+ + + + + Our Church History 1889 ˜ 2016 + + + + +
In the year 1889, Elder William Lee of Halifax, North Carolina moved to Norfolk, Virginia and soon organized a prayer band. The people met and moved from house to house increasing in numbers as they went along. Their membership grew until a larger facility was required. Soon they cleared a tract of land and built a place of worship. The first edifice was located at Blues Corner, which is now "G" Avenue and Sewells Point Road, Norfolk, Virginia.
The Disciples of Christ multiplied rapidly and Elder Solomon Webb was elected as their first pastor. He served faithfully until his death. After the death of Elder Webb, with faith in God, the congregation organized and built a church on the present site. Over the years, several ministers have served dutifully and faithfully as Pastors of Oakwood Chapel: Rev. A. Franklin, Rev. B. J. Shaw, Rev. Edward Jefferson, Rev. T. A. Wood, Rev. Richard Thompson, Rev. W. B. Parks, Rev. J. T. Jones, Rev. Arthur Jones, Rev. R. Thompson, Rev. Moses Eley, Rev. James Moore, Rev. R. A. Stuart, and for twenty-one or more years, Rev. David L. Davenport (1954-1975). After the death of Rev. Davenport, the Associate Pastor, Rev. A. G. Norfleet served as the Acting Pastor for one year, (1976). Dr. C. N. White served faithfully for twenty-two years, (1977-1999). Following him were Rev. Thurman Hines (2000) and Dr. C. L. McKeller (2003-2004).
All through our history, we have learned to trust God and have strived to be a faithful and loyal congregation that works to serve others in serving Jesus Christ. God has blessed us abundantly. Throughout April 1999 to March 2002, we were without a pastor but worship continued, along with a steady commitment to remain on the battlefield for our Lord. God blessed and carried us through, and kept us from harm. In April 2002, Dr. McKeller started effectively serving as "Interim Pastor" for one year. Sensing Gods' direction, by 2003, Dr. McKeller was unanimously elected by the people of God to become the Pastor of Oakwood Chapel Church. Pastor McKeller was installed in March 2003 and remained until May 2004.
From May 2004 and until September 2005, our faithful associates served, fulfilling pulpit and other ministerial duties. By January 2005, a pulpit search committee was formed and scheduled several potential candidates for Pastor to visit and share in worship.
2004-2005: We completed several projects on our building. New windows and air conditioners were installed in the old education annex. Much of 2005, we were without a Pastor but our associates shared pulpit duties along with many visiting ministers.
After much prayer and fasting, God blessed us with the Rev Dr. Earl James Eaddy, Sr., to serve as Pastor. In June 2006, we gathered to celebrate and thank God during an installation service and banquet in honor of Dr. Eaddy and family. Our church members, family and friends, all came together at the Airport Hilton Hotel, in a formal banquet to celebrate our new pastor. Our guest for the installation and banquet was Rev Be Louis Colleton and Shiloh Baptist Church, Landover, Maryland. A host of community Pastors, government officials, to include Senator Yvonne Miller of the Fifth District of Virginia Commonwealth were in attendance. Pastor Colleton preached the installation sermon and Pastor Ricky Lee of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Chase City Virginia, was the principal speaker at the banquet.
This year we are celebrating our 127th year of Christian service in the Oakwood community. We are on the move, “Winning Souls for Jesus Christ Here and Everywhere.” This is our mission, with the motto we shout responsively, in a call and response, from week to week: “Each One, Win One for Jesus Christ.” We seek those who are lost and in need. Oakwood Chapel is a place of healing for the sick.
We are moving forward with new Christian vitality and spiritual energy expressed through various ministries. We have invigorated Christian Education with increased attendance at Sunday School and Weekly Bible Study. Our congregation is growing and focused on making new disciples through a progressive Christian Education ministry, under the leadership of faithful disciples and a rotating schedule of over fifteen teachers. Our Bible Study is designed around a discipleship curriculum, using the latest computer assisted multimedia approaches. Membership educational progress is tracked and assessed through a new membership course, a right hand of fellowship and church pinning ceremony, with advancing levels of courses, up through completion of 116 credits hours, which leads to the Oakwood Discipleship Diploma.
There is now a fully furnished Library on the second floor for all to enjoy. We installed a local network with servers to connect a computer lab, multiple classrooms, the library and the administrative offices using a router with wireless and cable internet connectivity. We now have fully automated administrative functions throughout the Church and Academy. Three trustees: Keisha Britt, Beverly Smith, and Sharon Smith completed a yearlong training program and were installed. Also, three deaconesses: Barbara Phillips, Devika (De De) Rawls and Rachel Smith, underwent yearlong training, to include completion of a final ministry project and were ordained into the diaconate. A Christ fund ministry is established with the strategic goal of creating a one million dollar endowment for the purpose of youth development and academic scholarship. On July 14 2007, Senator Yvonne Miller, served as the keynote speaker at a special banquet where more than $10,000.00 were raise to organized and initiate the Christ Fund. To date the fund has grown to approximately $40,000.00 endowed. The church has aggressive education enrichment efforts through the Library Ministry. We have provided over $5000.00 in tuition assistance and routinely provide financial awards to students on the honor roll along with those who score a perfect 600 on the Virginia State Standard of Learning (SOL) test.
Under Dr. Eaddy’s leadership, God has blessed the church with these accomplishments along with many other developments. We now have a modern, state of the art elevator, put in and paid for in full, without any interest financing. Our youth ministry is thriving with many new expansions, including a dedicated game room, opened weekly with refreshments, learning activities and adult supervision to foster Christian fellowship and spiritual development among the youth of the congregation and community.
This year, as we celebrate 127 years of Christian service in this community, we are hopeful and encouraged by the wonderful signs and wonders that God is doing through the body of Jesus Christ. Dr. Eaddy’s 2009 publication of, Oral Accounts, Views and History of Oakwood Chapel Church of Christ (Disciples of Christ), LE Publishing, Suffolk, Virginia, represents a significant milestone that chronicles the life of our faith communityand how God has so faithfully moved among us.
We thank God that we have accomplished so many things across the years with so little. We were enabled by the power of Jesus Christ, which strengthened us. Some great sacrifices were made over decades and a century and we reaped the blessings of God. Our belief, faith, and determined discipleship to follow Jesus Christ will continue to lead us towards even greater victories. All praise and honor to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.