During my research last week I ran across a legal posting on the internet announcing the sale of Virginia Chapel AME Church for taxes. As this church was a mainstay for members of my family for over four generations, I wanted to dedicate this post to its history. The following history of the church was written by my uncle, William McDonald on the occasion of the dedication of the newly renovated chapel August 14th 1949:
During the year 1904, the late Rev. John Griffith was assigned pastor of the Elkins A.M.E. Church. Not having a church building at the time the members decided to purchase land and build. The courageous women with the help of a few men were able to purchase in 1905 the present site and erect a one floor plan frame building.
In 1906, Reverend Griffith, John McDowell, Jack Dougherty, Dolliver Baxter, Reece Lewis, and Bud Blue, the Board of Trustees borrowed $400 from the bank and started the building.
The pastor did the carpentry work.
The church preceded Riverside High School Riverside High School in the community and was used for some time by the Board of Education.
The church was named in honor of Mrs. Virginia Griffith, the pastor’s wife.
At the beginning of the present quadrennium (1948) Bishop A.J. Allen appointed Rev C.N. Flannigan of the Ohio conference, pastor of Virginia Chapel.
At the first church conference Rev. Flannigan stated that he had come to help us build a new edifice. The congregation immediately accepted his program.
The first big drive was sponsored by the young women’s club and junior stewardess board. They presented three babies in a contest. Stephen Blake, Benjamin Lewis, and Robert Smith. This effort netted more than $800.
The century club, a weekly plan for meeting the building cost, membership pledges and donations from many friends added to the building fund treasury totaling more than $2000 at the time of construction.
The old Virginia Chapel was razed during the month of March and constructions started in April of 1949. The corner stone was laid in July.
We are highly elated over the beauty of our new church. We are thankful to God for His grace and mercy and to Mr. Phil Williams who gave inestimable advice and time and to Mr. Henry Yauthier who superintended the work and also drew the plans.
Above are several pictures of the church, a picture of one of the pastors, and the program from the 1949 dedication. Hopefully the church will survive this difficult period.