1900 – 2009
On the northern edge of the City of Charlottesville, Virginia, in the County of Albemarle, was a small quiet community called Eastham, so named for the postmaster and proprietor of the little village store, nestled one mile north of the community. During the early years prior to 1895, the families of Eastham worshiped God and gave thanks while working in the fields and while visiting homes, but there was a need for a more central and permanent place where all the neighbors and friends could fellowship. So the community began to pray. In only a few years, off the main road in a grove of pine trees, one acre of land was deeded on November 15, 1898, between Isaac Banks, Willie Carter, and Lemon Banks. On January 10, 1898, another acre of land was deeded to Mr. Banks by William Chapman whom had been deeded by Mary W. Minor, Commissioner, having been part of the Windie Knowe tract still located in the community up the road on the right before you get to Key West.
The land was used to build a church for the community. During the building period, a lay preacher and carpenter by trade, George Lewis and Willie Carter, worked tirelessly on the building we call Chapman Grove. The building was completed in 1900. It was a neat white weatherboard structure with stained glass windows. One large stained glass window graced the front of the vestibule, which was entered and exited from the right and left sides. It must have been awe inspiring for the believers when they realized they were not meeting in someone’s home or outside in the grove of pine trees, but they were meeting in a more permanent place which God had given to this community. During the period from 1900 to 1949, many families worked together to keep the grove moving along. They included the Chapman, Banks, Carter, Goodall, Smith, Hicks, Lee, Perry, Johnson, Fleming, Ferguson, Garrett, Ragland, and Walker families.
During the years of 1900 to 1948, the church was pastored by seven different ministers. One of them, Rev. Amy C. Reed, became an outstanding representative of the women in the community. Also during this time, the church became affiliated with the Piedmont District Baptist Association, including the Sunday School Convention and the Women’s Auxiliary. The Grove became affiliated with the Ministers, Deacons and Laymans Union and the Deacons, Deaconess and Youth Council of Charlottesville and Vicinity.
The women of the church did their part as well to see that the church kept running, feeding the preachers on Sundays after church and keeping them during revivals which were held around the first of September.
One bright, sunny but cool morning in 1953, just prior to Sunday School, Mrs. Annie Hansberry, known as “Miss Annie” by many, had stoked the King heater and was awaiting the arrival of her pupils when from the wall behind the stove there came a mighty roaring. “Oops, I believe the church is on fire,” stated Miss Annie. The seasoned weatherboard building burned up quickly, and Miss Annie was only able to salvage the big Bible from the pulpit. After the tragic loss of the building, services were held in the schoolhouse.
The young women of the church, along with the seniors, began working very hard making appeals to families living nearby and to the association and by selling dinners to help raise funds for rebuilding the church. These families included the Coxes, Carters, Coles, Churchmans, Flemings, Smiths, Clarks, Dickersons, and Hicks. And they were successful. The members of The Grove marched into their new church on March 27, 1955. During the time period of 1955 to 1989, several necessary improvements were made: carpeting, central air conditioning, oil furnace, dining area, and indoor toilets. All were done by the hard working members of The Grove.
During the 1990s, the church continued to grow in membership, in its giving, in its missionary work, and in allowing the youth to become more involved in the church. A weekly prayer and Bible study group was formed. There was also an extension made in the length of the building to accommodate more choir members and for the Pastor’s study. A choir room and an additional multipurpose room were also added. These additions were done by the hard-working members of the church.
In September of 2004, a new Pastor, Rev. Xavier V. Jackson, accepted the call to The Grove, making him the 10th pastor to serve. Under the leadership of Pastor Jackson, The Grove again has grown spiritually, financially, and physically. Many members have grown in their spirituality and have taken on roles in the church â from deacons and deaconesses in training, ushers, clerk, sound technicians, youth leader, and choir members. We continue to hold our weekly Bible Study with as many as 30 persons in attendance, including members of surrounding churches who have been drawn to The Grove by the teachings of our great Pastor. The youth continue to be an important part of our church, leading us in services on each third Sunday of the month. To help support our young Black men in around this community, we have a Men’s Fellowship. We have also added a Men’s Choir under the leadership of our Pastor; they are known as “The Mercifulmen.”
The Music Ministry of Chapman Grove continues to grow, adding several new voices each year. The Chapman Grove Combined Choir, under the direction of Pastor Jackson, has become known for its spirit-filled harmony, energy, and ministry through songs.
Other additions that have been made include new cabinetry, countertops, and appliances in the Fellowship Hall kitchen. A new sound system, two flat screen televisions and cameras were installed to allow those in the Fellowship Hall to hear and see the services going on in the sanctuary and to provide the ability to record services. Also added were new church pews, carpeting, windows, and a walkway from the side parking lot. These improvements were made possible through the great increasing in members’ tithing. We had many members purchase pews, cabinets, and stained glass windows on top of their regular tithing.
When you enter The Grove, whether as a visitor or a member, you can feel the warm welcoming spirit of the Lord surround you. This is truly a special place of worship our God has given us. The people of this church, as they did back in 1895, have a desire, a thirst, to learn more to be better Christians, to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Each year, under the leadership of our God-sent Pastor Jackson, we continue to excel in those areas.
We have accomplished many wonderful things at The Grove since the first day the residents of this community marched into the “little white church on the side of the road,” and we know that there is much more to come.