top of page
Screen Shot 2021-08-14 at 1.14.41 PM.png

Church History

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. Hebrews 11:8


In the year of our Lord 1892 Little Grove Baptist Church was formed by a small band of worshippers living in the Nansemond County area who were attending Grove Baptist Church in Norfolk County (which was in the Churchland area).  The organization of the church was the result of problems encountered with bear attacks when they traveled to Churchland for services at Grove.  This small group of worshippers started holding prayer meetings at the Samaritan Hall under the leadership of Reverend Thomas H. Hill.  Rev. Hill organized Little Grove Baptist Church on what is now known as Old Townpoint Road in Suffolk, Virginia.  At that time there were only five homes in the section which did not have a name.  Rev. Hill who lived in the Huntersville area of Norfolk, Virginia decided to name the Nansemond Area “Huntersville.”  Rev. Hill led the flock from 1892 to 1909 until his homegoing.  Thereafter, Little Grove was led by Rev. J.W. Riddicks, Rev. C.E. Redd and Rev. J.W. Thomas, Charles Johnson Williams, Roy Lewis Elder, Harold L Cooper and currently Pastor Ralph Richardson III.  

In the 1920s Little Grove called Rev. Charles Johnson Williams who was a member of First Calvary Baptist Church, Norfolk, VA where he served as church clerk for a number of years before accepting the call to the ministry.  With Rev. Williams’ strong leadership the church grew and the edifice was made larger.   Some were made deacons, ushers, choir members and even ministers.  During Rev. Williams’ era some of the Deacons were John Trotter, Ego Johnson, James Bolling, George Burkes, Gaines Bess, Talley Ward, Zack Wallace, Tom Patillo, Eli Ward Sr. and William Ward.  The church clerk position was served by Dan Wright who also was a Trustee and built the church’s first communion table.  The Baptist Young Peoples Union was under the leadership of Alma Ward Alexander and Pearl Hill.  Deacon Ego Johnson served as the Sunday school superintendent with active support by Mrs. Jolly Wright.  The choir was under the directorship of Daisy Wright, Hattie Fox and Mary E. Johnson, who also played for the church school.  Some of the ushers were Mary Valentine, Mary Bassett, Beatrice White, Henry Valentine, Shedrick Knight and Agnes Knight.  Rev. C.J. Williams, his few auxiliaries and the Sunday school was the beginning of a strong relationship of “Church and Christ”.  After eighteen years of dedicated service Rev. Williams passed from labor to reward with a job well done.

In 1946 Rev. Roy Lewis Elder, Assistant Pastor of First Calvary Baptist was called to pastor.  Rev. Elder saw the community and church growing so he gave Little Grove the motto, “a growing church in a growing community” and added a personal motto “I must do the work of Him that sent me”.  Rev. Elder and his assistant, Rev. A.J. Purnell who was also a trustee began to pay off organ debts, the heating system, and the renovation of the building.  The effort cost $35,000 and expanded over a five year period.  Blue prints were handled by Arcelious Ward and Archie Elliott, Sr. and materials managed by handy man David L. Ward and Deacon Eli Ward, Sr.  Everybody that could hammer a nail worked and the community as a whole renovated the church.  The women lead by Lucille Porter kept the people nourished by feeding them hearty dishes. Little Grove added a nurse, Emma Robinson, a male chorus, and missionaries: Olivia Wright, Alice Wright and Ira Purnell served.  As the church witnessed through the community singing “Thank God My Soul is Saved” many souls were added.  Kenneth Orton was the organist for over twenty five years and never missed a Sunday.  The choir was directed by Linwood Newton.  Lester Purnell was the church clerk followed by James L. White, who would later become a Deacon.  Some of the officials were Deacons Welton Hinton and Ralph Freeman and some Trustees were Alexander Bess, Nathaniel Trotter, Samuel Ward and David L. Ward.  Rev. Elder departed in 1957. 

With prayer and faith as the guide, Rev. Harold L. Cooper was called from Third Baptist Church, Portsmouth, Virginia to lead Little Grove Baptist.  He was ordained on April 27, 1961 at Third Baptist Church by Rev. C. H. Jordan and installed on June 5, 1961 as Pastor of Little Grove.  His initial sermon was “Give Me This Mountain”.  Rev. Cooper continuously sought to provide spiritual fellowship and guidance.  He involved the church in many community groups including: Virginia Baptist State Convention, Sharon Association, Hampton Minister’s Conference, and the Baptist Minister’s Conference.  A revitalized atmosphere of spiritual harmony existed in the community of Huntersville during the years that Rev. Cooper was Pastor.  Many souls acknowledged and confessed the spiritual existence of God within their hearts.  Material gains were made toward the advancement of the church including the paying off of debts.  He was also instrumental in organizing the Junior Usher Board, Male Choir, Golden Age Club, Boy Scouts, Children’s Call, C.J. Williams Flower Club and Vacation Bible School which was led by Rebecca C. Jordan.  Some members of the choir were:  Catherine Epps, Evelyn Jackson and Mary White.  Usher Presidents were Bridie Fletcher, Mary Ida Ward and Thelma Jordan; Deacon John T. Ward served as the Superintendant of Sunday school.  In addition to the Senior Choir, a Gospel Choir was added with Mary I. Ward as president and Joan Roberts as organist.  Under his leadership the church called a council and ordained Rev. R.J. Knight for the pastorate of Sandy Mount Baptist Church on May 14, 1963.  During Pastor Cooper’s guidance, the following deacons were ordained:  Deacons Henry O. Ward, John T. Ward, Alfonza Ward, James L. White, Herman Ward, Calvin Williams Sr., Daniel James, and Brian Bryant.  The following served as Deaconesses: Ira Purnell, Ella Ridgeway, Mary I. Ward, Arcelia Ward, Doris Ward, Ruby Ward, Katie White, Gracie Scott, Lena M. Ward, Lena Mae Bryant, and Delphine Williams.  Deacon Lewis and Deaconess Mary White Sr. joined Little Grove and served as deacon and deaconess.  Elected as Trustees were Sarah Bess, Ethel Stith, Vivian Ward, David Lee Ward, Eddie Ward and David Ward.  In 1977 Douglas Jackson and Leon H. Jordan joined the Trustees’ Ministry and Lewis H. Jordan Jr. was added later.  Mrs. Lovie Knight served as an “honorary trustee”.  For many years she had a “key” and could be depended upon to open the church doors when needed until her health began to fail.  Douglas Jackson was selected as the church treasurer and Vincent Epps as the church clerk.  The significance of Rev. Cooper’s Pastorate at Little Grove was detected in the massive degree of Christian fellowship that existed among the members of the church and the community.  He capably served Little Grove for over 30 years.  

During the illness of Rev. Cooper, Pastor Ralph “Ricky” Richardson III from Third Baptist Church, Portsmouth, Virginia spiritually led the flock.  Pastor Richardson served as interim Pastor from March 1993 until October 1993.  He was elected in October 1993 as the Pastor of Little Grove Baptist Church and was installed on February 20, 1994.  A man with a burden for the proclamation and the teaching of the gospel of Christ, he reverently embraces the power of God according to Ephesians 3:20 “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever amen.”  Dedicated to the evangelism of the lost and the equipping of the saved, he has led LGBC through many changes.  During his tenure, the church has gone through numerous building expansions including the sanctuary and multi-purpose facility to meet the growing church and community needs. Pastor Richardson and LGBC have been blessed to ordain and install Minister Horace Bazemore to Little Mount Zion Baptist, Suffolk, VA as well as ordain Minister Terry Burnett and co-labor with Ministers Terry McCreigh, Al Kirk, Lawrence Randle, Julian McGhee, Gerald Anderson, Ernesto Jackson, Barlen Guess, Donald Franklin, Konda Sullivan, Gregory Thomas and John Brimm.   Additionally, the following members of the Diaconate ministry were ordained: Duane Fisher, Earl Griffin, Bruce Ward, Lewis White, Jacqueline Fisher, Lynnette Richardson, Mary E. Ward, Joyce Elliott, Cynthia Sylvester, Zeler Raspberry, Gwen Strutchen, Lillian Everett, and Rebecca Jordan.  Deacon Edward and Deaconess Ruthie Anthony also served on the Diaconate Ministry until they relocated.  The Trustee Ministry was expanded to include:  Joe Everett, Sue James, Denise Ward Clark, Carlos Sessoms, Damien Woods and Arminta Richardson Harris.  Additionally, the following served in the role as Church Treasurer:  Douglas Jackson, Sue James, Carnell Elliott, Leon Jordan, and Carlos Sessoms.  Candace J. Avents served as Director of Christian Youth Education and The Foundation Learning Center until she transitioned to be with the Lord.

With an increased focus on soul winning, Pastor Richardson has challenged the congregation to explore non-traditional methods of sharing the gospel via technology while maintaining the integrity of the Message.  He has also challenged the congregation to grow in the areas of time, talent and finance.  Spiritual gifts of the membership are exercised through creativity of music, mime, dance and drama ministries.  He has hosted One Way Ministries a radio and television broadcast to reach the masses and has written countless editorials about the love of Christ.  With an increased focus on sowing into the lives of others, educational scholarships are provided to members and community partners pursing post-secondary degrees.  Additionally, Pastor Richardson’s forward thinking about LGBCs future, led us to secure legacy policies which will benefit the church of tomorrow through wealth management.  Bridge events such as vacation bible school, youth week, revivals, fishing excursions, health awareness activities, spiritual growth campaigns, missionary activities and the Pearls of Wisdom connections all lend to the simple, yet serious motto coined by Pastor Richardson, “Bring Them In, Train Them Up, and Send Them Out”. Under his leadership the Christian Life and Service Seminars provide an opportunity to unveil the truths around membership, maturity, ministry and missions.  Outreach ministries such as the Women’s Fellowship, Samaritan Brothers and Youth activities foster Christian fellowship beyond the walls of the church.  

With the integration of the Purpose Driven philosophy, LGBC has been blessed to minister beyond the local community through The Foundation Learning Center.  The ministry is designed to have a direct impact in the early spiritual, social, and academic development of young children by introducing Christ during the formative years.   Sylvia Sessoms serves as the Director of the FLC where students test at or above grade level in core competencies.  With the continued focus on missions, LGBC was blessed to lay the cornerstone of Pillar and Truth Baptist Church in Bangalore India.  Pastor & Elect Lady Lynnette along with Deaconess Mary E. Ward and Deaconess Joyce Elliott, represented the church on its first foreign missionary trip.  The Gracie Ward Scott Missionary Society is focused on local missions and outreach and is a strong leader in the Tidewater area.  Through global partnership with Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Missions Convention, LGBC partners with over twenty-five countries to deliver the gospel and financial assistance worldwide. In 2021, Lady Lynnette was elected as 2nd Vice President of Women in Service Everywhere for Lott Carey Foreign Missions Convention.  

To advance the cause of Christ, LGBCs weekly services are heard world-wide through “live streaming” internet.  We pray through the viewing and hearing of God’s Word that millions will be impacted for Christ.  As we give honor to the Lord in our worship, we have a renewed commitment to reach the lost and equip the saved by getting the Word out locally, nationally and internationally.  We are Thankful to God for 129 years for this Lighthouse, Little Grove Baptist Church.

Last updated 9/21

bottom of page