When Elijah Craig was jailed for preaching contrary to the law, he must have enjoyed a certain amount of martyring satisfaction.
Like the Apostle Paul in the early millennia, Craig was imprisoned for his Christian teachings and prison bars did little to dampen his zeal.
Following the guidelines in Paul’s epistles to the early followers of Christ, Craig diligently worked with others to establish churches.
But Craig wasn’t a contemporary of Paul. He’d never met Jesus or seen the Sea of Galilee. He was an early preacher in Virginia whose tobacco barn served as one of the first Separate Baptist meeting houses in Virginia before the American Revolution.
An Orange County native, Craig was a devout, dedicated man who was revered for his labor and suffering among the fiery religious persecution in colonial America.
His perseverance paid off.
On Sunday, Blue Run Baptist Church in Somerset will celebrate its 250th anniversary with a homecoming service that kicks off a three-day revival program. The church on Route 231 traces its roots back to Craig’s tobacco barn. As the first official minister of Blue Run, Craig is credited with helping constitute the congregation Dec. 4, 1769.
Sunday’s service will feature remarks from Dr. Brian Autry, executive director of the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia and church historian and longtime Somerset resident and postmaster Garland Tyree.
On Wednesday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., University of Richmond professor Dr. Dan Roberts will speak on the Separate Baptist movement, which included the early Blue Run congregants.
The church moved from its original meeting place near the Rapidan River around 1791 and an 1844 deed indicates the church owned a building prior to that date on Route 20 at Blue Run Baptist Church—Barboursville.
The current church site on Route 231 was deeded July 20, 1885, for $56 and the current sanctuary followed. In 1900, there was some discussion among the membership about relocating closer to the railroad in “new” Somerset, but that effort was abandoned.
In 1949, the sanctuary of the church was moved back from the road and over a new basement. Sunday school additions on the back of the 1885 sanctuary were initiated in 1955 and completed in 1958.
The 250th anniversary homecoming service will begin at 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at the church on Route 231 near the intersection with Route 20. Lunch and music will follow the morning worship service. Contact Pastor Barry Higgins at (540) 308-5960 for more information.