THE HISTORY OF THE HOPEWELL BAPTIST CHURCH
8566 Clifton Road
After the Emancipation Proclamation when the slaves were set free and they had adjusted to their new found freedom, one thought was upper-most in their minds: a desire for a place to worship God, unlimited and according to the dictates of their consciences. So the leaders of the prayer groups in the various communities began to make plans for building churches.
During that early period of Reconstruction around the year 1872, Hopewell came into being. For a number of years she struggled, undergoing changes as to location and permanency. In 1881 one acre of land, on which Hopewell now stands, was purchased from Phillip and Betty Jones. Deed to the same was recorded in the clerk’s office of Orange, Virginia. There were three trustees at that time. They began the construction of this building and the little group settled down to worship God under their own vine and fig tree.
Rev. William McIntosh was called as pastor and served for 35 years. Serving under him were many deacons and a church clerk. All have gone home to their reward.
After the resignation of Rev. McIntosh, Rev. Clark was called as pastor. He resigned after a brief stay. Then Rev. Willie Williams became pastor and served for 51 years until his retirement in 1984. During his stay, a deed to 578 feet of land was given as a gift to the church by Deacon Major Gaines and his wife Alice, for a parking lot. In 1981, another piece of land in the back of the church was given to the church by Mr. Tinsley Mack. Under Rev. Williams’ guidance, the church was able to install the air conditioning and furnace systems, the restrooms and a pastor’s study.
Hopewell has baptized and sent out three outstanding ministers: Rev. H.M. Chatman, Rev. Hubert Gaines and Rev. George Lambert, all deceased. Hopewell has licensed Rev. Eugene Chessom, Rev. Percy Davis, both deceased, and Rev. Wayne Johnson of Louisa Virginia.
Rev. Howard L. Butler Sr. was installed as pastor of the Hopewell Baptist Church on October 5, 1986. Under his leadership, the Deaconess, Missionary, Usher, Youth and Prison ministries were organized. He has also established annual services for all auxiliaries, Men & Women’s Day Service, Christian Education Classes, New Membership Classes, Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting and Bible Study, Annual Church Picnic with Goodwill Baptist Church and St. John Divine Baptist Church of Savannah, Georgia, and Salem Baptist Church of Great Falls, Virginia. Service formerly held on second and fourth Sundays was extended to all Sundays of the month. Under Rev. Butler’s leadership the church has been able to purchase two buses, two vans, install vinyl siding, telephone service, remodel the old fellowship fall, the sanctuary and the front entrance, added a baptism pool and installed new stained glass windows. In March 2001, an addition to the church, which includes a new fellowship hall, enlarged restrooms, a pastor’s study and a lower level which houses classrooms and offices, was completed. Rev. Howard L. Butler Sr. retired on March 29, 2009.
In July 2009, Pastor Eric A. Henley Sr. answered his calling to lead Hopewell to greater heights. His vision is to prepare the people of Hopewell to enlarge their territory for God and to establish a house of refuge where God can visit His people without denominational barriers. This place is known as Hopewell Baptist Church – The City of Hope. Our motto is: There is hope on the hill for you because we are here to make a difference! Under Pastor Henley’s tutelage, 9:30am Intercessory Prayer was incorporated, the Praise Team and the Hopewell Divas were formed. Also, under Pastor Henley’s tutelage, the mortgage for the church’s addition was paid in full with the help of both determined and dedicated members and friends. We thank God for sending us a man with a vision and who is not only appointed; but, also anointed by God.
The current Deacon Ministry is comprised of: Deacon William Locker, Chairman; and Deacon Bing Lambert Jr. Members of the Trustee Ministry are: Henry Rollins, Chairman, Connie Rollins and Mary Green. Members of the Deaconess Ministry are: Mary Green and Pamela Locker. Connie Rollins is the Financial Secretary and Teri Washington is the Pastor’s/Church Secretary.
So, “We’ve come a long way, a mighty long way. We’ve borne our burdens in the heat of the day, but we know the Lord has made a way. We’ve come a long way, a mighty, mighty, long way.”
*cemetery on church premises
Contributed by Teri Washington