History of the Shiloh Baptist Church
(1863 – Present)
After President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, but while the Civil War raged on, a group of slaves took advantage of the evacuation of Yorktown to start their own small church. Word spread, and slaves from nearby towns and counties joined the task. That church was the beginning of Shiloh’s history.
The slaves found a leader in the Rev. John Carey, an ex-slave and resident of Yorktown. Rev. Carey sent for his close friend, the Rev. Jeremiah Asher of Philadelphia and a chaplain in the Union Army, to come help. The church was organized and set apart in 1863.
The church was named Shiloh for Rev. Asher’s church in Philadelphia and Rev. John Carey was elected and served as the first Pastor.
Shiloh’s building was not always at it’s present site and has had three locations. The first building was a one-room log cabin covered with vertical boards. It was among a group of similar buildings, owned by the federal government known as “Slabtown” and later “Uniontown.”
In 1893 during Rev. Baylor Wyatt’s administration, the church changed location and a church was built across from the National Cemetery on what is now Route 704. In 1897, during the administration of Rev. Percy J. Wallace, this church was destroyed by fire. Although stunned for a while, the members were not discouraged and in 1898 the cornerstone was laid and Old Shiloh Church was erected. The building was used for 76 years and in 1971 was acquired by the National Park Service. It has since been torn down to preserve the Yorktown Battlefield much as it was during the siege of Yorktown. The government paid the congregation $17,000 and gave them 3.4 acres at the intersection of Route 17 and Goosley Road, site of the present church structure.
The groundbreaking ceremony for our present building was held on December 18, 1971, under the pastorate of Rev. Richard Holmes. The cornerstone was laid July 29, 1973, and on October 13, 1974, the entire congregation of Old Shiloh marched from the old to the new church. The stained glass windows from Old Shiloh were retained and placed in the present building.
After being without a pastor for two years, as led by the Holy Spirit, the church called Rev. Barbara Lemon to serve as Pastor. She was installed on September 30, 2001. This was indeed a historical moment in this area as she became the first African American woman to be called to Pastor an established Baptist Church. God has blessed us under her administration. The church has grown spiritually, numerically and financially. Numerous new ministries have been developed and others revamped, for the continued growth of God’s people.
Under her administration a new edifice was built to accommodate the ministry growth and bless the community. On April 30, 2006, ground was broken for our Fellowship Hall expansion. The foundation was laid in September 2006, and the dedication service was held on April 29, 2007.
Shiloh has had 19 pastors and 2 interim pastors in its 152 plus years of existence. We thank God for all the good things He has done; He has kept us; sustained us and blessed us down through the years and we are embracing the future with great expectation.