During the month of July, 2018, the New Grafton Baptist Church family will be celebrating 100 years! New Grafton Baptist Church, located at 4401 Chestnut Avenue in Newport News, Virginia, has grown tremendously over the past 100 years.
Church History. Rev. Silas E. Corsey founded the New Grafton Baptist Church on November 10, 1915. Rev. Corsey chose the name “Grafton Mission” because he was a member of the Grafton Baptist Church, Grafton, Virginia. They held their first and subsequent meetings at 1111 35th Street, Newport News, Virginia. In 1918, a new church was built and the name changed to “New Grafton Baptist Church.” Rev. Corsey continued to work hard for the church until he resigned in 1923.
New Grafton Baptist Church had the following pastors from 1924 until 1999:
- Rev. N. E. Jackson (1924 – 1928)
- Rev. Isaac Daniels (1928 – 1933)
- Rev. R. H. Green (1933 – 1937)
- Rev. W. M. Alston (1937 – 1964)
- Rev. D. M. Willis (1964 – 1989)
- Rev. S. D. Sparrow (1990 – 1999)
Current Pastor. On November 2000, Rev. Dr. Michael L. Sumler was called as the eighth pastor of New Grafton Baptist Church and was installed on December 17, 2000.
A native of Norfolk, he has received numerous degrees as well as certificates and awards for outstanding civic and community service. He holds membership in many religious and community organizations. He also volunteered as a Chaplain for the Newport News Police Department for many years. Because of his abundant wealth of knowledge and wisdom and knowledge of religious principles and practices, the church began to flourish under his leadership.
He has implemented many new educational and religious projects and programs, such as:
- Youth and Teen Church
- Boys and Girls Scouts’ Programs
- Purchase of land and real estate property adjacent to the church
- Acquisition of a handicap van and a 28-passenger bus
- Community Link Food Bank
- Expanded the Music/Arts Department
- Greeters Ministry
- Sumler’s Shining Stars adult liturgical dance ministry
- God’s Little Angels youth liturgical dance ministry
- Golden Ages Ministry
- Virtuous Women’s Ministry
- Couples Ministry
- Widows/Widowers Ministry
- Building Pledge Committee
- Purchasing Committee
- Computer Training Class
- Special Projects Committee
- Physical Fitness and Exercise Ministry
- Youth Advisor’s Ministry
- New Grafton Baptist Church Outreach Ministries, Inc.
- The Completion of a New Sanctuary — “The Miracle on 44th Street”
- Adopted the Newsome Park Community Youth thus providing special youth activities and food on Wednesday evenings.
Added to his credit was the intense training and ultimate ordination of eleven new deacons to the Diaconate. History was made when he appointed the first two females deacons to the Deacon Ministry. He added twelve new trustees to the Trustee Ministry, and has licensed and ordained Associate Ministers. During his tenure as pastor of the church, the membership continues to increase. His greatest vision in 2005 was to carry New Grafton Baptist Church to the next level by involving the church in building a new sanctuary. His vision was fulfilled when on July 23, 2006, the congregation officially walked into a beautiful new $2.5 million dollar (800+ seats) sanctuary — “The Miracle on 44th Street.” The dedication services were held September 10-15, 2006.
In 2006, Rev. Sumler was elected to teach the Adult Church School class. Because of his leadership, teaching techniques and wisdom, the Church School has shown tremendous growth in both the adult and youth classes. On July 3, 2007, the Official Board of New Grafton Baptist Church voted unanimously, that the newly renovated fellowship hall be named, “The Michael L. Sumler Fellowship Hall” in honor of the pastor. In addition, in October 2007, Rev. Sumler orchestrated and raised money to purchase a 28-passenger bus. He was instrumental in getting the fellowship hall and connecting hallways tiled with luxurious porcelain tiles. On November 3, 2007, Rev. Sumler was presented with a beautiful plaque and the prestigious “Doctor of Divinity Degree,” was bestowed upon him by the Norfolk Theological Seminary for his great work and many accomplishments. On February 19, 2011 Pastor Sumler was honored by the Newport News Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and was awarded the prestigious “2011 Local Living Legends Award,” for his many accomplishments in the church, community and other areas.
Rev. Sumler believes in children, and believes that the church can make a difference in their lives; therefore, he opened the New Grafton Baptist Church Childcare Center and School in August 2011. Rev. Sumler is married to the former Ann Walker of Smithfield, Virginia; they reside in Chesapeake, Virginia. They have one daughter, Dr. Michele L. Sumler. Rev. Sumler also has two sons, Michael, Jr. and Aaron and two grandchildren, Michealla and Aaron. Please join the New Grafton Baptist Church family in celebrating our 100th anniversary!