Broadway Presbyterian Church is located at the north end of Main Street in the Town of Broadway near the bridge that carries Rt. 259 across Linville Creek. A few miles to the west is Brock’s Gap, a passage through Little North Mountain cut by the North Fork of the famous Shenandoah River. Linville Creek runs beside the church before it flows into the Shenandoah River a few hundred yards downstream. This is a locale that can scarcely be considered without reference to the terrible Civil War that ended in 1865. In 1864, during the infamous “Burning,” Union troops burned Custers’s Mill which stood beside the creek within a stone’s throw of both the current church’s position and the c. 1760 “Winfield House” where the church was to have its genesis three years later!
Most able-bodied men of the community who were not of the Mennonite or Brethren denominations, had fought for the Confederacy, including Dr. John Winfield, an organizer of the Letcher Brocks Gap Rifles, who served as a cavalry Captain under General Turner Ashby, during “Stonewall” Jackson’s legendary “Valley Campaign” of 1862.
In the aftermath of the war, people sought to restore normalcy and decency in daily living. In 1867 Sarah Winfield and Isabella Spence established a Sunday School in the Winfield home for the Winfield children and the children of nearby families. Sarah was the wife of Dr. John Q. Winfield, M.D., the recognized Confederate leader. The gatherings of the children and their parents at the Winfield House led to the formation of the church.
Although the Civil War had been over for two years, its devastating effects were fresh. Families associated with the Sunday School felt the need for a church. Encouraged by the Lexington Presbytery, a congregation with twenty members was recognized on June 5, 1870. A frame sanctuary was built on land donated by Dr. and Mrs. Winfield. Behind the church a cemetery was started.
The current brick building on the site was completed in 1926.
A three-story Education Building was attached in 1955. In 2009 full accessibility to the facility was achieved with a new street-level entry, an elevator, and restrooms on all floors. In 2011 a Youth Center was created on the third floor of the Education Building with the aid of Synod grants. The Winfield House still stands across Linville Creek in direct sight from Broadway Presbyterian Church. The graves of members of the Winfield family are in the church’s cemetery.
The membership grew to 77 by 1900. Active membership peaked in the 1950s at well over a hundred. In spite of the small current membership, the level of active participation and commitment is high.
Spreading the Gospel beyond the local church has been an ambition for members, beginning with the daughter of the Reverend Patterson Fletcher in the late 19th Century. Miss Nannie Fletcher served as a teacher for six years in Yokohama, Japan. In modern times Richard and Sara Stewart were instrumental in arranging for a “sister church” in Gori, Ethiopia, and traveled to Ethiopia on mission trips.
In recent times Doug Wenger, a son of the church, and his wife Cassia have been privately supported Christian missionaries in Brazil. However, most outreach efforts have been local. Members were instrumental in the organization of a Day Care Center in Broadway. The Broadway Presbyterian Church’s Daily Bread Food Pantry, with the assistance of individuals, civic groups, and other area churches, has served the nutritional needs of needy families of the region for more than a quarter of a century! Each year Food Pantry supporters in the church and the community “adopt” children of the Food Pantry recipient families, providing Christmas gifts of clothing and toys. The congregation served as supporting sponsors of a Russian refugee family. Habitat for Humanity houses have been supported by the church, including carpentry and electrical work, in addition to financial contributions. Members and Pastor Sarah Hill traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi, on mission trips to repair Hurricane Katrina damage. However, the ambitions of reaching out to the world and spreading the Gospel can not be more important that the Christian nurture of each other and imbuing the on-coming generation with the knowledge of God’s love and the habit of seeking God’s will. Such have been the major, historical accomplishments of the Broadway Presbyterian Church.
Ministers: Thomas D. Bell (seminary student), 1870-1872; George L. Cook, 1872-1873; Daniel L. Wilson, 1874-1880; Addison H. Price, 1880-1882; Patterson Fletcher, 1883-1892; Francis G. Hartman, 1893-1899; Samuel S. Oliver, 1900-1902; Samuel T. Ruffner, (seminary student) 1902-1904; George L. Brown (seminary student) 1904-1905; Samuel T. Ruffner, 1905-1910; George B. Hanrahan, 1910-1911; Leander McC. Williams, 1912-1914; H. Ward Shannon 1915-1921; Kenneth McCaskill, 1921-1923; Andrew J. Ponton, 1924-1927, Clyde R. McCubbins, 1928-1931; Beverly O. Shannon, 1931-1948; Marion L. Simmons, 1951-1953; W. Ellsworth Orndoff, 1954-1963; Roger K. Elliott, 1963-1969; Marion L. Simmons, 1969-1985; John McDonald, 1986-2000; Sarah L. Hill, 2002-2010.
Interim Ministers: Joseph T. Sefcik, 1985-1986; Don Allen, 2000-2002; Betty Goshorn Dax, 2011-2013.
Temporary Supply Ministers: Constance Dorn, 2013-2014; Charles Reller, 2014.
Contracted Supply Pastor: Joan Wilson 2014-2018 .
Stonewall in the Valley by Robert Tanner, Doubleday & Company, 1966
The Lexington Presbyterian Heritage by Howard McKnight Wilson. McClure press, Verona, Virginia, 1971
The Burning by John L. Heatwole. Howell Press, Inc., 1990
Virginia Valley Records by John W. Wayland. Reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2001. Includes Letters of a Cavalry Captain 1861-1862, J.Q. Winfield, Captain Company B, Seventh Regiment, Virginia Cavalry, Compiled With Addenda By His Daughter Paulina Swift Winfield
Between the Seventies, a publicly performed, but unpublished pageant written by the Rev. Dr. Marion L. Simmons, 1970, to celebrate the church’s centennial