The History of Staunton Baptist Church
On April 11, 1790 a group of 32 people met and constituted the Staunton Baptist Church. William Johnson was chosen as pastor. Sometimes in historical records it was spelled Stanton. The name came from the river flowing around it, which was named Staunton by Col. William Byrd II. The name Staunton was to honor Governor Sir William Gooch’s wife, Lady Rebecca Staunton Gooch. The church existed in some other form no later than October 1787 in northeast Franklin County, but failed to organize into a church until 1790. The group moved to southeast Bedford County, maybe because it did not have a formal meeting house.
The first meeting place was known as the Moody Meeting House. The first location was on the north side of the Roanoke (Staunton) River. The meeting house was constructed of logs resting on a stone foundation, and was about 30′ by 18′. It was situated on one acre of land purchased from Daniel Saunders. This original acre is located within what is now known as the Smith Mountain Lake State Park.
In the spring of 1877 the church decided to relocate due to the loss of members and the dilapidated condition of the House of Worship and moved to the Pleasant Grove School house. On April 23, 1883 a committee recommended constructing a new building. The property for the new church was secured from Jordan Martin in 1883. It was directly across the street from the school house. the church was built and mostly paid for in less than one year. The school house burned down in 1918. the Moody Meeting House was sold in October of 1885.
On May 20, 1984, almost 200 years later, about 350 people gathered at the Smith Mountain Lake State Park, where the church had started, to dedicate a granite at the restored foundation of the Moody Meeting House. The stone was unveiled by Reverend Blanks. Staunton Baptist Church has changed in many ways, but the greatest days are those in the present and in the future. It is hoped that all who have read this can say, “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.” (Phillipians 1:3)