Steeped In History, Rich In Faith, Growing In Grace
The First New Hope Baptist Church was organized on the second Sunday in August 1882 by the late Rev. John O’Bryant and two anglo-american ministers whose names we have no record of.
Rev. O’Bryant served this church faithfully, and during his administration, many were converted. Among the first deacons ordained were: Jarvous Walker, Robert Johnson, Berry Williams, George Tolbert, Jake Bailey, Will Walker and Peter Houston. Later the following deacons were ordained, Willie Golphin, Zack Smith, John O’Bryant Jr., and Josh Baker. Deacon John O’Bryant and deacon Jarvous Walker was license to preach. Rev. O’Bryant rendered his best to God, his fellow man and the New Hope Baptist Church. He departed this life in 1910. Our church was without a pastor for two years.
In 1912 Rev. J.B. Williams was called to be pastor of the church. Rev. Williams served this church and the community sincerely. Under his leadership many were baptized and 8 more deacons and 4 ministers were ordained. They were: Jack Nix, Joseph Smith, Henry Williams, Gus Briggs, Arthur Reynolds, and Robert Henderson. Ministers ordained were Rev. Jim Walton, Rev. Gus Walton, Rev. Jim Sturgis, and Rev. Pearce Harris. First New Hope also paid tribute to the late Rev. F.K. Butler for the service he rendered to our church during the illness of Rev. J.B. Williams departed this life in 1955.
In 1956 Rev. Henry Ingram was called as pastor. During his leadership many members were added to the church roll and three more deacons were ordained. They were deacon Mack Keys, James Williams, and Curtis Latson.
Under Rev. Ingram’s leadership the Willing Workers Club and Building Fund were established. Rev. Ingram served us for fourteen years and then resigned. At that time Rev. Leroy Kimble came to us as acting pastor, and in January 1974 he became pastor. He served us for two and one half years, and on the first Sunday in July 1976 he resigned.
On the third Sunday in August 1977 our prayers for a new place of worship was answered. On this date a ground-breaking ceremony was held at this very location which was founded by Sis. Lila Bass and Deacon James Williams. The dedication sermon was delivered by the late Rev. M.O. Tankersley on the third Sunday in December 1977.
Before we moved into the current edifice, a few members organized a club called the Lula Williams Club. They wanted to buy new furniture for the pulpit. The pulpit furniture was bought in honor of the late Sis. Lula Williams.
On January 1, 1980 Rev. Moses Corbin became pastor. Under his leadership, the church has been blessed tremendously. Twenty-six people joined the church, seventeen by baptism and nine by Christian experience. Five trustees were installed Brothers Coy Henderson, Andrew Harmon, Robert Ivey, J.B. Courtney and Carl Henderson. Later he ordained two more Deacons: Coy Henderson and Andrew Harmon. At a later date Bro. Genesis McClendon was installed.
We didn’t stop there, next were chairs for the choir, which were purchased by the Gospel Choir and Junior Choir. God lifted our spirits and we moved on toward our next goal, providing tables and chairs for the annex. The church unanimously elected Sis. Jessie Reynolds as mother of the church. Rev. Moses Corbin served us faithfully. In the year of 1987, on warm Monday morning August 24, God called our beloved pastor, Rev. Moses Corbin from labor to reward. He was a kind and loyal pastor. He rendered his services to us for seven years. We will always have a special memory of him in our hearts. First New Hope was without a leader for eight months.
Many ministers were invited to come and preach the Word. The prayer was that God would send a leader. The prayers were answered. On March 31, 1988, we had a call meeting. At this meeting Rev. Roy Brown was called as pastor.
On July 17, 1988 installation services were held. Rev. J.D. Shaw delivered the sermon and Rev. Nathaniel Irvin rendered the charges to Rev. Brown and the church.
Under Rev. Brown’s leadership, five people joined under Christian experience. The Ushers purchased material and covered chairs in the pulpit and also bought mini blinds for the annex. The Gospel Choir purchased curtains and waste baskets for the bathrooms. Rev. Brown and Bro. John Stidmon donated a copier machine to the church and Deacon Reynolds bought the paper. More members were added to the church roll, five by Christian experience and five by baptism. On March 19, 1989, six trustees were installed: Brothers Tony Greene, James Corbin, Michael Byrd, Kelvin Banks, John Stidmon, and Sis. Eunice Webb. Under his leadership one Minister was ordained. On September 17, 1988 Deacon Coy Henderson gave his trial sermon. His Ordination service was held Sunday, March 26, 1989.
Rev. Brown served us faithfully until he resigned on November 26, 1989. Again, we were without a pastor. We prayed that God would send us a leader. We still had work to do, plans for the new addition to the church was in progress. During the same year God called a great soldier from labor to reward, Deacon Arthur Reynolds passed on December 13, 1989, he worked faithfully in the church.
During the year 1990, construction was completed on the addition. The deacons and trustees laid the floor, put up paneling and worked to the finish the inside. We also purchased a copier machine. Again, our hearts were sadden with the passing of another great soldier. Deacon James Williams passed on August 8, 1990. He was a faithful and dedicated worker. Still to follow was Sis. Ethel Bass a mother to us all, passed on December 16, 1990.
During the year of 1991, we continued to look to the Lord for guidance. Several ministers were invited to come and give us the Word of God. We give special thanks to Rev. Aaron Williams for the love and spiritual support he gave to us.
During the year of 1992, God called our mother of church home to rest. Sis. Jessie Reynolds passed on February 22, 1992. We also had five persons to join the church, four by baptism and one by Christian experience. We asked and God delivered. Our prayers for a pastor were answered. On Sunday, June 7, 1992 Rev. Jerry W. Freeman was installed as pastor. Rev. Lessel Leonard delivered the installation sermon. Under Rev. Freeman’s leadership eleven persons joined the church and one Trustee was installed, namely, Bro. Melvin Courtney.
Our work was not finished yet, progress was still going on in the church. We give thanks to God and the men of this church for the continuing progress and improvement to the church.
During the year of 1993 many auxiliaries worked hard to purchase items for the church. The F.C. Henderson Gospel Choir and Usher Board purchased a new refrigerator. The Moses Corbin Jr. Choir purchased a new vacuum cleaner and typewriter. With God’s blessings on December 19, 1993 two Deacons were ordained; James Corbin and Michael Byrd, also during this year Bro. Bernard Tilley was installed as Trustee.
God continued to let His light shine upon this church. During the spring of 1994, through the members' effort, the church purchased a new lighted sign, and a church van. Work did not stop there. In July 1994 the church replaced the roofing. Under the continued leadership of Rev. Freeman seventeen persons joined the church, fourteen by Christian experience and three by Baptism.
In December 1994, Rev. J.W. Freeman resigned as pastor. Since that time many ministers were invited to come and share God’s Word. It was New Hope’s prayer that God would send us a leader. During that past year the men of the church worked hard to complete the bathroom in the annex, and replace the tile in the front foyer. The membership of New Hope has continued to increase twelve members joined by Baptism and one member restored her membership.
“Ask and it shall be given, Seek and ye shall find, Knock and the door shall be opened.” We kept on praying and we kept on believing that the Lord would make a way and again he answered our prayers. On Sunday, July 9, 1996 Rev. Anthony Harden was installed a pastor. Rev. Bruce Wright of Zion Fair Baptist Church delivered the installation service.
Under Rev. Harden’s leadership in 1997 twelve persons joined the church. Four by baptism and eight by Christian experience. One deacon ordained, Deacon Bernard Tilley. One minister licensed to preach, Minister Michael Byrd. In 1998, we had five new members to join by Christian experience and one by baptism and we loss one faithful deacon, Deacon James (Chuck) Corbin.
The Usher Board, F.C. Henderson Gospel Choir and Williams Reynolds Ensemble Choir purchased stained windows for the church. The F. C. Henderson Gospel Choir also purchased China, Silverware, glasses and made a $500 donation to the building fund. The Williams Reynolds Ensemble purchased a vacuum cleaner, blinds and valances. A piano and lawn mower were purchased by the church, F.C. Henderson Gospel Choir and auxiliaries. The Royal Ambassadors purchased a microwave and green carpet at the entrance.
God is good --- All the time. Oh what a mighty God we serve. On Sunday, February 20, 2000, Rev. Larry Neal was installed as pastor. Rev. Roscoe Perry of the First Mt. Carmel Baptist Church delivered the installation service. Under Rev. Neal’s Christian leadership, seventeen persons joined the church. Fourteen by baptism and three by Christian experience. In 2001, thus far, eight members were added. Under the guidance and through the vision of Rev. Neal, we were able to have the church exterior painted and the parking lot paved.
In 2001, eight members joined. Under the guidance and through the vision of Rev. Neal, we were able to have the church exterior painted and the parking lot paved. On September 10, 2001 God called our dear Trustee Sis. Robin Henderson Danforth home. Trustee Robin Danforth was a very dedicated and faithful member. She was very concerned about every aspect of the church as well as the members. Trustee Danforth is greatly missed from First New Hope. In her memory the Danforth family donated Bibles and Bible holders (back of pews) to First New Hope. A computer and fax machine was also purchased with this donation.
In 2002 three new members joined and work was completed in the bathrooms. The church members purchased some yard equipment. (Gas blower, and Weed eater) First New Hope suffered two more losses. On November 12, 2002 God called Sis. Mable Courtney, a dear and devoted member. On December 8, 2002 God called Trustee Diane F. Tilley home from labor to reward. Trustee Diane Tilley was a devoted member and served faithfully until her illness.
In 2003, while still under the leadership of Rev. Larry Neal one new member joined. Then on July 2, 2003 First New Hope suffered another great loss. God called Deacon Andrew Harmon from labor to reward. Deacon Andrew Harmon will always be remembered for the many great songs he sung, prayers he prayed and service he gave. Now that we have one combined choir, new robes were purchased for the children and the Pastor to match the Adult Choir. A new copier was purchased, new carpet added, a new rug in the church entrance and two ceiling fans installed. Last but not least the choir stand and pulpit was remodeled.
In 2004, under the vision and leadership of Rev. Larry Neal our Wednesday Night Bible Study Class participation increased immensely. A host of new members were added to the church roll.
In 2005, Through the continued great leadership of Rev. Larry Neal. Again, more new members were added to the church roll. We were also very proud to witness Rev. Neal's religious educational accomplishment when he received his Doctorate Degree in June 2005. Now he is known as the awesome Rev. Dr. Larry Neal. First New Hope continued to receive blessings from the Lord by completing the addition to the church. We now have three classrooms and Rev. Dr. Neal has a new office. The kitchen was enclosed, a pantry closet built in the kitchen, and cabinet doors added to the kitchen counter. Additional security alarm installed. Finance office enlarged. A new lawn mower was purchased, four new tires were purchased for the church van, and a new upright freezer was purchased to better serve the community through the Golden Harvest food Program.
In 2006, God continued to Bless First New Hope by adding to the church membership. Still under the leadership of Rev. Dr. Larry Neal ten new members were added to the church roll. Between Sept. 2006 to present time, God continued to bless us with more new members by baptism and by Christian experience. We continued the upkeep of the church by replacing the wood trim around the outside exterior and painting the church. On Dec. 2006, Martrell Williams preached her initial sermon. First New Hope Baptist Church saw fit to license her into the Ministry of the Gospel. New sanctuary entrance doors as well as interior doors were installed thorughout the church.
On June 16th, 2007, God called home another faithful member, Sis. Bertha Henderson. Her presence will be sadly missed by everyone. On June 16th, 2007, Rev. Dr. Larry Neal resigned as pastor of the First New Hope Baptist Church, for five months the members continued to worship and pray that the Lord would send a leader. Our prayers were answered on December 2, 2007 Rev. Dr. Larry Neal returned to fulfill his calling as Pastor of First New Hope Baptist Church.
We continued to look to the Lord for guidance and to work together for the upbuilding of God's Kingdom. Unfortunately our hearts were sadden with the news of the passing of Sis. Carrie L. Hatney on April 29, 2008. One thing we know is that the Lord never makes a mistake. Again, on May 21, 2008 we were sad to learn of God's call for Sis. Janie O'Bryant from labor to reward, another dear strong soldier gone on.
There is yet much to be done, May 2008 a new air conditioner was purchased through pledges of the members. In July 2008 renovations were made to the men's bathroom, for God is not through with us yet. We must continue to hold to God's unchanging hand. One thing for sure God said he would never leave us or forsake us he will be with us until the end. Let us continue to work while it's day. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office. So we, being many, are on body in Christ, and every one member one of another.
In 2009, Pastor Linda K. Shepard joined First New Hope as the new Minister of Music. She also donated a state of the art Computer Lab for the Advancement of the First New Hope Outreach Initiative under the vision of Rev. Dr. Larry Neal. Reverend Neal and Pastor Shepard also donated the funds to open a church breakfast nook.
In 2010, the First New Hope New Members Guide was introduced along with business card invitations. The guide serves as a helpful medium to help new members acclimate to the doctrine, disciplines and history of the both the church and the Baptist faith. Included in the long line of new baptisms, memberships and christenings, were Evangelist Lavinia Franklin and the grand daughter of Reverend Michael Byrd.
First New hope rolls on to higher heights in 2011 while studying revelations and preparing for these latter days. The membership is growing in both youth and experience and the spiritual ministry is touching lives daily. Stay tuned as the little church across from the rail road tracks rolls toward its 130th year of established ministry. To God Be The Glory.
First New Hope has continued to grow through out the last few years. The First New Hope Sanctuary was given a new face look. New carpeting and a beautiful renovation have given the sanctuary new life. However, along the way we lost some dear and faithful members; one in particular was the First Mother of the Church, Mother Eunice Webb.
On Sunday, February 28th, 2018 Our Pastor of 18 Years, preached his final sermon from the First New Hope Baptist Church Pulpit. After gracing us one last time with the a Word from on high, he and his wife, the first lady, bid us farewell as they headed toward new horizons surrounding family, the onset of nearing retirement and new direction in ministry. We are grateful to God to have had such a long and fruitful ministerial tenure; however, God has lead us to a new clearing and we must act according to His will . . . . To be continued.