A Brief History of Rocky Mount Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Miss Blanche English, a member of Doe Run Christian Church, married Squire Chitwood in 1906 and in 1916 bought a house and moved to Orchard Avenue in Rocky Mount.
She had a vision of having a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the county seat, Rocky Mount, and she immediately began walking to visit family after family. On December 16, 1916 seven women met in her home to organize a Christian Women’s Board of Missions. Mrs. George W. (Mother) Oliver who lived in Lynchburg and had organized the Virginia Women’s Board of Missions and served as state secretary, was present at the meeting.(These organizations of women throughout the state later became known as the Christian Women’s Fellowship).
These seven women along with several men who had moved from Christian Churches in Franklin County took a lead role in organizing the Rocky Mount Christian Church which was dedicated October 12, 1919. At this dedication, there were 26 Charter Members, but others joined quickly and the Disciples of Christ ministry of our Lord was moving in Rocky Mount.
Mrs. Chitwood’s father, James (Jim) Lewis English, a charter member of Doe Run Church who was in his mid 80’s at the time, was also very interested in a Christian Church being established in the county seat. He gave the first one thousand dollars ($1,000) on the building for the Rocky Mount Christian. The first church building cost approximately $5,000.
Blanche English Chitwood became gravely ill in 1931. When the doctors told her she would not survive, she had her nephew, English Showalter, an attorney, come to the hospital to write her will. She left money to build the parsonage at Rocky Mount. Many other members from Doe Run became active in the Rocky Mount Church as they moved to Rocky Mount to seek “public work”. Just a few examples of the many persons were the Bennett brothers and the Tyree sisters.
Since so many members from Doe Run became actively involved in the Rocky Mount Christian Church, the church was always considered the daughter church of Doe Run Christian Church.
In 1953 the educational building was constructed and a new Sanctuary was dedicated on January 18, 1959. The total construction debt was retired in nine years. In 1966 the present parsonage on Church Street was built and the old parsonage sold.
Throughout these 80 years as a Church, there have been 16 ministers plus several student ministers serve Rocky Mount Christian Church.
Many upgrades have taken place since 1919:
In 1970 a new pipe organ was purchased for the Sanctuary. In 1978 the Church added stained glass windows. In 1990 the chancel was remodeled. In 1998 the Church has completed remodeling of many of the Sunday School Rooms. Also, the Church has established a building fund for further expansion and growth.
Today, Rocky Mount Christian Church has many active programs that appeal to all ages. Besides Sunday religious education program (Sunday School) and worship service, the Church has four adults choirs, two children choirs, two youth groups, fellowship activities for the total congregation, special programs throughout the year (i.e.; VBS, Easter, Christmas, Lord’s Acre, and an Annual Picnic).
The seven women who met at the home of Mrs. Chitwood in 1916 could not have envisioned the growth and ministry that resulted. In 1949 the Christian Women’s Board of Missions had a name change to the Christian Women’s Fellowship (CWF). Today the Spirit of these women continues at Rocky Mount Church through the two CWF circles, the Blanche Chitwood Circle and the Mother Oliver Circle.
You can read about the history of ministers at Rocky Mount Christian Church here.
There is also a really interesting history of the church’s charter members.