This community in 1946 was open country. From the Petersburg Pike (Route 1) to just before Quinnford Boulevard, there was nothing on the right hand side of the road but woods. On the left there were about three homes that sat far enough off the road you couldn't see them. The community was divided into two parts: the Manor to the South, a circle of houses with Quinnford Boulevard cutting through the center of Russell Road and Carroll Lane and Bellwood Heights to the North (where we are now). There were no street lights or telephones. Early phone service provided residents with an eight-party line.
Even in 1946 there was some talk about forming a church in this part of our county. It was difficult to get to even the nearest church, because of having to go across the “Pike”. Few people had cars and those that did had trouble getting gas and tires. According to some early papers, a tent was erected for occasional services where one of our members, Joyce Thomas now lives.
Organized in October 1948 as a “missions” church for the community of Bellwood Manor under the leadership of Rev. Jack Cain, the first worship service was held on November 6, 1948. On February 27, 1949, our church became known as the mission work of Bellwood Manor Baptist Church andRev. John Hicks was called as its interim Pastor.
Twenty eight charter church members met in an unfinished grocery store at the community shopping center, now Davis Hardware. On Sunday morning, Mr. Bench would come up about 5:00 a.m. to start the fire to warm the building by Sunday School which also sometimes collected as much as $15.00. When the store was completed, the church moved to an unfinished house across the railroad tracks being erected by Mr. Wynn. There were no walls in it so every Sunday School class could see and hear each other.
Land was donated for Church use and the foundation for the first building, a 24 feet x 48 feet structure, was begun on May 1, 1949 that would serve as the sanctuary until 1971. By the time Mr. Wynn’s house was completed, the congregation could meet in our unfinished building. On November 6, 1949 the church had it's first meeting in the partly finished building. The first meetings were in the basement, which had water problems that continued until recently. When the congregation moved upstairs, there were no benches or top flooring, but the heat that rose between the cracks in the subflooring was welcomed.
Rev. Hicks left in 1950 and Rev. Harry Long became the part-time pastor who also worked days at a department store. During Rev. Long’s tenure, the first addition to our church was constructed in 1956, the Educational building on the back side of the ‘Little Church’ which now houses our church offices.
Following Rev. Long’s departure, several ministers filled the pulpit until Rev. Ernest Cornwell became the first full-time minister. During Rev. Cornwell’s tenure, the Parsonage was constructed in 1961 in which he and his family lived a short time. This parsonage recently went restoration following extensive water damage in February 2004.
Rev. H. L. Bryant served as the next interim pastor until Rev. Olin Hutchinson and his family joined us on June 30, 1963. By the way, the word Manor was dropped from our church name on February 28, 1962.
Construction of the second educational building, now known now as the YouthBuilding, began in June 1968. Rev. Hutchinson left on September 30, 1969, and Rev. John Batkins served as interim pastor until the arrival of Rev. William Love on March 1, 1970.