The Old Trail church of Christ currently meets in Powhatan, VA 23139 in the historic St. James chapel which was built around 1890. The buildings and grounds were transferred from the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia to the perpetual care and ownership of the Michaux-St. James Foundation in 1977.
The Old Trail church of Christ derived its name partly from the address of the building it uses, but also because of the mental image of the multitude of God-fearing, truth-seeking sojourners that have followed the path of righteousness for His name's sake since the resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ. That trail is old, well worn, holy, and leads to eternal salvation. Current members of the Old Trail congregation respect and acknowledge those who have come before while seeking all newcomers who will walk with us now.
The church held its first worship service Easter morning April 21, 2019. Steve Raab preached the first sermon, titled "Something Old, Something New" which encouraged the listeners to hold fast to old things which are good while letting go of the old which is not good and to gather new good things while rejecting impure newness.
Worshipers gathered from Powhatan, Goochland, and Henrico counties to share their love of God together. Fifty-two souls sang, prayed, and glorified God on a beautiful spring morning which inspired awe, appreciation, and acknowledgement of his wonderful creation. Nineteen of those present were persons from the surrounding community without affiliation to one of the area churches of Christ. They were either invited by friends and family or they learned of the new congregation through one of the various outreach efforts by Old Trail weeks before Easter Sunday.
The Saturday before Easter, the Raabs, the Marshalls, and Ernie and Robin Walton met at the chapel building to do some detailing of the building and grounds, place flower vases inside, bring in chairs, songbooks, and Bibles, prepare the communion table and elements, hang wreaths that Robin had made on the double entry doors, pray together for the hearts of the community and even sing a few songs. This in itself was a bonding fellowship and a blessing. The morning of April 21 saw more preparation as the church sign was temporarily placed, a banner near highway 522 was put up for the service time, Ernie directed drivers to the parking area (a grassy field), the house next door was unlocked to provide access to a bathroom (the old chapel was erected before indoor plumbing was used), and a decorative screen was placed in front of the lectern as well as several other last minute details.
Worship leaders for the inaugural service included Ernie Walton, who lead the first prayer, Sammy Marshall, who read John 3:1-15 as a basis for Steve Raab's sermon, BJ Marshall, who guided minds in thoughts before the communion, Steve Novak, who led a closing prayer and Larry Lewis, who led the singing worship. The very first song ever sung in an Old Trail worship service was "To God Be the Glory", specifically chosen to acknowledge and proclaim that the Old Trail members recognize and praise God as the founder and sustainer of this little mission.
With God's guidance, the first plans for this congregation of the churches of Christ were penned and prayed over on a napkin July 19, 2018 by David Marshall and Steve Raab during a men's fellowship breakfast in the back room of the Golden Corral restaurant in Glen Allen, VA. Steve and his wife Selma had been driving to Oceana, VA from their home in Powhatan County every other Sunday for five and a half years with Steve serving as the itinerant minister for the Oceana church of Christ. For years they longed to have a new congregation of the church in their home county to be able to serve, minister, and fellowship with Christians who were also their neighbors. David and Judy Marshall live in western Goochland County and drove to the Tuckahoe area of Henrico County to worship and serve, and also yearned for a church that could better serve the residents of their home county. Steve learned that his ministry in Oceana would come to a close in early 2019 and saw this as an opportunity to shift the focus of his spiritual gifts to minister closer to home. Knowing the hearts and desires of the Marshalls, Steve proposed the planting of a church whose location could serve areas of both Powhatan and Goochland counties. With the support of the elders of the church of Christ on Three Chopt Road, a search for a suitable place of worship began. Steve and Dave looked at many properties in both counties and felt that the beautiful and historic St. James Chapel in Powhatan which is maintained by the Michaux St. James Foundation was a wonderful fit for our small new congregation. The foundation was gracious in allowing us to rent the beautiful and historic building while we search for a place we can own.
The Old Trail church of Christ appreciates the prayers and support of Christians across the country and even around the world. Members of other local congregations are encouraging the work in Goochland and Powhatan counties with financial aid, supplies, labor, attendance, and participation in worship services. Groups and individuals from surrounding congregations rotate coming to the Old Trail location a few Sundays each year to help maintain fellowship among the various churches and create community within the brotherhood of the saints. Their dedication and service to the spread of the Gospel message in this area gives the church at Old Trail reason to praise God, give Him thanks, and continue to teach and worship in this place.
God is Good ALL the time!