How does one capture in words the essence of a people of God moving together through time? Since 1964, Huguenot Road Baptist Church has been a vibrant witness to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The purpose of this brief history is to convey something of the passion of the people that call themselves HRBC. In commemoration of the church's 50th anniversary, we compiled a detailed history that is available for download here (with pictures) or here (without pictures).
The Early Years
The church was birthed because of the vision of the Richmond Baptist Association and a few members from Bon Air Baptist Church. Many perceived the need for a Baptist witness south of Bon Air, and a piece of land upon which the present buildings rest was purchased. A group from Bon Air Baptist Church sensed the call of God to begin this new work, and they began to meet in a house on Montieth Road. Dr. Russell Wallis was called as the first minister in 1964.
The initial vision for the charter members was to grow in numbers and in spirit and to develop a full range of ministries for the church and the community. Once the charter members outgrew the house on Montieth Road, the congregation met at Bon Air Elementary School for a little more than a year. The first building (the Wallis Building) was occupied in May of 1967. Our church is deeply indebted to Virginia Baptists and other local congregations that helped the first building become a reality.
Dr. Wallis is attributed with providing excellent leadership for this fledgling congregation-giving clear and firm direction and displaying excellent biblical scholarship. His commitment and standards have been infused into the church's fabric.
A term frequently used to describe the genesis of the congregation is sacrifice. Many sacrificed time and financial resources to ensure the success of HRBC. There was an excitement with beginning something new, and the church grew and matured as a result of its contagious spirit.
Creative and energetic leadership were hallmarks of the ministry of Dr. Tim Dixon (1968-1975). During his tenure, youth and children's ministries were expanded, communications with the congregation were enhanced and staffing was begun. Faith was deepened and strengthened during these years.
Dr. Bob Teems (1975-1979) brought energy and enlistment skills to HRBC. The congregation experienced the greatest period of membership expansion as a result of his outgoing leadership and focus on outreach and evangelism. The church's commitment to build an educational building and gymnasium before a new sanctuary evidenced the congregation's commitment to young families.
Consolidation is the word typically used to describe the church during Dr. Ray Pollard's ministry (1980-1988). The church continued to grow quickly and people needed to be assimilated. To accommodate the growing attendance, worship services were moved into the gym until a new sanctuary could be erected in 1986. Mid-week ministries grew and the ministerial staff was expanded.
The ministry of Dr. Charles Chandler (1989-1993) was influenced by his focus on administrative detail. During his tenure, the church completed a number of initiatives including improvements to the facilities. It was during this time the church engaged in an intensive period of soul searching about the future of the congregation and the type of leadership that would be necessary for the future.
The church became very clear about its identity and strengths during an interim period following Dr. Chandler's resignation. During this important time without a pastor, the church found a new vision, crafted new governing documents, and gained spiritual momentum. This period of assessment laid the foundation for the congregation to call a new pastor to lead in a specific direction, and on May 1, 1995, Dr. Bert Browning began his ministry.
Dr. Browning brought humble leadership and gifted preaching that guided the congregation toward needed changes. A focus on making disciples has led the congregation to become more serious about spiritual growth through small groups and other educational offerings. Ministries have been expanded, and full-time staff ministers have grown to five and a half. New ministries to single adults, senior adults, youth, and children have been implemented. The chapel has been converted into flexible space and offices. The music ministry has expanded to include new choirs, ensembles, and an orchestra. We have initiated new partnerships with ministries like CARITAS, Bland County Ministry Center, Pine Street Baptist Church, nursing homes and many others to help us put feet to our faith. We continue to send out members on short-term mission experiences at home and abroad. The congregation's understanding of biblical stewardship has grown, as has the annual budget. The church's relationship with Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond has grown, and we regularly welcome seminary interns in various fields.
On March 3, 2013, the church broke ground on an expansion and renovation project to allow for greater flexibility, accessibility, and security of our buildings. These new facilities will provide us a greater opportunity to serve the surrounding community in ministry and mission.
Dr. Browning retired on June 30, 2013. The church welcomed Dr. Layne Smith on August 1, 2013 as an intentional interim to walk the church through a period of transformation.
On January 25, 2015, Dr. Bob Lee was called by Huguenot Road Baptist Church to be its seventh senior pastor. Bob began his ministry with the church on March 1, 2015. God continues to richly bless the people called Huguenot Road Baptist Church. We continue to build upon the rich heritage of those who have gone before, and we constantly strive to become the best church we can be for the glory of God. Our future together is bright as we discern and submit to God’s leadership and invest our gifts, passions and energy in ministry, missions, and the proclamation of Jesus Christ.