Morattico Baptist Church
Morattico Baptist Church is called the mother church of all Baptist churches in the Northern Neck. For a time Morattico could have been considered the most influential Baptist Church in all of Virginia. In 17th century Virginia the Anglican Church was the official religion under British rule. Beginning in 1700 legal tolerance of other beliefs was granted in Virginia but dissenting religions were still looked at unfavorably. Baptist ministers rode into the Northern Neck to deliver sermons as early as the 1760's. In 1773 a young preacher from Stafford County named Lewis Lunsford entered the Northern Neck on a preaching tour and won many fans. Lunsford returned each summer for several years and became known as the Apostle to the Northern Neck. Despite his popularity he had some opposition and was even arrested in 1775 at a home on Totuskey Creek for preaching without a license, eventually he was banned from preaching in Richmond County for one year. Despite the setbacks Lunsford and the other Baptist preachers gained some powerful and well known converts that helped lend legitimacy to their message. Hannah Ludwell Lee Corbin of Peckatone, daughter of Colonel Thomas Lee of Stratford Hall and Colonel Robert Carter, grandson of "King Carter" were both baptized into the Baptist faith.
Morattico Baptist Church was officially organized by Lewis Lunsford on January 17th, 1778 at the home of Alexander Hunton near Morattico Creek in Richmond County with 18 charter members. In the early years the church had no building and met at homes or outdoors. Membership grew quickly and by the end of the first year Morattico had 66 members, including Robert Carter who was baptized in Totuskey Creek in September 1778. Carter was one of the richest men in Virginia owning over 70,000 acres and more than 500 slaves. He soon offered to provide materials and labor to build a church. When a site on Morattico Creek proved difficult to purchase the members looked further south on the Northern Neck and decided on a spot near Kilmarnock. The frame building was completed there in 1781. Three additional Meeting Houses were built during the 1780's to service the areas north and south of Morattico Church. In 1780 land for a meeting house in St. Stephen's Parish, Norhumberland was purchased from William Dameron. Two ministerial assistants were hired to assist Lunsford in his preaching duties. Morattico Church and it's Meeting Houses set up a system to provide medical care and food to the poor. When Lewis Lunsford died in 1793 Morattico Baptist had 515 members.
On September 8th, 1835 Henrietta Hall, the daughter of Addison Hall (both members of Morattico), married J. Lewis Shuck in Richmond City. Weeks later the couple departed for missionary service in China. They lived and worked in Macao for six years and in 1842 moved to Hong Kong and helped form the first evangelical church in China. Henrietta died in China in 1844 during childbirth. She was the first woman missionary to China and a historical marker stands at the site of her birthplace in Kilmarnock. Henrietta's younger sister, Isabella, eventually served as a missionary in China as well.
The 1852 Minutes of the Rappahannock Baptist Association show that Morattico had 482 members. In 1856 the present day brick church was built. After the Civil War the black members of Morattico asked to withdraw to they could form their own church and membership dropped by more than half. In on the fourth Sunday of September, 1897 John Lorenza Jett and Alice Columbia Jones joined Morattico by letter from Hanover Church. In 1924 a committee including Gordon D. George was formed to see to roof repairs on the Church. In February of 1936 the Church voted to allow electric lights to be installed. Gordon D. George was elected a deacon on May 17th, 1939. The educational building addition to the back of the church was dedicated in May, 1955. Marvin L. George was elected a deacon of Morattico on January 15th, 1958. On November 25th, 1978, Maida George and Mark Dameron was married at Morattico. Their daughter, Catherine Dameron married Jonathan May at Morattico on September 19th, 2009.
Churches that formed from Morattico include: Nomini 1786, Yeocomico 1789, Farnham 1790, Wicomico (Coan) 1804, Lebanon 1841, Fairfields 1844, Old Saint John 1867, Mount Olive 1873, White Stone 1895, Irvington 1895, Wicomico 1915 and Kilmarnock 1915. Many of these daughter churches went on to form daughter churches of their own.
- Morattico Baptist Church, 1978 (200th Anniversary Booklet)