28 March 2012
Thessalonia Baptist Church
Address: 677 Thessalonia Road, Bremo Bluff
Pastors: Pastor Robert Strothers and the Rev. Loretta Strothers
Hours of services: Sunday 9:45 a.m. Additional activities: Three choirs, youth group praise dancers, musicians.
History: Unlike most black organized Baptist Churches that had their humble beginning in a “brush harbor,” Thessalonia Baptist Church has its beginning during slavery in a building that stood in Rufus Snead’s field beyond Fork Union Village around 1865. This structure was dismantled and the logs from the foundation were hauled by Brother Noah Creasy’ oxen to the present site. The land was owned and donated by its first pastor, the Rev. James D. Barrett. The Rev. Barrett was born in Louisa County in 1820. He was a shoemaker by trade, a preacher and owned a considerable amount of property in the area. Since most black history from slavery to the Emancipation Proclamation was communicated by word of mouth, Samuel Creasy and Rachel White told this information to members of the church. They were both enslaved on the Upper Bremo Plantation, owned by Gen. Hartwell Cocke. Through family connections, Thessalonia was blessed to be able to draw its membership not only from the community surrounding the church, but also from Gravel Hill (to the northeast) and Tepee Town (to the south). It its early days, Thessalonia was a small settlement of log cabins and tiny farms. The church and church-supported school were centers of the neighborhood. Both the church and the neighborhood of Thessalonia have changed over the years. The church has been modernized with electrical wiring and plumbing. No longer are the new converts subjected to the icy-cold waters of the old “Baptizing Hole” – an indoor pool lies under the pulpit. An annex has been added to the rear with a kitchen, and dinners are served inside rather than out under the large oak trees. Members of the church see Thessalonia as “a hospital for the healing of sinners as well as a sanctuary for saints.” – Compiled by Kristin Sancken. Photo by David Stemple