United Christian Church
Eastern shore of virginia
Rev. William A. Cathell, Sr. was Ordained to the ministry on May 31st, 1967 by the United Christian Church & Ministerial Association. He was a youth pastor for New Castle Baptist Church in Delaware. He built and founded the Pine Cove Mission Church in Felton, Delaware. Also, he served as chaplain at the State Hospital. Rev. Cathell stepped away from the ministry in the early 1970's due to poor health, but returned to the ministry as pastor of the Church of God in Felton, Delaware in the early 1980's. He retired from the ministry in 1983 and moved to Parksley, Virginia. He fully intended to stay retired. But he couldn't resist his calling for long. Rev. Cathell contacted Rev. H. Richard Hall, the founder of the United Christian Church & Ministerial Association, and received permission to use the "United Christian Church" name to start his own independent, non-affiliated church. The United Christian Church of the Eastern Shore of Virginia was born as simply "United Christian Church".
Our Humble Beginnings
Rev. Cathell procured a building for the church on Parksley Road, in Parksley, Virginia on October 6th, 1988. He remodeled two stores creating a sanctuary and a Sunday School room. Later he expanded into a third store, used as a youth church. Rev. Cathell officially founded the United Christian Church of the Eastern Shore on October 23rd, 1988 with its first service. Attendees included Rev. Cathell, his wife (Carolyn) & his son (William Jr.). Also in attendance were Noah Taylor, his wife (Lula) & his nephew (Noah Taylor), along with John Borgstrom and Gwendolyn George.
a warning sign
When God started throwing cars at the church, we should have taken it as a sign that he wanted us somewhere else. But instead, we rebuilt and persevered. It would take more than a car demolishing the front of the church to make us budge.
An Act of God
God has a way of moving us in the direction He plans for us. In November of 1995, the Lord destroyed the building the United Christian Church was housed in with a tornado, sparking Rev. Cathell's dream to build a new church. The tornado took the roof off the building, spreading it throughout the parking lot, Parksley Road and the field across the street. The tornado and accompanying rain made the building unsalvageable.
The church congregation temporarily found refuge in the old Maddox building on Cooke Street, next to the post office, while they made plans for the future. The Cooke Street location has since been razed and is now an empty lot.
the lord your god hath given you this land
Rev. Frank Blake and wife, Maxine, donated the land on Parksley Road to the United Christian Church for the construction of its new home. Rev. Cathell dreamed up, planned and designed the new church himself, drawing the blueprints by hand. His God-inspired dream rapidly spread to others as he pursued it with faith and passion.
The excitement built as it was finally time to break ground. The topsoil was removed and the ground was prepared for the foundation and concrete slab. Church members worked hard shoveling stone, as they prepared the ditch to receive the first culvert, providing access to the land.
framing the future
The church was built using stick frame construction with a metal exterior. Here you can see the completed stick structure as the shingles are being laid and preparations are underway to receive the concrete.
Completing the shell
After the exterior metal was in place, the concrete was poured. Doors, windows, gutters and a temporary steeple were added. Interior walls were built, creating the different rooms of the facility and a drop ceiling was added. The plumbing, electrical, insulation and walling were completed. Several PTAC units were added for heating and cooling.
The parking lot & sign
Rev. Cathell's son, Mike, installs parking stops.
The basic parking lot is complete.
A double parking lot with dual entry was installed. Parking stops were set in place for the vehicles. It would take about ten more years of fundraising before the driveway would be blacktopped. In the picture, (bottom left) you see the "Future Home" sign still in place. That would soon be replaced by a one-sided, lighted, letter-board sign (top right). God has an uncanny way of using destruction as a means to His ends. In 2016, God would throw a car into that sign and it would be replaced with the upgraded two-sided sign that we now have today (bottom right).
The first sign announces an event.
Current sign, installed in 2016
A few last finishing touches: The walls were painted. The carpet was laid. A railing was added to both sides of the stage. Interior doors were hung. Kitchen appliances, counters & cabinetry were brought in. Next came furniture, curtains and all the details.
cross & steeple
A light up cross was added to the front of the church and a professionally made steeple was installed. It was time to celebrate.
2007 - Time for expansion
Our congregation quickly outgrew using the kitchen as a dining hall. It was time to expand. Rev. Cathell dreamed of a fellowship hall that could be a multipurpose room. He envisioned the Bible studies, meetings, receptions, celebrations, children's Sunday School classes and many other activities we could have if we built a new room. In 2007, UCC broke ground on the addition, "The Lorena M. Poppe Fellowship Hall". The foundation and slab were poured and, once again, the church members worked together, just like an old fashioned "barn raising".
Lorena M. Poppe Fellowship Hall
Lorena M. Poppe (February 13, 1929 - July 15, 2007)
The fellowship hall addition was named after Lorena M. Poppe. Lorena was a long time member, church treasurer, benefactor and good friend.
Raising the roof
Working together, church members lifted the heavy, prefabricated rafters into place by hand and secured them in place for the roof of the Lorena M. Poppe Fellowship Hall.
closing it in
The entire addition was built by the church members, a work force led by our founding father, Rev. Cathell. Here, the framing was completed and the walls were added.
brought to completion
The roof was added, as well as windows, doors and gutters. Then came time to work on the inside... insulation, electrical, walls, ceiling. And with that, the dining room was complete. Landscaping and sidewalks were added around the church. After much fundraising, the driveways and parking lot were blacktopped.
put to use for god
Since its completion, the facility has been put to good use for God. Church services have been held every week with teaching, preaching, singing, praising, prayer and good fellowship. The facility has been used for regular activities to promote Christ and Christian fellowship. The facility has even been used on multiple occasions for the church's Jesus Festival to spread the Word to the public.
a dream come true
Our Founding Father in front of the completed facility
For Rev. Cathell and his flock, it took about twenty years to manifest... from the birth of the dream to start a church in 1988, to the birth of the dream to create a home for the church in 2000, to the dream to expand into something even larger in 2007. Rev. Cathell and The United Christian Church of the Eastern Shore of Virginia celebrated their 30th anniversary in October of 2018. Rev. Cathell passed away in May of the following year. However, the church is still working to fulfill yet another of Rev. Cathell's dreams: To fill the church to capacity. Rev. Cathell said, upon achieving that dream, he dreamt of building an even bigger church.