History

 

A group of sixty-eight Christians, many from Lynchburg’s First Baptist Church, met in the spring of 1955 in the chapel of Virginia Baptist Hospital.  Their desire was to establish a new church in the city’s western suburbs and to minister to people in that growing area.  Other meetings took place at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College and Garland Rhodes School.  This early group organized as a duly constituted church on September 25, 1955 and chose the name Peakland Baptist Church. Within five years of the founding, they officially dedicated a beautiful new stone A-frame church building on Peakland Place.

 

Affiliated from our beginning with the Southern Baptist Convention (which we subsequently left in 2001), Peakland also became aligned with the American Baptist Churches in the USA in the early 1960’s.   We have always been regular contributors to the work of the Baptist General Association of Virginia.   In 1995 we joined the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

 

Our early purpose statement affirms:  “We propose to live and spread the Good News of God in Christ, both at home and abroad.  As a true Christian Church we witness through worship, nurture, and mutual concern.  Before the community we seek to demonstrate the mercy and justice of God toward all; as Christ’s disciples we endeavor to carry forth his commission by implementing world missions.”

 

Peakland Baptist Church has always practiced baptism by immersion, however, we also recognize the validity of religious experience in other Christian churches.  Therefore, professed Christians seeking membership at Peakland may present a letter of transfer.

 

A vital principle of our congregation since our beginning has been an emphasis on the priesthood of the believer and lay “ownership” of the life and ministries of the congregation.  In addition to strong emphasis on the laity, Peakland has been served by four outstanding full time Ministers: Arthur Brown, Nathan Brooks, Steve McNeely, and Jim Hunter ll, and two Intermin Ministers:  Homer Carter and Don Harvey.

 

Arthur Brown was Peakland’s first minister, serving for ten years.  Under his leadership the church developed a reputation as a strong advocate for social justice in the community.  His ministry not only provided a dynamic decade of growth for Peakland but also provided a vital role of leadership in the city’s turbulent life of the sixties.

 

Arthur Brown left in 1966 after ten years of helping create a truly unique church. He was succeeded by Nathan C. Brooks, III, who served ably for thirty-three years.  He distinguished himself as a valued community leader in the city of Lynchburg.  One of his many skills was pastoral care and competence as a Christian counselor.  He was one of the founders of the Pastoral Counseling Services of Central Virginia, and continued his role of leadership with this agency following his retirement.  During his tenure the church purchased the adjacent Peakland Place residence as a parsonage in 1967, dedicated its first Education Building in 1970, and burned the mortgage on the church building in 1980. A decade later, a large new Administrative/ Educational Building “The Brooks Center,” and a Memorial Garden were completed.  Nathan Brooks retired in 1999 after 33 years of service.

 

For the next two years Interim Pastor Homer Carter and strong lay leadership lead us through a transition period.   At the conclusion of the period our congregation called Dr. B. Steven McNeely to become our third Minister in the spring of 2001.

 

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Dr. McNeely preached his first sermon on June 1, 2001. Ignited by Dr.  McNeely’s excellence as a preacher, Bible teacher, and friend, the church grew in  every way for the next nine years. Steve provided exceptional pastoral care not only to the church, but to the entire Lynchburg community.  In the fall of 2010, Steve was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away in January, 2011.  This sudden event was a difficult and traumatic experience for all who knew and loved Steve.

 

Once again Peakland decided to bring in an Intentional Interim Pastor and was fortunate to find Rev. Don Harvey available from Wake Forest’s Baptist Health Center for Congregational Health of Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  A native of nearby Nelson County, Don and his wife Connie returned to the area in March, 2011.  Until December 2012 Don led our congregation along with a transition team and search committee as Peakland sought it’s fourth full time pastor.
 

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In February 2013 James R Hunter ll became our current  Senior Pastor.  Jim was born August 20, 1972, in Henderson, Kentucky. He is married to the former Susan Marie Killelea and is the proud father of James R. Hunter III.  He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, and his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.  He was ordained to the gospel ministry in 2000 and served as pastor of Central Hill Baptist Church in Windsor, Virginia (2000-2002) and Biltmore Baptist Church in Glen Allen, Virginia (2002-2007).  He has pastored First Baptist Church in Corbin, Kentucky, since 2007.

 

Building on the strengths of Arthur Brown, Nathan Brooks and Steve McNeely, as well as a strong and dedicated congregation, Peakland Baptist Church continues to serve the community in many ways, healthy, full of enthusiastic new members, and fulfilling the dreams of its charter members, many of whom are still involved in the life of the church.