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Shaped by Our History

Our history is peopled by faithful leaders and laity who have a established a liberal tradition of outreach and openness to others.  We continue that tradition today.  That tradition has been shaped by many notable leaders and events over the past three centuries.  Leaders and events include:

The Reverend David Jones served as Pastor of The Baptist Church in the Great Valley during the American Revolution period.   He was a regimental chaplain to General "Mad" Anthony Wayne, and his usefulness in the war was not limited to the functions of a clergyman.  He had a respectable knowledge of medicine and surgery, which he frequently used on the battlefield.  Rev. Jones served as chaplain during the French and Indian War as well as the War of 1812.  During his long career, he led pioneering missionary journeys westward to preach to American Indians.  His notable 1775 sermon, Defensive War in a Just Cause Sinless (read here), preached that the fight for liberty was honorable in the sight of God and that the "defensive" American Revolution was a "just cause" permitting Christians to forsake anti-war beliefs and take up arms against a divinely-instituted King.  Rev. Jones is buried in the Church Cemetery.

In 1820, Baptist Church in the Great Valley adopted a resolution "that in the future the women shall be entitled to vote on all questions that may arise in the church," thus becoming one of the very first churches in this area to make such an open break with then-current custom.  

In the 1830's, Leonard Fletcher, pastor from 1832 to 1840, and several members of the church were instrumental in supporting the Wilberforce Anti-Slavery Society in the area.  During his time he baptized more than 400 people and started several of our seven daughter churches.   Rev. Fletcher is buried in the Church Cemetery.  Following the Civil War the Church provided free burial plots to veterans of all races who could not afford a burial place. 

The first African-American joined the church in 1762, which by that time included persons of English, German, and other European backgrounds in addition to Welsh people.  Over the years, the membership has also included persons of Hispanic and Asian origins.

See Our History for more information on our history and notable leaders.

Today the Baptist Church in the Great Valley continues after 299 years of dynamic change because its members have always reached out to find new challenges and unfilled ministries.  We celebrate on a continuing basis the Baptist tradition of individual freedom within a Christian framework and "Sharing Our Open Tradition of Christian Faith" with the community and the world.