Our History

History of Nanjemoy Baptist Church


These men, William Fristoe, Jeremiah Moore, Andrew Leach, and Henry Hagan, were often personally insulted and

abused.  Hagan was once dragged into the Potomac River and held under until almost drowned.  On raising him, his

persecutors asked him if he “believed,” for the Scripture says none but believers should be baptized.  Nearly

exhausted, Mr. Hagan replied, “I believe that you intend to drown me.”  The opposition called attention to the preaching,

the congregation increased, and many that heard the Word did “believe” and were baptized. [J.F. Weishampel, Jr.,

History of Baptist Churches in Maryland, (Baltimore: J.F. Weishampel, Jr., 1885)


On December 15, 1791, Thomas Perry sold one acre of land, parts of the tract called “Morris Discovery” in Durham

Parish, to George Dunnington, Trustee for the Baptist Church in Nanjemoy.  The cost of the land was three shillings

and nine pence, and it was to be used forever and for no other use than the Baptist church. [Land Book K-4, p. 398,

Charles County Court House, La Plata, Maryland]


In 1793, the Nanjemoy Baptist Church was constituted and became part of the Ketoctin Association in Virginia. This

association, composed of four churches, was the center of Calvinistic Baptists in America in the 18th century. The

churches previously were united with the Philadelphia Association. Elder Andrew Leach is credited with being the

“planter” of the Nanjemoy Church.  There were sixty-three members when the church was constituted, and Elder

Leach was considered the pastor. [Robert B. Semple, A History of the Rise and Progress of the Baptists in

Virginia, Richmond: Pitt and Dickinson, 1810]


In 1820, the Columbia Association was formed from churches of the Ketoctin and Baltimore Associations located

in Virginia and Maryland.  Nanjemoy was one of the founding sixteen churches.[Woodford Broadus Hackley, “Virginia

Associations,” Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1958)]


After an increase in attendance the house of worship was repaired and enlarged in 1835.


By 1836, Nanjemoy had a membership of 126.  On October 27, 1836, the Maryland Baptist Union Association

(now known as the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware) was organized by six churches.  This association

believed in a strong mission effort. The following year, Nanjemoy joined the association, becoming the seventh

church to be a member.


In May 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention was formed. Nanjemoy was one of the 4,126 churches from nine

state conventions that formed the new convention.


Rev. William I. Chiles was pastor from 1837 to 1855 and again from 1867 to 1874, Great progress was made

under his leadership, and the membership reached 267. His Homesite is now an Interpretive Site and Trail

developed and administered by the Federal Bureau of Land Management. Read more about it on the website.

Chiles Homesite, Douglas Point, Maryland | William & Mary (wm.edu).


Several interesting facts are found in the early minutes: No women were allowed to attend business meetings of the

church during this time.  In 1838, a query was raised in regard to fox hunting.  It was decided “that the church look

upon fox hunting in the general way it is practiced as being inconsistent with the Christian Religion and a sin to do so.”

In 1845 it was decided to buy a stove for the part of the meeting house “occupied by the colored brethren.”  In 1847,

a resolution was passed opposing the use of intoxicating beverages.  In 1848, the minutes state, “Each member

of this church be required to pay….annually an amount equal to five cents for each dollar paid…by them for county

and state tax.”  There were evidently a large number of black members at this time.  Most likely, many of these were

slaves, because they were listed in the records by their first name only and to whom they belonged (i.e. Mary

belonging to Capt. J.A. Gray).


 In 1868 the minutes state, “Our house of worship being very much dilapidated, it was determined to make an

effort to rebuild it.  Subscriptions being opened for that purpose.”   By 1874 a large sum of money was raised,

and the church building was rebuilt.  In 1870, the Sunday School was officially organized with a membership of fifty-one.


A large part of the early meetings was devoted to the enforcement of regulations regarding the attendance and the

conduct of the church members.  The rules were very rigid and members were brought before the church for such

offenses as drunkenness, slander, and disorderly conduct; but the principal offense was attending dances.  If the

offender confessed and asked forgiveness of the church, the matter was dropped.  Those who refused were excluded

from fellowship.  However, many were restored to church fellowship when they repented and asked to become

members again.


In 1876, the duties of the sexton (janitor) included: have the house open in good time for all meetings, keep the

house warm and well ventilated, keep the house well swept and furniture dusted, keep a supply of fresh water

in the house, have spittoons washed out, keep lamps filled with oil and rubbed brightly to remove smut and smoke,

eject dogs and disorderly persons from the house.  For this, he received $15.00 per year.


The church minutes from 1880 to 1911 were destroyed by fire.


The first parsonage was built in 1883.  It was moved to Glymont in 1958, where it still stands today.  A piece

of wood was found with the following information:  James Haislip, Contractor, $750.00, Charles County Md,

Sept 23, 1883.


The arch and sidewalk in front of the church were completed in 1915. The cuspidors (spittoons) that were in the

church were tossed in before the concrete was poured.


The years of 1923 through 1928 were a time of rapid and continued growth. The 75-foot steeple and 1500-pound

bell were added. A battery-powered lighting system and the memorial stained-glass windows were installed. The

Sunday School enrollment grew from 150 in 1923 to 250 in 1927.


During the years of the depression the spiritual condition was much better than the financial condition. Funds were

low in 1935 when the church voted to build the much-needed Sunday School rooms. In 1938 electricity was installed

in the church and parsonage and work began on the Sunday School rooms. The rooms were completed and paid for

in 1939.


The first Vacation Bible School was held in 1941.  In 1944, major renovations were made to the inside and outside

of the church building.  Sub-siding and shingles were added to the outside.  Two new Sunday School rooms and an

office were added across the back of the church.  The inside was remodeled with plaster and ceiling board; the pulpit

was extended with a curtain across the front; and double doors were added in the back. In 1949 new pulpit furniture

and communion table were purchased at a cost of $315.95.  Also in 1949 the church took a public stand against

legalizing slot machines in Charles County.  In 1950 the total membership was 302, and the expenditures totaled $5,069.


In 1951 a choir was organized and in 1952 a Hammond organ and choir robes were purchased.


A new parsonage was completed in 1958. The Sunday School had long since outgrown the rooms on the church.

Plans were made for an educational building. When the building was dedicated on March 26, 1961 the Sunday School

enrollment was 180.


Prior to 1963 when a baptistery was installed in the sanctuary everyone was baptized in the Potomac River.


On October 18, 1963 the newly-formed Potomac Baptist Association held its first meeting at Nanjemoy. Seven

churches and two missions were represented.


Central air conditioning was installed in the sanctuary in 1974 and new carpeting in 1975.


A report in 1975 showed the following information concerning the land owned by the church:


            Deed from Dunnington, dated 12/15/1793, cost 3 shillings, 10 pence

            Deed from Posey, dated 2/27/1874 for 2 acres, cost $10.00

            Deed from Posey, dated 1/5/1883 for 5 acres, cost $34.50

            Deed from Board of Education, dated 9/9/1930 for 1 acre, cost $475.00

            Deed from Henderson, dated 10/8/1946 for 0.7 acre, cost $1.00

            Deed from Hancock for the Maryland Point property, cost $15.00


In 1981 vinyl siding was put on the exterior of the church, and in 1982 the tin roof, which had been on the church

for many years, was replaced with asphalt roofing at a cost of $6.000 according to church minutes and took 16 days

to complete.  In 1990 land was cleared for additional cemetery space, a new baptistery was installed, and in 1991 a

bus was obtained to be used for Sunday School and mission activities.


The 200th Anniversary of the church was celebrated in 1993. Memorabilia of the celebration was put into a Time

Capsule and buried beside the church. The capsule is to be opened in the year 2018 when the church celebrates

and praises the Lord for 225 years.


In September 2002 a handicap ramp and new sidewalks were added to the entrance of the church. In February 2005

a handicap ramp was completed on the Educational Building. New windows and carpet were installed in the Educational

Building in 2005 and 2006. Also new carpet was installed in the sanctuary and new windows in the wing of the

church. A new roof for the Educational Building was installed in 2007, as well as the church foyer being remodeled.

Nanjemoy also evolved into the hi-tech world by establishing ourselves on the internet.  In 2008, a new roof was

installed on the church building at a cost of $14,800.  It took only 10 hours (1 day) to complete this job.

In 2009, a piano was purchased and new lighting installed in the sanctuary. A deep well was drilled to replace

the previous deep well. Water supply pipes and electrical panels were upgraded. Landscaping in front of the church,

memorial benches, and post lanterns are now in place. In 2012, windows were installed on all classroom doors in

compliance with Child Protection Policy.


An eight-year project to document the Church Cemetery was completed and published. This is the first documented

and most accurate record of the church cemetery, complete with genealogy and actual plat of the cemetery.


Six acres of land on Baptist Church Road was gifted to the church to be used as a Youth Retreat and outings.  The land was sold in 2021.  


More than improvements to the buildings,  “the church” has reached out to the community. In 2012 a 72’ x 30’ pavilion was

constructed to hold outdoor events and a playground constructed for the enjoyment of the children.

The events are open to everyone.


Hands Across Nanjemoy was established in 2010 as a mission outreach program. In its inception, the project scope

was to set aside one week a year as a construction project to repair homes for those needing assistance and to witness

and show God’s love. The project has been expanded to be there for the community all year long…providing assistance

and ensuring the safety of all during natural disasters.


In 2017 a portion of the church was rearranged allowing for construction of the audiovisual/sound booth in the church sanctuary.  

The Church benefits greatly from the use of the ceiling mounted projector displays during worship services.  Sound was also 

extended into the Educational Building.  Audio sermons are available on the church website for those unable to attend.


The church steeple underwent total renovation in 2018. New plywood and vinyl siding replaced the aging material, however the

historical church bell and interior remained to preserve our history.   The 1500 pound bell still rings each Sunday morning after 

almost 100 years.  


The 225th Anniversary of the church was celebrated in 2018. Time capsule from the 200th Anniversary was opened and put on

display.  Memorabilia of the 225th celebration was put into a new Time Capsule and buried beside the church. Items include

photographs of church families, souvenir pen/cup/napkin from 225 celebration.  The capsule is to be opened in the year 2043.  We

look forward to celebrating and praising the Lord for 250 years in 2043.


Our history is unique in that we are the mother of Southern Baptist churches in the Tri-County area, and one of the oldest

continuous Baptist churches in Maryland. Embracing our heritage, we desire to maintain an emphasis on the Great Commission

(Matthew 28:19-20)…working together to reach the lost and growing together to make disciples.


Nanjemoy Baptist Church has a rich history in church planting. Those Church plants include the following:


Ø      Good Hope Baptist Church at Newburg, Maryland was founded in 1832 by Rev. Samuel Straughan,

a moderately Calvinistic missionary from Virginia. He preached occasionally at Nanjemoy and at an unknown

church in St. Mary’s County.  According to J. F. Weishampel, Jr., History of Baptist Churches in Maryland,

Good Hope had a large congregation until the Civil War when most of the male members died. Through the

years a faithful few kept the church going. The Nanjemoy pastor preached at Good Hope once each month

until 1954. When the last service (a funeral) was held in 1954 there were only two members remaining, and the

church was closed. Today, only the cemetery remains.

Ø      Maryland Point Mission – first mentioned in 1886 (the building burned in 1927)

Ø      Hilltop Mission – first mentioned in 1886

Ø      Dentsville Mission – 1900

Ø      Port Tobacco Mission – 1900

Ø      Pisgah Mission – 1905

Ø      Marbury Baptist Church – Began by those members of Nanjemoy Baptist who lived in Marbury. 

According to their history, Rev. James M. Thomas, a former pastor of Nanjemoy, was boarding with the family of

C.E. Posey in Marbury. He began holding services in the home with ten families attending. The idea for a local

church was born.  They built a one-room building, and on June 14, 1915, Nanjemoy granted a letter of dismissal

to nine members for the purpose of organizing a Baptist Church in Marbury, Maryland.

Ø      Rebuilt the Maryland Point Mission – In 1940 Pastor C.C. Nanney started having open air services

under the shade of some oak trees on the grounds of the old Nanjemoy Baptist Mission that burned in April 1927.

After a few services were held in this manner, they decided to build, and on July 21, 1940 a collection amounting to

$4.50 was taken for the beginning of the work. On July 30, 1940, a group of men went into the woods and cut the

logs and placed them on the grounds. The foundation was laid on August 2, 1940. The building was finished in 1941,

and services were once again held each Sunday afternoonServices continued to be held each Sunday afternoon

until 1958 when it was decided to close the Mission. At that time all of those attending were actively involved at


Ø      Welcome Mission – The mission in the community of Welcome was started in 1944 by Pastor Nanney.

Volunteer workers erected a one-room building on Gunston Road.  The responsibility for leadership was

transferred to Marbury Baptist in 1947. The mission was constituted into the First Baptist Church of Welcome on

August 24, 1969.

Ø      Hughesville Mission – In 1969 the members of Nanjemoy expressed a desire to start to a mission.

Pastor Marvin Whisnant worked with the Potomac Baptist Association, and Hughesville was chosen as the place.

The first Bible study was held on May 26, 1970.  The mission grew rapidly, and they built a building which was

dedicated on November 10, 1974. The mission was constituted as Hughesville Baptist Church on September 14,

1975. They have continued to grow and have accomplished many things for the Lord.

Ø      Maryland Point Mission – In 1995 under the leadership of Pastor James C.  Cunningham, the church

decided to once again begin the mission.  The church voted to support the mission with the help of the Baptist

Convention of Maryland/Delaware and the Potomac Baptist Association. Pastor John Bradburn, a member of

Nanjemoy, was approved by the church to serve as the mission pastor.  In 2005 the mission was constituted as

Maryland Point Baptist Church. .  Pastor Bradburn remained the pastor until his death in 2007.

Below is a flow chart which visually displays church planting history (dates are dates of constitution)