History, Mission, & Vision


On June 26, 1859, twenty three (23) slaves organized themselves into a church and became the Fourth African Baptist Church, the first black church in the Church Hill community of Richmond. Worship services were held regularly on each Sunday afternoon at the Leigh Street Baptist Church. On December 2, 1865, under freedom, the church was reorganized and became known as the Fourth Baptist Church under the leadership of Reverend Scott Gwathmey. With wood from abandoned and capsized military barracks in nearby Chimborazo Hill, the slaves built a humble place to worship God in Church Hill.

The culture of Fourth Baptist Church is definitely one of great pride. As a leading church not only in Church Hill, but also in the city of Richmond, it has become a church historically known for its many achievements, attainments, and accomplishments. One of the common yet distinguishing mantras by longtime members is, “we are the Mother Church of the Hill”. Embedded within this phrase is the distinctive identity that Fourth Baptist Church existed before any other church “on the hill”. Approximately eight churches have been birthed through Fourth Baptist over the past 153 years.

During the 154 year history of Fourth Baptist Church, eight ministers have served as pastor and several have served interim pastor.

Our former and present pastors are as follows:

    The Reverend Scott Gwathmey (1865-1879)
    The Reverend Doctor Evans Payne (1880-1926)
    The Reverend Fendall Williams (1928-1931)
    The Reverend J. Andrew Brown (1933-1951)
    The Reverend Doctor Robert Louis Taylor (1952-1986)
    The Reverend Doctor Leonidas Young (1990-1999)
    The Reverend Michael Joseph Jones (2002-2005)
    The Reverend Emery Berry, Jr. (2010- present)

Fourth Baptist is a Multigenerational, Multicultural, and Multifaceted church seeking to be a place that fosters growth, fellowship and service. Its ministries are relevant, organized, and comprehensive. It is a church where the members are caring, concerned and compassionate seeking to do the Lord’s will.



Exalt the Savior, Evangelize the Sinner, Equip the Saint and Empower Society.

With the aid of the Holy Spirit and based on God’s Word our mission is to   Glorify the Savior…that’s worship; Gain Souls…that’s Evangelism; Grow Spiritually …that’s Education; Grow through Stewardship…that’s Giving and Give back to Society …that’s Outreach.

Not church as usual, but church unusual.

Individual Worth – All members should learn, share, and achieve
Active Engagement – Lively involvement in at least one ministry
High Expectations – Serve others with elevated standards
Productive Environment – Shared responsibility to support the vision and others
Personal excellence – Strive for Christian character and a healthy lifestyle

Ministry Approach
Unite with the Messiah, Unite with other Members, Unite with a Ministry, and Unite with the Masses.

What makes us different?
We are Multi-generational, Multi-cultural, and Multi-faceted

What should I expect?
• A place fostering growth, fellowship and service.
• Relevant, comprehensive, and organized ministries.
• Caring, concerned, and compassionate people.