A few years before the turn of the century a group of citizens of Riverview, known as Gainesville, began a Church School, which met in the yard of one of its members. Most of the those attending the Church School were members of Zion Baptist Church in Newport News, VA. Because of transportation difficulties, they soon felt the need for a community church. Under the leadership of Deacon Shirley Moore, Deacon Willie Green and Brother Jack Watson Zion Baptist Church was asked to help in the organization of a church. Thus, First Baptist Church Riverview was organized in 1900 with the late Rev. J. M. Bray as its first pastor.
The first church building was a make-shift shelter about one-half block north of the present structure. The membership rapidly out-grew the physical plant and soon a new building was erected near the first site. After Rev. Bray accepted a pastorate in Newport News, Rev. Elijah Griffin, a young minister of outstanding spiritual qualities, was ordained by the church and became its second pastor in 1910. The church membership outgrew its second structure and under his leadership the third building on the south corner of Finland and Hannah Street was completed in 1916. The march to the new edifice was led by Rev. Griffin, Rev. J.K. Kearney and the following Deacons: Shirley Moore, Jack Watson, Willie Green, Allen Travis, James Johnson, Samuel McField and James McIntyre. The church became a focal meeting place of this and surrounding communities with many of the District and State religious organizations holding their annual meeting there. The Church School, Baptist Young People’s Union, Missionary Circle and the Senior Choir led in the spiritual life of the church. Rev. Griffin served as pastor until his death in August of 1955.
In December of 1956, the Rev. John L. Gordon was installed as the third pastor. Under his leadership the Usher Board and Willing Workers were revived. The Junior Church and Junior Choir were organized and had charge of service each third Sunday. Rev. Gordon served as pastor until 1959.
In June of 1960 Rev. N.C. Drew was called as the fourth pastor. A man of deep Christian conviction, prayer warrior and experienced churchman he led the church in a revitalization of its entire program. The Men’s League, Male Chorus and Flower and Hospitality Clubs were organized. The name of the Junior Church was changed to the Youth Fellowship and the name of the Junior Choir was changed to the Youth Choir. The congregation became more aware of its growing needs and an annex was constructed which included a kitchen. Until his death in April of 1965, Rev. Drew worked zealously with the total church membership.
In December of 1965 Rev. Quentin J. Smith was installed as the fifth pastor of Riverview Baptist Church. Under Rev. Smith’s administration the spiritual life of the church peaked. The Church School and church attendance increased beyond all expectations. The Young Adult Choir was organized in 1972. The name was changed to Gospel Choir in 1979. The Sunbeam Choir was organized in 1976 and reorganized in 1979 under the new name of All God’s Children Choir. The building was completely renovated in 1968. The exterior was bricked, the interior paneled, central air and heating systems were installed, rest rooms and a baptismal pool were added.
The membership began to increase and it was evident that the construction of a new edifice would have to be planned. Toward this end, a building fund was initiated. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new edifice were held in October of 1983. The new edifice was to include a Sanctuary, Pastor’s Study, Choir Room, Deacon’s Room, expansion of the kitchen, utility rooms, closets, baptismal pool, central air and heating system and a microphone system. The building that was renovated in 1968 would now serve as an office, fellowship hall and church school department. The mural overlooking the baptismal pool was a gift to the church from the Usher Board. It was unveiled on June 7,1987. In 1990 Rev. Quentin Smith retired.
In May of 1991 Riverview Baptist Church elected Reginald Lee as pastor-elect. In October of 1991 Pastor Lee was installed as the sixth pastor of Riverview Baptist Church. Under Pastor Lee’s administration we have completed renovation of the fellowship hall; built a Video and Sound Room to make video and audio cassettes; purchased a new sound system for the Sanctuary and Fellowship Hall, purchased two vans to provide transportation, purchased land for added parking, started Mission and Outreach Ministry to meet human needs, Greeter’s Ministry to welcome all who attend, Couple’s Ministry to strengthen marriages, Single’s Ministry to appreciate being unique and whole, Funeral Ministry to aid bereaved families, Young Ladies of Virtue (Girls ages 11-20) and Young Gentlemen of Honor (Boys ages 11-20) to prepare them for adult life, Men’s Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Youth Ministry, Gospel Jubilee Ball to allow the youth to enjoy a Holy Ghost Party Atmosphere, Nursery to take care of children ages 1 to 5, Travel Ministry to organize events and itinerary for trips, Intercessory Prayer Ministry to stand in the gap, Seasoned Citizen’s Ministry to promote usefulness for God during the golden years, Recreation Ministry to teach youth how to maintain Christian character even in competitive sports; hired a financial secretary to maintain good financial records, hired a church secretary to handle the administrative duties; started a Scholarship and Reimbursement Ministry to allow both high school graduates and members who choose to further their education to receive help from the church; started an Early Morning 8 a.m. Worship Service (effective January 28, 2001) to meet the needs of those who prefer to worship early for various reasons; started a Pastor’s Support Ministry to help meet the needs of the Pastor; started the Faith, Healing and Deliverance Services, Church Anniversary Week, Youth Explosion Week, Back to School Banquet, Seasoned Citizen’s Banquet to honor senior citizens for long time dedication to the ministry, Spring Revival and Youth Crusade, Pastor’s Anniversary, Women’s Day Weekend, Mid Week Training and changed the name of the church to River of Life Christian Church (effective October 1, 2002) to send a message to a thirsty world that based on Revelations 22:17 and St. John 4:10-14 all are invited to come and drink of the water of life that can only be found in Jesus Christ. On October 14, 2005 this church received its certificate of incorporation and in now officially known as River of Life Christian Church, Inc.
On March 30, 2006 the church purchased the 34,000 square foot facility located at 13799 Warwick Blvd, Newport News, VA The new facility is presently being renovated and is scheduled to be completed in August 2006. The new facility will have a sanctuary, large social hall/overflow for the sanctuary, classrooms, offices, a gymnasium, youth room, fitness room, breakroom, commercial kitchen, Audio-Video Duplication room, baptismal pool, baptismal changing room etc...
In December of 2006, the Lord blessed us to transition from our Hannah St facility to the Life House, our new complex located at 13799 Warwick Ave. Click on the links below to see pictures of our final service at Hannah St, and our exciting Dedication services at the Life House.
Also in December 2006, River of Life Christian Church replaced the Worship Services that were previously held on Sunday Morning with one 9 a.m. Worship Service at the new facility.
In March 2007, we started a new “Life Enrichment" class. This class is scheduled to be held on Sunday Mornings at 8 a.m. during the Spring and Fall semesters.
In September 2007, we started a new “Life Transformation" class. This class is scheduled to be held on Wednesdays at 12 noon and 7 p.m. during the Spring and Fall semesters.
. . . Spring Semester: March through May
. . . Fall Semester: September through November
Effective December 2007 our Life Refresher Home Study groups kicked off to allow our past Life Enrichment Class students to review the information in a small more intimate group setting.
GOD , you get all the glory for keeping us together for over a century, and we are convinced that you will never leave us or forsake us. We praise you for your grace, mercy, protection, provision, direction and compassion. We worship you for being an Awesome GOD.