Beale Memorial Baptist
The issue was the Lordship of Christ
1774 – The Piscataway Baptist Church, located seven miles southwest of Tappahannock, Virginia, was founded, and on the same day a warrant was issued to arrest all the Baptist preachers at the meeting. John Waller, John Shackleford, Robert Ware, and Ivison Lewis were taken before a magistrate. Lewis was released because it could not be proved that he actually preached. The others were sent to prison. During their time there they preached twice per week, gave godly advice, read the scriptures, and prayed almost without ceasing. John Waller in his journal wrote that they passed through various fiery trials, their minds being harassed by the enemy of souls. The actual record has been preserved in the court record of the Essex County, VA, records book for the twenty-first of March, in the year of our Lord 1774. The charge was, “for preaching and expounding the Scriptures contrary to law, and confessing the fact…” Ware and Shackleford gave security (bond) and were released. Waller was always doubtful about giving bond and was determined to go back to jail which he did and spent fourteen days with a bunch of drunken and profane rowdies. He felt deserted by his brethren and scoffed and persecuted by his enemies. He finally gave consent and bonded out. The old brick courthouse building where those men were arraigned as lawbreakers is still standing on U.S. Route 17 in Tappahannock, and is now a Baptist church. The members of the Centennial Baptist Church bought the old courthouse and used it as a house of worship. The church changed its name in 1908 to Beale Memorial Baptist Church after Pastor Frank B. Beal who served as pastor for twenty-eight years. This 234 year old church may be the oldest Baptist church in America.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 103.
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