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 Road.
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 Room Sanctuary.