History of Hopewell Baptist Church
[Note: The historical record of the church is difficult to trace due to a fire that destroyed the church building in the early 1900's and also due to the destruction of the Hanover and New Kent Courthouses in 1865. Thus, the historical account had to be pieced together from a variety of sources, some of which may be folklore rather than fact. Refer to Bibliography below of source reference books.]
On the first Sunday in May 1842, 120 members of Black Creek Baptist Church in eastern Hanover County met at the "Hopewell Meeting House" for their first service of worship with the assistance of Elders William Hatchett and Joseph Starke. Elder Hatchett was elected, by unanimous voice, to become the church's first pastor and he graciously accepted. From the beginning, Hopewell Baptist Church was very successful in its mission of reaching people for Jesus Christ, evidenced by baptizing 63 people in 1849.
During the beginnings of Hopewell Baptist Church, several pastors led them on their mission to reach people for Christ, preach God's Word, and serve others through the church's ministries. Along with Pastor Hatchett, was Dr. George W. Rabineau as noted in the August 4, 1853 issue of the Religious Herald, "Dr. George W. Rabineau has been supplying Hopewell Church." Rev. J. F. Parkinson, a graduate of Richmond College (now University of Richmond) pastored the flock for 23 years (1856-1879). This clergyman had charge of other churches in the surrounding area as well, but he wrote that the most useful part of his ministry life was given to Hopewell Baptist Church and to Black Creek Baptist Church. During the tenure of these early pastors of the church, the membership and Bible study at Hopewell Baptist Church were reported as "flourishing."
It was during the years after the Civil War that the church experienced a great deal of growth with a reported total of 301 members in 1868. Records indicate that from 1842-1870 the largest portion of the members were from the African-American population of the community. It was after 1870 that a good portion of these folks from Hopewell Baptist Church and other area churches joined together to form the Lebanon and Second Liberty Baptist Churches, both located in New Kent County. However, Hopewell Baptist Church continued to report significant strength in membership and activities to our local Dover Association of Southern Baptists--showing that Hopewell continued to grow in place as well as support the planting of other neighboring churches. A pattern that Hopewell has continued through today: exhibiting natural growth spurts, fractures and regrowth, but never dying or losing sight of our first Love—Jesus Christ.
The location of the "Hopewell Meeting House" was a field belonging to Joseph Parsley and is believed to have been across Route 628 from the present location of the Black Creek Baptist Church in Hanover County. A report of historical buildings in the area stated, "The church building appeared to be in excellent condition, and, had not an advance of the army caused its members to desert it, perhaps it would have continued through the war a place of God's worship, filled by a devout membership, and dispensing the blessings of the Gospel." Whatever the reason, in 1856 the Hopewell membership moved 7 miles east and across the Hanover/New Kent county line to its present location at 5061 Hopewell Road (Route 619) in the northwestern end of New Kent County. This location was closer to the Tunstall train station and the Pamunkey River—both being important modes of transportation during the 19th century and early 20th century.
The congregation erected a small frame church on the grounds of the present building and worshipped there until they moved into their new building in the early 1900's. Records show that two committees were formed in 1904 to draw up plans and perform construction. The building fund was reported as having "$203 toward all aspects of the building program." In May 1905, the church approved a resolution to have the building committee proceed with the new church building and a dedication service was held in 1907.
The Hopewell church continued to experience growth in the coming years by reaching New Kent County for Christ through ministry visits and revival services that were held frequently. Through the leadership of the Holy Spirit and many pastors, the fellowship of believers have supported the church's ministries and flourished in sharing their faith, love and hope to neighbors in New Kent County. Through cooperative programs with other Baptists (the local Dover Association, the Baptist General Association of Virginia, and the Southern Baptist Convention), the church's missions efforts support spreading the Gospel message throughout Virginia, the United States and the world.
The church building dedicated in 1907 was expanded to include a fellowship hall and classrooms in the 1970's and 1980's under the pastoral leadership of Malvin Tuck and Wallace Tucker, the latter being Hopewell's first full-time pastor. Previously, all of the wonderful men serving as pastors also served many churches in the area or were bi-vocational rather than being solely supported by the Hopewell fellowship. The expansion was heavily used for children's programs, youth group events and the most well known practice of Baptist fellowships, covered dish dinners!
Since moving into the 21st century, Hopewell Baptist Church has continued to grow in spirit and in number despite the nation's trend of many churches closing their doors. In March 2005, the church body agreed to embark on a "Fantastic Adventure In Trusting Him" or FAITH journey to begin the planning, financing, and construction of a new church building on adjacently owned property. The building program continues in a phased approach. In 2005, the first phase included all the necessary preparations for planning and financing of the project. After completion, the drawing plans of the new church building began in 2012. The sitework was completed in 2013 and the foundation for the entire Phase I structure was poured in 2015. Phase I facilities include a sanctuary, nursery/toddler rooms, staff offices, and a kitchen with adjourning fellowship hall. It stands erected with the major exterior components completed in 2016. Work continued throughout 2017 and 2018 to complete mechanical components such as heating/air ductwork and electrical systems wiring with most interior finishing touches completed in 2019. We pray that 2020 is the year of Phase I construction completion and the beginning of its constant use to serve our community, sharing His love for us with others!
The church stands as a guiding light in our community to our Lord and Savior and for the faithful people desiring to witness and experience the blessings that come by His hand. As Hopewell Baptist Church, we faithfully await what the Lord will do in us and through us. May God continue to bless this church fellowship, and our prayer is that the Lord's church bear much fruit to the Glory of God!