History – First Era


Bethlehem Baptist Church was founded in 1863 from the unquenchable ambition of1-Samuel-K-Taylor an African slave youth. Called to preach after his conversion experience, Reverend Samuel K. Taylor, conducted religious services on Saturday nights and Sundays on the Taylor Plantation in Caroline County, Virginia. Reverend Taylor ran away to Gum Springs, Virginia that same year to begin his calling as pastor of the first African – American Church of Gum Springs. It was here in “Gum Springs” that Reverend Taylor found Christians conducting services in their homes whereas he continued to lead services just as he had done on the plantation.

After the close of the Civil War in 1865, Reverend Taylor and a small group of dedicated Christians erected the first edifice constructed from lumber given by the government used to build stables. This building was named Bethlehem (suggested by Alice Williams) and served as both a church and a school. Reverend Samuel Madden, Pastor of First Baptist Church (presently Alfred Street Baptist Church) served as the itinerant minister baptizing converts, serving communion, and performing other duties until Pastor Taylor was ordained in 1882.


In 1884, the cornerstone was laid for Bethlehem’s second building. During this period the church underwent growth in membership and in the fervor of its religious services and in 1890, five men of Bethlehem, including Pastor Taylor, formed The Joint Stock Club, which was instrumental in the planning of the Gum Springs Community. Pastor Taylor served the congregation for 30 years until his death in October 1912.

In 1913, after serving Bethlehem as Supply Pastor for one year, Reverend William H. Triplett became Bethlehem’s second pastor and one year later, the church building went under renovation. Knowing the importance of community and education, Reverend Triplett and several others were instrumental in acquiring a school bus to transport the children of Gum Springs to Manassas to attend high school (1934).




Under Reverend Triplett’s leadership:

            • a church choir was organized (the Senior Choir);
            • the Sunday School was established;
            • the Willing Workers Club was implemented;
            • the Usher Board and Missionary Circle were formed;
            • an eight – room parsonage was constructed (in 1919);
            • the church installed its own electrical plant; and
            • the brick structure next to our current edifice was dedicated on the first Sunday in October 1930.

Reverend Triplett served the Bethlehem family for 35 years until his death in May 1948.

Continue to History – Second Era