Our History

Our History

Chapel Car “Herald of Hope”

On June 9, 1916, in the Chapel Car “Herald of Hope,” located on a side track at the Gravely Plow Factory, Dunbar, West Virginia, the following people organized the Baptist Church: Rev. & Mrs. Newton of the Chapel Car, “Herald of Hope,” Rev. T.C. Johnson, A.S. Kelly, W.H. Bayless, and W.C. Herold, along with the following local citizens: Mr. & Mrs. Samuel Barr, Miss. Inez Barr, Mrs. Nancy Reed, J.P. McCallister, Mr. & Mrs. O.N. Keeling, Mrs. C.L. Perkins, and H.H. Parsons.

After the Chapel Car moved from Dunbar, services were conducted in what is become Mound School and in the Morton Building, which eventually became the annex at the First Ward School. During this period, Rev. Irvin Hall was pastor.

Gravely Plow Factory

The record of the church from the date of its organization until April 1919 is incomplete. On April 10, 1919, eight new members were welcomed into the church.

At this time, Rev. J.D. Vannoy was called as pastor. Services were then conducted in a bowling alley located on Eleventh Street. The place of worship was moved later from the bowling alley to a store room on Twelfth Street. The church building located at Payne Avenue and Thirteenth Street was planned and opened for services in the spring of 1920. Rev. I.T. Marks was the first pastor in the new church building. The first baptismal service was conducted February 13, 1921, and five people were baptized.

During the next 25 years, the church outgrew its building on Payne Avenue, and Rev. J.C. Musser and the members of the Board of Trustees began to formulate plans to build a new and larger building in the late 1940’s.

Property was purchased on Sixteenth Street for a new church and in time, Architect Herbert Kyle was hired to design the new facility. On October 5, 1952, the first service was held in the newly completed church. Total cost for this building was $160 thousand. Dedication ceremonies were held on November 1, 1952. In November 1957, the note on the church was burned. As the church continued to grow, salaried personnel were appointed. Andrew Hobbs joined the staff as Director of Christian Education and Music in September 1953, a position held until November 1961. The church also appointed a part-time secretary on April 3, 1957.

In January 1958, Rev. Musser resigned as pastor of the church but remained as interim pastor until the vacancy could be filled. At the close of 1958, the membership of the church had grown to approximately 737.

On October 1, 1958, Rev. George R. Pauley accepted pastor ship and was formally installed at a special service held on December 3, 1958.

Bench Seat from the “Herald of Hope” on display in our office

As the church continued to grow, available neighboring properties were purchased from time to time for church offices, classrooms, or conversion into necessary parking facilities. On June 17, 1973, groundbreaking ceremonies were held on the adjoining property for a multi-purpose unit, and on June 8, 1975, dedication services were held for the new facility. This building addition housed additional classroom space, a full commercial kitchen, and a gymnasium.

After twenty-six years of service, Rev. Pauley terminated his post as pastor on March 3, 1984.

Rev. D.D. Elwell joined the staff as pastor on June 10, 1984 and resigned on November 30, 1985.

Dr. Milan H. Johnson accepted the call to the Pastorate on July 1, 1986.

Dr. Johnson submitted his resignation in 1993, Following this, the church began an extensive search for its next pastor. In the interim, Rev. D.D. Elwell and Major Richard Jones, of the Salvation Army, served as interim pastors.

In December 1995, Rev. Thomas E. Stevens, Jr. accepted the call to become pastor of First Baptist Church of Dunbar. During Rev. Stevens tenure, an addition to the building was added creating new office space, a parlor, and new entryway. Rev. Stevens accepted another call to the pastorate in May of 2010.

After ten months of service as interim pastor, Rev. Philip C. Shields accepted the call to become the pastor of the church. He served until August of 2013.

On August 24, 2014, by unanimous vote, Jason S. Quintrell accepted the call to become Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dunbar.