Church celebrating 150th anniversary

Published 10:37 pm Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Little Bethel Baptist Church will celebrate its 150th anniversary in style this Friday. The church will host its black-tie gala at the Hilton Garden Inn Riverfront at 7 p.m.

“The fact we are still here as a church really says something,” said Tiffany Whitfield, public relations representative for the church.

Mayor Linda Johnson, Councilman Mike Duman and other public officials will be in attendance. WAVY-TV 10’s anchor Don Roberts will be the master of ceremonies.
Over the years, four other churches emerged from the congregation and formed elsewhere within the region. Members of these churches will also be in attendance.

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Whitfield anticipates close to 130 people at the event.

“Everyone is excited about the event,” Whitfield said.

Little Bethel was founded by former slaves in 1866. The church is considered one of the first black Baptist churches in Hampton Roads, according to a church press release.

During the gala, a documentary showing the church’s history will be presented. In addition, there will be performances by gospel band God’s Horn and opera singer Amber Garnett.

Also, 10 awards will be given out to senior members who have dedicated more than 50 years of service to the church.

The celebration aligns perfectly with the church’s theme for the year — rooted in faith, honoring our legacy.

“There is good food, celebration, fellowship and communication for how far we have come,” she said.

Mementos of the past are featured all over the church. According to a church press release, the church pews and the markings on the back of the pews were done by former slaves. The markings are written in an African dialect called Cursive Hebrew.
Also, the church ceiling features a carpenter block design, which is a quilt code runaway slaves used for guidance along the Underground Railroad, according to a church press release.