The Second Calvary Baptist Church was organized from a small band of worshipers in August 1879 on what was known as Simpson Farm, a suburb of
Norfolk, Virginia. The Reverend Mr. Jackson, the first pastor, served for only a short period. Records of Reverend Jackson’s first name have been lost in time.
In 1879, the Rev. Zachariah Hughes, great grandfather of Dr. Samuel DeWitt Proctor, became the pastor and remained so for over 35 years. Under his leadership, on March 8, 1908, the congregation moved into a new 300 seat frame edifice, located on the corners of Calvert (now Virginia Beach Blvd.) and Wide Streets.
On April 8, 1915, Dr. Collin P. Madison, a graduate of Virginia Seminary & College, (now Virginia University of Lynchburg) was called as pastor. On April 16, 1919, under Dr. Madison’s leadership, the congregation built a new $73,000 brick edifice located on the corners of Calvert and Wide Streets. This new church became one of the most important and widely known religious centers in the city of Norfolk and in 1928 had a membership of 1200 members.
In 1933, the church was forced to relocate from the corner of Calvert and Wide Streets to a large tabernacle-type building located on the corners of Brambleton Avenue and Landing Street. During the early l 930’s, the reorganization period of our present-day church, a small band of faithful worshipers consisting of approximately 60 members and four deacons managed to keep together and were successful in sowing the seed that became the foundation for a growing congregation.
Under Dr. Madison’s leadership, the congregation grew. Additions and improvements were made to the church structure – both externally and internally. Dr. Madison served as pastor until his death on May 1, 1944.
On June 3, 1945, Dr. Henry Ward Beecher Walker became the pastor. During his period of leadership, the church grew in membership from 271 to 399. The unified church concept was established and many new ministries were initiated.
In 1953, the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority acquired the church site at Brambleton Avenue and Landing Street for the purpose of widening Brambleton Avenue. Again, the church was forced to relocate. The present site (Corprew & Godfrey Avenues) was purchased and the first of three proposed units of the church was erected at the cost of $85,500.
Inasmuch as the church had not been able to acquire a sound credit rating, members of the church family were asked to sign personal notes in order to aide the church in borrowing $15,000 needed to complete the first unit. The following brothers and sisters, who had faith in God and in their church, volunteered: Brother & Sister Lawrence (Mary) Davenport; Sister Lillie G. Winfield; Brother & Sister Henry (Justine) Clark;
Brother Elbert Gatling; Brother & Sister Frank (Sarah) Chancey; Brother & Sister Edward (Virginia) Drayton, Jr.; Brother & Sister Robert (Mattie) Hamlin; Brother Roger Green; Brother & Sister Manuel (Janie) Tyler; Brother Leon Purvis and Brother Lawrence Garris. The first worship service at the Corprew Avenue site was held on December 17, 1954 (third Sunday). On Sunday, June 5, 1960, the mortgage was burned for all indebtedness.
As the needs of the membership grew, the second unit of the church was completed and equipped in September 1961 at the cost of $32,500. In 1967, the Educational Annex (Zachariah Hughes Community Center) was purchased at the cost of $25,000.
In honor of the ministries of Dr. & Mrs. Henry W. B. (Anita) Walker, in 1974 the Walker Memorial Education Fund was established as a means of providing scholarships and promoting worthwhile activities for the youth of our church. In 1977 the second unit of our church was designated the “Henry W. B. Walker Educational Center”. Dr. Walker served as pastor until his death in 1980. He served faithfully for nearly thirty-five years.
In April 1980, the Rev. Larry W. Chase, a graduate of Lincoln University and the Moody Bible Institute, served as interim pastor. He was called to serve as pastor on December 1, 1980 and served until May 1982. Under his leadership a new Young People’s Choir was organized.
On June 20, 1983, Dr. Geoffrey V. Guns, a graduate of Norfolk State University; Virginia Union University, School of Theology; and Howard University, Divinity School, became the sixth pastor of the Second Calvary Baptist Church.
Under his dynamic leadership the church has grown both spiritually and materially. Our congregation has grown from approximately 330 members to approximately 1,245 members. Many of our old ministries have been revitalized and expanded and many new ministries have been initiated. Under His leadership the James R. Jones Leadership Institute was begun in January 1984. Our Bible Study periods have expanded to two days– Tuesday at noon and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. (more can be learned about the ministry and leadership structure in the Ministry Organization and Leadership Model) Tutorial Programs have been held and the scouting programs, have also been revitalized for both boys and girls. Our Radio Ministry began in
July 1983 and at present we have an ever-growing media ministry. Many new community outreach programs were initiated during the pastorate of Dr. Guns.
In February 1991, the church began the first phase of its construction project. The first phase was completed at the cost of approximately 1.4 million dollars.
Our first worship service in our new sanctuary was held on Easter Sunday morning, April 19, 1992. It was a glorious event. This brought an end to eight years of work.
In 1992, the church began an investment endowment fund for its future ministries. Among our new ministries are the: Children’s Church (1994), Advanced Bible Institute (1993), Puppet Ministry (1995), Singles Ministry (1993), Urban Outreach Ministry (1995), and Eastside Community Development Corporation, Inc. (1996), Second Calvary Development Corporation (2003).
On Sunday, April 14, 1996, the Second Calvary Baptist Church family again dedicated themselves to work towards the completion of its building project. The congregation committed themselves to complete the renovation of our old sanctuary and fellowship hall. The work was begun on April 18, 1996. Phase Two was completed in December, 1997 and was completed and dedicated on Easter Sunday, 1998.
On August 2009 the church began a re-modernization project which lasted approximately one year. This renovation produced our current Second Calvary Baptist Sanctuary. This project was completed November 2010 at a cost of $52,000.
We are extremely grateful to God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon this church family throughout the years and it is with joyful hearts filled with thanksgiving that we continue to do His great work. More of the history can be read in our weekly Whatz Up? Series that was prepared by Sister Shirley R. Carr.
HISTORY OF THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN BAPTIST CHURCH
The church has always played a prominent role in the social, political and educational lives of African-American people.
Initially, white Baptist churches in America failed to welcome the slaves into their church families. However, as early as 1772 nineteen blacks held membership in the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island. In most instances, although considered members, the black members were afforded very limited privileges and responsibilities in white churches.
The question of slavery caused great emotional stress among white Baptists , especially those living in the South. However, long before the clash between white Baptists over the issue of slavery, some black leaders recognized the need for separate churches. They could not accept the segregation and discriminatory polices fostered by the white Baptist churches in light of the Baptist teachings regarding the equality of believers. As a result, “Plantation Missions” were organized. Black preachers were often punished for holding meetings and the slaves often had to steal away to hold their own services.
The roots of the black Baptist church can be historically traced to South Carolina and Georgia as early as the 1780’s. Within a decade after the establishment of the black Baptist church in South Carolina and Georgia, the Baptists in Virginia were the next to gain momentum in the separate church movement. Three types of churches became the pattern for the rest of the country: (A) Mixed; (B) Separate – under white leadership; (©)Separate – under black leadership.
In Virginia, both the Oilfield Baptist Church and the Harrison Baptist Church in Petersburg cite 1774 as their organizational year. The First Baptist Church in Williamsburg was organized in 1776. Four years later, the First Baptist Church of Richmond was organized. The first black Baptist church in Norfolk, First Baptist Church, Bute Street, was organized in 1800.
As a means of unifying the programs and enhancing the cooperation between the various black Baptist churches various state and national conventions were established. Through these conventions, numerous schools and missionary organizations were developed for the enhancement of the various churches in the state and nation.
The Virginia Baptist State Convention (VBSC) held its first meeting m Portsmouth, Virginia at the Zion Baptist Church in 1867.
Second Calvary is a member of several Baptist organizations. These organizations are as follows:
The Association exist for the purpose of encouraging, supporting and promoting Christian Evangelism, the Baptist Children’s Home, Virginia University of Lynchburg (formally Virginia Seminary and College) and Christian Missions in general.
The Association meets annually in July during the week following the second Sunday.
a. THE BAPTIST SUNDAY SCHOOL AND BTU CONGRESS OF VIRGINIA. The Congress exists for the purpose of promoting, supporting and providing Chris tian educational opportunities for member churches of the VBSC. Each year at its annual sessions, delegates from churches receive training and instruction in Christian education or some facet of church work. The Congress meets annually in Petersburg, Virginia, or some other designated location, during the last week in July.
b. THE VIRGINIA STATE USHERS’ FELLOWSHIP. The Ushers’ Fellowship is composed of ushers throughout the State of Virginia. The Fellowship meets the fourth Thursday-Saturday in October.
The VBSC supports the same mission objectives as the Tidewater Peninsula Association.
a. NATIONAL BAPTIST CONGRESS OF CHRISTIAN EDUCATION meets the Third Week in June, the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education, the Home Mission Board and the Sunday School Publishing Board.