What we know today as Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church of Princess Anne began with a dream that has become a reality. In 1989, the New Church Development Committee of the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia chaired by Brad Cartwright purchased 4.4 acres of land on Princess Anne Road, in the Nimmo Community of Virginia Beach. The land was purchased from the Brown family at a price of almost $400,000.
Between 1989 and 1991, Presbyterians living in the growing subdivisions around the property, sought Presbytery support, as they gathered a small group together for Bible study and prayer at the home of John and Nancy McNew Johnson, in the Lago Mar subdivision off of Sandbridge Road. Among the early Bible teachers was Dr. John King of Williamsburg, a Presbyterian minister and Director of Medical Ethics at EVMS.
The core group wrote a Covenant and a Mission Statement that can be found on the wall outside the church office. In Advent, 1991, they began to gather for worship at Strawbridge Elementary School. The Reverend Dr. Patricia F. Karns, General Presbyter, Presbytery of Eastern Virginia, preached the first sermon. Rotating supply pastors and the Steering Committee put together weekly worship services. The first hired musician for the group was Mrs. Monica Dixon. Later, under the leadership of Laura Moore, Director of Music, a choir was begun and new Presbyterian Hymnals were purchased. A Sunday school, consisting of three classes (elementary, youth, and adult) began to meet weekly. The Reverend Rebecca Kiser-Lowrance was hired as a temporary, Supply Pastor in August 1992, and she continued through December 1993.
The group was officially recognized as a “New Church Development” in June 1993, and the name, Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church of Princess Anne, was chosen. A Pastoral Search Committee was chosen in the fall of 1993, and Dr. Edward L, Moore, Sr. was called as Organizing Pastor on March 1, 1994. The first church office was opened in the Professional Building at 2020 General Booth Blvd., Suite 201, and Holly B. Sunderland was hired in May 1994 to become Director of Music. The new church was officially organized by the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia on March 3, 1996. A Session and Trustees were elected and a Pastoral Call was extended to Dr. Edward L. Moore, Sr. to become the first Pastor. Doug Delaney, Scott Hankinson, Connie Jones, Buddy Oliver, Marilyn Reininger, Ginny Russo, Merriam Scott, Page Sorey, and Linda Fleeger made up the first Session of GCPCPA. Trustees were Nancy McNew, Buddy Oliver, and Ginny Russo.
Dr. Moore accepted the Call to GCPCPA as the founding Pastor and was installed on May 5, 1996 at First Presbyterian Church of Virginia Beach. Sheila Page Moore, Dr. Moore’s wife, assisted him as the Interim, Part-time Church Secretary. Mr. Andrew J. Czechowski became the Director of Music. The education program continued to grow, and a youth group was organized with Marjorie Thompson as leader. Various churches in the Presbytery shared items with GCPCPA including red hymnals from Bayside Presbyterian Church, the communion service from Third Presbyterian Church Norfolk, the lectern from Norview Presbyterian Church, and choir robes from Bow Creek Presbyterian Church.
A Building Committee was formed in 1995 and by groundbreaking day, Reformation Sunday October 6, 1996, a church sign was installed on the property featuring an artist’s rendering of the proposed new structure. (A photograph of that event is also found outside the church office.) Carlton Goodwin was chosen as architect for the project, and Hawk Construction Corp. was awarded the contract in late May 1997. The congregation officially moved into the new building and held its first worship service in the new structure on September 13, 1998.
Only a third of the interior building was completed at that date. Continued church growth resulted in additional portions of the building being completed by church members. A children’s department of about 1500 square feet was completed in late summer 2000. By the end of 2002, the final portion of the church building, approximately 3500 square feet, was finished.
Presbyterian Women and Presbyterian Men organizations were begun in 1997. Margaret Brewer was hired in July 2001 as a part-time Director of Christian Education, and Kids of Grace, a preschool and kindergarten program, was begun as a ministry to the community. GCPCA also reached out in Missions to include two “Sister-Church” relationships with CPK-Barumbu and CPK-Kingabua of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the PiN Ministry, Judeo Christian Outreach, and the Virginia Beach Jail Ministry. In addition, GCPCPA also began support for a mission teaching couple in Kenya, Bill and Stephanie Black, and a Wycliffe Translator mission couple, Scott and Elizabeth Herring. Lynn C. German became Director of Music in January 2005 and served until June 30, 2010. Alex Mason became Director of Music (Children, Youth, & Praise), in January 2011 and served until May 2013. Dr. Edward L. Moore, Sr. retired August 31, 2009, and the Reverend Karen Long worked as Interim Pastor from September 1, 2009 through August 31, 2011. The Reverend George Fitzgerald served as Stated Supply Pastor from Sep. 1, 2011 through January 31, 2012. Under the Rev. Fitzgerald’s leadership, GCPCPA was incorporated on January 3, 2012, and the church property was transferred to the corporation February 23, 2012. Reverend Jeremy Jinkins was approved by the congregation on December 18, 2011 to be called as pastor of GCPCPA effective February 1, 2012. Jeremy Jinkins was ordained and installed as pastor at GCPCPA on March 18, 2012. Jeremy continued to serve the congregation until he took another call at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia in July 2016. Libby Rollins served as the Interim Pastor from August 2017 to September 2018. Reverend Clint Mitchell was approved by the congregation in November 2018 to be called as pastor of GCPCPA effective November 2018.
God’s future for Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church of Princess Anne continues to unfold as its members faithfully move forward into each succeeding year. To God be the glory! Amen.