It’s no secret that the evangelical church in America is statistically losing ground. Fewer people identify as practicing Christians than ever before in our history by percentage. As a matter of fact, thousands of churches are closing their doors every year. As a result, the Gospel is reaching fewer people and abandoned church buildings are becoming more common in communities across the country. Virginia is no exception.
The good news is that a new chapter of life is beginning in many of these old church buildings. Hope Church Clearview in Martinsville is one such story of new life. Twelve years ago, the Holy Spirit convicted Pastor Brian Edwards of Hope Church Danville that he needed to move beyond his comfort zone and lead his church to begin planting new churches. He didn’t know what church planting really was at the time but stood on Sunday morning and proclaimed “our church will be a church that gives birth.” As a result, Hope Church Halifax (east of Danville) was started in 2011. Since then, six more churches have been birthed. Hope Church Clearview is one of the newest plants. The original name of the plant was Hope Church Martinsville, but God changed that.
As a core group of people from Hope Church Martinsville were meeting in the Horsepasture Volunteer Fire Department, Pastor Haywood Alcorn was praying for new life to come to Clearview Baptist Church. Clearview was a church plant that began with a small group of believers that felt the call to reach the Clearview community in 1971. God called Pastor Alcorn to be the founding pastor, and the group officially constituted as a church in 1974. On July 4, 1975, Clearview broke ground on their first church building which was completed exactly one year later. Clearview was built by people from the church and community to reach that part of the city with the Gospel, and boy did God do some amazing things. For instance, in 1982, Haywood believed God was calling them to baptize one person each week of the year, and he cast that vision to the church. He shared they were really disappointed that year because they only baptized 47 people (tongue in cheek I’m sure). God allowed Pastor Alcorn to pastor Clearview Baptist until 1987. Over 300 people were saved and baptized during that time, and they give all praise to God.
Fast forward to 2019, and the aging congregation has dwindled to just a few members. Pastor Alcorn, hearing about this new church plant, reached out to one of the pastors of Hope Church Danville. Before long, Clearview Baptist voted to dissolve and give the property to Hope Church. Several remaining members chose to join the new Hope Church plant, which would now become Hope Church Clearview, in honor of the Gospel legacy of the saints that devoted their life to the Clearview community. Chris Brown is the new church planter that recently joined the team.
The old Clearview Church building needed lots of work both aesthetically and structurally, including repairing years of damage due to leaks and lack of use. Pastor Edwards is most excited that a broken baptistry that has been used for storage for well over a decade, is now repaired and will soon hold water again to baptize those being saved. New Life rising from the old. The story of the Gospel always results in new life. Pray for Hope Church Clearview that Pastor Alcorn’s goal of 52 souls would experience the waters of baptism.