From fish to faith: church moves into former Roanoke seafood restaurant

Building that once housed Parkers Seafood is now “The Church at Parkers”

ROANOKE, Va. – A distinctive Roanoke restaurant building has started its holy second act.

Layman Church officially moved into the former Parkers Seafood building Sunday morning. The seafood restaurant had been a Roanoke institution for nearly a century before it closed in 2018.

“It’s kind of surreal," said Layman Church member Joshua Gabrielson. "I remember I used to eat my crab legs over here, and now I’m sitting here and going to church.”

The church had previously held its services at the Valley View Grande movie theatre.

Layman Church Pastor Brian Robinson said he had worked to acquire the building shortly after the restaurant closed. He said the unconventional building is the perfect fit for his congregation.

“It’s iconic, and we want to honor the Parkers legacy,” Robinson said. "They love Jesus, and we want to honor their legacy by what we do in this building.”

Robinson paid tribute to its former owners by renaming the building “The Church at Parkers.”

Reminders of the building’s past were prevalent at Layman Church’s first service. The aquatic-themed decor is still in place, and Robinson’s sermon focused on a Biblical tale of a fisherman’s encounter with Jesus.

The building is not like your classic church, but the Layman Church congregation does not mind.

“It’s nice to be able to come to a home every week where I can go, ‘This is refreshing. This is my house of worship,’” Gabrielson said.

“We went from a tiny building, to a theatre, and now we’re here,” Robinson added. “It’s like growing up.”