1725 Reading places established in private homes in Blackwater and Knotts Island:
"The Lynnhaven Parish Church of 1692 and two chapels (Eastern Shore Chapel, and Pungo Chapel) served the needs of the members of the Established Church with the help of reading places in private homes in the Blackwater and Knotts Island section...By order of the vestry, July 7, 1725: Whereas Knotts Island and Blackwater Precincts are very remote from the Chappell & Sermon, being there [at Pungo] but once in Six weeks, the Inhabitants are often disappointed of hearing the word of God, and whereas Mr. Andrew Peacock, Clerk of the said Chappel has for some time past [for] the benefit and Instruction of the said Inhabitants read in each of the said precincts on Certain times in an orderly Course which is approved by the vestry thereupon it's resolved that he continue to perform the same (according to his usual method) until he Shall be other wayes directed by this vestry.”
From Colonial Churches of Tidewater Virginia
by George Carrington Mason, pg. 147
1774 (1784?) Church planted by George Plummer and Thomas Armistead and organized by members dismissed from Pungo Church (now Oak Grove Baptist Church). Prior to its organization, William Cole and Daniel Gould would preach occasionally while passing from Camden, NC to Pungo. Served by itinerant preachers until it obtained first permanent minister.
Thomas Armistead, a Revolutionary War hero, became a Baptist minister in VA from about 1785-1795 and died at "Brandywine" in King William County (VA) in 1809.
Query by William S. Simpson of Virginia Baptist Historical Society
1774-1791 George Plummer - Died in Princess Anne County in April 1792.
Robert Baylor Semple's 1810 A HISTORY OF THE RISE AND PROGRESS OF THE BAPTISTS IN VIRGINIA (revised, 1894, by G. W. Beale) says that George Plummer "planted" Blackwater Church in 1784 and that the church's first minister, William Sorey, "labored [with Blackwater Church] for a period of twenty-seven years [1784-1811]."
1785 “The [Kehukee] Association in 1785 was held with the church at Shoulder’s Hill, Nansemond County, Va., on the 14th of May. Elder Meglamre presided as Moderator, and Elder Burkitt acted as Clerk. Letters from twenty-one churches were read. Five additional churches came in at this meeting, viz.: One at the Northwest River Bridge, in Norfolk County, VA.; another at Shoulder’s Hill; another at Scuppernong, Tyrrell County, NC; another at Pungo, Princess Ann County, VA.; and another on Blackwater, Princess Anne County, VA.”
The Church of God From The Creation to A.D. 1885
1787 November - First reference to Blackwater Church in the Princess Anne County Records.
“Captain John Woodard made a gift of a parcel of land to the Blackwater Baptist community. The given boundaries were vague, but its land was described as beginning at a sweet gum standing on the edge of a branch [of a swamp]. The land was to revert to Capt. Woodard or his heirs when it ceased being used for a church. This reversion did not take place”.
From Old Churches, Their Cemeteries and Family Graveyards of Princess Anne County
by Laurie Boush Green & Virginia Bonney West, pg.93
May 1791 One of 21 founding charter churches* that sent delegates to the newly formed Virginia Portsmouth Association. The Association met at Blackwater before the war in 1860 and after the war in November 1865.
1791-1811 Served by William Sorey
1800's Any of the following would lead to possible expulsion from the church: 1) non-attendance, 2) dancing, 3) making, drinking and/or selling whiskey, and 4)playing cards.
1811-1838 Served by Samuel Brown
1837 Original church building destroyed.
1839-1843 Served by George Norris
1843 Served by Evan Forbes
1843-1846 Served by Pritchard Jordan
1846 4.5 acres purchased from Henry R. Whitehurst, (age 21), and his wife, Caroline, (age 14), for $45.00. Trustees in the transaction were Isaiah Etheridge, Edmund Mansfield and D.D. Morse. The property was part of the land on which Mr. Whitehurst resided, that he had earlier purchased from Mr. James E. Bell, a physician in Blackwater.
“The land was to begin at a cedar post on the edge of the road leading from Blackwater Bridge to the Mill Dam Bridge. ...The present church was probably built shortly after the purchase of this land.”
From Old Churches, Their Cemeteries And Family Graveyards of Princess Anne County
by Laurie Boush Green & Virginia Bonney West, pg.93
1846-1853 Served by Lemuel Sanderlin.
1853 Served by Abner Perry.
1857 Served by Thomas W. Rayfield
1858 Served by Richard H. Baylor.
1859-1861 Served by William D. Pritchard
1860 Present church building erected.
1861-1865 No regular pastor during the American Civil War.
1867-1890 Served by Nathan Morris Munden.
1870 Participates in the Norfolk and Princess Anne Union Meetings.
1871 Hosts January Union meeting.
1872 Hosts December 27 Union meeting.
1873 Hosts November 28 Union Meeting
1882 Sexton was paid $1.00 per month.
1883 Reuben Bradley, Thomas J. Cartwright, John G. Chappel, William L. Lane, and P. J. Mansfield, were elected trustees to build Gibbs Woods Sunday School House on the lands of the Public Free Schools.
1884 Baptismal houses built on bank of Blackwater River on property of Edwin Ives and Edmon Simmons.
1886 Trustees appointed to serve both Blackwater and Gibbs Woods.
1891-1892 Served by C. W. Matthews.
1892 Served by J. M. Dunaway. Ladies Aid Society was granted the old organ to use as part payment on a new one. Timber was sold for $3.00 per 1,000 feet.
1893 Served by J. D. Berry. Church sells one acre for $30.00 for public school purposes.
1894-1903 Served by Nathan Morris Munden
Early 1900's Revivals lasted all day with dinner on the grounds and much visiting.
1904-1915 Served by these ministers: L. C. Brickhouse, Ambrose W. Burfoot, William E. Lankford, Rev. Paulette, Samuel N. Hurst
1905 Steeple and stained glass windows added. Logs were floated down the river to the saw mill. Heating was by woodstoves on either side of the building and lighting was by kerosene lamps. Women sat on one side and men on the other during regularly held Sunday services. Spittoons were a common accessory.
1919 Served by George W. Cox.
1921 Served by George Washington Sawyer.
1923-1935 Served by H. B. Cole.
1926 Women's Missionary Union organized by Mrs. Dorcas Johnson of Deep Creek with 15 enrolled. This led to Sunbeams (Mission Friends), GAs (Girls in Action), RAs (Royal Ambassadors) and YWAs (Acteens) as well as adult mission groups (circles).
1930s Baptism took place in Blackwater River on the Gilbert Farm. "Shall We Gather at the River" was sung at each service. Mrs. Blanche Baxter donated glass front bookcase to the church.
1936 Church participates in Cooperative Program for the first time.
1936-1937 Served by Mott. A. Cumby.
1938-1951 Served by Ralph W. Mapp
1945 Average church attendance: 28
1947 First Vacation Bible School organized by Paul W. Matthews
1948 First choir with 14 teen members is organized by Miss Eleanor Parsons. The Accompanist was Mrs. Forrest O. Baum.
1949 Extensive renovation; services were held at Blackwater Elementary School (site of fire station). The lectern, 4 chairs, and the communion table are donated by Sam & John Frost.
1952-1956 Served by Wade G. Harding.
1953 Commemorative picture plates of the church were issued.
1954 Dedication of 4 new Sunday School classrooms.
1955 Average attendance: 75. First formal choir robes made by Mrs. Emmett McClain.
1956-1961 Served by David G. Costas.
1959 Two additional classrooms added. Charlie W. Shirley ordained in the first Deacon Ordination Service.
1961-1964 Served by Gary B. Thompson.
1961 Baptistry pool added.
1962 First indoor Baptism Service held. Pulpit Bible is presented by Mrs. E.E. McClain in memory of her husband on October 28.
1964-1987 Served by Ralph L. Horn.
1963 Classrooms are added allowing the Sanctuary to be used for Worship services only.
1971 Library begun with donations of books and other articles. Mrs. Violet Jensen is first librarian.
1972 Music Department becomes third active organization under the direction of Dave Keenan. Mrs. Chrystal Frost appointed Chairman of the Audio-Visual Committee.
1973 Church purchases organ.
1974 200th Anniversary Celebration with TV news coverage. Members and guests dressed in period fashions. Guest speaker was Honorable G. William Whitehurst. Baptistry mural entitled "The Beginning" is painted in memory of Charlie Shirley by Jimmy Lopes. First audio system installed by Dave Keenan. Mrs. Catherine Dailey elected first church historian.
1975 Lights outside the front door donated by Mrs. Luta Tebault in memory of her husband, Richard.
1976 First central heating and air conditioning system installed. Wheelchair ramp built by Forrest Bishop and Ray Gardner. Church interior renovations begun with paint and repair and choir loft enclosed.
1977 Renovations continue with refinishing sanctuary floors (including choir loft), new carpet, and installation of new cushioned pews. (Old pews were sold to Grassfield Baptist Church).
1979 New storm windows purchased and installed by Cecil Shirley Jr.
1981 Groundbreaking ceremony for social hall wing to be built on land donated by Cecil Shirley Sr. and the Spruill Family. Ray Gardner headed construction and church craftsmen did all the work.
1982 Dedication services held for completed wing. Mirror in wing foyer donated by Shirley family.
1984 Sunday School Membership totals 186. First publication of “God's Country Tidings" monthly newsletter in October; editors were Edie Gardner & Bonnie Marrow. Title was chosen in February 1985 after a name contest.
Feb. 1985 Mrs. Edna Parsons presents pulpit Bible to church in memory of her husband, J. Louis Parsons.
1986 Porch added to front of church.
1987-1988 Served by Melvin Hughes.
1989-1990 Served by Steven E. Wiseman.
1989 Nursery enlarged. One furnace. audio system updated. Cemetery Committee formed.
1991-1994 Dr. Roscoe Musselwhite becomes first full time pastor.
1992 Dedication of permanent church sign erected in memory of former deacon, Horace C. Shirley.
1994-1995 Served by R. Otis Colston.
1995 New piano purchased by Furlough family and dedicated in memory of music lover and former deacon, Jennings Furlough. $2500.00 donated from Blanche Rankin Estate to cemetery fund.
Jan. 1996 New parsonage purchased on corner of Blackwater& West Gibbs Roads.
June 1996 -Sept. 2003 Served by Michael C. Jones, first resident minister. His family are first occupants of the new parsonage.
1997 Church inherits $25,000 from the estate of Mrs. Helen Lucas Charlton. Prayer Garden planted by the family of Harvey Gilbert. Sales of cookbooks created by Linda Jordan fund the purchase of church's first computer system.
1998 Sanctuary renovated with new pew cushions, drapes, wall-to-wall carpet, and paint job. Curtis Shirley donated a 3-dimensional Italian handcrafted ivory picture from of “The Last Supper” which matched the wallpaper border. An oak cabinet, brass communion set & offering plates was donated from Mrs. Luta Tebault's memorial fund.
1999 Mrs. Adabelle Riddick appointed 2nd Church Historian. The church observed its 225th anniversary with period dress and decorations and dinner for all.
2000 Church quartet "Blackwater Harmony" was formed. Joint services with Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church end at Mt. Pleasant’s request after 40 years of shared Thanksgivings. Church directories were made.
2001 Bob Steinhibler donates land beside church, formerly part of the Cecil Shirley Sr. Farm. Church’s exterior painted. Cemetery Committee increased burial plot costs.
2002 Mrs. Clara Belle Shirley donated brass sconces for the sanctuary. P. J. & Gloria Whitehurst donated a Canon office copier.
2003 Jeremy Schratweiser ordained a Deacon in August. Gary Jones appointed a Church Trustee. Mrs. Mildred Furlough at 91 years of age is honored by Virginia WMU as one of the oldest living GAs in Virginia . Church parsonage is rented for first time.
June 2004 Ruth Walden Circle celebrate their 50th anniversary. Carrion bell system is installed in the church steeple; donated in honor of Ralph & Irene Frost by their children.
2004 - 2014 Served by Gregory (Greg) Hammer. 230 year anniversary celebration with Pig-Pickin’ barbecue luncheon after worship.
December 2004 First Christmas Eve living nativity scene held.
November 2005 Deacon Ordination for Larry Bearden and Curtis Shirley.
December 2005 Foundation work begins to eliminate water beneath the church.
February 2006 Organ sold; Yamaha Digital Keyboard purchased.
September 2008 First Associate Pastor, William (Bill) Russo
September 2009 235th Anniversary on September 19. Dinner of BBQ & fried chicken. Service included remarks by Rev. Ralph Horn, message by Pastor Greg Hammer, music of Mike Davis, and testimonies. Tent worship service held the following Sunday. Children activities including Noah's ark, obstacle bouncy, snow cones, cotton candy, and popcorn.
November 2009 Church Renovation: South wing with youth hall and 2 classrooms added.
March 2010 First combined worship service held at Blackwater on March 29 with New Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church. Fellowship luncheon served after the service. This event was historic when one considers that Blackwater Baptist Church once had a "slave balcony" in its sanctuary.
April 2010 Waterside Easter Sunrise Service held at Blackwater Trading Post
November 2011 Deacon Ordination for Adam Cary.
August 2012 Panama Mission Trip, first blood drive
February 2014 Church Renovation: Kitchen revamp
May 2014 240th Anniversary on May 18. New Oak Grove Missionary Baptist Church and Representative Scott Rigell attended the outdoor event. Parsonage sold on May 9.
September 2015 Dr. Lynn Hardaway voted as new pastor after serving one year as Interim.
John Asplund's 1791 ANNUAL REGISTER OF THE BAPTIST DENOMINATION IN NORTH AMERICA says that George Plummer was the minister of Blackwater Church from 1790-1791 and that William Sorey was licensed to preach in June 1791.
John Asplund's 1794 UNIVERSAL REGISTER OF THE BAPTIST DENOMINATION IN NORTH AMERICA states that Plummer died in 1792 and that William Sorey served as the minister of the church following Plummer's death. Interestingly enough, even though he became Blackwater's minister in 1792, William Sorey had not been ordained by the time Asplund's book went to the publisher during the summer of 1794. He was still, at that time, "a candidate for the ministry" [i.e., had not yet been ordained]. I am convinced that William Sorey had served in some capacity at Blackwater Church during the years 1784-1792, however, perhaps as an assistant minister or as an exhorter.
Comments by William Simpson, Baptist Historical Society, Richmond, VA
* 21 original Virginia Portsmouth Association churches: Blackwater, Cut Banks, Fountain’s Creek, High Hill, Meherrin, Portsmouth, Pungo, Sappony, Seacock, South Quay, Western Branch, Black Creek, Eastern Shore, Great Creek, Isle of Wight, Northwest, Prince George, Rowanty, Reedy Creek, Shoulder’s Hill, Sussex
July 24, 1747. Died July 10, Mrs. Mary Ann Sears GOULD, wife of Daniel GOULD, leaving husband & widowed mother in feeble health, an only brother & one or two infant children.
From: The Salem Press Historical and Genealogical Record, Volumes 1-2; Mary Endicott's Diary, pg. 174