Centerville Baptist Church was founded seven years after the Civil War, along the "Great Road" that
connected the village of Great Bridge to the Northwest River. The well-worn road allowed families traveling
in mule-drawn wagons and horseback riders to join together in worship. Centerville's roots originate with
Northwest Baptist Church, organized in 1782, and Pleasant Grove, established in 1845. Centerville Baptist
Church began as a Sunday school organized by Griffin Jennings and William Pritchard.
Mr. and Mrs. William Jackson donated one acre of their farm land for the first sanctuary in 1871. The Jackson
farm was called "Center Hill." The deed dated 1871 conveyed the acre of farm land to the Trustees of
"Center Hill Baptist Church."The lumber for Centerville's first sanctuary was transported by barge through the
Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. The barge sank, en route, and the "baptized" lumber was able to be
salvaged and used. The original wooden sanctuary was sold to another congregation during the period of
1923 to 1935. It is still serving the needs of a faithful congregation and is located along rural Mount Pleasant
A two-story brick church was erected to replace the first wooden sanctuary. The "Upper Room" Sanctuary
features beautiful stained glass windows. The lower level housed education classroom facilities. The church
purchased additional property from the S. Wright family on the north side of the property. The lower level of
the existing structure was used by the pastor's family. The upper level was used as classrooms for the
growing rural congregation.
In 1957, Centerville Baptist Church organized and founded Centerville Baptist Church Kindergarten. Mrs.
Mildred Fentress and Mrs. Alma Ford began the tradition of ministering to the children of the community with
the early childhood education program. Their legacy continues to thrive with the current staff and students.
In 1959, construction began on a new Education wing, kitchen and fellowship hall. A modern parsonage was
built and the upper level of the Wright House was converted into temporary housing for foreign missionaries’
home on furlough. An enclosed pavilion was constructed to facilitate church-wide fellowship around the
American tradition of cook-outs, picnics, families and children. During the early 1970's, as the church neared
the 100th Anniversary, the community began to transition from rural agriculture to suburban.
The Upper Room Sanctuary overflowed with the faithful. Closed circuit televisions were installed in the
Fellowship Hall, located on the lower level, to accommodate the masses as well as the elderly or infirm that
could not navigate the staircases. Construction of the current sanctuary began in September 1975 on the
site formerly occupied by the Wright House.
The sanctuary was constructed in the shape of a Greek Cross and seats approximately 500 people. In 1978,
the church purchased the Burfoot House and the four acres of land on the south side of the church property.
The Burfoot House served as a Group Home for youth of the community for 30 years. When the City of
Chesapeake relinquished the lease of the facility, the church assumed full responsibility for the structure and
renovated it for ministry purposes. For a period of time the Burfoot House served as a dormitory for members
of the Young Life Program. Later, when the Young Life Program relocated, additional renovations and
upgrades were made and the Burfoot House is now serving as transition living quarters for homeless women
through a partnership with the Abba List/Chesapeake Area Shelter Team (CAST) program.
As the church encountered the new millennium, a new phase of church growth began. The Herman Hall
family donated ten acres of land on the south side of the church, expanding the church grounds to twenty-
seven acres of land. A construction project in 2000 expanded the church facilities by adding a children's wing
with large, bright classrooms, a restaurant quality kitchen, a half-court gymnasium/fellowship hall, and flex
spaces. A commons area connects the newest wing to the sanctuary and historic education wing and Upper
|Enriching Lives by Being an Authentic Kingdom Presence in the Community
|908 Centerville Turnpike, S Chesapeake, Virginia 23322