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Church History

Church History

On May 26, 1901, Rev. P. E. Throckmorton, who served as pastor until 1921, organized the Samaria Indian Baptist Church.  The process actually began, on April 13, 1901, when 48 members withdrew from Cedar Grove Baptist Church. This newly organized church was received into membership of Dover Baptist Association at the annual meeting the same year.  The building used was the same one used by the original Samaria Baptist Church, which had been organized in 1876 and disbanded in 1888. The landowners, Robert and Benjamin Evans, leased the building to the Indians for use while they were getting together their meager gifts to build a new church. L. M. Nance, Commonwealth Attorney of Charles City County, deeded two acres of land, one mile east of Samaria, to the members for this purpose.  On this plot, the neat little edifice was completed, and was dedicated May 10, 1910. The dedicatory sermon was delivered by, Dr. R. H. Pitt, who was the editor of the Religious Herald.  By that time the membership had grown to ninety.  The Dover minutes of 1945 gave the membership as 210.  The membership as of January 2016 is 675.    

The first Sunday in September 1945, following a revival, which had recently been held, 22 boys and girls ranging in ages from nine to fifteen years, were baptized into the membership of the church.  This was largely the result of personal work by the teacher of the Indian school, a Native American girl of the Chickahominy tribe, and the earnest efforts of the Sunday school teachers, the fathers and mothers, and Rev. Harvey Custalow, the pastor of the church. Rev. Custalow was the first Native American pastor to serve.

In 1953, a motion was carried to build a new church where the old one stood.   There were several fund drives formed to raise the necessary funds to build this church. A special drive was held the 4th Sunday in May of that year where each member pledged within himself to give a certain amount.  Newspapers, magazines and other recyclable items were also collected and sold.  In 1955, it was decided that each member would set aside a little money each week, and one week between March 12th, and the 4th Sunday in May each member would give one tenth of a weeks earnings toward the building fund. 

In 1961 it was decided that the offering would go to the building fund on the 4th Sundays of March, June, September and December until the building was completed, and the debt paid. The present church was built in 1962, replacing the first church built in 1909. In both buildings, many have come to the saving knowledge of the Lord: with two of the members serving as missionaries and two others being ordained to preach the gospel. The mortgage was paid off and the building fund offering was discontinued in 1967.

Sisters of the church were not permitted to attend quarterly church business meetings until 1954.  Before 1956, male members would have to ask for forgiveness for not attending a meeting.  In 1960 compulsory attendance and the taxation of males at the business meetings were discontinued.

On October 1 1987, the day that the church’s new constitution became effective, the name was officially changed from Samaria Indian Baptist Church to Samaria Baptist Church.  It was the desire of the members to open the church to all who would come to know Christ as Lord and Savior.  This was a difficult decision for many of the membership but they knew that as Christians there is no exclusion in the Kingdom of God and God’s Church should be open to all peoples.

The former Samaria Indian School building and land, adjacent to the church, was purchased from the County in 1995. Members pledged to give money each week toward the renovation of the building for Sunday school classes and the construction of a new Fellowship Hall.  Ground was broken on December 6, 1998 for a major expansion/renovation.  This construction joined the old school building and the church into one unit. Homecoming dinner was served in the new fellowship hall on Homecoming Sunday, August 13, 2000. On Sunday, September 10, 2000 Sunday school classes were held in the new facility for the first time.  The Dedication service for the new church facility was held October 28, 2000 with Steven Allsbrook Executive Director of Dover Baptist Association as the guest speaker.

We have been fortunate to have only had five pastors in our first 100 years. The Rev. P. E. Throckmorton was called as Samaria’s first pastor, and served from 1901 to 1921. The Rev. Thomas E. Whitlow, served from 1922 to 1924. The Rev. Charles D. Danzy served from 1925 to 1927. The Rev. Harvey N. Custalow served from 1938 to 1976. The Rev. Claude L. Evans served from 1976 to 2010. It was during Pastor Evans term, January 1, 2001, that the church moved to make the senior pastor position full-time versus part-time. On March 1, 2011, Rev. Ernest (Ed) Johnson was called as the Intentional Interim Pastor for the church until a senior pastor could be called. The Rev. Jay P. Hurley began service as Senior Pastor of Samaria Baptist Church on October 6, 2013.

Rev. Susan Morris, our first Youth Minister served from 1996 to 1998 and returned as Assistant Pastor from 2005 – 2009. It was during Rev. Morris’ time with us that we added an 8:00 a.m. Sunday Morning Worship Service and the Carnival for Christ on the first Saturday on June each year. Other Children’s and Youth Ministers have been the Rev. Jennifer N. Peterson who served from 1998 – 2001 and the Rev. Sandy J. Rogers-Lathan who served from 2002 – 2005 and the Rev. Kevin Brown, Jr. served from 2010 – 2015. The Rev. Darius Webster began service as Associate Pastor and Youth Minister in March of 2017.

The Deacon body has grown from the original six male members when the church was first organized to about 20 male and female deacons today. The first female deacons were elected in 1989 and the last deacons elected to a lifetime term were elected in 1973. Deacons are elected to a four-year term today.

The Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) was organized in Samaria Baptist Church on May 26, 1927.  Through the years the WMU has seen many changes.  It continues to be a vital part of our church work.

Members of Samaria have served as missionaries and others have been ordained to preach the Gospel. These include: the Rev. Lewis Baber who currently pastors a church in Burlington, NC; the Rev. Kevin Brown, Jr. who is an Associate Pastor at a church in Barlow KY; and Peter and Angela Adkins who have heeded God’s call to develop a Christian Elementary School on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in Cannon Ball, ND. Samaria also contributed to the sponsorship of two Virginia churches, Kentwood Heights Baptist Church in Quinton, and Atlee Community Church in Hanover.

Samaria has grown both spiritually and financially over the years.  We pray for the church’s continuous growth as our Lord and Savior grew “in wisdom and knowledge, and in favor with both God and Man.”