Old Donation: a Large Community

that feels like a Small Family

Our parish community comes from all over the country and the world. When we celebrate the Feast of the Pentecost, we read the gospel passage in as many languages as people know (mirroring the experience recorded in Acts 2). We often have 10-15 languages represented, a reflection of broad range of ethnic and national backgrounds from which we come. Our backgrounds include a full range of life and work experiences. We are blessed by artists and musicians in our midst, as well as military families, bankers, lawyers and every other vocation you can imagine. 

Our staff and vestry, as well as lay spiritual leaders, practice the truth of Christ's command to welcome the stranger and love your neighbor. It is an easy group to enter. This is a healthy community where you can be yourself and use your own talents and gifts. Old Donation is the kind of church you can call your comfortable home, while still growing and being challenged to be more like Christ. 

A family with some rich history!

Old Donation Church is the Lynnhaven Parish Church, and is the oldest church in Virginia Beach. Records show that the parish’s first church services were held in 1637 in the home of Adam Thoroughgood. The first church building was constructed on Mr. Thoroughgood’s land in 1639 on the location later known as “Church Point.” The vestry, or governing body of the church, was established in 1640.

By 1691 the church building had begun to deteriorate, and the land around the church was slowly being eroded by the Lynnhaven River. The vestry approved the building of a new church on two acres of land purchased from Ebenezer Taylor. The second Lynnhaven Parish Church was completed in 1692.

As the parish grew the second church was no longer able to meet the needs of the larger congregation. In 1733 the vestry ordered the building of a new church that could accommodate the parish’s needs. The third church was accepted by the vestry on June 25, 1736.

Princess Anne’s population center gradually shifted to Kempsville on the banks of the Elizabeth River, a far superior channel over the silting up Lynnhaven. By 1856 Emmanuel Church had drawn away the remainder of the Old Donation’s Church congregants, and the Old Donation Vestry held their last meeting in March 1856.

After the Commonwealth of Virginia passed a law that churches and chapels formerly owned by the Church of England and not used within a calendar year reverted to the ownership of the Commonwealth, different folks from Emmanuel Episcopal Church made annual pilgrimages to the church to hold services. When in 1882, a fire had all but destroyed the church; the Reverend Thurmer Hoggard IV (1819-1902) took over this responsibility.

In 1911 an organization was founded to raise funds to rebuild Old Donation. Through the enthusiastic and tireless efforts of the Rev. Richard Alfriend and Judge B. D. White, construction began in 1912. Restoration of the church was completed in 1916, and Old Donation was, once again, open for services. The church’s bell tower was erected in 1923.  Old Donation underwent major repairs in the 1960s to ensure the building’s structural integrity. It was during this time that the slate floors were installed. These renovations were completed in 1966. Old Donation is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

You are invited to read further about notable people of the church, their historic homes, and general history surrounding Lynnhaven Parish Church which was renamed Old Donation to memorialize Reverend Robert Dixon’s (1716 – 1777) faithful stewardship of the church’s orphan boys school for 28 years and his donation of his estate, Donation Farm, for continuation of the school. As is true of any family that has existed more than 385 years, our history has heroes and some of them have "clay feet." We are aware that our history has good, bad and some ugly. We pray all the time that knowing and telling the Truth and allowing God's Holy Spirit to cleanse and redeem, we are able to continue do God's work faithfully in the healing of our world.

The website http://1bob9.blogspot.com has the following topics:

1. Our Rich History - updated with the most current information.

2. Celebrating Our Church History – a listing of church accomplishments.

3. African American Tour – a drive-around touring African American sites.

4. Old Donation History - updated from the 375th anniversary book.

5. Notable Church Women - 18 women spanning from Sarah Thoroughgood-Gookin-Yeardley to current women in the parish.

6. The Time Capsule – the 1916 Cornerstone and Time Capsule and its replacement in 2016 with keepsake or relics for the next 100 years.

7. Tour Inside the Church and a Walk Around the Church – a tour inside the church and walk around the church through the historic cemetery.

8. You Are There - Going back in time to those special events that made history.

9. Obituaries – obituaries from current back to James Sherwood-1701.

10. Virginia Slavery – stories of indentured servants, slaves, and segregation up to 2021.

11. Cemetery Old Section - pictures of graves and genealogies.

12. Genealogy – lists of genealogies by Alice Granbery Walter, the Colonial Vestry Book (1723-1786) and more.

13. The Grace Sherwood Stone  – Dedication and Blessing of the Grace Sherwood Stone July 10th 2014.

14. Moseley Grave Ceremony - DAR Commemorating Colonel Edward Hack Moseley (1743- 1814) and other early church founders.

15. Old Homes – pictures and narrative of the historical homes of Lynnhaven Parish Parishioners

16. Virginia's Fight for Democracy - eleven Virginians who fought for our democracy, up through our veterans who fought and died in 20th century wars.

17. First 100 Years - the seventeenth century in Hampton Roads.

18. The Golden Age of Lynnhaven Parish Church - The eighteenth century.

19. Church Tales and Ghost Stories - stories weaving historical fact with endings that have ghosts and spirits helping things along, and remaining around to haunt and cause mischief.

20. Jun 1st 2019 Bus Tour to Local Historic Sites – Historical Traditions bus tour around local sites.

21. Cape Henry - Men's Breakfast – local history and some in which members of Old Donation Church participated.

22. Library Books - historical books and folders with newspaper articles, publications, writings, etc. Please inquire in the church office about access to these books and folders.