Book celebrates Springfield Baptist

Published 11:01 am Wednesday, September 6, 2017

An effort to recognize the church that shaped them drew four sisters and lifetime members of Springfield Baptist Church in Meherrin to write a book about the church and its congregation.

“Small But Mighty: The Impact of a Little Country Church” was published by Taylor Girls Publishing Co., the name Whitehead and her sisters chose for publishing based from their family name, Taylor.

Janis Taylor Whitehead, 73, is a lifelong resident of Meherrin and a lifetime member of Springfield Baptist Church, located at 1784 Springfield Road.

The church was established in 1878, according to records from the church.

Whitehead said she was inspired to write the book with her sisters Esther, Constance and Virginia. Her three sisters live in Washington D.C., North Carolina and Falls Church, but they have not withdrawn their membership from the church and they reunite every year during the church’s homecoming event on the third week of August.

“That’s what is so special about Springfield,” Whitehead said, describing the congregation and church’s impact on her family.

Whitehead said she felt greater motivation for the project when she reached out to members of the congregation, asking if they wanted to tell their stories for the book.

“These people are successful,” Whitehead said, who noted success does not exclude people without college degrees. “We’ve got entrepreneurs, we’ve got a whole lot of people who are successful in other areas — successful in the areas that don’t require a college degree.”

This was particularly the case as many of the congregation members, particularly Whitehead, was raised in Jim Crow-era society, where black students received secondhand books and rode deteriorating buses originally used in white schools.

When her family went out of town, Whitehead remembers having to pack meals as there was no guarantee of finding a restaurant that would welcome African Americans.

“We all experienced it,” Whitehead said. “All of that is just embedded in our lives. We’re not really bitter, because that is what went on at the time and we just tried to move on. We didn’t let that hinder us at all.”

Their resilience and success is evident throughout the book.

The book details the lives of the people who currently and those who attended the church in the past.

It also details the historical significances regarding Lunenburg County Public Schools and the process from segregation to integration.

The Rev. Dr. Theodore Brown, pastor of Springfield Baptist Church, said he was struck by the powerful nature of the book, and said it would allow readers to see the impact the congregation has had in the community.

“Springfield Baptist has a rich history of many members coming out of this congregation that have accomplished so many wonderful things that members will be able to remember for years to come,” Brown said.

“There’s a positive impact that came out of this church,” he added.

“Small But Mighty” aims to encourage other congregations to share their own stories that have not been told, particularly in African-American congregations.

“We contend that there are so many other untold stories relating to so many topics that can and should be written,” the book reads, “to preserve and promote the amazing contributions of African-Americans to the world.”

Whitehead is a retired educator from Lunenburg County Public Schools where she worked as a guidance counselor for more than 20 years and an elementary school instructor for 17 years.

When writing the book, Whitehead compiled stories from members of the congregation.

“It was well-received,” Whitehead said of the book. She said she and her sisters gave out copies to the pastor’s family, elderly members of the congregation, people and a member whose parents passed away recently.

For more information about the book, email Whitehead at