Today, it is difficult for us to even imagine the hardships faced by Virginians during the months and years following the Civil War. During the war, Union troops had occupied Stafford County for many months on several occasions. Soldiers encamped here had foraged for food and supplies leaving a host of raided farms, destroyed homes, and burned churches in their wake. Many of Stafford's strong, young men had either been killed in battle or imprisoned in war camps.
THE RAMOTH STORY
Those men fortunate enough to return home, and those who had suffered through the ravages of war on the home front, had to begin the difficult task of rebuilding their lives, their homes, and this community. In such times, when faith in God is all that is left, God's people are often drawn closer to Him. It was in the midst of these desperate times that Ramoth Baptist Church was born. The Old Testament identifies "Ramoth-Gilead" as a city of refuge and certainly RBC's founders desired to honor that name especially as they sought to minister to those who had lost so much in Virginia.
Walter R.D. Moncure, a young man not yet thirty years old, became a God-empowered leader who would aid in the rebuilding process. As a chaplain in the 30th Virginia Infantry Regiment (made up predominantly of Stafford locals), he had seen firsthand the hardships of war. Now back home again, and already pastor of nearby Berea Baptist Church, Moncure and members of his family and community, with the backing of the Potomac Baptist Association, met together to organize Ramoth Baptist Church on October 9, 1866. Meetings began at the old Salem Schoolhouse on Mountain View Road. The people of the community responded and soon the congregation began to grow.
According to the records of the Potomac Baptist Association, Ramoth's membership had grown to 44 people by 1869, with a Sunday School enrollment of 135. By this date, the original church building had been erected. According to our traditions and oral history, the oak timbers that served as that first church building's foundation were hand-hewn by James and Stanton Embrey and hauled to the site by Alexander Reid using a team of oxen. Thomas Wine trimmed out the cornerstones. Although many photos and names from those early years have been lost, the foundation and cornerstones that were laid then remain in support of Ramoth's chapel today!
Ramoth continued to grow and reach out to the community. Local newspapers wrote about a "protracted meeting" in September 1866. Scheduled for one week, it lasted two and crowds were so large that people found it necessary to come early to get a good seat, or any seat at all - Many nights, two-thirds of the people in attendance had to either sit or stand outside and listen through the windows! Over forty professions of faith were reported during those two weeks alone. But even in 1888, RBC was a sending and planting body of believers: fourteen members helped organize Hull's Memorial Baptist Church. Again, in 1907, four members of Ramoth were among the group that organized Mt. Ararat Baptist Church.
As Ramoth continued to grow, additions to the original building were built in 1957 and 1975. To meet the needs of our church in modern times, ground was broken for the largest addition to date in 1994. After moving into new Sunday School rooms and a larger fellowship Hall downstairs in 1996, the new sanctuary upstairs was completed thanks to the dedicated work of many church men, who gave selflessly of their time, efforts and talents. In November 1998, that same sanctuary was dedicated and remains our primary worship center.
Now well into the twenty-first century, our community is constantly growing and changing. A whole new generation of Jesus-follwers continues to worship and serve at Ramoth and we work to hold onto the memories of those who have led this place of "Refuge" for over 150 years. The challenges of today's world stand in stark contrast to that season following the Civil War but we serve the same Lord and it's the same Spirit that empowers us now to minister right where we have been planted. "Ramoth" is also a Hebrew term associated with exalted places - literally, the heights of Gilead. As we consider all that God has accomplished since 1866 at RBC, we look ahead with great anticipation to rising to all new heights right here in Stafford County. Come and join us to be a part of the ongoing story of Ramoth Baptist Church!
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith."
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NIV)