Union Baptist Church
Union Baptist Church was founded in November, 1862 in the Kempsville area of Princess Anne County, Virginia (now the Pembroke section of Virginia Beach). Originally, it shared a space with a white congregation. Later, the church relocated to a permanent facility, named the Smith Corner Baptist Church. It is the third-oldest African-American church in the city. Today, UBC-VB continues to host an active congregation and serve the spiritual needs of the local community. In 2011, the UBC-VB made history when it became the first historically black Baptist Church in the Hampton Roads Region to elect a female pastor.
Backstory and Context
The need to renovate the existing structure arose during the tenure of Rev. Dr. S.L. Scott, Sr., who pastored for 27 years. The exterior was bricked, the sanctuary remodeled, and the church became the first black church in Virginia Beach to have an Electric Hammond C-3 Organ and Central Air Conditioning. Under Rev. Scott's leadership, the church name became Union Baptist. He passed away before the completion of a round of major renovations, which took place in 1996. These included the demolition of over half of the building to make room for a sanctuary addition.
Many changes also occurred under Reverend W. Samuel Walton. These include the switch to using envelopes for Sunday offerings—as well as the formation of the Gospel Choir, Inspirational Ushers, Praise Dance, and Step Ministries. He licensed two persons into ministry and ordained one who pastors in New Symerna Beach, Florida. Pastor Walton made history in December 2006 when he proposed and the congregation accepted the new position of an “Administrative Liaison to the Pastor.” Rev. Dr. Thomasine Reid assumed the responsibility. In May 2003, the church began offering an 8:00 AM worship service.
The current facility includes a $1 million edifice (built ca. 1998) and a $4 million 4-story addition (built in the early 2000s). It features a banquet hall that can accommodate 400 to 600 people, increased seating capacity in the balcony, and seating for 600 in the sanctuary. Additionally, the plans included office and meeting spaces, classrooms, a bookstore, Media Center, and computer lab on the third floor; as well as a half-court gymnatorium on the fourth, complete with bleachers, showers, lockers, a concession stand, office spaces, an arcade and an exercise area. Pastor Walton passed away on May 31, 2009.
On December 14, 2011, the church again made history again by electing UBC-VB's first female pastor, Dr. Thomasine Reid. Today, UBC-VB is a congregation of over 700 members, with weekly worship services and bible study. Union Baptist Church is a church “In the Heart of the City, With the People of the City in Its Heart.”1
"Our Church History." Union Baptist Church. Accessed January 21, 2017. http://unionbaptistchurchvb.org/our-church-history/.