The Evolution of Church Services in Virginia Beach
While surfing the churches in our area to see how they’ve managed to connect with their congregation through the Covid-19 Era, I started thinking about the way church services & facilities have evolved in our community. From the intimate 40 member starter church to the dynamic mega churches, it was enlightening to see the variety of services they provide to our community.
The oldest church in Great Neck is Eastern Shore Chapel, which originally existed on the eastern shore of the Lynnhaven River (1689), about a mile east of it’s current home. Adam Thoroughgood founded the church to provide Anglican services for colonists along the River to allow rural parishioners to get to church easily by water transport, coining the name “The Chapel of Ease.” In 1724 it was relocated to land now owned by Oceana. After 200 years, the church again relocated to the Laskin Rd location including pews, stained glass, the stairway to choir loft, brick walkway, and even the cemetery! With a preschool, PIN ministry, and a food pantry that serves over 200,000 locals, the impact of our oldest church reverberates through history and projects well into our city’s future.
Prior to building Eastern Shore Chapel, Thoroughgood hosted church services in his home in 1637 and built a church on his land in what is now Church Point. That church building was later relocated to the Witchduck Road location of Old Donation Episcopal Church when rising waters of the Lynnhaven Inlet assumed possession of the land and cemetery. Also, because Thoroughgood granted that original land to the pastor of the church, future development of that land was restricted, and gave rise to the prestigious Bayville Golf Course enjoyed today.
As the Great Neck area continued to blossom, many other residents organized religious services from their homes. Several used John B. Dey elementary school for their first public services. Francis Asbury United Methodist...