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Becoming "A Place to Call Home"


FOUNDATIONS (c. 1930’s-1950’s)

Until the 1930’s the town of Hillsville, VA did not have an organized Baptist Church.  Services were held at intervals by Baptist pastors from other areas of Carroll County. Rev. JH Powers conducted a revival in Hillsville, and the need to establish a congregation in the town was felt.  Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church in the Snake Creek community followed the leading of the Holy Spirit in establishing Hillsville Baptist Church as a mission.

The meeting place of Hillsville Baptist Church took place on March 27, 1932, which was Easter Sunday.  The congregation first met in an old service station donated by SM Semones.  Rev. JP McCabe from the Blue Ridge Association brought the message from Matthew 16:18, wherein Jesus stated, “I will build My Church.”  There were 28 charter members.  Rev JR Johnson of Galax served as the first pastor.

The Women’s Missionary Society (later to become WMU) was organized in January of 1935 by Mrs. Velzetta Gardner, with 13 active members.

The congregation soon outgrew the service station, and began construction of a worship facility in 1936.  The lot was across the street on property donated by SM Semones.  Hillsville Baptist Church began meeting in this new facility in 1937, continuing to worship there through the 1950’s.  This building is presently the home of a Church of God of Prophecy congregation.

With the congregation continuing to grow, a new lot was purchased with plans to build a larger facility.

Pastors during this era:

Rev. JR Johnson (April 1932 - August 1933)
Rev. MF Combs (Supply, September 1933 - October 1933)
Rev. John A. Carter (January 1934 - May 1934)
Rev. JC Carper (May 1934 - June 1935)
Rev. WG Hughes (June 1935 - October 1938)
Rev. DK Kessler (December 1938 - October 1939)
Rev. JW Simmons (May 1940 - 1941)
Rev. OE Ward (March 1942 - 1946)
Rev Frank Koger (1946 - 1948)
Rev. RB Barnett (1948 - 1953)
Rev. Morgan Schuster (February 1954 - October 1954)
Rev. Paul Wonders (May 1955 - May 1960)

RELOCATION & EXPANSION  (c. 1960’s-1970’s)

Under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Paul Wonders, a three story educational building was constructed at the present campus site.  A temporary auditorium was established, and the congregation immediately began to raise funds for a new sanctuary.  The first service in the new facility was held in January 1959.  

The 1960’s and 1970’s saw much growth and expansion.  A brick parsonage was constructed.  A Church secretary was first employed.  The Church became affiliated with the New River Baptist Association.  A daycare center was sponsored, and a van was purchased.  Extensive renovation to all floors of the educational building was completed.

During this period, the name of the congregation was changed to “First Baptist Church of Hillsville,” to reflect our history as the first missionary Baptist congregation to be established in the town.

Pastors during this era:

Rev. Paul Wonders (May 1955 - May 1960)
Rev. Joe B. Maye (April 1961 - 1967)
Rev. Eddie Patton (Supply)
Rev. James Halliburton (Supply)
Rev. Richard Wynn (January 1968 - December 1968)
Rev. Frank Koger (March 1969 - December 1979)

GROWTH OF MINISTRY (c. 1980’s-1990’s)

As attendance continued to grow, an early morning worship service was added.  The Church celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1982.  Improvements were made to the facilities.  During the pastorate of Rev. Bill Ross, plans for a new facility were considered, but were postponed with his departure.

The youth ministry grew considerably during the tenure of Rev. William Gunter, who served the Church through most of the 1990’s.  Rev. Dr. Lawrence Childs served as Interim Pastor after the departure of Rev. Gunter.

In the late 1990’s a new Fellowship Hall was added.

Pastors during this era:

Rev. Dale Webb (Supply)
Rev. Donald P. Reid (September 1980 - September 1984)
Rev. William L. Ross (March 1985 - December 1988)
Rev. Robert Jackson (Interim, January 1989 - April 1989)
Rev. William A. Gunter (May 1989 - 1999)
Rev. Dr. S. Lawrence Childs, Jr. (Interim, 1999)

THE FIRE & BEYOND (2000 - 2014)

The congregation prospered into the new millennium.  Catastrophe struck on July 3, 2002, when lightning struck the steeple during an electrical storm.  The sanctuary was soon engulfed in flames and was completely destroyed.  The educational building was also damaged by fire and water.

In late 2002, Rev. Randy McDaniel joined the staff as the first full-time Minister to Students.  The Youth ministry grew and prospered.

Through the efforts of church members and friends of First Baptist, construction on a new sanctuary began in 2004.  The first service in the new building was held on Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005, exactly 73 years to the day from the establishment of the Church.

First Baptist celebrated our 75th anniversary in 2007, featuring Rev. Bill Ross as speaker.  After serving as Interim, Rev. Dr. Lawrence Childs accepted the call to be our full-time Pastor in November 2007.

In November of 2010, Rev. Michael D. Shockley joined the staff as Pastor, with Rev. Dr. Childs being commissioned as Senior Pastor.  Rev. Childs served as mentor to Michael, with the intent of preparing him to take on the lead role when he retired.

Hillsville First Baptist Church

In July 2012, a Transition Service was held for the “passing of the mantle.”  Quoting John the Baptist, Dr. Childs stated “He is to increase and I to decrease,” passing the mante of leadership to Rev. Shockley.  A tree was planted on the grounds  in honor of Dr. Childs.

In spring of 2013, construction on a Picnic Shelter was begun, with much of the work being donated by the Carroll County High School Building Trades class.  Church members completed the paint and shingles during the summer.

In 2014, First Baptist formed a men’s ministry called “God’s Handymen.”  This group serves the Church and community through the ministry of light repair work.

Pastors during this era:

Rev. WG “Steve” Stephenson (January 2000 - )
Rev. Dr. S. Lawrence Childs, Jr. (November 2007 - July 2012)
Rev. Michael D. Shockley (November 2010 - February 2017)
Rev. Dr. S. Lawrence Childs, Jr. (Interim, March 2017 -      )

FORWARD (2015 - Present)

Over the the last few years, First Baptist has continued working to meet the challenges of ministry in a new era.  We have sought continual improvement of our services and ministries.

Early 2015 saw the retirement of the longest tenured minister in the history of First Baptist Church - Patrick Trice, who served two terms as Minister of Music, for a total of over 30 years.  Patrick was instrumental in leading the Church to adapt along with the growing possibilities of technology.  Upon his retirement, a plaque was placed on the door of the Choir Room, dedicating it in his honor.

Rev. Dustin Jones and his wife Sarah Jo joined the staff in January of 2015, serving as Ministers to Children & Youth.  Their time with FBC has been marked by a great influx of new children, and the establishment of a parallel worship service designed especially for kids.

Chandra Harmon joined the staff as Minister of Music in June 2015.  In addition to working as the Chorus teacher at Carroll County High School, Chandra is the bassist and lead vocalist for a local bluegrass band.  With her assistance, First Baptist has staged a number of original dramas featuring bluegrass style music.

Pastor Michael and the leadership of First Baptist are seeking to inspire the congregation to greater authenticity and deeper commitment in ministry.  We believe a Church should be a Family, a place where we can be honest and vulnerable and still be loved.  We believe First Baptist Church is truly “A Place to Call Home”

Pastors during this era: