History of Holly Grove Christian Church
1873-1973 (As compiled by Mrs. Edna Moss, Mrs. Connie Ware, and Mrs. A.L. Lloyd)
The early records of Holly Grove Christian Church have been lost, but a lot of data has been gleaned from the memory of its older members. The origin of the name, Holly Grove, came from the first meeting place being called and Arbor of Holly Grove Seats. This meeting place was at the junction of West Chapel and Hunter roads in a lovely holly grove; however, now there are few hollies on the grounds.
The following reference comes from a letter written at Woodstock, September 26th,1873, to the State Missionary board by George W. Abell (A traveling evangelist and Church planter) and is found in Peter Ainslie’s Life and Writings of George W. Abell.
“From Bethany I went to Salem, and commenced the meeting there the third Sunday in August… From Salem we went to Holly Grove and commenced our meeting on the fourth Sunday. This is a new point, where the cause has been recently established by the labors of brethren Richardson, Barrett, Bagby, Lipscomb, Dabney, and others. A few years since I came to this vicinity to baptize the eldest daughter of Brother Meredith (living close by). And delivered one discourse in a small Methodist chapel (West Chapel). Then there were, perhaps, some five or six Disciples around here all told. During this meeting, a congregation was organized of seventy-seven members, comprising the best people of the community, with an excellent Board of Elders and Deacons. Such are the triumphs of the truth, when brought to bear upon clear heads and honest hearts. May it continue to achieve such glorious results. After the organization there were three confessions, and one united who had been previously baptized.”
The first building of Holly Grove was built in 1874, the standing timber being donated by Mr. Robert Meredith and Dr. J.B. Anderson. No records as to by whom the work was done can be found, but no doubt the members assisted in this task. At the courthouse of Louisa County, the following is found in Deed book 3 – Page 520:
“This deed made this 7th day of February 1877 between Robert Meredith and his wife, Indiana Meredith, of the first part and Dr. J.B. Andersons, John W. Brooks, James T. Lloyd, A.N. Perkins, F.H. Anderson, and Z. Parker Richardson of the second part witnesseth he the said Meredith and his wife has given and by these present has given unto said trustees named a certain tract or parcel of land in the lower end of Louisa County, on which Holly Grove now stands, containing and acre more or less, and bounded as follows. Beginning at the junction of Hunter and West Chapel roads end for the exclusive use and benefit of the Disciples of Christ comprising the Holly Grove Church.”
The establishment of this new church was principally to the effort and influence of those who donated the land, the trustees, and the wife of Dr. J.B. Anderson who was Betty Pendleton Anderson. Mrs. Anderson had been a member of the Gilboa Christian Church. Many ready and willing helpers were found in the community.
There is no record of those who preached in the Arbor of Holly Grove Seats, but a former member has said that perhaps those who did the preaching were like the circuit riding preachers of the Methodist church in days gone by. It was said by A.C. Knibb, a former Pastor of Holly Grove, that Z. Parker Richardson did preach here and worked hard to help get the church established. Others seem to think that P.S. Rhodes, C.S. Lucas, and F.W. Berry assisted. C.S. Lucas conducted a revival here in 1875, and in November 1876 he performed the marriage ceremony of Jackson Mills Davis and Susan Ellis Bowles, a sister of Miss Betty Lewis Bowles. Miss Bowles joined Holly Grove in 1880. Z. Parker Richardson performed the marriage ceremony of another sister of Miss Bowles, Daisy Belle Bowles and William T. Davis in December 1876, when he was pastor of Holly Grove. This is the first marriage on record in this Church. (NOTE: It is most likely the case that there was a lay minister(s) who officiated unless the circuit riding Minister(s) was in town.)
F.W. Berry was the Pastor in 1880. Other known Pastors were (during this time):
A.C. Knibb (1916-27)
R.A. Graybill (1927-28)
J.S. Bryant (1932-34)
F. Elwyn Peace (1935-36)
J. Haddon Knibb (1938-1943)
James E. McKinney (1943-45)
Jackson Darst (1945)
J.D. Farries (1946-57)
T. Morgan Hill (1958-59)
Kenneth Helton (1959-62)
James E. Compton, Jr. (1962-65 & 67-70)
Wayne W. McCauley (1971-1974)
The following is a list of those who have conducted revivals:
Walter S. Hoye, was baptized by Z. Parker Richardson at Holly Grove and immediately pledged five dollars per year wondering where in the world he would get so large a sum but believing that the Lord would help him do what he should (he went to the Ministry from our Church).
W.F. Shinall (blind preacher, humorist, & lecturer)
Dr. Eugene Moore
Dr. Allen B. Stanger
We do not have a list of all the charter members of Holly Grove; however, some were Mrs. Betty B. Bowles, Dr. J.B. Anderson, Mrs. Betty Pendleton Anderson, F.H. Anderson, Miss Roberts Meredith (later Mrs. A.N. Perkins), Miss Sallie Meredith (later Mrs. Vaughan), Mr. Robert Meredith and wife Indiana, James T. Lloyd, John W. Brooks, Mr. Thomas Lloyd and wife Sabra A., Mr. Robert Lloyd and wife Mary Hollins, Samuel Cole Hollins, Mildred Cole Hollins Ware, Mr. Jim Brooks and wife Caroline, Miss Betty Lewis Bowles.
The first major change and improvement was made on the old church during J.S. Bryant’s pastorate. The church formerly had a low ceiling supported by heavy columns which obstructed the vision of the congregation and was annoying to the pastor because heads were bobbing back and forth trying to see. Mr. Bryant decided that this situation could be remedied and put the question before the congregation. Some opposed saying the ceiling would fall if the columns were removed, but the “helpers” overcame the “knockers” and all went to work. Mr. L.I. Dunn, who was not even a member of Holly Grove, gave some fine timber, and with Mr. Tom Hicks directing the work of many members, the job was soon accomplished. So, it was that J.S. Bryant began the first improvement of the church, and through the year’s others have had new ideas which have materialized into satisfactory improvements.
J. Haddon Knibb, Minister of Holly Grove for about five years, left evidence of his work to be seen by those who followed him. The first group of four Sunday School class rooms was built, and what a help these were in having a more adequate and quiet place to teach. Also new flooring was laid, the church was painted, and the chairs in two wings were donated by Mr. Sam Ware.
The Reverend J.D. Farries did his share in convincing us that it was possible to make additional improvements on the church, and he labored hard to see those dreams come true. His first idea was to extend the front of the church making a vestibule and balcony. Some folks just knew the balcony would fall; however, they underestimated the parson’s engineering ability. The plan worked like a charm with the balcony and vestibule proving to be an excellent addition to Holly Grove. Then Mr. Farries had another dream – a choir loft, two additional Sunday school rooms, and a Baptistry with a stained-glass window (the window still seen today behind the pulpit). “Why of course the cost would be fabulous”, said some… “Why we cannot afford such a financial undertaking”. This was accomplished by the combined efforts of the minister and members of the congregation.
Our old white church which was built in 1874 and added to and improved through the years was dear to us, but it was showing the mark of years, so the congregation had another dream… a new church!
On August 23, 1964 Miss Betty Lewis Bowles, our beloved and faithful charter member, died. She had always given generously to our church and was interested in its progress despite the fact that she could not often attend. In her will she remembered Holly Grove with a generous bequest. In July 1966 we received $8,560.26 from her estate. In 1967 the 60 shares of Proctor & Gamble stock which she also left us were sold for $5,222.62. G. Mason of Lynchburg handled this sale with no brokerage fee being made. This made a total of $13, 782.88 from Miss Bowles estate which we felt must be used wisely and in a manner which would have please her, too. The minds of many were clicking with thoughts and dreams for Holly Grove.
Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Lloyd and their children, Donald and Gwen, made another generous offer. This family would give $10,000.00 to the new building fund with the following stipulations:
1) That Holly Grove would pay interest in the amount of 6% per annum on this gift for 25 years commencing June 30, 1968. No Payments of the principle were required.
2) The interest ($600) should be placed in a special accumulating Scholarship fund to pay tribute to Abner C. Knibb, our beloved former minister.
3) The Scholarship should be awarded to students from Holly Grove, Elpis, Springfield, and Salem who are preparing for full-time church related vocations.
4) In the event that there is no applicant for the scholarship, the $600.00 should be paid to the United Christian Missionary Society in the name of Holly Grove.
Possie B. Chenault, a member of the congregation, offered to build a new church at a very reasonable figure so our dreams and plans began to take shape.
On May 13, 1967 people gathered at the church to move the furnishings in preparation for the demolition of our old frame church. Mrs. Virginia Kersey allowed us to store pews in her vacant garage. Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey Lloyd put more pews in their basement. Miss Tex Lloyd took items such as the communion table, chairs, bibles, and pictures to her house for safe keeping. Mr. L.H. Noel let us store other items in his vacant house. A large assortment of furnishings plus the stained-glass window were stored in a vacant house belonging to Franklin K. Ware. Many things were taken to the Holly Grove fire department where our congregation would worship for some time.
On May 21, 1967 members of the building committee met at the property to pick the exact spot for the new church. The old building was gone, and it was decided that the new one would stand in about the same spot. Ground was broken by two of the children of the church, Jane Lloyd Ware, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Franklin K. Ware, and Carroll Lloyd, son of Mr. and Mrs. Aubrey Lloyd.
On October 15, 1967 at the close of the morning worship we went to our new church to lay the cornerstone. There was a box enclosed with the stone which contained a list of building fun contributors, Church History, Church worship bulletin, a copy of the county paper, “The Central Virginian”, a New Testament, and coins placed in the box by the children. Participants in the laying of the stone were Franklin Ware, Possie B. Chenault, W.C. Bagby, and Carroll Lloyd. The Rev. James E. Compton, Jr. led in the service. Later, in December of 1967 we were able to use part of the new building for services.
On May 19, 1968 we had a service of Dedication with James E. Compton, Jr. as our Minister. The 11:00 A.M. worship began with “Come Bless the Lord, All you servants of the Lord, Who stand…in the house of the Lord” and with the congregation singing, “Joyful, Joyful we Adore Thee”. The choir sand the anthem, “One Fellowship Divine”. Mr. Compton’s message was entitled, “The Ecclesia”. There was dinner on the grounds followed by am afternoon service with our former pastor, the Rev. J.D. Farries, as guest speaker. The choir sang “Sing Praise”, and the service closed with the choral benediction, “Jesus, With Thy Church Abide”. Our service of dedication was ended but our worship and work as followers of Jesus must be carried on in this place.
All of those who have gone before us, both ministers, and members, have left their footprints in the sands of time. For us they have begun a church, a place of worship which we must keep standing for those who follow us. As individuals our efforts may seem small, but collectively we can do much for the Kingdom of God. With the help of the Master all things are possible.
Dennis Smith (1974-1976)
Ken Pacquin (1977-1980)
Earl & Mary Lou Miller (1980-1981)
Barry Franklin (1981-1983)
Jim Bishop (1983-1985)
Richard H. Dusenberry (1986 – 2004)
Richard Cline (2004)
Dwight D. Irons (2004-2005)
Carl Howard (2005-2006)
Don Richardson (2006-2007)
Jessica Vaughan (2007-2008)
Carl Howard (2008-2017)
Bob Lane (2017 - )