About Us History

History of Mount Ararat Christian Church

Mount Ararat Christian Church was founded over 143 years ago in 1866. The first services were held under a bush shelter about a quarter mile from the present site on Hardy Skeeter’s track, located on old Hosier Lane. It wouldn't be until three years later that the members erected their first building.

The members purchased the Old Salem Church (off old Desert Road), which was previously owned by a white Methodist congregation. Upon securing the purchase, the building was dismantled and erected at the present site. Construction began in March 1872.

The humble building was framed with a top, and boards were used for the floor. There were no windows in the building at this time. The seats were constructed of blocks with boards laid across them. The only piece of furniture was a table for the bible, which is still in use today.

In celebration of the new building a dedication service was held in the fall of 1872. The service was performed by the Reverends W.B. Wellons and E.B. Beale, both white Christian ministers, and Jacob Skeeter. The Rev Justin Copeland was the officiating pastor at the time and would be preceded by Rev Frank Jordan. Rev Jordan received his conversion under the bush shelter and went on to serve as pastor for approximately 20 years.

On December 11, 1873, the Virginia Christian and Conference of Colored People was organized at Mount Ararat Christian Church. Reverends John W. Moring, E.W. Beale, and Doctor William B. Wellons assisted in organizing the conference. A team consisting of two elected officers and a group of other participants would solidify the establishment:

 

Elected Officers and Other Participants

  • Rev Justin Copeland, President
  • Elisha S. Copeland, Secretary
  • Lewis Darden
  • Jesse Jones
  • Henry Hamblin
  • Charles Anderson
  • Lolitha Griggs
  • Jacob Skeeter
  • Armistead Riddick

Renovations were made to the building in the year 1900, by Thaddeus Skeeter and Jack Baxter.  The renovations consisted of patching the roof top and putting in windows panes.

In 1934, a building project was started under the pastorate of Rev J.D. Farrar. On Thursday, November 21, 1935 the cornerstone of the building was laid. The next day the cornerstone had been removed, and was later discovered in the well. John T. Gill, Herman Reid and Rev Romie Skeeter recovered and restored the cornerstone it in its respectful place. Further improvements to the building were begun in December 1938.

Over the next 30 years the following renovations were made to the existing building.

  • May 1953, the building’s interior was tackled: rearranging of the pulpit, choir stand, pastor’s study, and choir room. In addition committee rooms were added.
  • In 1967, the construction of restrooms, a dining room, and a kitchen was completed prior to the arrival of pastor-elect, the Reverend James A. Alston.
  • In 1971, the ceiling was lowered and the exterior was bricked.
  • Installing of central heat occurred in 1974, with plans for a cooling unit to occur soon after.

In October 1978, Rev McLaurin’s was the presiding pastor and presented the idea of building a new church to the congregation. Although Rev McLaurin’s tenure ended due to illness, his encouragement to build a new church continued with the assistance of the newly-elected pastor, Rev Raby J. Knight.

Construction of the new church began on September 28, 1988 with Mr. Charlie Davis, Jr. of Newport News, VA serving as general contractor. The first worship service took place on Sunday May 21, 1989.

 

Mount Ararat’s Pastoral Lineage - Over 143 years of Service

Justin Copeland J.D. Farrar
Frank Jordan R.R. Briggs
John Sumler James A. Alston
William Franklin Joseph B. West, Sr.
W.S. Matthew Lawrence E. McLaurin, Jr.
Walker Raby J. Knight
R.R. Gaines H. Harvey Murrill (current pastor)