William E. Hatcher, D.D., of Virginia. - Among the first men of Virginia stands Rev. Dr. W. E. Hatcher, pastor of the Grace Street Baptist church, Richmond. Born July 25, 1835, in the county of Bedford, Va., he passed his youth among those blue mountains where were raised such preachers as Dr. Jeter, the late Dr. Daniel Witt ("the golden-mouthed orator"), and a large number of the most distinguished ministers which Virginia ever produced. He entered Richmond College, and his native talent and close application soon enabled him to take rank among the best students in his class, and to graduate in June, 1858, among the first.
In August, 1858, he took charge of a very weak church in Manchester (opposite Richmond), and, by faithful, judicious, and most untiring work, he added 400 to the church, and made it not only self-sustaining, but one of the most efficient in the State.
From Manchester Dr. Hatcher went, in March, 1867, to the pastorate of the Franklin Square Baptist church, Baltimore. He had a pleasant and successful year with this church, but in October, 1868, he returned to his native State, and took charge of the First Baptist church in Petersburg. During his seven years' pastorate there Dr. Hatcher refused a number of most tempting calls to other pastorates, and labored on in his chosen field, where he added to the church 360, and built up the cause to an extent rarely equaled.
Besides his labors in the pastorate, Dr. Hatcher has been a remarkably successful preacher in protracted meetings, and several thousand persons have professed conversion in connection with his labors. In 1875 he accepted the pastorate of the Grace Street church in Richmond. Dr. Hatcher is a man of rare and varied gifts. As a preacher he is a remarkable sermonizer, and an earnest and most effective proclaimer of the soul-saving truths of the gospel. Able, simple, earnest, pathetic, and always practical, large and delighted congregations wait on his ministry.
But Dr. Hatcher is even more efficient in his pastoral work than in the pulpit. His genial humor, keen wit, and winning manners make him the centre of attraction to the social circle, while his devout piety, warm sympathies, and deep earnestness make him always a welcome visitor to the houses of his people and the "house of mourning." He is especially popular among the young, is a first class Sunday-school man, and has had very large success in leading boys and girls to the Cross, and putting them to work for Jesus.
Dr. Hatcher has won a wide reputation as a writer of keen satire and a popular lecturer, and he is destined to still higher renown in this direction. He was one of the most untiring and successful workers in the great Virginia Memorial enterprise, and has won a place among the best collecting, agents in the country. There opens up before few young ministers a brighter career of successful work for the Master whom he serves so faithfully.
[From William Cathcart, editor, The Baptist Encyclopedia, 1881; reprint, 1988, p. 510. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
An important essay by Dr. Hatcher:
"Why the Baptists Do Not Baptize Infants" - 1880
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