The History of Oak Grove
1770 – Daniel Cutherell, who lived near the “Great Bridge” in Norfolk County, opened his home in order that his friends and relatives might “meet in the Methodist manner for singing and praying.” His home was a simple frame structure that stood less than a mile from the present location of Oak Grove Church.
1772 – (August 10) Joseph Pilmore, Methodist preacher sent from England by John Wesley to preach in “the Americas”, preached in the Great Bridge area at the Manning home which was close to the Cutherell residence… eventually into the Norfolk Circuit of Methodist Meeting Houses in the area.
1773 – (April 14) Joseph Pilmore reported in his journal that he was fetched to “the county” near the Great Bridge where in spite of heavy rain, “I found a fine congregation… preached with particular unction and freedom of heart… and afterward I met the Society I had formed before I went South, took a new member, and was greatly comforted in speaking with them.”
1775 – Francis Asbury assigned to the Norfolk Circuit.
1775 – Tension mounts between Britain and the Colonies.
1775 – During the Revolutionary War, Wesley supports England, so in many colonies, it is dangerous to be Methodist. The British preachers return to England, all but Asbury, who works tirelessly and at great risk to keep the societies together. Asbury is made Bishop along with Coke after the war.
1799 – (March) Asbury, now Bishop of the Methodist Church in America, arrived at the home of John Hodges, an old Methodist who lived near the Great Bridge, where he lodged that night.
1800 – (March) Asbury records that was “at Cutherell’s near the Great Bridge, and near Manning’s, where he preached before the Revolutionary War.”
1801 – Bishop Richard Whatcoat, another Bishop of the Methodist Church, came to the Norfolk County area, and on this occasion “Brother Whatcoat preached at Cutherell’s, near the Great Bridge.”
1804 – Bennett and Jinny Armstrong, for the consideration of $5.00, transferred title to one-half acre lot of land “nearby the road leading from Norfolk Borough to the Great Bridge… on the line of Caleb Cutherell… that they erect and build or cause to be built there a House or Place of Worship for the use of the Methodist. (Apparently the numbers were growing, of those that met at the Cutherell home.)
1806 – Bishop Asbury was again in the vicinity, and found reason to be concerned about an old friend, for his journal contains this entry, “I called upon John Hodges. I feel seriously for his soul’s welfare.”
1808 – The new Cutherell Meeting House was built upon land purchased from Bennett and Jinny Armstrong. For almost 40 years they had met at the invitation of Daniel Cutherell, in his home. (Imagine the excitement they must have had at the dedication of the new Meeting House, probably much like we are anticipation at the dedication of our’s…)
1840 – The Cutherell Meeting House became a Methodist Charge. (On a preaching circuit.)
1842 – The Cutherell Meeting House was moved by mules, on rollers made of logs, about t a mile to the present Oak Grove site. Members of the Tatem, Etheredge, Foreman, Old and Randolph families gathered to assist in the moving. (Due to the time frame, there is little doubt that the aid of slaves was also used.)
1845 – The Cutherell Meeting House becomes part of the Princess Anne Circuit.
1846 – The Trustees of the Cutherell Meeting House (Thomas V. Webb, Robert Carson, Wm. Williamson, Stephen B. Tatem, John I. Old, Isaac H. Miles, Adam Randolph, Alex N. Foreman and Wm. H Etheredge) purchased a two-acre lot of land from James and Mary Butt for the sum of $100.00 for the new church lot at Cutherell’s Meeting House.
1852 – Another new Meeting House was built upon the two acres purchased in 1846 and was dedicated in 1852. Since it was surrounded by a grove of oak trees, it was decided to change the name from Cutherell’s Meeting House to “Oak Grove Church.” This new church like others of the same period had two entrance doors on the front. One for the women and one for the men, they also sat separately.
1855 – Norfolk and Portsmouth ravaged by a yellow fever epidemic, hundreds die, sometimes entire families. The people of “Oak Grove” reach out to help.
1861 – Building and grounds of “Oak Grove Church” were used by volunteer companies of Virginia soldiers. Drills and parades were held at “Oak Grove”, and for a time during the year, the Sixth Regiment of Virginia Volunteers was stationed at the church grounds.
1862 – (May 10) Norfolk Borough falls to Federal Troops and they soon set up occupation in all of Norfolk County, Princess Anne County (now Virginia Beach), Suffolk and Nansemond County. Federal troops were stationed throughout the areas. Confederate troops were ordered to move toward Richmond for the capitol’s defense and protection. “Oak Grove Church” was occupied by the Federal troops from this time until after the Civil War ended in 1865. During this time period, the church could not be used by its congregation and the occupying Federal troops destroyed the interior and used the stand, chancel, benches, chairs and exterior blinds for firewood. To build their fire for heat during the winters inside the Church, they built a large square box, lined the bottom with brick, cut out a large hole through the ceiling and roof. They then tore off a plank on the front of the Church to create a draft to pull the smoke up through the ceiling and roof. The grove of trees surrounding the Church were also cut and used as firewood. The outline of the hole in the ceiling can still be seen in the sanctuary.
1862-1865 – During the occupation of the Federal troops at “Oak Grove”, members of the Foreman family who lived nearby had hidden the church communion silver, the carpet and the church bible in their home for safe keeping.
1868 – Oak Grove Church records indicate membership of 80 and were now a part of the East Norfolk Circuit.
1869 – Oak Grove Church records indicate membership of 76.
1871 – Three additional acres of land was purchased adjoining “Oak Grove Church.”
1873 – “Oak Grove Church assigned to the South Norfolk Circuit.
1883 – “Oak Grove Church” experiences a revival “with protracted meetings, which ended September 1st with 30 converts.”
1890’s – After petitioning the United States Government soon after the Civil War ended for damages done to the Church by the occupying Union Army, “Oak Grove Church” was finally awarded: $150.00 for damage done to the church and $500.00 for damage done to the grove of trees.
1902 – “Oak Grove Church” membership numbers 72.
1935 – “Oak Grove Church” builds a church school addition to the sanctuary, because of slow but steady growth in the prosperity of the area and in the growth of church membership.
1940 – “Oak Grove Church: separated from Hickory, Bethesda and Good Hope and became a station.
1942 – “Oak Grove Church builds a parsonage (a Cap Code cottage) on the church grounds. Church membership had grown to 215 and the church purchased an electric organ.
1950 – “Oak Grove Church” builds a fellowship hall.
1952 – “Oak Grove Church” assists in the founding of Community Methodist Church, 1072 Kempsville Rd., VA Beach.
1953 – “Oak Grove Church: builds an addition on the fellowship hall for adult classrooms, a church office and pastor’s study.
1956 – “Oak Grove Church” builds a new parsonage on Old Drive in Great Bridge.
1960 – Since half of “Oak Grove Church’s” membership lived south of the canal, with membership still growing, it became necessary to consider the possibility of relocating the church to a new site in a new and larger building. Church vote (to move or stay) was nearly even. Therefore members decided upon a compromise… The facilities and grounds of “Oak Grove Church” would be remodeled and beautified for ($50,000.00) and money would then be collected to help start a new Methodist Church in Great Bridge.
1962 – “Oak Grove Church” donates $5,000.00 to help purchase 4 ½ acres on South Battlefield Blvd., and during the following year, 76 members of Oak Grove’s membership left to become charter members of the new Great Bridge Methodist Church.
1976 – (Oct. 18) Bicentennial services were held at “Oak Grove Church” and a Historical Marker was dedicated and placed along N. Battlefield Blvd. Many of Daniel Cutherell’s descendents were present for this occasion. Membership of the church now numbers 660.
1976 – Nov. “Oak Grove Church Sanctuary” designated a local/community “Historical Structure.”
1983 – Methodists work mission volunteers from “Oak Grove Church” go to Panama.
1985 – “Oak Grove Church purchased 4 ½ acres (known as “Swift Acres”) to increase the size of the church grounds.
1988 – “Oak Grove Church” assists in the founding of Messiah United Methodist Church, Dominion Blvd., Chesapeake.
1989 – Methodist work mission volunteers from “Oak Grove Church” go to Puerto Rico.
1989 – Methodist work mission volunteers from “Oak Grove Church” go to Mexico and Brazil.
1990 – (Sept. 9) Bishop Thomas B. Stockton and Norfolk District Superintendent Lee B. Sheaffers spoke at the dedication of the new education bldg. It was completed in two phases: The new bldg was built with the first floor completed and consisted of new church offices, pastor study and classrooms. Ten rooms total plus new restrooms and elevator. The second floor was later completed as funds became available.
2000 – 2003 – Facilities Assessment and preparation for expansion.
2001 – Stephen Ministry begins at “Oak Grove Church”.
2003 – Living God’s Vision pledges amounting to $1.25 million over 3 years to begin new building.
2005 – (Nov. 7) Ground Breaking Ceremony for new multi-purpose Bldg.
2005 – (Nov. 26) Fellowship Hall demolition.
2006 – Summer Children’s mural is painted by Mr. Happy in the 1st and 2nd floor hallway and stairwell of the south entrance to what will become the children’s education bldg. (Sunday school). Preschool opens.
2007 – The New Building – Oak Grove Hall is complete and occupancy granted.
2009 – Wednesday evening community dinner outreach starts.
2010 – Installation of Digital Sign
2011 – Debt Reduction campaign for Bank of Hampton Roads Challenge match $ for $. $676,765 raised netting $1,359,530 off mortgage.
2012 – General Endowment established with United Methodist Foundation (Revus Taylor Bequest).
2013 – Oak Grove Preschool adds Kindergarten Class in the Vicki Baker Memorial Classroom.