble place to worship God in Church Hill.
The culture of Fourth Baptist Church is definitely one of great pride. As a leading church not only in Church Hill but also in the city of Richmond, it has become a church historically known for its many achievements, attainments, and accomplishments. One of the common yet distinguishing mantras by longtime members is, “we are the Mother Church of the Hill.” Embedded within this phrase is the distinctive identity that Fourth Baptist Church existed before any other church “on the hill.” Approximately nine churches have been birthed through Fourth Baptist over the past 160 years.
During the 160-year history of Fourth Baptist Church, nine ministers have served as Pastor and several have served as Interim Pastor.
Our former and present Pastors are as follows:
- The Reverend Scott Gwathmey (1865-1879)
- The Reverend Doctor Evans Payne (1880-1926)
- The Reverend Fendall Williams (1928-1931)
- The Reverend J. Andrew Brown (1933-1951)
- The Reverend Doctor Robert Louis Taylor (1952-1986)
- The Reverend Doctor Leonidas Young (1990-1999)
- The Reverend Michael Joseph Jones (2002-2005)
- The Reverend Emery Berry, Jr. (2010-2016)
- The Reverend Doctor William Eric Jackson, Sr. (2018-Present)
Fourth Baptist is a Multigenerational, Multicultural, and Multifaceted church, seeking to be a place that fosters growth, fellowship, and service. Its ministries are relevant, organized, and comprehensive. It is a church where the members are caring, concerned, and compassionate, seeking to do the Lord’s will.