Celebrating Our Church History

Recently The Reverend Robert Randall wrote, “Our wonderful but complicated 385 years of history and all the way up to the state of our current world can be threatening to people tired out by the way the outside world discusses difficult topics. Deep faith and courage are enabling our parish members to process, sometimes disagree, do it peaceably and respectfully, and begin to define and articulate our own version of the four quadrants of becoming that kind of community that Jesus inaugurated: Telling the Truth, Proclaiming the Dream, Practicing the Way of Love, and Repairing the Breach.”

In 1986 The Reverend John Emmert wrote, “The Judeo-Christian tradition has as its cornerstone the belief that God works in history,” a COMPLETE history that we cannot ignore. As your historian I have written “Virginia Slavery and After,” a historical account of Virginia’s slavery, Jim Crow and segregation. Now I want to tell the whole story. We are beginning to show courage as we address the part of our history of which we are not proud. Knowing our complete history, we can chart a better course forward.

1628-1640: Adam Thoroughgood Rewarded His Indentures.

1628. Adam was an early leader in Kecoughtan (today’s Hampton), and for the passage of over 100 indentured servants arriving between 1628 and 1635 in 17 different ships, the Governor of Virginia granted Adam 5,350 acres of undeveloped lands across the James River from Kecoughtan (the northern section of Virginia Beach).

1634. Adam moved to his land grant and built a wood house where he held court, providing fair justice to newly arrived Englishmen. When Adam died in 1640 and the first church was completed a year before his death, Adam’s wife Sarah completed the brick Manor House with court continuing to be held there until the 1670s when it was moved to Broad Creek, a tributary of the Elizabeth River, and again in 1691 to the Eastern Shore Settlement at today’s Wolfsnare Park.

1639. After working on Adam’s estate for a number of years, his indentures were given land and resources to build their own homes, a gesture unlike some of the other plantation owners in the seventeenth century. Two of his indentures went on to become wealthy plantation owners: Thomas Keeling (1608-1664) on lands adjacent to Adam Thoroughgood’s estate on the east side of the Lynnhaven River, and Augustine Warner (1610-1674) in Gloucester County who is the great-great grandfather of George Washington. His home still stands as the Inn at Warner Hall.

2010. Adam and Sarah’s plaque was placed on the wall below the balcony in October 2010 and consecrated at the All-Saints’ Day service November 7, 2010. It reads:

Sacred to the Memory of
Adam (1604 – 1640)
And Sarah (1609 – 1657)
Father and Mother
Of Lynnhaven Parish
And the
First Church for Worshiping
Jesus Christ

1653: Sarah Thoroughgood/Gookin/Yeardley Raised an Indian Boy to Be a Christian. In the autumn of 1653 Sarah and her third husband Colonel Francis Yeardley (1620-1655) sponsored a boat expedition into the unsettled part of North Carolina, then known as, “the south part of Virginia.” The Thoroughgoods sent their eighteen-year-old son Adam Thoroughgood II (1635- 1686) to lead the expedition which met with several area tribes. Some accompanied the expedition back to the Thoroughgood Manor House. Seeing Sarah’s children reading together, one of the chiefs in the party proposed that Sarah raise his only son and teach him to read. Despite unfriendly times with Indians, Sarah encouraged the chief to return. In May 1654 the chief came with his wife, son, and others in his tribe. Being a Sunday, the congregation and the visiting Indians crowded into the little church Adam had built in 1639, to witness the baptism of the chief’s son. After the service the chief left his son with the Thoroughgoods to be raised as a Christion.

1736-1816: A Public School for Orphan Boys is Established. The Golden Age (1700-1785) brought prosperity to Virginia Beach with larger houses and churches. In November 1733 the vestry ordered the third church (the present church) be built next to the second church to be twice in size. It was to be located 50 feet from the Brick Church, a location where the jail and courthouse stood, but was scheduled to be demolished and replaced by a brick courthouse near the ferry crossing. Col Anthony Walke I (1692-1768), the church warden, at his own expense paid for the construction of our present church.

Just before the church opened, on March 2, 1736 Col Walke put a motion before the vestry that the old Brick Church be used as a public school for orphan boys. Almost four months later our present church was opened, and next to it, the Brick Church opened as a public school for orphan boys, and continued next to our present church for over 80 years. Col Walke’s large burial vault was moved from the old Fairfield Cemetery in the 1930’s along with other Walke family grave stones found enclosure in a hog pen where the hogs were systematically destroying the markers.

After church wardens had led the public school for orphan boys for twelve years, in 1748 The Reverend Robert Dickson (1716-1777) became the new Rector and took over management serving the school for 18 years until his 1776 retirement. Not only did Dickson manage the school, but he took advantage of a 1727 Virginia General Assembly update to the colony's Poor Laws. It provided funds for church wardens to train poor children to become self-supporting craftsmen with the added benefit of book learning.

While conducting the school, Dickson led the way in Princess Anne County, convincing other churches that training orphans a productive trade was more economical than working untrained youth for limited profit. For example, Bruton Parish in Williamsburg was typical of eighteenth-century churches by building a workhouse in 1755. Under The Reverend Thomas Dawson the vestry record stated that the facility would be a place “where the Poor might be more cheaply maintained.” Rather than keep the boys out of sight in deplorable conditions, Dickson persuaded the local citizens to accept the boys into the community, practicing the trades they were taught. Vestry Records indicate that the parish was educating a high percentage of boys in carpentry, shoemaking, coopering, weaving, and tailoring. A few were even bound out to more elite or genteel craft trades such as silversmith, wigmaker, pewterer, sailmaker, and clockmaker. A plaque commemorating The Reverend Robert Dickson was placed on the back wall of Old Donation Church and consecrated November 21, 2012. It reads

Sacred to the Memory of
The Rev Robert Dickson
Rector 1748 to 17776
Donated his estate for
orphan boys’ school
The Church name
“Old Donation”
Memorializes hie faithful

1776-1812: Old Donation Helped to Create a Lasting Democracy
Old Donation Episcopal Church played one of the most important roles in creating and sustaining our democracy.
Of the twelve known Virginian Patriots who worked and fought for freedom from Great Britain to establish our democracy, seven were members of Lynnhaven Parish Church (today’s Old Donation) as denoted by an asterisk.
1776-At the Williamsburg Fifth Virginia Convention held from May 6 to July 5, 1776, *John Thorowgood Jr. helped write Virginia’s Declaration of Rights, and in doing so influenced deliberations occurring at the same time in Philadelphia. Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee, hearing about Williamsburg’s results, proposed a plan for the colonies to declare independence from Great Britain and create a national government. Debate on Lee’s resolution finally won support with remaining pieces falling into place when a committee of five delegates, including Thomas Jefferson, set to work on the declaration itself, completed on July 4, 1776.
1779-*Lemuel Thoroughgood commanded troops for protection of Princess Anne, Norfolk, Accomack, and Northampton counties during the Revolutionary War. He became a Captain and finally a Lt. Colonel by the end of the war.
1780-*John Thorowgood Jr.(see year 1776 above) became commander of the Princess Anne County Militia during the Revolutionary War. He rose to become county lieutenant in command of all its militia until he was captured in 1781.
1781-*Capt. Dennis Dawley was killed fighting in the Revolutionary War. His memorial plaque is on a sidewall in the back of our church. It reads, "To the glory of God and in loving memory of Captain Dennis Dawley, Vestryman of this church."
1788-Even with New Hampshire's approval on June 21, 1788 making the new Constitution law, Virginia and New York had yet to vote, and a likely vote no would splinter the new nation. At the Virginia Constitutional Convention *Anthony Walke III and his younger distant cousin Thomas Walke IV were chosen to represent Princess Anne County. James Madison’s persuasive logic persuaded the two Walkes to vote yes, and Virginia’s approval caused New York to vote yes, also by a narrow margin.
1812-The British were still not inclined to give up their grip on the thirteen colonies and made attempts to restrict American trade and block its westward expansion, which led the young nation to declare war against Great Britain on June 18, 1812 (the 1812 War). Less than a month later on July 8, 1812, members of the Princess Anne County Militia, including *Sgt. Brownley, *Pvt. Henderson, and *Pvt. Walke, captured the first British ship of the war. All three soldiers along with Reverend Walke’s* grave stone are in our Old Donation Historical Cemetery.
Four flags fly over these graves (in bold) in the historic Old Donation graveyard as a reminder of the first test our young democracy overcame.

1788: The Reverend Anthony Walke was Responsible for Keeping the Church Open. Shortly after the Virginia Constitutional Convention, Anthony Walke was ordained a priest of the new Episcopal Church in Philadelphia and served the following year as a Virginia State elector to the first presidential election held in Philadelphia. As clergy, The Reverend Anthony was responsible for keeping the church from closing its doors after no longer being able to collect tithes. With a large inheritance from his father, he presided as rector over Lynnhaven Parish Church without a salary from 1788 to 1800 and again from 1812 to 1813.
People came to hear his sermons delivered in a captivating mild-mannered voice. For his love of the hunt, even in the middle of one of his sermons, when he heard those hunting horns, he would immediately turn the service over to his clerk, Dick Edwards, and hurry off on his horse Silverheels tethered at the front church door, not to be seen again until late in the afternoon, while church members spent the rest of the day on the lawn picnicking until his return.

1852: Thurmer Hoggard IV Made Yearly Pilgrimages to the Abandoned Church. From 1844 to 1846 no services were held, and in 1846 The Reverend Henry Lay served only a few months. Eventually by 1852 The Reverend Lewis Walke had to close the church doors. After the Revolutionary War, the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a law that churches and chapels formerly owned by the Church of England and not used within a calendar year would revert to the ownership of the Commonwealth. Of 107 Virginia parishes before the Revolutionary War, only 42 survived. Lynnhaven Parish Church was one of those, even though it had been completely abandoned.
For more than eleven years, a core group of about 100 diehard perishers from Kempsville Emmanuel Episcopal Church, some who had once attended serves at Lynnhaven Parish, made annual pilgrimages by train to the church in a vigil to keep the state from confiscating it. In 1882 a woods fire burned most of the church, the year The Reverend Thurmer Hoggard IV took over the responsibility, and for the next three decades Hoggard and his family kept the yearly journey alive. After Hoggard’s death in 1902, his son, Captain Thurmer Harding Hoggard V, a Confederate veteran, and two daughters, Mary and Fannie Hoggard, continued the annual pilgrimages.

1906: Lay Reader Richard Alfriend Built on the Hoggard Family’s Success. Alfriend was a lay reader from Kempsville Episcopal Church. He built on the Hoggard family’s success by continuing annual pilgrimages from Kempsville. He led the congregation in services on Old Donation Church grounds and in the nearby Bayside School during inclement weather. In 1911, the year services could be held in the newly completed parish house, Alfriend helped start a building fund for restoring the 1736 church. Mrs. Jeb Stuart, widow of the famous Confederate general, made the first donation of one dollar. By 1914 The Reverend Alfriend had a congregation of about 50.

1911: George H.H. Woodhouse and William Biddle Helped in Getting Ready for Reconstruction. The two worked tirelessly to cut down the large trees that had grown up within the walls of the burned-out church and used them to build a parish house (where Tucker Hall now stands) in anticipation of the 1912 ordination of lay reader Alfriend. Even though George had lost his left arm in battle during the Civil War, he nevertheless worked alongside William. May Etta Belle Fentress (1870-1915) assisted the two men. When the builder, Charles Sherwood started the restoration of the church in early 1916, George and May aided wherever possible. They might have been jointly injured since they died within 10 days of each other.

1915: Charles Mitchell Barnett Helped to Secure the Reconstruction Loan. Barnette was a wealthy businessman in the shipping and oyster business living at Ferry Farm near Old Donation Church. As a member of the Vestry and with his New York business connections, he and Church Warden Judge Benjamin Dey White traveled to New York in 1915 to obtain a $7,000 loan for the reconstruction of the burned-out church.

1916: Senior Warden Judge White Gave Area Attention to Reconstruction. Through Judge White’s enthusiastic and tireless efforts and financial support, plans went forward for reconstruction of our church that had been abandoned for 64 years. During its reconstruction in 1916, Judge White was celebrated as the “first citizen of Princess Anne County” providing praise and much needed attention to its reconstruction efforts which took less than a year.

1920: The Parks Family Established Holiday Celebrations Bringing New Life to Our Church. After sixty-four years the church opened in 1916 for services. The Reverend Alfriend died in 1923, and there were periods the church had no minister: 1929-1931, 1937-1940, and 1945-1947. There was always someone to come along to keep the doors open, and the Parks family was the first. Rufus (1880-1956) and Diana (1887-1975) Parks and their daughter Ann (1917-2002), joined the church in 1920, putting new life into the church with a Christmas pageant drawing people from far and wide, an annual celebration that was held every Christmas Eve beginning in 1926. Visitors commented that this special little church with candles in windows shining on the snow outside was a fitting place for the re-creation of a miracle that took place in the little town of Bethlehem two hundred centuries ago.

The popularity and financial success of the Christmas pageant, inspired Diana to hold an oyster roast made popular by Senior Warden White and Barnett on their estate grounds. In 1934 Diana started the Oyster Roast and Bazaar which was held every year up until 2020 and 2021 (the COVID years). It brought joy and celebration to the small town, but also money to a still struggling church, and as the church became financially independent, one-hundred percent of the funds went to outreach.

Ann dedicated herself to service at Old Donation for over 70 years. In the 1930’s, in addition to her long hours at fundraisers, she was active in rehabilitating the neglected historical Old Donation Graveyard. She, along with the Princess Anne Garden Club, had 14 historic tombstones moved to our graveyard from three locations that were in deplorable conditions.

1955: Our Old Donation Day School Became a Successful Community Outreach Ministry. Since its inception, the Day School has grown with the community that it serves. It began with one class of five little girls under the leadership of The Reverend Beverley D. Tucker, Jr. (1918-2014), church rector from 1953 to 1984 and his wife, The Reverend Julia Tucker. In the beginning money was scarce, so Tucker’s father, the bishop of Ohio, donated $500 as seed money, enough to provide the essentials. So began the Day School. During this period Julia was instrumental in organizing mothers to take turns keeping preschool children, devoting many hours of her service. In making a commitment that no child be denied admission to Old Donation Day School for lack of funds, The Reverend Bob Randall, with Vestry support, established the Julia Tucker Scholarship Fund in honor of Julia’s initial outreach to the Old Donation community.

For over 67 years the Day School has quietly become one of the most important and successful community outreach ministries that today serves up to 116 children ages 2-4 and kindergarten. Teachers center on a warm, nurturing environment using "play-based" learning. One activity stands out for city-wide recognition. Teachers, Sarah Johnson and Jody Baker put together the following about the school’s nature program:
The Pearl School Award was developed by the environmental group Lynnhaven River NOW to encourage good environmental programs in our schools. The organization supports the premise that teachers are good spokespersons for environmental education and that students can play an important part in stewardship efforts. The award recognizes schools for their efforts to carry out educational programs and projects that teach environmental concepts in their schools. To earn the award, schools accumulate points through a variety of projects each year. Old Donation Episcopal Day School was the first preschool in the city to receive a Pearl School Designation during the 2014-2015 school year. We have continued to receive the award each year since. Some of our projects include maintaining a school garden/outdoor classroom which is wildlife friendly and includes native plants which encourage the observation of the butterfly life cycle. We have hosted and observed swallowtail and monarch caterpillars and butterflies. Other projects include an ongoing recycling program for batteries, ink cartridges and cell phones and the students have created Trash to Treasure recycled art projects. We even recycled drywall buckets from the church construction project to use as drums in music class! We have installed rain barrels in the garden for watering our plants and have a composting bin. These are a few of the ways that we are encouraging our young children to be good environmental stewards through earning the Pearl School Award. Even a small school like ours can contribute to big change. Our banner hangs proudly in the Day School hallway!

1965: Wynn Haines Started a Badly Needed School for Black Children. After the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision declaring racial segregation unconstitutional, the 60’s became a volatile period for public schools all over the south. To quell dissension, in 1965 Old Donation and one of its leading parishioners, Wynn Haines (1916-2008) created a Good Neighbor Kindergarten for Black children in Masonic Temple Unity Lodge 93. Julia Tucker taught music, and various parishioners, including Virginia Hutchinson, became volunteer teachers. The kindergarten met for years until the late 1970s when it was absorbed into Head Start programs and public kindergartens. As a pioneer in the Civil Rights Movement, Wynn worked with the Human Rights Commission in an effort to make "liberty and justice for all" a reality rather than a mere slogan.

1966: John Samuel Alfriend Made Repairs Possible. Membership plummeted in the early 60s when the church needed serious repairs. Even though the roof was repaired to keep it from crashing down, by 1966 the wood in the floor and walls were full of termites causing the church to be closed for a over a year. Again, the church budget was tight and contributions were not enough for the extensive repairs. Thankfully, The Reverend Richard Alfriend’s (1860-1923) 5th child, John Samuel Alfriend (1897 - 1974), knowing his father was buried in the central aisle of the church, arranged for his bank, the National Bank of Commerce, to loan the church the funds for these repairs without a mortgage (deed of trust). With the money The Reverend Tucker had deficiencies corrected including new lighting, heating, and air-conditioning system.

1975: Church Members Worked Together to Provide for a Refugee Family. Soon after the fall of Saigon, a Vietnamese family, working for the Americans, fled the country. Arriving in America they needed a sponsor. Mary Gibboney and Joyce Pettet immediately answered the call from the Lutheran Immigration Service. With only days before their arrival, the small church group worked around the clock to prepare for the family, finding an apartment and a job for the father driving a delivery truck. Parishioners supported the projects with an outpouring of gifts, time, energy, and money. For many years the family flourished in the church and in the community. The lives of the Nguyen Family and those who knew them were richly rewarded, and for the church, the Nguyen’s left a profound understanding of Christ’s message.

1979: Alice Granbery Walter Found Church Historical Records. Alice was a conservationist, historical preservationist, artist, award-winning flower arranger, historian, genealogist, and book publisher. Her publications included eight books, historical records, and several maps. Her genealogical charts are now kept in the Sargeant Memorial Collection in Norfolk's Slover Library, containing 191 genealogic surnames of church members. When people stop by our church and want to know about the history of their ancestors dating back to the 1600’s, they are delighted to find out what we have in our historical library and what Alice has documented. Alice made many contributions to Old Donation and to Virginia Beach. Her successful crusades were her fights to save the Old Coast Guard Station, the land next to it from developers, and creating the 24th Street Ocean Front Park and Maritime Museum, Virginia Beach’s first museum.

1987: Ethel Hudgens Howren Scholarship Fund. Ethel Hudgins Howren, (1905 - 1983) was a long-time member of Old Donation Episcopal Church serving in all facets of the church. In the mid 1960’s Ethel put herself in nomination for the vestry. There were quite a few eyebrows raised since no woman had served on the vestry. But her energetic and forceful character won the day, and she was voted in. Her father James Carey Hudgins had promised to donate land to Old Donation Church but died before making the gift. Ethel completed the gifting in 1983. Her children established the Ethel Hudgens Howren Scholarship fund at the Sentara College of Health Science in 1987 in Ethel’s honor for the devotion of several nursing students who cared for Ethel in her final days.

1988: Ruth Ann Campbell began the Fine Arts Series. In 2003, the series was christened the Parks Fine Arts Series in grateful thanksgiving for the lives of three wonderful parishioners: Ann, Dot and Diana Parks. For most of the twentieth century the Parks family has been a strong foundation for Old Donation. Through the series, the church has been a portal for cultural outreach to citizens of Hampton Roads, offering both local and international artists.

1991: Emily Peabody Put Together a Small Contingent of Episcopal Church Women. (ECW) to embroider kneelers, chair cushions, and table covers. On the backs are the names of fifty-two deceased church members delicately hand-sewn along with the inscriptions by family members. After several years of work the ECW dedicated these precious needlepoint embroideries to the church Dec 18, 1988. By 1991 the ECW had raised enough funds to outfit the new parish hall kitchen to include an industrial gas stove, two ovens, industrial dishwasher, and large upright freezer and refrigerator.

2001: Reverend Irwin Lewis Reflected on the Wonderful Church Spirit. In his “State of the Parish Report,” December 9, 2001, he wrote about the enthusiasm he encountered at Old Donation. “I want to tell you I have felt the fire here since the moment I interviewed for the position of your rector almost four years ago. I have felt fired up from the moment I stepped across your threshold. The Spirit is here; fire is here – and miracles have happened – miracles that are not of my doing.” The Reverend Lewis described all that has set the church on fire – the marvelous parish staff, the endowment making an expanded ministry possible, and the miracles of church members who worked enthusiastically building church ministries. He ended by saying, “Friends, this is a great time to be part of Old Donation. The Spirit is here, the fire is here, and God’s dwelling shall ‘be glorious’ in our midst. Come, join the Fun!

2004: A Gift not Forgotten, the Jesse Woodberry tracker Pipe Organ. In 1980, the organ was purchased from a Roman Catholic Church in Andover, MA. where it was used for twenty years. In 2003 with a growing choir requiring the space that the organ pipes were occupying in the balcony, and with the many needed Jesse Woodberry organ repairs, the decision was made to look for a new and more modern organ. The fifth and final organ was a digital Johannus organ from the Netherlands found for the bargain price of $98,000. It was dedicated Oct 3, 2004. The Jesse Woodberry organ was given to Hickory Neck Episcopal Church in Toano, Virginia, a greatly appreciated gift not to be forgotten.

2012: Robert Albertson Preserved a History That Our Church Shared In. As president of The Order of Cape Henry 1607, on May 3, 2009 Albertson re-started a ceremony at Cape Henry celebrating the April 26, 1607 first landing of the Jamestown Settlers. Celebrations in 1931 brought more than 10,000 people including President and Mrs. Hoover, and at the 1935 celebration the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists unveiled a granite cross, the "Cape Henry Cross," replacing a wooden cross in the approximate location as the one erected April 29, 1607 by the Jamestown bound colonists. Celebrations were interrupted by the Second World War, and restarted again by Albertson in 2009.

Our Old Donation Church members joined the celebration in April 2012 and participated every year until 2020, when again, because of COVID, the ceremony was cancelled. During several of those years The Reverend Robert Randall participated at the First Landing Chapel service held after the celebration at the Cape Henry Cross.

2015: Again, Our Church Worked Together to Provide for Refugee Families. An attempted military coup in Turkey led to Turkish NATO personnel stationed in America being accused of taking part in the coup. Their Turkish bank accounts were frozen and a return home meant jail and much worse. Tom Cantrell was instrumental in getting other church members involved in coming to the aid of several NATO Turkish families stationed in Virginia Beach who were de facto stateless with the ever-present prospect of deportation. Our dedicated church members are continuing to provide jobs, housing and help in getting a federal grant of asylum.

2016: A Time Capsule Preserved a Legacy for the Next Generation. At christening ceremonies of the rebuilt church, on October 11, 1916 a cornerstone containing a time capsule was laid in the northeast corner of the church. The Ancient Free & Accepted Masons were invited by Church Senior Warden and Freemason Judge White to conduct the service.

The Corner Stone reads:

A.F.&A.M. OCT. 11. 1916

One hundred years later our Historical Traditions Commission voted to have the time capsule removed from the corner stone and inspected. On Saturday Sep 17, 2016, Katherine McEnroe, a professional curator from Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, painstakingly removed contents from a small completely rusted time capsule in the cavity of the stone. The only contents proved to be an 1888 one cent Canadian coin and a folded unreadable and completely damaged set of papers which probably contained writings from Thurmer Hoggard as mentioned in a 1916 notebook written by The Reverend Alfriend.

Church members provided 21 keepsakes in a new time capsule to be replaced for the next hundred years. On Tuesday Oct 11, 2016 at 3 p.m., the same Ancient Free & Accepted Mason Lodge that conducted the ceremony one-hundred years before, conducted a ceremony for replacing the stone. The Reverend Randall conducted the opening and closing prayers for the ceremony. He was given a handsome plaque from the Masons in appreciation of his part in the ceremony. It reads:

Old Donation Church
Erected 1694, Restored 1916
Cornerstone Laid By
Virginia Beach Lodge No. 274
A.F. & A.M. October 11, 1916
October 11, 2016 Rector Rev. Robert J. Randall Jr.

2019: Our Historical Traditions Commission Brought Church History to the Young. With assistance from Michelle Davis and Brad Croteau, Jackie Murray started a Young Historians Club open to church and community youth. Already they have joined with the Historical Traditions Commission on trips and some just for the young historians. They have assisted in greeting people and tours in our historic church. Dressed in Colonial attire they have learned much about our rich history and the history of Tidewater Virginia.

Church Members Have Kept Outreach Growing. Bill and Melissa Waide and many others have worked tirelessly enthusiastically helping those less fortunate. Some of what they have contributed in 2021 tells a story started in 1934 when Diana Parks started the Oyster Roast providing outreach to the community, and as our struggling church became financially independent, one-hundred percent of the funds went to our Outreach ministry which has been the case for over 80 years. In 2021, Outreach volunteers provided approximately 2300 meals to men, women and children throughout our community for those less fortunate, an incredible number! Bill and Melissa have expanded or enriched Outreach programs. The list is inspirational.
*One Saturday a month, volunteers meet in the church kitchen to help feed approximately 80 hungry/needy people in downtown Norfolk.
*Three times a year volunteers provide meals at the Judeo-Christian Outreach Center and at Bayside Presbyterian Church for homeless families housed there for the week.
*Twice monthly volunteers provide bags containing breakfast and weekend meal items for 38 students at our neighboring Pembroke Elementary School. Through this and tutoring with teachers, we have embraced the school as our partner.
*A school supply drive for Christmas in July provides children that need necessary items for school.
*Hundreds of needy people are provided with blankets, coats, gloves, hats, scarves and socks during the cold winter months.
*Mission of the Holy Spirit are provided with grocery gift cards during Thanksgiving and Christmas and the kids receive store gift cards to shop for their own gifts.
*Our Angel Tree ministry provides toys and clothes to children at Christmas whose parents are incarcerated. This ministry encourages intergenerational and family participation to shop, purchase, wrap and label gifts for children.
*Ghana and Belize Interntional Ministry Project. We make yearly trips to staff reading camps with teachers and students.
*Habitat for Humanity volunteers help where needed.
*Faith Works. Under the leadership of Dan Ries, volunteers make home repairs for local homeowners in need.
*Dos Santos. We provide staple food to help immigrant farm workers on the Eastern Shore
*Virginia Beach Home was added in 2023. Funds are donated to purchase bus tickets to enable the unhoused to get to medical and social services appointments, housing shelters, and food pantries. Items like mattresses are purchased to be put in new temporary housing facilities managed by VB Home Now.
*Many other charities or organizations have been supported financially with Outreach funds, including the Food Bank of Southeastern Virginia, Boy's Home, Girl/Boy Scouts, Seton Youth Shelters, ODU Canterbury House, Onesimus Workshop, Virginia Supportive Housing, Episcopal Relief and Development, and especially the Crumley family who sponsored events raising thousands of dollars for Norfolk St. Mary’s Home for children.

1954-2022: The Gift of the First Parish House, and Tireless Work for a New One. The old frame parish house, built in 1912, had exceeded the needs of our growing church, and in 1954 was torn down and the lumber donated to a church in need. The new parish house was completed in 1954, followed in 1961 by a Day School, and in 1969 by an addition to the Day School. In 1989, to support the need for substantial facility additions, the first of several capital campaigns was launched with building completion in 1992. Included were a kitchen, bathrooms, music room, connections to the Day School, and a large hall (Tucker Hall). By 2007 the church was again experiencing significant growth, particularly in attendance of the Gathering, a contemporary service for both young and old. The Vestry established a Long-Range Plan Ministry Team (LRPMT) which led to a Master Facilities Planning Team (MFPT). In 2016, at gala Mardi Gras Party in Tucker Hall, a Capital Campaign raised over three million dollars in pledges, but by the end of 2018 costs estimates were growing in excess of eight million dollars. After modification, the city’s Historic Review Board approved the revised plans and issued a January 2020 building permit. The first service was held on December 24, 2020 in the Great Hall. Even though the windows had yet to be installed and rains had let in an inch of water, the assembled congregation for this Christmas Eve service were more than thankful for the new Parish House, especially with a view out the open windows of our historic church in the darkness with its electric candles in each window, a view reminiscent of the first Christmas service back in 1926. In the spring of 2022 construction was substantially completed. Over a dozen congregants contributed long hours without pay. Some of those who stand out include Gene Hunter, Bud Hoffecker, John Sherman, Harold VanderWilt, Ben Joyce, David Burt, Ruth Ann Butler (Macklin), David Beach, Scott Crumley, Jim Pernini, Elizabeth “Boo” Burroughs, and Betsy Morris. The Reverends John Emmert and Robert J. Randall, Jr. are credited for their leadership in bringing to fruition a sixty-eight-year beautiful facility that surrounds and complements our little historic church, one that has kept up with the church’s growing need and now capable of handling the present one.

2022: Our Church Began Racial Atonement Through Reconciliation and Reparation. Dan Ries, Jane Kiefer, and Bonnie Kiermaier, in July 2020, began teaching “Sacred Ground,” part of the 2020 “Becoming Beloved Community” (BBC) initiative of the Episcopal Church, a long-term commitment to racial healing. Our BBC Commission is now working with our congregation to help them understand past discrimination and the dream and hope of our slaves who built our church. Along with other initiatives, to make reparation, our church is providing yearly scholarships to Norfolk State University.
* Books and Articles Related to Sacred Ground Circle (SGC) and Becoming Beloved Community (BBC)
@  http: Old Donation Church: Library Books (1bob9.blogspot.com)

2022: The Reverend Robert Randall’s Leadership Has Inspired and Directed the Congregation in All Aspects of Church Life. The sermons and the example he and our clergy set, demonstrate how to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ. He has also set the example for acknowledging our past when he stated in the Virginian Pilot, August 2, 2020, “Knowing the truth, the good, the bad and the ugly, helps us start to repair the breach in our world and chart a Godly path of action for our parish.”

Summited by Bob Perrine, Church Historian
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