Reverend Robert Byrd Ward was one of the founders and the "organizer" of the Potomac River Baptist Association. He became its first Moderator in 1900. He also organized the Sunday School Union of Charles County and Vicinity that same year, which is still in existence and meets every fifth Sunday.
Rev. Ward was born November 6, 1848 in Richmond, VA. He married Ella Ward and from this union they had one son, John Robert I; one daughter Lillian Rae; one grandson, John Robert II; and one great-grandson, John Robert III. Rev. Ward lived in Ironside, Maryland, and owned much property.
The Early Days
We were privileged to have the Rev. Leroy Fitts as our guest speaker at our Annual Banquet held in 1988. Rev. Fitts was familiar with the Association and it was interesting to listen as he reminisced of the very beginnings of the Potomac River Baptist Association. He retold the story of how a few ministers from the local area would annually ride down the Potomac River to a place in Southern Maryland to hold meetings and discussions pertaining to the state of affairs and the effect on their various churches and their people. It was during one of these boat trips that it was suggested that an Association be formed, and as stated in the early Constitution, the purpose would be "to advance the cause of Christ and true religion in Southern Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C., on the borders of the Potomac River and elsewhere by efforts to aid feeble churches, raise money for the supply of destitute places with the preaching of the Gospel, encouraging and fostering missionary and educational operation, the circulation of the Bible, the formation of Sabbath Schools, the encouragement of temperance reform, promote home and foreign missions and forward the same to its agencies."
Some of the founders of the Association that were present at that first meeting were Rev. R. B. Ward, who was the first Moderator and served until his death in 1920, Rev. S. S. Wormley, Rev. R. B. Wood, Rev. C. W. Ward, Rev. R. D. Grymes, Rev. W. W. Allen, Deac. Chas. Ross and Rev. W. Ward. These individuals and others who were not named were not only responsible for the organization of the Association, but also its continual existence through the early years.
The first official meeting of the Association was held in 1900 at Mt. Hope Baptist Church in Ironsides, Maryland. The official sessions then were held from Tuesday through Thursday. The earliest record of proceedings that were made available are for the Nineteenth Annual Session, which was held from July 26-28, 1921 at the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in King George County, VA.
The 1921 proceedings contained many familiar family names such as Sister Julia Price, who serviced as president of the Women's Auxiliary; Rev. Yancey Warren, who served as president of the Sunday School; Bro. Charles Ross, who served as treasurer for the Association; M. R. Hancock; Sister Louise Hancock; Sister Betty Grymes; and Sister Daisy Bannister.
POTOMAC RIVER BAPTIST ASSOCIATION
|Reverend R. B. Ward||1900 - 1920|
|Reverend E. Thomas Broadus||1921 - 1939|
|Reverend G. E. Carter||1939 - 1940|
|Reverend Claggett Ward||1940 - 1954|
|Reverend R. Lavelle Tucker||1954 - 1967|
|Reverend Rodney Young||1967 - 1978|
|Reverend Louis McCombs||1978 - 1983|
|Reverend Frank D. Tucker||1983 - 1987|
|Reverend Wilborn Gilmore||1987 - 1991|
|Reverend Jessie B. Williams||1991 - 1995|
|Reverend C. H. Johnson||1995 - 1999|
|Dr. Lowell H. Hancock, Sr.||1999 - 2003|
|Dr. John A. Franklin||2003 - 2006|
|Reverend Roderick W. McClanahan||2006 - 2010|
Rev. Dr. Raymond T. Matthews, D. Min.
Rev. Dr. Sterling R. Swann, Jr., Th.D., Ed.D.
Rev. James F. Harris, Sr.
2010 - 2014
2014 - 2018
2018 - Present