160 years and counting
This is a summary of some of the historical highlights of Enon Baptist Church which span the last century and a half. 2015 will mark the 160th anniversary of the establishment of our church’s charter at the present day Hollins University. With 22 charter members on hand at the first meeting on January 27, 1855, the Rev. James L Gwaltney was elected the first pastor of Enon. He and his son actually constructed the first “meeting house” on the present location and with the exception of some cosmetic changes and additions, our fellowship continues to meet there regularly. The hand hewn beams under the floor and in the attic are mute evidence of Rev. Gwaltney’s craftsmanship with saw and hammer. The tract of land upon which the church now sits officially belongs to Hollins University and if the church ever ceases to exist, as such, must revert back to the university. This does not include the parsonage and the adjoining property purchased in 1988 which the church will use for future expansion.
A Shared History
Like many small rural churches, Enon shared her pastor with several other area churches. Bonsack Depot, Troutville Baptist, Cove Alum (now underwater since building Carvin’s Cove reservoir), Roanoke’s First Baptist (first existing as Big Lick), Mill Creek, First Baptist Hollins and Ebenezer Baptist Church, were all the recipients of Enon’s caring pastoral or financial administrations. Enon did not hire a full-time pastor until well into the early 1940’s. Enon seemed to play a small role in that great conflagration known to some as the Civil War and to others as the War for Southern Independence. It has been noted that on June 22, 1864, one Jubal Early and some 8,000 of his troops rested on the church property and perhaps on the very pews now harbored in our social hall. After an engagement with northern troops at Hanging Rock, Early’s men were ordered to Lynchburg and camped at Enon before moving out to join forces there. It has been reported that one Enon pastor, Dr. George Braxton Taylor, was fond of citing this historical reference and often commented that during his lengthy 37 year tenure at Enon, the soldiers were not the only ones guilty of sleeping in the pews of the church.
A National Ministry
Dr. Taylor, called to be Enon’s pastor in 1903, was a vibrant part of missionary emphasis for the entire region and the Southern Baptist Association, as well. He has been credited with forming the Sunbeam Band which evolved into the current RA’s and GA’s which help elementary age children understand and experience the essence of missions work, both nationally and internationally. So many great strides were accomplished during Dr. Taylor’s presence that he was honored after his death with our social hall built in his honor and named for him – Taylor Hall.
If you enjoyed reading about some of Enon’s historical highlights, then you might like to “read more about it” in Enon’s history room located in the original first major additon to our church, built under the watchful eye of Rev. E. C. Dargan. Rev. Dargan later became president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
Come and visit with us to get a sense of our traditional and time honored values as you see our facilities and our history.
But don’t leave without first understanding that we know the truths of the Bible to be a part of those traditional values and that they are just as relevant today as they were so many years ago. The real problems of today, like those experienced in any age and culture, are problems that can be solved with an honest, loving relationship with God the Father through knowing and accepting his Son, Jesus Christ. If you are reading this now because of your interest in history, know that the greatest event in history (HIS Story) was the coming of God himself to rescue his people from their problems, their ‘sin’ problems. And what is sin but the separation of ourselves from God through our disobedience to him. So, if you’d like to hear the rest of the story that has the greatest ending ever, please, join us at Enon Baptist Church, we’d love to tell you more about it.