Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Thomas Buck V and the Baptist Movement

Thomas Buck V was very active in the Baptist movement in early Virginia. Like others in his family, he too, had been strongly influenced by the Rev. James Ireland. Thomas wrote, “I used to go to church with my father and mother, but never understood the sermon. My father was a great sportsman, and used to carry me off to horse races, etc., of which I became very fond, and in all probability would have followed his example had not the Lord arrested both him and myself in our mad career.”

Thomas was baptised in the waters of the Shenandoah River and into the South River Church about 1770 by Samuel Harris. At various times in his life, Thomas was a member of the South River Church, the Waterlick Church and the Happy Creek Church. Thomas and his older brother Charles II were messengers from the Water Lick Church to the Ketoctin Association in 1795.

Thomas Buck V donated land in Front Royal for the Happy Creek Church on December 4, 1835 and was named lifetime trustee for it. In donating the land, Thomas Buck wrote that it was to be used by the “Regular Baptist and for the religious association now called the Happy Creek Church”. At the same time, he noted that “at other times the property is for the use of other Baptists”. Thomas Buck probably specified these terms because, at the time, there was a great disagreement among the Baptists with respect to doctrine. Some of Thomas’ friends and family members belonged to the “Old School” or “Primitive Baptist” group but others belonged to the “New School” or “Missionary Baptist” group. Thomas was more associated with the Missionary Baptists and the tension between the two groups undoubtedly caused him grief. When Thomas felt that the terms of his donation were not being followed, he changed the locks on the church door. On April 28, 1835, Thomas and his (second) wife Ruhama were excommunicated from Old School Happy Creek Church. Eventually the two congregations compromised with the Happy Creek Church and the Front Royal Church alternating their use of the facilities.

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