Locally, the slaves labored six days on the Shepherd and Bailey plantations. In applying the scriptures, “Let us not forget the assembling of the saints”, Sunday was set aside as a day of worship. This time period coincided with the first group of Baptist followers in the area who cleared a spot on this land and formed what was known as a “Brush or Harbor Church”. This was the slaves’ haven for worship and the community’s first united place to serve God. The secluded site was nestled in a small cluster of pine and cedar trees. It provided the men, women and children a special place to express their religious desires in safety. This harbor gave them a place where they could sing, pray, testify, giving thanks and praise to God for keeping them safe from day to day and asking that He lead them safely through another week
The country stood on the threshold of a new era. The economy of the South was financially and industrially ruined. A period of “Reconstruction” had to take place. Newly freed slaves continued to turn increasingly to churches as a center of hope and link to each other. The Third Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia was born in 1866. This church was located at Patrick and Oronocco Streets and initiated the formal organization of our church. Reverends Fields Cook and R. H. Porter traveled by horse-drawn carriages from Alexandria, Virginia to Neabsco, Virginia, a distance of about 30 miles one-way, to assist with the services. Some times the ministers were picked up at the railway station and carried to the church by one of the members
As the slaves gained more freedom, some dedicated men decided to build a church of their own here on the land, which is now home to Neabsco Baptist Church. Their efforts were not in vain. Recorded for history at the Court House in Manassas, Virginia is an official document, signed and sealed, that reads in part: “This Deed made 5 December 1881 from Richard H. Shepherd in the amount of eleven dollars for the land us of the “New School Baptist Church.” The deed was signed by the late Reverend John Bell and Trustees Charles Brink, Reuben Jackson, Charles W. Taylor and Jackson Taylor.
Brother George W. Thomas, who was a carpenter by trade (father of the late Mother of the Church, Annie Williams, and grandfather to the late Deacon Provie Henderson), was elected to plan and erect the first permanent place of worship. Soon thereafter, the modest frame church began to take shape. It was sheathed with wood planking, topped with a steep peaked roof, and highlighted with a bell tower. This church evolved from our own Mother Church, “Third Baptist Church of Alexandria, Virginia.”
It was during our fellowship with the pastors form “Third Baptist Church” that Reverend John Bell was ordained as the first pastor. Upon completion of the building, Sunday worship services were held and the name was officially changed from the “New School Baptist Church” to its current name, “Neabsco Baptist Church”. Reverend Doleman of Occoquan, Virginia and Reverend George Ray of Agnesville, Virginia (presently Woodbridge, Virginia) also rendered services. Although they were not assigned to the church as pastors, they were pioneer ministers.
In 1915, Brother George W. Thomas helped to build Mount Olive Baptist Church, Agnesville, Virginia. Mount Olive was organized on the order of Neabsco Baptist Church. Mount Olive grew to be a great church under the leadership of the late Reverend Frederick Ray. Brother Thomas used his God given talent to help erect and assist in building other neighborhood churches. Sunday was a special day and proud men would take their families to the newly constructed house of worship. Many families walked several miles to attend church services as others made their way by horse and buggy or horse and wagon. The church was a part of their life.
The two most memorable days at Neabsco Baptist Church originated as “All Day Meetings” – one on the second Sunday in May and the other on the second Sunday in August. This was an annual tradition that was followed for many years.
In the earlier years, the meals were prepared at the homes of the members and brought to church in baskets and other containers and serve on long tables outside the church. The meal consisted of foods that were mostly home grown, fresh and very tasty. People of the community would travel from miles around to join the fellowship. In the case of rain or inclement weather, the food was moved inside and served in the church. However, because of crowded conditions, this arrangement became very inconvenient.
As time progressed and changes were made, the church needed to be improved and enlarged for the comfort of its members and friends. After a series of meetings, it was decided by the congregation that indoor eating accommodations were necessary. The solution was to build a dining room as soon as possible. With the agreement of the congregation, plans were made to undertake the new project. A blueprint was submitted by Deacon Provie Henderson and approved by the congregation. The dining room would be a permanent annex to the existing building. During the renovations of the church in the 1950’s a plank was removed from a window sash that bore the initials G.W.T. (George W. Thomas, grandfather of Deacon Henderson). Deacon Provie Henderson completed the new indoor dining room in 1957. Deacon George Fisher furnished the dining room at little expense to the church.
In addition to the dining area, the interior of the church was renovated in 1979. If it were not for our former next door neighbors, the Tacey family, our expansion project would not have been possible. The Tacey family donated the land to Neabsco Baptist Church in 1978, so that we were able to add the annex to the church. With this mammoth renovation came the addition of a choir room, Deacon and Trustees room (church office), indoor bathroom, and a Pastor’s study. Members of the church completed much of the work. New furniture was purchased and air conditioning and a new heating system were installed. Deacon Henderson laid carpet and tiles, hung doors, finished windows, only allowing electricians and plumbers to handle their specialties. In 1979, Neabsco Baptist Church began to have service every Sunday instead of only twice a month. Pastor Ambrose M. Perry was the shepherd who stated “No church doors should be locked on Sundays” and he began preaching strong sermons every Sunday without receiving an extra dime to his pay.
Neabsco Baptist Church still enjoys fellowship in the dining room on annual days and other special occasions. The traditional home-cooked meals are served after the morning worship, and all who are present and desire to remain are welcomed. On these special days, fellowship is shared with neighboring churches as well as churches from other localities. The neighborhood churches have been of untold support for Neabsco Baptist Church, both morally and financially. The neighboring churches include: Mount Olive Baptist Church, Woodbridge, Virginia; Ebenezer Baptist Church, Woodbridge, Virginia; First Mount Zion Baptist Church, Dumfries, Virginia; Little Union Baptist Church, Dumfries, Virginia; Mount Zion Baptist Church, Triangle, Virginia and Star of Bethlehem, Triangle, Virginia.
The church bought land to install a parking lot in August of 1986 using donations from members and affiliated churches from all over Northern Virginia. Neabsco Baptist Church was also blessed to complete the 1990 projects ahead of schedule and with most of them paid in full before completion. These projects encompassed the installation of the cushions on the church pews, completion of the baptismal pool, pavement of the parking lot and installation of a new audio system.
Although our forefathers were not freed from slavery until 1865, they had unknowingly made an outstanding cultural and spiritual contribution to our American religious society. Once again, God’s Word is proven that, “If the Son has set you free, then ye are free indeed”. The inspiration of their spiritual singing and mournful prayers was not in vain. These warriors, truly demonstrated that “I will give you pastors according to mine own heart,” and inspired us all. Following are ministers who have rendered Gods’ work at Neabsco Baptist Church: Reverend John Bell, Woodbridge, Virginia; Reverend Richard Gibson, Stafford, Virginia; Reverend Louis H. Bailey, Occoquan, Virginia; Reverend Gilliam, Alexandria, Virginia; Reverend Pratt, Alexandria, Virginia, Reverend Felton, Washington, D.C.; Reverend Reuben Hall, Washington, D.C; Reverend Ulysses Martin, Alexandria, Virginia, Reverend Dr. Ambrose M. Perry, Washington, D.C. and our current Shepherd and Pastor, Reverend Joshua W. Speights, Jr. of Dumfries, Virginia.
In past reflections the late Pastor Ambrose M. Perry stated: “Through the mercy of God, we have reached another time of celebration. As I reflect on how far we have come, I know that is only faith, diligence and above all the grace of Almighty God who, by His hand of divine power, has allowed us to reach another milestone in our Christian journey”. Neabsco has been richly blessed with over 150 years of praising God. As we continue to record the growth of this church and as God continues to bless us, we will move forward with a renewed spirit as well as a new church address ~ 15557 Neabsco Church Way, Woodbridge, Virginia. When we reflect upon the past and current history making events of our church, it allows us to realize and acknowledge the fact that, “We’ve Come this Far by Faith, Leading on the Lord, and Trusting in His Holy Word”.
Why? He has never failed us yet. Therefore we can’t turn around now because we have truly come this far by faith.
We continue to stand on faith as we support Pastor Joshua W. Speights Jr. whose vision is to build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Under the leadership of Pastor Speights we have embarked on a major building project to build a new sanctuary, gymnasium and office complex to support the church expanding ministries based on the vision of Pastor Speights. The church has been tremendously blessed since the border="0">arrival of Pastor Speights and his family as we have expanded into new ministries that require additional space to support the church’s continued growth spiritually, numerically and financially. Since Pastor Speights arrival we have been blessed to purchase 6 acres of land next to the church where we plan to build our new sanctuary. We have added a Youth Church, Hospitality Ministry, Prayer Ministry, and Mother’s Ministry. We are currently in our Capital Campaign to raise funds to support our building project and with the Lord’s blessings we should be able in the near future to break ground. Pastor Speights leadership has been the key to our ability to reach this milestone in the church history.
Pastor Speights’ vision includes transition into a full time ministry supported by staff, a 700 seat sanctuary, 75 seat daycare center, increased classroom and meeting space, and a gymnasium to support our youth and young adults. Pastor Speights emphasizes Discipleship as a key aspect of spiritual growth as we continue to support the vision of building on the foundation of Jesus Christ