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In the early 1960’s, the average cost of a home was $20,000, and the average cost of a car was $3,125.   JFK was president (steering us through the Cuban Missile Crisis), the New York Yankees ruled baseball, and Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers dominated football.  Route 7 between Tysons Corner and Leesburg was a two-lane road… with no traffic signals!  It was at this time when God’s plan for Potomac Baptist Church was born.  Seeing how strategic it would be to have a church somewhere between Tyson’s Corner and Leesburg, Hamilton Baptist and Leesburg Baptist Churches planned a combined Vacation Bible School outreach.  It would be held in a tenant house off Route 7, about where Dulles Town Center is.  The success of that first VBS, led to an informal worship service that started in a tenant house owned by a Dr. Jackson.

Church in the Barn

barnSeeing God’s blessing on this small gathering of God’s people, Dr. Jackson gave this small gathering of God’s people 4 acres on Route 7, which included a barn.  Folks worked together to convert that dairy barn into a cozy, country style church.  The stalls became Sunday School rooms, and the old milking parlor became the sanctuary.  Baptisms were held at nearby Guilford Baptist Church. The steel pillars that had separated the milking stalls were stood among the pews. There was one pole that had a substantial bend in it – and church folklore has it that during one particular altar call, the Spirit was working on one gentleman so intensely that as he gripped the pole to stay at his seat and the pole bent.The church was constituted as Potomac Baptist Church April 29, 1962.  In those first years as a new church plant, PBC acquired its first pastor, Robert Johnson (1961 – 1965).

Every Member a Minister

church2The decade of the 70’s was a golden era for PBC.  Under the leadership of their beloved 4th pastor, Glen McLaughlin (1969-1983) land was purchased on Route 7 (across the street from NOVA) and a new worship center was built.  With “Every Member a Minister” as their theme, a strong evangelistic focus drove PBC deep into the newly developing Sugarland Run area of Sterling.  At one time, 23 Evangelism Explosion visitation teams were going out weekly.  There was a bus ministry and a puppet ministry.  It was during this time that PBC became very mission-minded sponsoring several missionaries.  To accommodate growth, PBC rented rooms for Sunday School at NOVA.  There were prayer meetings every Wednesday night.  Attendance grew to about 300, peaking at times over 400.  Finally, Pastor Glen left to plant a church in State College, Pennsylvania.

Season of Challenge

Our fifth pastor, Russ Carlton (1984-1990) was a caring pastor, always there whenever needed.  He organized the deacons into care groups.  The theme during this time was “A Going Church for a Coming Lord”.  There were 5 adult SS classes and a Wednesday night family program.  During this time a major conflict in the life of the church was over its belief in the trustworthiness of the scripture.  Our 6th pastor, Ken Sodergren (1991-1995) was known for his commitment to the inerrancy of the Scriptures.  A Korean church used the building part-time.  The finances of the church grew desperate – unable to pay mortgage and pastor.  The church building needed new roof and heating system.  It was at this desperate hour that the congregation prayed, “Keep us as a light in this community; please do not let our light go out.”  God answered that prayer by sending them a developer!  In exchange for our property, the developer provided a larger church building, more land, mortgage paid, money in the bank, plus the opportunity to be a community church in Lowes Island.  He even threw in a piano.  God provided!

Church in Lowes Island

lowesWhile the church was still on Route 7, PBC called their 7th pastor, Joe O’Connell (1996-2000) who had the privilege of leading the church to the new location in Lowes Island.  He was an energetic, bi-vocational pastor from New York.  He left to re-start the Ketoctin Baptist Church.  At the beginning of the new millennium, Potomac Baptist Church was back down to about 40 members.  This is when it called it’s 8th pastor, Bill Walker (2000 – 2005).  Evangelism and missions were emphasized again and the church grew.  Under the banner “Passion for God, Compassion for People” PBC was once again reaching out into the community. Attendance increased to about 265.  Pastor Bill worked on the Vision, Values & Constitution of PBC and started two services.  He also began the process of moving PBC to more of an elder led model of church government.  A vibrant youth ministry was carried on at this time.  Pastor Bill left to begin a church in Canada.  After a year of interim ministry, the church called its 9th pastor, Scott Hesler (2006 – present).  Under Scott’s leadership a new team of elders and a new vision for the church were established.