1940 - The Beginning
The year is 1940 - there are wars and rumors of wars but in the little town of Bassett, Virginia, there were those who were still thinking of furthering the cause of Christ by beginning a new Baptist Church. Mrs. Pocahontas H. Bassett, who had been instrumental in building two previous churches, was still trying to extend the missionary spirit by beginning another church even though she was 80 years old. Her husband offered to give the land between his house and Mr. Reed L. Stone's, his brother-in-law.
1941 - First Meeting
Although first organized in 1940, Pocahontas Bassett Baptist Church met for the first time in their church building on December 7, 1941. The service was held in the Sunday School assembly room with the Rev. Landon C. Mattox, then pastor of First Baptist Church of Fieldale, officiating. At this time, Rev. Joseph R. Johnson, Sr., who had been called to be our first pastor, was recovering from surgery, and as he was the church's first pastor, it was felt he should have the honor of leading the first service in the new sanctuary.
Even as this first service was taking place our President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, came on the radio announcing that we were at war with Japan.
1946 - Dedication
On September 9, 1946, the Carillonic Bells, given by Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Bassett, Sr., were dedicated. The Dedication Plaque in the vestibule reads: "The Carillonic Tower Bells in this church are dedicated to the Glory of God and in grateful recognition of the Sacrifice and Service of the Men and Women who served in World War II".
1950 - The 10th Anniversary
The tenth anniversary of our church's organization found our enrollment over the three hundred mark-309. Gifts for the Cooperative Program and to all purposes was $22,298.
1952 - Dr. George D. Stevens, Sr.
After pastoring our church for 12 years, Dr. Johnson accepted a position to become Chaplain of the Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg. Dr. George D. Stevens, Sr., was called to be the second pastor of our church.
1960 - The 20th Anniversary
The 20th Anniversary was observed in October, 1960, with lunch on the grounds and fellowship with old and new members. Dr. Joseph R. Johnson preached the anniversary sermon.
1963 - Retirement
In 1963 Dr. Stevens retired and moved to Troutville, VA. His nine years of fruitful work was completed. Times goes so fast and it is difficult to see changes but God's mission never stops.
In November of 1963 Rev. William L. Hales from Hull's Memorial Baptist Church, Falmouth, VA, accepted the call to become our third pastor. His youth and enthusiasm were very contagious and the Lord's work went forward.
1965 - Kindergarten
After much soul searching and discussion a Kindergarten Committee recommended that the church underwrite the expenses for a Kindergarten for one year. It was begun September 14, 1965, with 10 pupils. Mrs. Margaret Shropshire Jones was the first teacher. Mrs. Estelle Bowman Craig followed and served diligently for sixteen years.
1967 - Christmas
In 1967 Mrs. Pauline Ramsey Wells, a talented member, suggested we make Christian ornaments in order to have a Chrismon tree for our Christmas decoration. Under her expert guidance the members made the ornaments and it was a beautiful dedication to the Christmas season. Lloyd W. Wells was faithful, until his death to always find a large suitable cedar tree for this use. Though we use an artificial tree now, the ornaments continue to be a beautiful tribute to the glory of God. The trunk of the last live tree now forms the cross which we use to honor the season of Pentecost.
1972 - Outreach
In 1972 we were to lose our Minister to another calling. Rev. William L. Hales resigned to go into training for clinical Pastoral Education at Virginia Baptist Hospital in Lynchburg, VA. Under Rev. Hales' ministry an outreach program was initiated which included Play-school, Kindergarten, Our Place (Youth Center), Joycetown Mission and sponsoring a refugee family.
A call was made to Rev. Charles D. Page of Thompson Baptist Church of Reidsville, NC. Rev. Page began an extensive youth program. There was much equipment added to the parking and play area - new basketball goals and tennis courts. A church bus was purchased for the youth activities. There was an addition of 48 persons in six months.
A tape ministry was begun and has brought much joy to shut-ins as they could participate in the church worship and Sunday School lessons. This program continues today although it has been updated to CD's which are faithfully delivered each Monday by members of the CD committee.
Rev. Page only remained two years before accepting a call to Lawndale Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC, on December 16, 1974.
1975 - Rev. Earl Calvert
Rev. Earl Calvert accepted the call to be our minister in September, 1975. He came from Glen Allen Baptist Church in Glen Allen, VA.
1982 - Scholarship Fund
In July 1982 the church established the John Benton and Betty Davidson Dillon Scholarship Fund in keeping with the provisions in the will of Mrs. Betty D. Dillon. A Board of Trustees was elected to administer the investment of funds left to the church for the purpose of providing scholarships for needy young people. Mrs. Dillon was a teacher for many years and her desire for young people to get an education has meant a great deal to those who have benefited and continue to benefit today from her generosity.
1983 - End of a Season
On March 11, 1983, Dr. Earl J. Calvert rendered his resignation saying, "For everything there is a season." He served faithfully for almost nine years. His new pastorate will be First Baptist Church of Bristol, VA.
1984 - Rev. Dale Ashley
Rev. Dale Ashley was called to be our new minister in October 1984. Rev. Ashley came to us from New Bethel Baptist Church in Garner, NC, and very ably led the church in continuing its well rounded ministry and in its missionary vision and zeal.
1985 - Preschool
When the Henry County School System incorporated kindergarten in the public school system, the church established a Preschool for 4 year olds. Determining a need for a Preschool class for 3 year olds in the community, the church expanded its preschool to include such a class in the fall of 1985.
1987 - Female Deacons
In the late 1980's our church voted to change our affiliation from Southern Baptist to Cooperative Baptist which we believed aligned better with the beliefs of our church. In 1987 our Constitution was changed to allow women to serve as deacons and in 1990 our first woman deacon, Joan Bing, was elected.
1988 - Renovations
In 1988 it was decided that we needed an enlarged and more convenient Nursery and Children's Departments. The Fellowship Hall was redesigned to accommodate more classrooms and for better overall use. General clean up and repairs were made as we neared the fifty year mark. A ramp for handicap access was added to the front steps and an elevator, given by Mrs. Lucy Bassett and her family, was installed to give access to all.
1990 - 50th Anniversary
What a glorious day we had on October 28, 1990, when we celebrated our 50th Anniversary. Our theme was "Building on the Past, With a Vision for the Future". Over 400 were in attendance. A delicious luncheon was provided for all who wished to partake. Our former pastor, Dr. William L. Hales, brought the morning message and Rev. Dale Ashley the afternoon message. At the close of the morning service a Time Capsule was buried in the side lawn to be opened on our 75th Anniversary.
1991 - Pipe Organ
The original pipe organ for the church was built in 1941 by the Henry Pilcher Sons Organ Company, Opus 1955 with 2 manuals and 16 stops. In 1991 the Wicks Organ Company rebuilt, expanded and upgraded the organ to about 26 ranks in 2 manuals. The Board of Deacons passed a resolution expressing their appreciation to Mary Elizabeth Morten and Kathryn Bassett for their most generous gift to the church. The organ was given in memory of their parents, Mr. and Mrs. William M. Bassett.
The Preacher of Ecclesiastes has written that for everything there is a season and a time for every matter under Heaven. Our pastor of 12 and a half years, Rev. Dale Ashley, submitted his resignation to accept a pastorate at Mr. Olivet Baptist in Montpelier, VA. He had a very memorable pastorate with us--he married 58 couples, baptized 78, celebrated the birth of 40, and buried 68. We were part of the birth of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and we established a Mission and Ministries Endowment.
1998 - Dr. Malcolm Huckabee
On October, 25, 1998, the church voted to call Dr. Malcolm Huckabee as a full time pastor. Dr. Huckabee had been serving as our interim pastor. He began his pastorate on January 1, 1999, with an agreement that he would serve for two years.
2000 - 60th Anniversary
On Sunday, October 15, 2000, we observed our 60th Anniversary and Homecoming. Dr. William Hales, our former pastor, returned to bring our worship message, Neil Maxey composed a special song and Galilee Clark wrote a biography of Pocahontas Hundley Bassett.
2001 - Rev. Keith Reynolds
Rev. Keith Reynolds was presented by the Pulpit Committee on July 22, 2001, to become our next pastor beginning Aug. 26. He was a young man and he and his wife are former Marines. He came to us from Bethesda Baptist Church in Mechanicsville, VA.
2002 - Church Library
A new Church Library was made available on September 8, 2002. It is on the Sanctuary level so it would be more convenient to our readers.
During this year an Awana Program will be begun as well as a new Mission Group called Women on Mission. A "Soup Kitchen Ministry" was started by the Women on Mission to prepare and deliver hot lunches to our shut-ins.
2005 - Rev. Richard Hanks
Our pastor, Rev. Keith Reynolds, resigned in October, 2004. The Deacon Board recommended that the church pursue the Intentional Interim Ministry Plan and in January, 2005, Rev. Richard Hanks was presented to serve our pastorate. He comes to the church with experience in helping churches resolve their differences and return to their main purpose of serving the Lord. Rev. Hanks, a South Carolina native, began his ministry on February 6, 2005.
For 38 years we have had a Kindergarten and Pre-School program but after much study it was decided to stop the programs on May 26, 2005 since the enrollment was down and it was difficult to obtain teachers.
2006 - Grace Network
The church accepted a recommendation in 2006 to join the Grace Network and support it financially. Grace Network will take a lot of the responsibility of overlapping benevolent requests. We continue to bring food and give to the Grace Network to assist Bassett area people.
2007 - Rev. Jim Hewitt
Rev. Hanks completed his contract time with us in 2007 and the church voted unanimously on June 3, 2007, to call Rev. Jim Hewitt as our new pastor. His ministry at PBBC began the week of July 9th.
2009 - Pickers and Fiddler Songfest
Under Pastor Hewitt's ministry the Pickers and Fiddlers Songfest began in April 2009. The Church Shack Band was formed about the same time. Other ministries began during this time included participating in the Bassett Heritage Festival on the second Saturday in September each year. Church volunteers and staff members tie and give out about 300 balloon animals plus bottles of water. Through this event, our church is introduced to lots of people and both Christ's love and our love is shared with the people that we see and meet. Halloween sees church members opening their hearts and car trunks to participate in "Trunk or Treat". Treats are given out to about 300 children from the Bassett area. We also began an After School Kids group where students from Campbell Court Elementary School came to get help with their homework, color, play games, sing and to just be happy!
2013 - Church Scape
In 2013 we added to our "church scape" with a new 30 x 50 ft picnic shelter that is used quite often from Spring through Fall. The shelter was designed and built by members of our church. Church picnics, family reunions and BBQ dinners have been held at the shelter which is available for community use. Movie Nights with all the trimmings held during the summer months are enjoyed by children and adults.
2014 - Community Meals
We saw a need in our community for a place to gather for a hot, nutritious meal so in 2014 we began serving meals each third Thursday of the month. It is a special evening with music, scriptures and fellowship enjoyed by all along with a good meal.
2015 - 75th Anniversary
We celebrated our 75th Anniversary on September 26th and 27th, 2015, with the theme "Moving Forward, walking by Faith into the Future". On Saturday a BBQ dinner with the trimmings had award-winning Chef George Hearn and his crew quite busy. Our time capsule was opened from 25 years ago. On Sunday morning, Rev. Dale Ashley, a former minister, was our guest speaker, sharing some of his memories while at Pocahontas and encouraging our journey into the future. Two "youngsters" who had spent many years at Pocahontas shared their love of music with us. Neil Maxey's arrangement of "Solid Rock" and Bonne (Jones) Surma's voice and keyboard were beautiful.
Our youth group was formed in 2015 and has been very active. They began with a trip to the Xperience Youth Rally in Patrick County and have participated in various activities such as a lock in, sewing lessons to make quilts for babies in the hospital, Christmas Caroling, Easter Egg hunts, etc. We are excited to see what this group has done and what they are learning, and the programs they will do in contributing to our church ministry.
The Baptist Women of our church continue to reach out. The ministry to Harmony Hall that began years ago continues still with sometimes as many as 6 to 8 birthdays for the residents in a 2-month period. Wonderful programs are given and the group experienced in March a "skype" with CBF personnel in Slovakia. Another program was given by the granddaughter of one of our charter members.
Our Grace Network ministry in both "Change for Grace" (a collection of change given in the offering plate each Sunday to purchase food for Grace Network) and supplying food by donation in our Grace Network basket in the vestibule has been going strong for the past ten years.
On June 26th Dr. Jim Hewitt concluded his pastoral duties as he and Charlene began a new journey in Charleston, WV, at the Charleston Baptist Temple. We shall miss Jim's leadership, his eagerness to try new things to build membership and to make our church stronger in the Lord.
2017 - Rev. Susan Spangenberg
On February 13, 2017, Rev. Susan Spangenberg began her ministry as the first woman pastor at our church. We are excited to see where her leadership will take us in the years to come.
Thanks to Galilee Clark and Pat Ross for all their work in compiling the information in this history.