In this part, Pastor Rebekah and Chelsea continue their discussion on faith. Rebekah shares some perspectives on the Book of James. You'll hear both ladies share some deeply personal views about a meaningful service and one of the pros of smaller congregations.
Last week, I saw it. I saw it in the faces around me. I heard it in the voices around me, and it was in the prayers surrounding me. After months of fear, worry, and heartache, I felt God’s presence, and He showed me Hope.
Can you guess where I saw it? It was at the Mission & Congregational Care meeting in the library at OPC.
Mission & Congregational Care has made a commitment to continue reaching out to help our neighbors and local communities. It is not just about writing a check either. It is about helping others.
Here are a few ways you can join us:
We even discussed the possibility of a joint mission trip with a local church.
This year, the Benevolence Endowment Funds will be designated for the Christian Emergency Council.
Come back. Come to our next meeting. Join us as we continue to search for Hope and God’s presence in our lives.
We will be praying for Hope. We hope you can too.
- Mission & Congregational Care Committee
In the spring of 1968, Shirley Newman was received into Orange Presbyterian Church. She was the wife of William Newman. The couple had two children, Sharon, and Michael Callahan. Shirley worked in the UVA Hospital Pediatric Department, and had to commute to Charlottesville daily.
Shirley started teaching the 4-5-year-olds in our church school in 1972. She didn't just use the material provided by the church. She also drew from her own knowledge and imagination.
Shirley continued to participate in the church school, teaching Kindergarten through 5th grade. She taught a summer class with her daughter, Sharon, in 1980.
Shirley also became involved with the Women of the Church. She coordinated a Christmas program in 1980. The Men of the Church served breakfast at the event.
There was a puppet show by one of the classes, and a horn duet by two church members. The audience enjoyed carol singing, and a Christmas skit by another class. The Senior Highs sang the Twelve Days of Christmas.
A free-will offering was collected. The proceeds were split between CROP (Christian Rural Overseas Program to end hunger) and the Christian Emergency Council (CEC).
In 1980, OPC organized Sessional Committees. Shirley was a member of Congregational Life. Their mission was to lift up the congregation and encourage fellowship through monthly social activities. Shirley served on the Session for many years.
Mission and Outreach
She was a member of the Mission and Outreach Committee and headed it up for some time. Shirley put her spin on the Christmas Bazaar and took it to new heights.
The money taken in was divided among different organizations. Habitat for Humanity, the CEC, Presbyterian Disaster Relief, and sometimes the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School Scholarship received funds.
In 2016, a handful of members formed the Memorial Garden Committee, eager to start such a garden. Shirley was a gentle guiding light as we worked to merge everyone’s ideas. We declared the garden “ A place to remember those in God’s care.”
Like mother, like daughter
Sharon Elizabeth Callahan joined OPC in 1973. Her brother, Michael Rodney Callahan joined OPC in 1977. Michael, would later become a member of the Christian Education Committee.
Sharon attended the Synod of Virginias Youth Missions Convention in 1978. There was worship time, bible study, visits with missionaries, and group singing.
Sharon has followed in her mother’s footsteps. She taught the Senior High church class in 1982. The next year she led a small group and art workshop at Hanover Presbytery’s Spring Fling.
Serving the church
Sharon was selected as a Deacon in 1983 and served on the Finance committee. She was Chairman of one of the Women of the Church Night Circles in 1984.
Sharon served on the Pastor nominating Committee. Like her mother, Sharon continued to teach the 3-4-year-olds in church school. She also worked with the Young People's Fellowship.
Sharon also helped coordinate the CROP walks. She is presently President of the Orange Presbyterian Weekday School.
Pretty sure I am missing something to share with you, but you get the point. We are thankful this family are members of our church.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
In the beginning
It all started in 1970 -- the Youth Club of Orange Presbyterian Church. It met every Wednesday afternoon at the church. And it gave young people (grades 3 through 9) some practical lessons in Christian living.
The weekly schedule included 50 minutes of Bible Study. Then came 50 minutes of supervised activities (sewing, knitting, woodworking, art, guitar). Dinner was served, with an elder or deacon presiding at each table. Recreation followed, and then Junior Choir practice.
In 1972, there were 40 children enrolled in the Club. Each Wednesday the enthusiasm of the children was heartwarming.
The Youth Club started in September and continued through April. Hours were from 4 until 7:30 pm for grades 3 through 8. There was a special class on theology for the 9th graders. The pastor taught this class immediately following supper hour.
Young People's Fellowship
The Junior and Senior High Fellowships were collectively known as the YPF (Young People's Fellowship). They met each Sunday evening at 6:15. The YPF was a combined venture of the St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and Orange Presbyterian Church.
The Juniors studied the Gospel of Luke. And they discussed personal problems with their advisors. The Seniors met with Fred and Lulu Sherman. A “Coffee House” was opened, thanks to a large number of adults from several churches and the Junior Women’s Club. It was in the old Library Building next door to OPC.
The Juniors and Seniors took a trip to Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC. They participated in the Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. Thanks to the local library, the YPF enjoyed “film fun” time.
The YPF went to movies in Charlottesville. The Senior Youth Group had a Halloween Party for the children of the church.
There were bake sales, visits to the nursing home, and the youth hired themselves out to do yard work. They prepared Thanksgiving baskets for needy families and went on camping trips. There were trips to retreats at Massanetta.
There were hunger walks. These raised money to fight hunger. The first one was 20 miles. Walkers were recruited from more than a dozen churches and several high school and community organizations. About this time, Lynn Clements was President/Advisor of the Senior Youth Group.
In 1976, the Senior YPF engaged in a CROP (Christian Rural Overseas Program) Hunger Fast. Sponsors pledged money for each hour they went without eating. Proceeds went to CROP to alleviate hunger in the world. March 28th, 1982, there was another CROP walk. This time the distance was shortened to 5 miles.
The group delivered 20 Christmas baskets full of fruit, nuts, cake, and candy to elderly and shut-in families on Christmas Eve.
Active in the 1980s
The YPF hosted the Hanover Presbyterian Youth Council in January for two days. Four members attended the Synod Youth Mission Convention at Massanetta in March.
In 1982, the YPF and friends enjoyed skiing on the slopes at Bryce Ski Resort. There was a gathering on Super Bowl Sunday with pizza and friendly wagers.
Sharon Callahan (Mohrmann) was appointed youth delegate to the General Assembly meeting in Columbus, GA. Several members, accompanied by Lynn Clements, attended the Senor High Fall Convention at Camp Hoover.
1983 was the year of a “Lock-In” at the Mechanicsville Presbyterian Church. There were games, music, and dancing. Also, ping pong and two movies. The next morning, everyone traveled home after doughnuts and a short church service.
Contributing to the life of the church
Without the generous gifts of time and talent from many volunteers, this kind of program could not have functioned. In the beginning, Elaine Gardner was the faithful director and administrator. Many wonderful people were involved at one time or another with the children and young people.
“It was a tremendous opportunity for our Church youngsters to be nurtured in the better ways of life.”
- Presbyterian Punch
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
Atwell serves his country
Atwell Wilson Somerville was born November 19, 1921, in Hillsville, Virginia. He was the son of Rev. Walter Gray and Hattie Nottingham Somerville, both of Culpeper County. Atwell grew up in South Carolina. He was a 1942 ROTC graduate of Clemson University.
In June he joined the 90th Bomb Group of the Army Air Corps, as a second lieutenant. This heavy bomber unit, the "Jolly Rogers," served in the southwest Pacific, from 1942 to 1945. Atwell, known as “Slim” in the service, rose to the rank of major.
Law school and marriage
After returning home from the war, Atwell entered U.Va Law School. In 1947, Atwell Somerville married Anne Carter Walker of Rosni Farm, Madison County. She was the eldest daughter of Margaret and Frank Walker. The couple settled in Orange.
Atwell completed his law degree in 1948. He joined his uncle, Severn Nottingham, in his Orange law firm.
Service to the community
Atwell was a devoted advocate of his family, community, and church. He loved sports. Atwell strongly supported his children's activities, including coaching summer youth baseball. He also helped to start the Orange Country Town Pool.
Atwell was president of the Piedmont Bar Association. He also was an organizing and honorary life member of the Orange County Rescue Squad. Atwell served on the Town of Orange Planning Commission as the attorney for Orange County, 1982-1995.
He received Scouting's Silver Beaver award. Atwell was president of the Orange County Chamber of Commerce. He was also a member of the Orange Economic Development Corporation. Atwell was an organizing member of the Orange County Historical Society.
He was also the first chair of the Germanna Community College board. He served as president of the college's educational foundation. Atwell was also was the first chair of the Montpelier Property Council.
Service to the church
Atwell was a dedicated member of the Orange Presbyterian Church. He served as deacon and elder, and Presbytery Moderator. He was a delegate to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A).
Atwell sang bass in the church choir and led youth and adult Sunday school classes. He also loved historical research.
Gardening and history
Anne Carter Somerville graduated from St. Margaret’s School in Tappahannock, Va.. She later received a degree from Sweetbriar College.
She was an active member of The Dolley Madison Garden Club, The Garden of Virginia, and The Garden Club of America. Anne Carter also was a member of the Colonial Dames of America. And she was a member of the Orange County Historical Society. Anne Carter was also active in the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Monticello Association.
Anne Carter serves the church
Anne Carter was an advisor for the Orange Presbyterian Youth Group in the 60s and 70s. Anne Carter accompanied them to Massanetta Springs on Labor Day weekends.
She was an Elder and an active member of the Women of the Church, serving as President at one time. Anne Carter served many years on the Flower Committee. She also helped Mrs. Jane Ober with landscaping on the church grounds.
In June of 1975, Anne Carter Somerville joined Orange Presbyterian Church. She did so by transferring her membership from St. Thomas Episcopal Church. It surprised many in the congregation. Because of her active participation over the years, they thought she had always been a member of OPC.
A legacy of service
Anne Carter Somerville passed away December 11, 1997. In 1999, Atwell married his high school sweetheart, Margaret Oates Goodman. Atwell Wilson Somerville, 92, died Sunday, February 23, 2014, at his home in Orange.
Atwell and Anne Carter Somerville are survived by a daughter, Anne Carter Somerville, and two sons, Atwell Wilson Somerville, Jr. and wife, Bebe and Frank Walker Somerville and wife, Laura Adair. There are also three grandchildren.
The Somervilles inspire us with their dedication and devotion to this church which their daughter Anne continues today.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
In the first part of this two-part series, Pastor Rebekah and Chelsea discuss the changing nature of worship. Rebekah also talks about what it means to be a Matthew 25 church, and references the PCUSA initiative, 1001 New Worshiping Communities.
In episode three Pastor Rebekah shares how a documentary about a dead mouse inspired a new sermon series. Chelsea makes the case for the Timeless TikTok Awards Show. And there's a serious discussion of what the church may look like post-pandemic.
Orange County native
Thomas Newton Sparks was born in Orange, where his grandfather opened Spark’s Grocery. Newton went to Orange High School and attended VPI for two years.
He interrupted his schooling to serve in the Second World War. Newton became a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Armed Forces. He was a B-17 pilot and then a pilot instructor in the Army Air Corps.
A life in Orange
Newton met his future wife Emily Garnett in the 4th grade. She was born at Riverside, her family home near Locust Dale. They were married in the Orange Presbyterian Church in 1943. The couple returned to VPI, where Newton received a BS degree in Business. After graduation, they moved back to Orange. Newton joined Fray Insurance Agency and became co-owner.
Newton was very active in the community. He was Secretary of Orange County Electoral Board. He served on the Town Board of Zoning Appeals and the Orange Planning Commission. He was a Jaycee, as well as a charter member and past captain of the Rescue Squad. Newton was a Scout Master of Orange Troop 14, a member of the Orange Rotary Club and the American Legion Post 156.
Newton's service to OPC
Mary Emily Garnett joined OPC in March of 1934, along with her brother Seldon and sisters Susan, Frances, and twin, Nettie Lee. Newton was raised a Baptist, but he joined Emily as a member of Orange Presbyterian Church.
Newton actively served the church in many capacities. He taught Junior Boys for six years. He sponsored the Youth Fellowship with Emily. Newton was a Deacon and an Elder and also served on Presbytery Committees.
“Newton’s warmth and his sincere commitment are assets to our Session’s work.”
- Presbyterian Punch 1976
Newton was also deeply involved with the Men of the Church. He was in charge of the kitchen when they met for breakfasts, cooking for many many years. (Rumor has it he allowed no one to wash his seasoned skillet!)
Emily's service to OPC
Emily was also an active member of Orange Presbyterian Church all her adult life. She served with the Women of the Church (WOC) as, her mother, Nettie Mann Garnett did. Emily headed up the WOC’s Service Project for many years.
Fund-raisers included flea markets, parking lot sales, and mini-bazaars. The women offered services such as baking, transportation, sewing, and more. They sold notecards printed with a sketch of the new Sanctuary. The proceeds helped defray the principal of the Church’s building fund.
She was a member of the Night Circle of the WOC and served, at times, as chairman. Emily was one of the editors of the Presbyterian Punch for years. Emily was sometimes the kitchen chairman when the WOC held potluck supper meetings.
A life together
When they were not serving others, Newton and Emily enjoyed evenings with their friends. Lots of times they played bridge. Emily loved to knit and work crossword puzzles and jigsaw puzzles. Newton loved to fish. They religiously kept their tradition of family vacations at Nags Head every summer.
Newton Sparks passed away in 2002 and Emily Sparks passed away in 2003. Their son, Thomas Newton Sparks, Jr., passed away in 2021. They are survived by Thomas’ wife, Barbara; son Philip and wife, Julie; daughter Ann Garnett and husband, Chris Freed; and son Edward and wife Lisa. At the time of their death, they had nine grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
Newton and Emily served our church for many years. Over that time they participated in many charitable and civic activities in Orange. We are grateful also for their friendship.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team
In the second episode of OPC's podcast, Pastor Rebekah and Chelsea discuss the importance of family, and how their family experiences inform their worship practices.
Son of Orange County
Richard Lewis Sanford was born in 1920 at Woodley Farm near Orange, Va. He was the son of Harry Estil Sanford and Mary Lewis Sanford. Richard and his eleven siblings were the third generation to live at Woodley Farm.
Dick Sanford graduated from Orange County High School in 1939. He attended Virginia Polytechnic Institute and graduated with an agronomy degree in 1943.
He joined the United States Army Air Force and served in World War II from 1943 until 1946. Dick was an aerial flight engineer in the 9th Air Force in the European Theater. His unit received the Presidential Unit Citation with Oak Leaf Cluster. Dick was also twice awarded the Air Medal and three Campaign Stars.
Service to Waddell Memorial
After the war, Richard joined the U.S.D.A. Soil Conservation Service in Culpeper and Rappahannock Counties. At the time he lived in Rapidan. Dick served as Sunday School Superintendent at Waddell Memorial Presbyterian Church. He was also a Deacon and an Elder in the church.
Dick met Thelma Bates at a Pot & Kettle Club dance in Culpeper in 1947. Thelma was teaching High School English in Madison County. They married 18 months later. The couple had two children, Stephen Richard and Cynthia Gayle.
Dick's service to OPC
In 1955, Dick and Thelma transferred their membership to Orange Presbyterian Church. Dick served OPC as he had Wadell. He was an Elder, Deacon, and Sunday School Superintendant. He also served as Clerk of the Session and a Trustee.
Dick was also on the planning council for building the new sanctuary. He taught Adult Sunday School class from time to time and was active as president of the Men of the Church.
“Mr. Sanford’s steadiness and his concern for people’s feelings make him a faithful member of the session.”
- Presbyterian Punch 1976
Service to Orange
For forty years, Dick was the estate manager of Grelen Farms in Orange County. As such, he and was recognized as an agricultural leader. Dick served on many local organizations, including the Orange County Nursing Home board.
“On August 22, 1982, the Sacrament of Baptism was administered to Richard Hill Sanford, infant son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Richard Sanford. Among those attending were Mrs. Mary Lewis Sanford, young Richard’s great-grandmother and former member of this Church; Richard Lewis Sanford, Richard’s grandfather and current member of the Session, baptized in this Church June 12, 1921; Richard’s father, Stephen Richard Sanford, baptized in this Church July 25, 1963. Also attending was Samuel Ross Sanford, baptized in this Church July 25, 1926 and currently Ruling Elder in the Presbyterian Church of Fredericksburg and representing that congregation of which Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Sanford are members.”
-Emma H. Bartley, Historian
A life in education
Thelma Sanford graduated from public schools in Madison County. She returned there for her teaching career, spanning 28 years. In 1947, she received a degree in English and Science from Mary Washington College. Thelma later obtained a Masters Degree in educational counseling from the University of Virginia.
Thelma was a teacher and guidance counselor at Orange County High School for 18 years. She also was Curriculum Coordinator and Guidance Counselor at what was then known as Piedmont Technical Education Center in Culpeper County.
Thelma was a member of the Orange County Historical Society, the James Madison Museum, and the Friends of Montpelier.
Thelma's service to OPC
She was a member of the Orange Presbyterian Church for 60 years. Thelma faithfully participated in and supported the work of the church in many ways. She served as an Elder and was the church historian for five years. She was active in the Women of the Church and for a time, served as Secretary.
Thelma Pearl Bates Sanford passed away in 2014 and Richard Lewis Sanford passed away in 2016. They are survived by a son, Stephen Sanford and his wife, Norma of Orange; a daughter, Cynthia Webster and her husband, Thomas of Roanoke; six grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.
Orange Presbyterian Church has been blessed by the many generations of this Sanford family and their Christian principles.
- Jennie Hill Robinson
OPC History Team