Years 51 – 100: Harmony Grove Baptist Church
by Betty Kennon
On Sunday, June 21, Harmony Grove Baptist Church near Topping will celebrate its 150th anniversary. Last week a short history of the first 50 years of the church was published. Following is a short history of the church from 1910 through 1959.
Rev. H.J. Goodwyn continued to be pastor and in 1911 ground was broken for a new building. The cornerstone was laid in 1917 and the house of worship was dedicated in 1918 upon the adjournment of the Rappahannock Baptist Association meeting, which was held at Harmony Grove.
Recognizing the need for a more modern building and equipment, a ground-breaking ceremony was held in 1955 for the erection of an education annex, which was dedicated in June 1956. The church library was established in 1958 and is still in existence today.
In addition to the pastorium and church building, the church owns a cemetery for which land has been acquired from time to time. As early as 1908, the church minutes show that the “keeper of the cemetery” was instructed to sell lots only to members of the church and to their children. In 1951, the church voted to sell cemetery lots to members of the church only.
The first homecoming was celebrated by Harmony Grove on August 6, 1944, and the second one was on July 30, 1950.
In 1914, Rev. R.E.L. Aylor was called as pastor and he was a mighty man of prayer. He was succeeded by Dr. C.W. Hudson in 1920. When the weather was unbearably hot, Dr. Hudson would call on the congregation to repeat with him Psalm 118:24: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” It was during Dr. Hudson’s pastorate, that the memorial window inscribed “To Our Sainted Dead” was bought and installed.
In 1927, Rev. S.B. Tucker was called and he worked closely with the young people. In 1931, Rev. B.F. Robinson began his work at Harmony Grove and he was never happier than when befriending his fellow man. In 1943, Rev. S.H. Roberts became pastor and was succeeded in 1949 by Dr. E.V. Peyton. Dr. Peyton was an ex-president of the Baptist General Association of Virginia. The church was honored by having Dr. Peyton elected second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in Miami, Florida, in 1952.
In 1946 the pastorium near Syringa was sold and in 1949 the church purchased a home on Locklies Creek. That was also sold, and in 1960 another parsonage was built next to that site during the pastorate of Rev. Charles A. Chilton.
In May 1919, the women of the church were invited to attend the business meetings and were given permission to vote. In 1952, under the guidance of Dr. Peyton, the church adopted its constitution and bylaws.
In 1949 a church budget was prepared and adopted by the church.
In 1951 two sisters, Mrs. J.C. Fears and Mrs. J.B. Davis, gave the church a gift of a Hammond organ and chimes.
In June 1959, the church voted to become a member of a new association, the Mid-Tidewater Association.
So ends the first 100 years of Harmony Grove Baptist Church.