During the early period of our history in the hills and mountains in Virginia, groups of people formed themselves into prayer bands. Prayer meetings were carried on by interested and devout Christians who, with the zeal of God, greatly desired to see that His name be established in their settlements. These prayer bands laid the foundation for Negro churches everywhere.
Also during this time, many of our forefathers worshipped and fellowshipped with white members in mixed congregations in King George County at what was known as “Little Zion” Baptist Church. After a period of time, a new church was built which still exists today as the Hanover Baptist church. “Little Zion” was deeded to the Negro members of the church in July 1868. A deed was made between Trustees A. McClanahan and William McDaniel Coakley and Nancy Coakley of Little Zion. The property was then deeded to Samuel and Joseph Manning, Benjamin Carter, John and George Dunlop and Isaac Wood, Trustees for the new “Little Zion” church organization. It is believed that at this time, the church’s name was changed to “Antioch”.
Antioch was the only Negro church in the community. Most of the people had to walk miles to church and this proved to be a hardship for some. Therefore, a group of people started a successful prayer meeting in the settlement of Pumpkin Neck in King George County, Virginia. From there, two people decided to get permission from the Mother Church of Antioch to establish another church for the people living in this part of the county.
The earliest records of the history of the Little Ark Baptist church begin with its establishment in 1876. The Antioch Baptist church in King George County, Virginia, under the leadership of Rev. John Fleming, granted permission to a small group of members to form a congregation at the northern end of the county. This birthed the Little Ark Baptist Church. The Land upon which the church was founded was purchased from Mr. George Dunlop at a price of $25 per acre. In the same year, the congregation selected Rev. John Dunlop as its first pastor. There were several people who worked tediously and diligently to lay the foundation for the new church. George Dunlop and David Johnson became known as the guides and shepherds of the church because of their relentless and untiring efforts.
The name “Little Ark” was given to the church by Sarah Neigh. George Dunlop was the first to take the records of the church, and George Grimes from Caroline County became the first church clerk.
Reverend John Dunlop was chosen as the first Pastor in 1876 and served faithfully for three years. In 1879, Reverend W. H. Hickerson became the second Pastor of Little Ark. During his pastorate, a new church was built, costing $800.00. The old church was taken for a school, which served as one of the first schools for Negro children in King George County. It was customary during that time to have several schools that accommodated children in various areas of the county.
Rev. Hickerson served Little Ark for 34 years. During his pastorate, the church was destroyed by fire. Despite this setback, God allowed the church to prosper with the erection of a new building. From the conclusion of Rev. Hickerson’s pastorate, from 1913 until 1918, the church survived through a series of interim preachers sharing the Word of God.
In 1919, Rev. Walter Porter was called and led the congregation for four years. He was followed by Rev. Augustus Lewis who began serving in 1922. He was the first college graduate to assume the duties of pastor and led the congregation until 1926. The fifth pastor was Rev. George Carter, who served for 25 years until his death in 1952. During the period of Rev. Carter’s leadership, he invited Rev. Dr. John W. Chapman to serve as Assistant Pastor in 1951. After Rev. Carter’s death, Dr. Chapman became the six pastor of Little Ark on July 9, 1952. Dr. Chapman served as pastor for over 40 years and lead the church in the expansion of its ministries, improvements to the building and significant growth in membership. Dr. Chapman served until his death in 1992.
Dr. Michael T. Bell became the seventh pastor to lead Little Ark Baptist church and was formally installed on November 15, 1992. Pastor Bell provided committed leadership that led to building an addition and the development of numerous ministries. He served as pastor for six years.
In July 1999, Rev. Dr. Benjamin Jones received and accepted the call to take on the responsibility of pastoral leadership, being installed as the eight pastor in the history of Little Ark. Through his leadership, new ministries developed and a major renovation of the lower sanctuary was completed. Pastor Jones served almost ten years as pastor prior to his death in 2009.
In 2010, Rev. William McKinley was called to serve as Interim Pastor. His untimely death in April of 2011 left a void in the church leadership. But God was still faithful and the church held on.
In November of 2011, a call was extended to Rev. Larry M. Robinson, a son of Little Ark. He took his place as the ninth pastor of Little Ark Baptist Church on December 1, 2011. We are proud to have a son of the church as our current pastor. Under his leadership, new ministries have been started, other ministries have been re-started and membership has again begun to grow. God’s blessings on us has manifested itself in the form of a gifted and passionate man of God to preach, shepherd, serve and teach his people.
The Little Ark Baptist Church, “THE ARK”, has been blessed by God with great leaders who have helped provide guidance through many storms. Prayerfully, we ask God for continued blessings and guidance. We praise God and thank Him for 141 years of divine favor upon us and our ancestors who started Little Ark from humble beginnings with a great vision. We continue to carry the vision in our hearts and minds today knowing that with God, all things are possible.
Let us, “CONTINUE TO SEEK GOD’S WAYS FOR GOD’S RESULTS”