On November 13, 1915, a small group of Baptist living in Hopewell organized
the First Baptist Church of Hopewell, Virginia. They elected a temporary Chairman,
Mr. M. Horner, and a temporary clerk, Mr. S. N. Shaull. On December 5th the group met for organization under the sponsorship of Baptist from the First, Second, and West End Baptist churches of Petersburg and representatives from the Baptist State Mission Board of Richmond, including the Field Secretary, Mr. R. D. Garland.
27 persons were received, by letter or pending receipt of letter, as constituent members:
A. A. Jacobs, Mrs. A. A. Jacobs, Mrs. Nellie Jacobs, Mrs. D. E. Spivey, J. D. Spivey,
S. N. Shaull, Mrs. S. N. Shaull, Paul Shelton, Thomas W. Staples, M. J. Eastman, Mrs. M. J. Eastman, by letter; Gaston W. Baldwin, Herbert Bulle, Mrs. Arabella Carter, George P. Calvert, Mrs. Octavia Eley Cole, Clarence M. Guthrie, W. M. Horner, Robert B. Holt, William B. Highsmith, Mrs. May B. Jacobs, King David Noah, Guy R. Platt, Mrs. Ida May Randlett, Grady C. Shelton, Charles W. Tubbs, and J. W. Zuidma, pending letter.
January 16, 1916, the organization was completed, and a call was extended to the Rev. George H. Wiley to act as temporary Pastor.Prior to this organization, regular worship services had been held on Sunday afternoons with the help of Petersburg Baptist. A mission Sunday School is reported to have been organized in September 1915, with the help of Dr. William Pilcher, Mr. John Long, and Mr. Wallace Rucker, of Petersburg. A Ladies Aid Society was formally organized in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Wiley just after church organization on January 26, 1916; this was later merged with the Missionary Society, reported to have been organized in a private home in September, 1915.
Services were held in the Tabernacle, an unpainted barn-like structure on the site of the present Elder Building on Broadway (now the new Municipal Courthouse site). The deed for this first property is dated March 28, 1916.
In November, 1916, the Reverend W. S. Leake, pastor of the Calvary Church of Newport News, VA was called to serve the church as its first regular pastor.
The Dupont Powder Plant donated the sight of the present sanctuary on Second Street, which was completed in 1922. We had a membership of more than 700. An annex was added in 1927. M. T. Broyhill donated the church organ in 1929.
In July 1932, the Reverend R. Grady Snowden, from the Baptist Seminary in Louisville, became the second regular pastor of the Church. In 1932 a rotating system was adopted for the nine deacons, later increased to 24. In 1936 the first Board of Deaconesses was elected. In l933 the first Daily Vacation Bible School was conducted with an enrollment of 300. Church enrollment was 1136 in 1939. Mr. Snowden resigned in 1941 to accept a call in Deland, Florida. In October 19, 1941, a call was extended to the Reverend G. Bartow Harris of Summerville, S.C. Mr. Harris was a former missionary to India. In 1945, the Woodlawn Baptist Church was organized, with the First Baptist Church as sponsor. In 1947, the Unified Budget system of collections was adopted. In April 1952, a branch Sunday school in Buren Gardens, under the sponsorship of the First Baptist Church organized. In 1952, the Reverend Raymond J. Dietrich became the assistant pastor of First Baptist church. In September 1953, the Buren Gardens chapel became known as Powers Memorial Baptist Church. January 1954, Mr. Harris resigned after 12 years of service to accept a call to the First Baptist Church of Hagerstown, MD.
In l954, the Reverend C. R. Stevens, became our fourth pastor. A planning committee, the Church Council, was set up to assist the pastor. The Brotherhood was formed. On November 13, l955, our 40th anniversary, we broke ground for an educational building. Laying of the cornerstone for the educational building took place February 12, 1956. In 1962 the church ordained two of its members, Fred Troll and Malvin Utleye, Jr., to the ministry. The congregation voted to pay yearly $1,000 of the salary of a missionary to Southern Rhodesia, Mrs. Rebecca McKinley. Ground breaking took place December 31, 1961 for a new sanctuary. On March 17, 1963, a completed new sanctuary was dedicated along with the new Moller organ in an afternoon concert.
Departmental figures for 1964 show enrollment of Sunday School, now fully graded, as 865; Training Union, 167; Brotherhood, 50; WMU, now with rotating membership, 224; and regular choirs, 94. Unified Budget receipts for 1964 were $49, 860.81, of which $17, 224.65 was disbursed for various missionary purposes.
Receipts for the building fund were $29,226.36, leaving a building debt of $214,968.96. Statistics on January 1, 1965, showed an enrollment of 1051 members. In 1972, two buses were purchased and the Wednesday night suppers were begun with most of the church meetings scheduled afterwards; also, all choir rehearsals were held at this time. On March 17, 1974, the church being debt-free, a note burning service was held.
Dr. Stevens retired in 1974 after 19 ½ years of service.
On August 1, 1974, the church welcomed its fifth pastor, the Rev. Willie S. Cromer, who came from Bishopville, S. C. In 1975, there were 150 additions to the church membership. Resident members number 1,400. A budget was adopted for 1976 of
$173,000. A Committee on Committees was formed to assign church members to 35 committees. These committees, along with church officers, trustees, the diaconate and organizational leaders, proved to be of great assistance to the church staff. Also, during this time, the diaconate adopted the Deacon Family Ministry Plan, with the Deacons and Deaconesses being the Pastor’s partners in proclaiming Jesus Christ’s Gospel and love. In August of 1978, the Rev. Billie B. Davis became Director of Youth and Christian Education. Rev. Davis was succeeded by the Rev. Jerry F. Johnson who was ordained in our church in June, 1983. Mr. Johnson resigned in October 1984 and was succeeded in January 1985 by the Rev. David L. Robinson as Minister of Education. At the business meeting in June, l980, the church voted to sponsor a Vietnamese family. Minh, Thuan, Hao and Thien arrived in Hopewell on December 17, l980. At a special service in their honor in February, l981, the Vietnamese refugees shared with the congregation the story of their life in Vietnam, their escape, and immigration. All four were baptized in June, l981. Thuan and Hao were still with us in 1985. Hao worked for the City of Hopewell and attended John Tyler Community College, and Thuan became a full-time pre-medical student at Virginia Commonwealth University. Some of the highlights of church extension during the last decade were the organization of Sunday school classes at Hopewell Convalescent Center and the John Randolph Nursing Home. In 1981 a “WEE School” (Weekday Early Education) was organized to serve the nursery school needs of children ages three and four.
Two of our own church members were ordained to the ministry. On November 8, 1981, David Alexander Roberts was ordained at First Baptist. Kent B. Blevins, licensed to preach in l977, was ordained while a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Grace Chase became Minister of Music in 1978 and the music ministry expanded rapidly in 1982 with the introduction of the annual “Singing Cross” at Easter and “The Living Christmas Tree” in December. In 1985 there were seven choirs from pre-school to senior adults, and two hand bell choirs, one for children and one for adults.
FBC expanded their missionary sponsorship to two programs, that of Mrs. Rebecca McKinley in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and that of Rev. Kent Blevins and his wife Debbie in Lisbon, Portugal. They were partially supported by our church.
Some FBC members served independently as missionaries, giving of their time and paying their own expenses. Mr. L. Wellford Swift and Mr. Willis Waldron spent a part of June, l977 in Colombia, South America. Mr. Swift did additional missionary work in Guatemala, Endicott, N. Y., Venezuela and Dominican Republic. Other mission tours made by FBC were to New York City in 1978, to Albany, N. Y. in April l984 and to St. Albans, W. Va., in the summer of l984. Some other mission activities were: 1) Participation in World Missions Conference in l984; 2) Contributions to Good News Mission (Jail Ministry) and American Bible Society; 3) Provisions for clothing and rehabilitating a 17 - member Vietnamese refugee family, providing them with all necessities until they were able to support themselves.
A number of revivals were held during the decade: Dr. Frank Crumpler, Secretary of Evangelism for the Baptist General Assembly of Virginia - April, l976; a youth crusade team called “The Good News Circle” led by Bob Laurent (became a community project sponsored by 15 area churches)- 1978; Mike Gilchrest - 1979; Vincent Cervara, accomplished trumpet player and evangelist - 1981; and Anton Disselkoen, world renowned evangelist and singer – April 1985. Mr. Cromer conducted revivals in other churches in Virginia and South Carolina during this period. Moreover, Lay Renewal Weekend was held at the church on February 23 –25, 1979.
In 1984, classes were begun in Master Life, an in-depth training experience to help Christians become complete disciples. Sanctuary Bibles with pew racks to hold them and a high speed copier for the tape ministry were given to the church by the Blevins family. A beautiful brick and marble marker, a gift from the estate of a former member, A. Hunter Pritchard, was erected in front of the church in 1985. The athletic trophy case was the subject of much pride, filled with testimonies to many successful seasons in a variety of sports activities. Our church sponsored teams in church league competitions under the auspices of the City Recreation Department. In l985 our bowling team celebrated 25 years of strikes and spares. The year of 1985 disclosed the following statistics: 1,387 church enrollment, with 326 of this total being non-resident; 872 total Sunday School enrollment, with average attendance of 353; 449 Church Training enrollment; 81 members in Woman’s Missionary Union; 14 members in Brotherhood; 191 in Music Ministry.
Unified Budget receipts for 1985 were $349, 390, of which $60, 046 was disbursed for various missionary purposes. The value of church property was $1,750,000 with the total church debt at the end of the year $1, 682. Our church staff in 1985 was as follows: The Rev. Willie S. Cromer, Jr., Pastor; The Rev. David L. Robinson, Minister of Education; Mrs. Carol F. Hopkins, Administrative Secretary; Mrs. Wanda K. Miller, Office Secretary; Mrs. Grace H. Chase, Director of Music; Mrs. Mary Louise Marquis, Organist; Mrs. Gloria C. Andrs, Pianist; and Mr. Robert N. Swift, Maintenance Supervisor.
On November 10, 1985, the 70th anniversary of our church was celebrated. Two former pastors, the Reverend and Mrs. R. Grady Snowden from Florida and the Reverend G. Bartow Harris of Maryland, were present. Between 400-500 members, former members, and visitors attended the dinner, which followed in the Fellowship Hall. Scarcely a month after the anniversary celebration, the church was saddened by the death of Mr. Harris on December 13, l985, in Hagerstown, Md. His widow Helen Johnson Harris, died in January 1986. Jessie L. Snowden, wife of former pastor, R. Grady Snowden, died December 2, 1986, in Florida.
Mrs. Nonie Gravett, who served as director of the Good Will Center from 1929-1939, died April 22, l986, at the age of 92, at her home in South Boston. She was active in mission programs at First Baptist, and circles at our church and at Powers Memorial were named for her. Ted and Columbia Shelby served with her at the Good Will Center for a number of years. Early in 1986 the Building Committee presented plans for a proposed Family Life Center to be added at the north wing of the present structure, and a fund drive was initiated to accumulate $250,000 before embarking on a building program. In anticipation of the building addition, several properties on Appomattox court and North Second Avenue have been acquired for future parking. A beautiful stained glass window “Christ in the Garden”, was installed in the baptistry and was dedicated on January 2, l989. The window was made possible through the generous gifts of the Newkirk family. The 25th anniversary of Pastor Cromer’s ordination was celebrated June 22, l986.
A reception honoring Mr. and Mrs. Cromer on his 15th anniversary as our pastor was held on August 9, 1989. During these 15 years there were 448 baptisms. 556 new members were received by letter or statement and $860,000 was given to world missions. In late l985 the Reverend Charles Spain, long-time Petersburg Association Director of Missions, retired and the Reverend Nash Odom was called to that position. 5
Over the years several former members of First Baptist have served as Moderator of the Petersburg Association. They were Roy S. Kegley, the Reverend C. R. Stevens, and L. T. Shelby.
Mission work has been stressed in recent years and the outreach was extended. Missionary sponsorship now include Hugh and Rebecca McKinley in Zimbabwe and Kent and Debbie Blevins in Portugal. The church was privileged to have had both missionary couples fill the pulpit, as well as many other gifted and dedicated preachers, during this five-year period. Individuals in the church have gone at their own expense to serve as volunteer missionaries in various fields of service. The Starburst program, which recognizes an event, a crisis, a happening in a church family was started. A shut-in ministry was established to give continuous personal service to the home bound of the church. The youth have been involved in mission action activities in McClellansville, South Carolina in l988 where they repaired homes for the needy. In l989 they went to Williamsburg, Kentucky to help in building a home for a mother and her two children. In 1990 they went to Awendaw, South Carolina to repair damages caused by Hurricane Hugo. Church membership in 1989 was 1386, non-residents 362, Sunday school 779, average attendants 365. The church approved involvement in a partnership relationship with Tanzania Missions. A team composed of Wellford Swift, Allen Flannagan, Jr. Allen Flannagan, III, Barbara Sexton, Elbert Sampsell, Sandy, Ethel and Jennifer Hancock (and Rena Mitchell from Powers Memorial) went to Tanzania in l989 to take part in construction of a church and to do evangelistic work. The church also entered into partnership with Heritage Baptist church in Worcester, Massachusetts. A team spent a week in May, l990, to make repairs on their church building.
First Baptist Church celebrated our 75th Anniversary on December 1st and 2nd , 1990. Former staff members, including the Reverend R. Grady Snowden, our second full-time pastor, attended.
The church by-laws were changed to include the entire diaconate for ordination. Women were ordained for the first time in May 1991.
April 14-17, 1991, a revival was held, with the Reverend Bob Deaton as guest minister. In July, there was a 2-week mission to Gold Stream, Alaska, which was attended by eight adult members of the church.
The youth “World Changers” went to Onancock, on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, for 2 weeks. On October 13th, the First Korean Baptist Church on River Road was dedicated, with members of First Baptist in attendance.
New Baptist Hymnals were dedicated at the church on February 23, 1992.
Final plans were made for construction of the Family Life Center. Groundbreaking was held in April 26, l992. In the summer of 1992, Willie and Nikki Cromer attended the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) convention. A local task force was formed by the church to study the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) – Cooperative Baptist Fellowship situation. State-level speakers were presented to discuss the situation with the congregation.
The church voted to allocate 36% of the Cooperative Program mission funds to CBF “Vision 2000”. Individual church members could elect to designate their mission’s contributions to SBC, however, if they so desired. The church voted, also in 1992, to become a charter member of HOPE, an ecumenical business organization formed by a core of churches in the City for giving emergency assistance to persons with special needs.Senior high Youth World Changers Mission Trip was in Campbell County, TN and Jr. High Youth World Changers went to Birmingham, Al. in 1992. Wellford Swift visited Hungary, and Gordon Williams, Elbert Sampsell, Wellford Swift, and Jimmy Blackwell traveled to Costa Rica.
“At Home with Baptist Women”, a missions group, was organized in October 1992 and the church sponsored “Wee School” was expanded to four days per week. On October 25, l992, Mary Louise Marquis, Church Organist, was recognized for having completed 25 years of service to the church. At the beginning of 1993, the church was no. 3 in the state in giving to the State Association, and was No. 1 in giving to the Petersburg Association. Grace Chase, Director of Music, completed 15 years of dedicated service, and Carol Hopkins, Church Secretary, was recognized for ten years of service. In March 1994, the Family Life center was dedicated with a series of special activities throughout the month, culminating with a dedicatory service and luncheon on Sunday, March 20th.
A new pictorial church directory was begun in 1994 and First Baptist Church became the sponsor of Boy Scout Troop 924.
7 Robert N. Swift, Custodial Manager/Maintenance Supervisor, retired in 1994 after many years of faithful service.
On August 4, 1994, Willie and Nikki Cromer celebrated 20 years of dedicated service to our church. During the summer of 1995, the “World Changers” senior-high group, consisting of 16 young people, were involved in mission-action activities in Danville, VA. The junior-high group (12 young people) went to Savannah, GA, and a group of five adults also undertook a project in Savannah, GA.
Hugh and Rebecca McKinley, the foreign missionaries sponsored by First Baptist in Zimbabwe, retired in October, while Kent and Debbie Blevins and their children were transferred to Prague, The Czech Republic.
The church agreed to allow the local Red Cross Chapter to use the church building as an emergency shelter if the need should arise. David and Gail Robinson celebrated ten years of dedicated service to First Baptist on January 29, 1995. Also this year, Gloria Andrs completed twenty years of service as church Pianist and Melissa Stephens completed six years as Office Secretary. The WMU collected 225 packets of vegetable seeds to be sent to the Baptist missionaries in Mozambique, Africa. A revival, “Jesus is the Answer”, was held April 26-30, featuring several area speakers and musicians. As part of the church’s emphasis on foreign missions, during the past five years we have been blessed to have several foreign missionaries speak at our church: Carolyn Harris (Zimbabwe), Mark and Pam Grumbles (Costa Rica), Kennard and Deborah Richardson (Brazil), Kent and Debbie Blevins (Switzerland – now assigned to The Czech Republic), Dr. Catherine Walker (China and Indonesia), and David and Dawn Shereda (volunteers to Zimbabwe). The church’s music ministry, under the direction of Grace Chase, continues to be an inspiration to our church and to the community. There are three children’s choirs; a Sanctuary Choir; and two hand bell choirs. “The Living Christmas Tree” was presented in December, and “The Life of Jesus in Living Pictures”, at Easter. The children’s choirs perform two special programs a year; the singing Saints perform two special programs; and the Youth Ensemble and the Adult Ensemble perform at least one special program a year.
The 80th Anniversary of our church was celebrated on November 12, 1995. Our guest speaker was Dr. R Grady Snowden, our second full-time pastor. 8
Other guest included Rev. Reginald McDonough of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, Reverend Nash Odom, Director of Missions, Petersburg Baptist Association, and Reverend Billy Davis, former Minister of Education at FBC. There were 496 attendees at the morning worship service.
On December 6, Dr. Cecil E. Sherman, C. B. F. Coordinator, was our guest speaker. In January, 1996, the church hosted the Association Men’s Rally. The special guest speaker was Chip Tarkington, Sports Anchor for WRIC television. April 7, 1996, Easter Sunday, we began the tradition of the “Flowering of the Cross”. In May, Barry N. Burijon was ordained into the Gospel Ministry; also, four members of our church participated in Senior Adult World Changers in Charleston, SC and seven members participated in Collegiate World Changers, Charleston, SC. Eighteen members of our church helped with construction of four Habitat for Humanity houses in Richmond in conjunction with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship local missions in June. July saw 11 members in Savannah, GA. to participate in Senior High World Changers and 13 members participated in Junior High World changers there. We had a 4 week “Summer Olympics” in August for children ages 4 thru grade 6. February 2, 1997, FBC hosted Prayer Service for Associational Evangelistic Crusade. In March we hosted a Prayer Breakfast for Home Missions, sponsored by the Baptist Men of the Petersburg Association. In March, we hosted joint Maundy Thursday celebration of the Lord’s Supper with nine area Baptist churches. Andy Morris, World Changers Director, was our guest speaker for World Changer/World Tour Commissioning service for twenty-seven youth and adults in April, 1997.
Also in April the Tri-Cities Senior Adult World Changers was hosted by the Petersburg Association. First Baptist Church hosted the dinners and worship celebration each evening for the entire group and served lunch each day for one crew. Thirteen FBC members served on work crews and David Robinson, our Minister of Family Life/Education was Association Coordinator.
During May, our church hosted a Grief Seminar sponsored by Gould funeral Home. 9 The World Changer and World Tour teams and other FBC members, plus five other churches, helped with the Hands-On-mission project for ten Hopewell residences. This project was coordinated by David Robinson and our church
hosted the celebration service for all participants of this project.
May 26, 1997, two teams (5 each) of FBC members participated in the Petersburg Association’s first Rest Stop Ministry at three rest stops on I-85 and I-95. In July 23 members participated in Senior High World changers in Raleigh, NC. Wellford Swift participated in a mission trip to Slovakia. Eleven members were part of a Youth World Tour mission trip to West Columbia, SC. April 1998, six members participated in the Senior Adult world changers project in Maryville, TN. In May, Wellford Swift went on a mission trip to the Czech Republic. Angie Weston was Office Manager for the West Team of a World Changers Support Team. Geoffrey Fuller served on the Virginia Baptist Mission Board’s Sports Ministry Team. Forty-three members, along with other area churches, participated in the Hands On Missions Project in Hopewell. The project was coordinated by David Robinson. During the month of June, a new purpose statement for the church was approved at the business meeting. The statement reads: “The purpose of First Baptist Church is to build a community of loving,
caring believers equipped to share Christ’s love with others”. In July, twenty-three youth and adults participated in the All Youth World changer project at Rock Hill, SC, on the Catawba Indian Reservation.
A new women’s Sunday school class (the Deborah class) was started in September, with Anne Soroka as teacher. A new Prayer group (Gethsemane Intercessors) was
added to the Women on Mission Organization. Alice Stainback is the facilitator.
In May 1999, FBC members participated in the Hands-On-mission project in Hopewell, a one-day housing repair project coordinated by David Robinson.
Wellford Swift went on a mission trip to Prague in the Czech Republic. In June, a Moms Offering Moms Support group was started, under the WMU. Four adults participated in the World changers project in Danville, VA. 20 youth and adults participated in the Impact Virginia project in Bluefield, VA/WV.
A new Sunday school class for Young Adults ages 23-30 was started in July with Dale and Kelly Johnson as teachers. On August 1, the church celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary with Willie S. Cromer, Jr. as pastor with a special morning service and afternoon reception.
Red Cross Disaster Relief Training courses were offered to FBC members in case our building is ever opened as a disaster shelter. October 22-November 2, 1999, Wellford Swift went to Curitiba, Brazil on a mission trip. November 13-17, FBC participated in the World Missions Conference. Statistics at the end of 1999 showed our membership to be 1,502 – 500 of which were non-resident members. Sunday school enrollment was 984, with an average attendance of 317. The Daily Vacation Bible School enrolled 369; WMU, 110; RA’s 116. The December 31, 1999 Cumulative Financial Statement total receipts totaled $575,700. Total local expenditures were $385,137, and total mission expenditures were $45,319. The value of the church property stood at $3,750,000.
January 2000, David Robinson completed 15 years of service as Minister of Family Life/Education. During April FBC hosted a short Lenten service, followed by a luncheon, each Wednesday during Lent.
Pastor Carlos Ramos and the Hispanic Church Renacer began meeting at FBC on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons in May. May 5, 2000, Allen Flannagan became a church Trustee. May 20, 2000, Thirty-four FBC members participated in the Hands on Mission project in Hopewell, a one-day housing repair project. The month of June began Jubilee 2000, a 9:00 a.m. First Praise contemporary worship service. Our young people are very active in this service.
David Robinson accepted the call to another church as of July 1st. On June 25 a reception was held in the gymnasium to thank him for his dedicated service to our church and to wish David, Gail, Brandon and Chris well in their new endeavors. The youth ministry held “Summer Jam 2000”. The youth Bible study was held in host homes during the summer.
During July, the Fantastic Good News Ocean Odyssey Bible School was held. It was a great success, with an average attendance of 292. Nineteen members of the World changers participated in a project in Baltimore, MD and FBC hosted the “See You At the Pole” rally for area churches to bring their youth together. Gloria Andrs was honored for her 26 years of service as pianist at FBC. Wellford Swift went to 2 mission trips in Brazil in 2000, one in May and one in September. Matt Straw was called December 3, 2000 to be Minister of Family Life/Education.
January 7 – March 25, 2001 – Fellowship of Christian Athletes hosted an Open Gym for all youths in grades 6-12 in the FBC Gym.
FBC ordained E. Dwight Griffith to the Gospel ministry on February 18th. Dwight also went on a mission trip to Italy in May. First Baptist Church’s RA’s mission groups with the Salvation Army sponsored a soup kitchen in March. Forty FBC adults and youth participated in the Hands on Mission Project in Hopewell, a housing repair project in April and May. FBC member Emily Mosley was Impact VA Team Leader in Newport News/Virginia Beach from May to August. Harvey and Barbara Skinner went to Alaska on a mission trip in June. Thirty-three adults and youth participated in the World Changers Mission Tour project in Grifton, NC in June. FBC member Sam Pritchard went to Eastern Europe and the Ukraine on a mission trip with the Carpenter’s Tools Organization from July 9-August22.
In July, FBC member Angie Weston went to Paris, France and Wellford Swift went to Brazil on a mission trip. In August, Jo Newport also went to Brazil on a mission trip. In November, FBC member Dwight Griffith spent 4 days meeting with ministers of various churches in the Northern Lights Baptist Association in Saskatchewan, Canada. He gathered information about needs and ideas for partner shipping between Northern Lights and the Petersburg Baptist Association.
A special concert of organ/piano duets by Gloria Andrs and Mary Louise Marquis was held and a farewell reception in honor of Mary Louise Marquis, who retired at the end of December after serving faithfully as organist for over 34 years.
May 4 and 18, 2002, FBC adults and youth participated with several other churches in the Hopewell Hands on Missions project, a housing repair mission for the elderly and underprivileged.
In July, thirty-one FBC adults and youth participated in the World Changers Mission Tour project in Baltimore County, Maryland. At our evening worship service on July 28th, FBC presented John Upton, Executive Director of the BGAV, with a donation of $10,000 to the new Kingdom Advance worldwide mission program of Virginia Baptists.
In May and September, FBC had a team to participate in the Petersburg Baptist Association’s Rest Stop Ministry for Memorial Day and Labor Day. Nine Summer Mission Team members built a handicap ramp for a long-time FBC member who had suffered a stroke in October. We also purchased a 15-passenger Ford bus. November 10, 2002 FBC held joint English/Spanish service and Ordinance of Baptism with the Iglesia Hispana Renacer, which has worshiped at FBC Hopewell for over two years. The speaker was G. C. Harbuck, Director of Missions for the Petersburg Baptist Association, who spoke in both English and Spanish. In November a team of FBC adults and youth helped put a roof on the new pavilion at Camp Kehukee and Matthew and Leslie Straw went on a mission trip to Romania to teach Seminary classes to local pastors. January 2003 Director of Music, Grace Chase, was recognized for 25 years of service. In March, FBC hosted the World Day of Prayer, which is sponsored by Church Women United. Over 100 people from 25 area churches attended. In support of our troops, a “We Are Praying For You” group picture was taken in front of the church.
We hosted a concert by PATMOS, a Christian instrumental ensemble from Moldova in the former Soviet Union in April, 2003..
In April and May FBC collected 120 Family Food Boxes for Iraqi refugees in response to the call from Virginia Baptist Disaster Relief and the International Mission Board.
May 4, 2003, we revived our Bus Ministry Program, transporting individuals, age 6 and older to Sunday school and church. Also in May members of FBC participated with other Hopewell area churches in “Hands on Missions”, making housing repairs for elderly and needy city residents. Six FBC members participated in the Petersburg Baptist Association’s Rest Stop Ministry on Memorial Day. In June our new parking lot, our preschool playground and four handicap parking spaces were finished. In July, Wellford Swift went on another mission trip to Brazil and thirty-eight adults and youth participated in the World Changers Mission Tour project in Roanoke, Virginia. Administrative Assistant, Carol Hopkins, was recognized for 20 years of service. FBC hosted Regional Leadership Conference on September 13 sponsored by Virginia Baptist Mission Board. On September 20th FBC began hosting over sixty SBC Disaster Relief workers from Kentucky, South Carolina, and Alabama along with twenty-five Red Cross volunteers from around the nation. In the wake of Hurricane Isabel they cooked, served, and delivered over 8,000 meals per day. Chain saw crews cut up hundreds of trees. October 2003, Wellford Swift, went to Moldova on his 22nd Mission trip and on October 30th, a Harvest Festival was held in the gym for ages 2 thru 6th grade.
January 7, 2004, Willie S. Cromer, Jr., pastor, officially announced he would retire after 30 years of service to our church on August 1, 2004.
January 18th the Super Kids Ministries presented a skit and songs by the Super Kids. This ministry is a group to help mentally challenged adults. They are trying to build a home for them.
Lynn Rogers, Petersburg Baptist Association WMU Director, spoke in our Sunday service in February to recognize our WMU for the contributions they make to the life of our church.
In February a love offering was taken for St. Johns Baptist Church in Charles City that burned to the ground.
March 14th Ben Newell, CBF Missionary from Helena, Arkansas spoke to us about a mission trip to Helena, which is one of the poorest cities in the USA.
FBC hosted the state RA Basketball Tournament March 19-21.
May 1 & May 15 FBC participated in the Hands on Missions project with 2 other churches, which is a construction mission for the elderly and underprivileged in Hopewell.
May 12, 2004, a transition team was formed. 86 names were suggested from the congregation and a committee of 7 reviewed ballots and recommended 15 members of the church to be on the team which was approved by the church to help with our transition of one pastor to another.
June 4-13, 12 members went to Helena, Arkansas to participate in a CBF Mission and in July 20 young people and adults from FBC went to Roanoke for the World Changers Mission Tour with the Union Baptist and Second Baptist Churches.
June 18, 2004 a picnic was held at Crystal Lake Park in honor of Willie and Nikki Cromer on their upcoming retirement August 1. On July 31 a piano/organ concert was held with Gloria Andrs, pianist and Mary Louise Marquis, former organist and a reception followed, honoring Willie and Nikki Cromer.
August 1 a special service was held for Willie Cromer’s last Sunday at FBC and the “KEYS” were returned to the church. A dinner was held at the Jordan Point Country Club afterwards with many speakers offering memories of Willie and Nikki.
September 1, 2004 Dr. John S. Carpenter, Jr. of Newport News was chosen to be our Intentional Interim Minister.
October 2004 – FBC member, Wellford Swift, went to another medical mission trip to Moldova.
November - “On Missions Celebration” FBC shared with Woodlawn Baptist. Speakers were M. Blacksten, C. Hudgins, L. Horton and M. Tosan. November 6, -A Celebration of Heritage, 1915-2004, music, drama, storytelling, food and fellowship was enjoyed in our family Life Center.
In December our WMU Angel Tree helped 70 individuals. 15 January 30, 2005 was the start of “40 days of Purpose”. We had 26 home study groups, 218 in all attended.
March 13 – Ministry & Mission Fair was held at the close of “40 days of Purpose”. RA’s participated in area basketball tournament in March also.
Martha Grace Washington, organist and Gloria Andrs, pianist, entertained us with a concert in April. April 29 - Reverends Leslie and Matt Straw welcomed their new daughter, Laura Jane Straw. Don Lawton, our treasurer retired after 21 ½ yrs of service. June 17-26 - Nine FBC members went on a CBF mission trip to Helena, Arkansas. June 26 - A Pastoral Search Committee of nine was formed to select a new pastor for our church and Barry Reid became our new treasurer. Matthew Straw, Minister of family Life/Education resigned.
June 26 - “God’s Big Picture, a summer program ran for 5 Sunday evenings. Games, bible drills, music, crafts, and more, for infants thru sixth grade.
July 25-28, we held Summer Sports camp Monday thru Thursday for first thru sixth graders. They included basketball, volleyball, soccer, softball, and baseball. July 15-24 - World Changers went to Chattanooga. TN August 1-Angie Weston Hoff became our new Minister of Family Life/Education. September - FBC is in the process of creating our 90th Anniversary Pictorial Directory for our church families as we will celebrate our 90th Anniversary of the First Baptist Church, Hopewell on November 12, 2005. October – FBC responds to Hurricane Katrina by opening a food pantry and hygiene kit distribution center. November 13 - The First Baptist Church of Hopewell, Virginia celebrated our 90th Anniversary with four former members who have been ordained to the ministry, Dr. Alex Roberts, Mal Utleye, Jr., Donald Tatum and Patricia Harper Winston. 16 FBC voted to accept a new Constitution, By-laws, Philosophy of Ministry and Administrative Policies and Procedures Manual. December, 2005 - We began hosting “Walk Through Bethlehem”, a dramatic presentation that brought to life the little village where Christ was born. 300 participated in the cast/crew, while 2, 900 attended during the three-day event.
This production was received from the Shively Baptist Church in Kentucky.
January, 2006 - Angie Weston Hoff, who grew up in FBC, was ordained to the Gospel Ministry. Administrative Assistant, Carol Hopkins retired after 22 years of service. A Monday morning prayer team was formed.
February - Jeffrey H. Raymond joined First Baptist Church as the Senior Pastor. March - 90th anniversary pictorial directory distributed. RA Basketball teams participated in state championships in Roanoke. April – The senior citizen choir, “Singing Saints”, presented “Homeward Bound”, a musical. May - Dinner and a Movie held for all family members. World Changers picnic at Crystal Lake. June - Fundraising efforts begin for Fall 2007 Kenya Mission Trip. Seventeen high school and college graduates were recognized. Sports camp and other activities held for children while adults went on “Five Great Dates”. July - World Changers go to Smithfield, NC. Fifteen-member mission team traveled to Helena, Arkansas. Vacation Bible School “Artic Edge” was held with 260 attending the five days of activities. August - Sunday School picnic, youth retreat, and adult prayer retreat held at Camp Kehukee. September - First Baptist Café opens to serve dinner to families on Wednesday nights. Annual Golf Tournament held at Jordan Point to benefit Kenya Mission Trip. Praise Team performs at PBA Centennial Celebration. October – Karen Sheppard became our Organist. November – Ben Newell, a missionary spoke at a Sunday evening service. December – “Walk Though Bethlehem” was held for the 2nd year with over 3,000 people attending with 200 cast and crew. 17
May 6, 2007– was designated “Grace Chase Day” in recognition of her almost 30 years as Minister of Music and her 80th birthday.
FBC hosted a disaster relief training in our church.
Sports camp featured a visit by former Harlem Globetrotter, Seth Franco in June. The Sanctuary choir presented the musical “God Bless America” on the Sunday
before July 4th. Six members traveled to Appalachia to lead Vacation Bible school in August. A 14 member Kenya Team traveled to Nairobi to minister to the people. December – We hosted the third annual “Walk Through Bethlehem” reaching almost 4,000 people. April – 2008 – 11 people went on a mission trip to New Orleans in April to help out due to the Katrina disaster. Patrick Devane became our new Minister of Students and Families in April. Pattie Arwood, our Administrative Assistant became the Financial Secretary of First Baptist Church. 3 teams of R. A. Basketball went to Roanoke to the State Tournament. New push-button automated doors were installed in August at the Family Life Center. This would make the entrance handicapped accessible. 111 shoeboxes were delivered to Operation Christmas Child in November. The Fourth annual “Walk Through Bethlehem” was held in December with 4,000 people attending. February-2009 – Janel English became our new treasurer. Tony Sylvester will lead a new Men’s Ministry Team. Their main focus will be fellowship, service, education and discipleship. FBC began a Benevolence collection once a month on communion Sunday to provide us with more money to work with, when people need assistance. 18
The Mission Group’s outreach focuses on the Hopewell Food Pantry and elementary schools.
Melissa Adams was named WEE School Director. Donna Hatfield, Public Relations Team Leader created a new FBC website and it is up and running. A great resource for our church and any visitors to the site. Volunteers supported the Rest Stop Ministry. The youth went on a mission trip to Gastonia, NC. The monthly newsletter goes electronic and graduates were recognized at worship service in June. July – 4-day sports camp led by four college students reached over 100 children. The Praise Team attended a Youth Music Conference in Eagle Eyre in August. “Discover Your God-Given Gifts” small groups began in September. 2010 April – Ms. Sharon Durham was contracted to be FBC’s Chief Financial Officer, a non-church officer position. Tammy Hartman is Assistant Treasurer and David Blacka is FBC Administrative Financial Asst. An Endowment Fund, managed by the Virginia Baptist Foundation was approved. The missions project for May was to raise funds for medicine for the people of Moldova/Ukraine. The fund is named for the late Welford Swift, a long time member of FBC who went on over 23 missions. This year was FBC’s 17th year of hosting R. A. Basketball. May and June we had our photos taken for our 2010 Pictorial Directory. Geoffrey H. Fuller became our new Minister of Students and Family June 1. We had 135 children for Vacation Bible School and 115 for Sports Camp in June.
June and July we honored a request by Doug Dillingham, a past member of FBC, who works for Wycliffe Bible Translators, to collect funds to support the translation of the scriptures into languages of people who do not have the bible available in their language.
The Children’s Ministry team delivered 2 large boxes of school supplies to 3 elementary schools. Gloria Andrs celebrated 35 years as the First Baptist Church’s pianist in September. FBC celebrated our 95th Anniversary on November 7th. Dr. John Upton, Baptist World Alliance, The Baptist General Association of Virginia was one of our guest.
Rev. David Robinson, Minister of Family Life and Education – 1985-2000, Rev. Billy Davis, Minister of Education and Youth – 1978-1982, Dr. Jack Mallory, Associate Pastor – l969-l974 and Rev. Ed Landrus, Minister of Education – 1961-1967 were also guests. First Baptist Church officers also burned the note for our Family Life Center – 18 yrs. A $1.5 million facility. FBC collected 245 boxes for Operation Christmas Shoebox ministry and served as the relay center this year. We held our 6th annual “Walk Through Bethlehem” this year. 3700 attended. Dorothy West celebrated her 25th year as our church Sexton. We began a new campaign to “Focus on the Future”….FBC 20/20. 2011 – January 30th, Watoto Children’s Choir from Uganda, started by Gary and Marilynn Skinner, were guest at our church. February 6 – We recognized our Wee School children.
Co-Hosted a luncheon for the Churches of Hopewell with the Legal Information Network for Cancer on February l7th.
A winter youth retreat (FBC Underground) was held in Timberline, W. VA, January 14-17. Chelsea Hughes was endorsed for a BGAV scholarship. The youth went to Eagle Eyrie March 11-13. 20
Steve Graham of CBF Global Missions, Director of Ministerial Excellence was our guest in March. We received our new Photo Directories. A model seder meal was lead by a Jews for Jesus Missionary in April. The Prayer Shawl Ministry continues to meet every Thursday to make shawls, lap robes, baby blankets and chemo caps for those in need. E-giving came to FBC in May. Members can contribute on-line through our website. The Singing Saints presented the musical, “ How About Some Good News” in May. FBC partnered with CCHASM (Chester Colonial Heights Alliance for Social Ministry) to provide services for the needy in June. Activities for children included a family camping trip in Newport News and the annual sports camp at the church. Pastor Jeff Raymond asked for a paid Sabbatical to finish his Dr. of Ministry Degree from August 15 – November 13. The church approved it. Dr. Scott Spencer, Professor of New Testament & Preaching at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Richmond, will fill the pulpit while Pastor Raymond is away The Sanctuary Choir led a patriotic concert “I Salute You” on July 3rd. 100 children, preschool through 6th grade, participated in the Vacation Bible school program “Panda Mania”. The FBC Underground celebrated the end of summer with a mystery dinner and a trip to the Washington Zoo in DC in August.
The Sunday School picnic was moved from Camp Kehukee to the church gym after Hurricane Irene hit the area the previous day.
The FBC softball team won first place in this year’s church league. 2 new women’s Bible Study small groups will begin in September. The annual Harvest Festival was held in October by the Children’s Ministry Team. 21 Dr. Daniel Bagby from BTSR held a workshop on ministering to the church membership, primarily for the Deacons. FBC members donated and help feed 7,397 individuals (350 Prince George and Hopewell) at Thanksgiving through CCHASM Thanksgiving Meal Program. FBC participated and served as a relay center again this year for Operation Christmas Child. The Prayer Shawl Ministry donated 69 lap robes and shawls as Christmas gifts to Riverview On The Appomattox nursing home in December. $4,542.75 was collected for the Benevolence fund between September, October and
November. $2,883.09 was paid out to assist 8 families. The 7th annual “Walk Through Bethlehem” was held in December. 2900 attended. January-2012 – R. A. Basketball begins our 20th season. Church members contributed 77 bags of food items for the Hopewell Food Pantry. WEE School celebrated their 30th anniversary in February. Baptist Bible Basics class held for 5th – 12th grades. The Sanctuary Choir and Drama Team presented “Raise the Crown” on Palm Sunday in April.
Senior Pastor Jeffrey H. Raymond earned his Doctorate of Divinity in May
Summer ministry intern, Eric Sutton, begin in May. He was hired to work with college-age youth and children. Sky Vacation Bible School and Sports Camp was held in June. Graduates were recognized on Sunday June 10th. The “ Singing Saints” (senior choir) presented “The Gospel Never Changes”. The musical “The Spirit of America” was presented by the Sanctuary Choir in July. The FBC Underground (youth) spent a week in SC assisting in construction projects and community-building projects in July, such as VBS and Backyard Bible club.
Six youths were baptized. Joyce McMichael, who had been our Secretary for 10 years, retired in August. Rev. Geoffrey Fuller, Minister to Students and Families, has resigned and plans to join the Army as a Chaplain. Financial Peace University 9 week course by Dave Ramsey was held in September. 10 families with 30 children from the James House on the Angel Tree this year were invited to First Baptist for a Thanksgiving Dinner and gifts. Jeff Raymond, our Senior Pastor, resigned in November. The 8th Annual “Walk Thru Bethlehem” was held in December. $2,246.11 was received, 22 boxes of food went to the Food Pantry and 2,986 people attended. December 2, The Singing Saints had a musical “Repeat The Sounding Joy”. We received 137 shoe boxes from FBC and a total of 451 for the relay center for Operation Christmas Child. Eagle Scout troop 924 collected 750 lbs of food for the Food Pantry.
The Benevolence team received $3,008 in September, October and November.
$3178 was dispersed to 12 families for help to pay bills. A Pastor’s Search Team of 12 was chosen. The Sanctuary Choir presented the Christmas musical, Joy, Joy, Joy on December 16. We had our annual Christmas Eve Candlelight Service on December 24th.
2012 ACP Survey Worksheet reported to the Petersburg Baptist Association: Total Members: Resident and Nonresident Members – 949
Total Baptisms: 2011-2012 - 6. 2-11 yrs. and under, 4 – 12-17 yrs. of age.
Transfer of letters – 5 Weekly Worship attendance – 255
Sunday School/Bible Study/Small Group attendance – 164