Oakland Presbyterian Church near Selma will hold its annual worship service on Sunday, October 8 at 4 p.m. The Rev. Susi Ennis, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Covington, will be the preacher. The Rev. Lisa Marshall, pastor of Low Moor Presbyterian Church, will lead worship. Communion will be served.
Oakland Presbyterian Church, located on the northern side of Route 696 west of Selma, was built around 1847 as a mission of First Presbyterian Church, Covington. It is the oldest ecclesiastical structure in Alleghany County. Originally, it faced the main road leading from Covington to Clifton Forge and the Virginia Central Railroad. The highway was later moved behind the church, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad bought the Virginia Central. Before the Civil War, the rail line ended near the church, and there was a hotel and station just east of the church. The rail line was completed west to Covington and Ohio after the war.
The church may have been organized as early as 1834, but local historians date the official beginning as 1847 when a reawakening swept among Presbyterians in the Valley of Virginia, including the Highlands. Surrounded by a cemetery, the earliest grave marker is dated 1819. At that time, the land was owned by the William Haynes family who later deeded a small part of their property to the trustees of Oakland Church. The deed was recorded in 1859, twelve years after the church was believed to have been constructed.
The church was used as a place of worship until the Civil War broke out in 1861. During the war, it was used as a hospital for troops commanded by Confederate General Mudwall Jackson. His troops served under the legendary General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson. A number of Confederate soldiers are buried in the cemetery, including twelve men from General Mudwall Jackson’s Tennessee Regiment.
After the war, the church was again used for worship services on a regular basis. It was used continuously from 1865 until 1962, when it was closed. Following the closure, members of the congregation began attending other churches.
In 1965, Low Moor Presbyterian Church was asked by the Presbytery to become caretakers of the church and cemetery. A perpetual care fund, which relies on contributions from former Oakland members, friends, and organizations, is used for funding the upkeep of the church and grounds. At each annual worship service, an offering is received to benefit this fund.
Oakland Presbyterian Church was named to the Virginia Landmarks Register in 1980 and to the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.
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