A Brief History Of Covenant Presbyterian Church
It was the concern of the Norfolk Presbytery about the exclusion from its body of a part of the populace of the City of Norfolk that led to the organization of Covenant Presbyterian Church. Realizing that the mission of the church had not been fulfilled, the Presbytery took steps to unite all men into this brotherhood of love.
A demographic study of the City by Dr. Lawrence bottoms, in 1952, showed that Princess Anne Road, Virginia Beach Boulevard, and Corprew Avenue, extending from Park Avenue to Ballentine Boulevard, bound an area which offered potential communicants. The proximity of Booker T. Washington High School, Jacox Junior High School, and Norfolk State College (now Norfolk State University) which was expanding at a rapid rate, made the prospects of a reservoir of human resources ideal.
This also was an area that had a concentration of persons who had moved to the Marshall Manor Apartments and the housing projects that abounded in the area, in addition to long established homeowners.
Norfolk Presbytery bought the land in 1953 and in 1955, erected the building that is now on the present site, excluding the new sanctuary. Herolin Deloatch was the contractor. The Women of Norfolk Presbytery, under the leadership of Mrs. H.E. Snyder, pledged $10,000 towards the project, making it a joint venture in Christian enterprise.
Rev. James Chambers, a graduate of Yale Divinity School, was contacted by a committee of Norfolk Presbytery. He was called in the spring of 1953. When he arrived, they met with him and informed him of the objectives of the work and the area of concentration. He was given the name of one contact person, Mrs. Pauline Spruill, to aid him. Rev. Harvey N. Johnson was instrumental in getting City Hall to change the name of Second Street to Covenant Street. He was also successful in getting the City of Norfolk to change the code so that the sanctuary could be set back 15 feet to give space for the lawn.
It was at Jacox Junior High School that Covenant Presbyterian Church had its beginning. Many church activities and meetings were held at Jacox while the church building was under construction. Daily Vacation Church School, which was the fore runner of our Sunday School, was held in August of 1953 at the residence of the pastor at 909 Mapole Avenue, with 75 children and adults enrolled. The superintendent was Mr. William H. Hoge, Jr. Out of this organization grew the Christian Education Program. A dwelling on Kenton Avenue was purchased in 1954 to serve as the manse. In 1964, a larger dwelling on Sycamore Street was purchased which served as the manse.
In 1978, the congregation was challenged to become financially independent. In the spring of the following year, Covenant's twenty-fifth anniversary year, Norfolk Presbytery commended Covenant Presbyterian Church for having met the challenge by becoming completely self-supporting. During the late 1990's, Covenant mounted efforts to complete the original plan for the church building. Using the Building Fund, which was begun in the mid-1970's and a great deal of hard work on the part of the current members, the dream was completed. In December 1997, the congregation of Covenant Presbyterian Church moved into the new sanctuary.
Covenant Presbyterian Church has been blessed with outstanding ministers throughout its existence. Covenant has been led by Reverends James Chambers, Lawrence Haygood, Dr. Warner DuBose, Rev. C. Emerson Smith, Dr. James Logan, Jr. and Dr. Octavius A. Gaba. In the absence of a minister in 2001, Rev. Wilbur C. Douglass, III, was assigned as Moderator for the congregation by the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia.