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Our History

A Record of the History of Ebenezer Baptist Church

“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen and called the name of it Ebenezer. This name truly defines the Ebenezer Baptist Church (EBC). For one hundred and thirty-eight years the Ebenezer Baptist Church has sat upon its little corner of Semple Farm Road as a rock to this small community and the greater Hampton area.

Believing that all things are possible, in 1884 the sisters: Jennie Presson, Keziah Presson, Maria Strong, and brother William Russell founded the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Spiritual and organizational guidance during that early period was provided by Reverends: Ebenezer T. Byrd, John Lovett and H.P. Weeden. 

In 1889, the Reverend Lewis D. Lively was called to the pastorate of the church and served with distinction for nearly forty-eight years. It was with Reverend Lively that God enabled the congregation to grow and erect the sanctuary on the present site in 1925. Under his leadership, organizations such as the Deacon Board, Willing Workers, Choir and Male Usher Board were organized. Reverend Lively died September 9, 1937.

After the passing of Reverend Lively, the church was without a pastor for approximately 3 years. The Pulpit Committee was charged with the responsibility of securing ministerial leadership during this time. The Pulpit Committee recommended that the church call Dr. George S. Russell as its pastor and the membership unanimously accepted the recommendation. Thus, Dr. Russell accepted the call as pastor and began serving the congregation on Sunday, May 14, 1939. Much was accomplished through the cooperation of the congregation and the pastor. Ebenezer, like many other churches during this time, held semi-monthly services, on the second and fourth Sundays.

The fifth Sunday was reserved for participation in the Sunday School Union. Reverend Russell inspired all to honor God and to glorify His Holy name through our living with one another. Ebenezer became a bright and shining light in the community. Under the pastorate of Dr. Russell, the church moved literally from the country church to the modern church. This was evidenced by the organization of the Usher Board, Deaconess Board, Missionary Circle, Junior Choir, Men’s Club, Men’s Chorus, Junior Missionary Circle, and the Baptist Training Union. Many physical improvements were made at this time as well.

The greatest accomplishment of this pastorate was the increase in membership. Membership increased approximately fifty percent with youth and young adults accounting for seventy-five percent of the total number. During this time, the church moved to having Sunday Morning Worship Services on each Sunday, except the fifth Sundays, at 11:00 a.m.

Due to illness, Reverend Russell retired and was named Pastor Emeritus in 1965. He died October 5, 1966.

The Pulpit Committee was once again commissioned to find a new pastor. On July 22, 1966, Reverend Maurice Carter was called. Ebenezer was now eighty years old. The membership continued to grow. Both spiritual and physical goals for the church were established under the Carter leadership. Reverend Mathew Winder, Sr., was licensed and became the first associate minister.

Reverend Carter served the congregation for five years. He resigned to become pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Newport News.

Once again, the church found itself without a leader, but the membership drew closer together to continue the work of God’s church. For fourteen months spiritual fervor remained at a peak, stewardship doubled, and faith in God increased.

In September 1972, the membership called Reverend Walter R. Dean as pastor. Committed to the theme “My Call to Fulfill,” Reverend Dean immediately heightened the forward thrust of the church. It was under his leadership that worship service at 11 o’clock on each fifth Sunday was offered for worshipers. The mission and programs of Ebenezer were enlarged, and new areas unfolded. The church became more focused on the needs of people within and without our circle.

At the beginning of the 1990’s, the Pastor revealed a vision from God for the spiritual and physical growth of this branch of Zion. The community around us swelled and the ‘need’ became great to enlarge our ministries and our building. The plans to construct a larger edifice surfaced. After much prayer, sacrifice, and fasting the church broke ground in June of 1993 and construction began in April 1997.

On Palm Sunday, March 28, 1999, the vision was made clear, and the congregation marched from the old sanctuary to its new sanctuary. The new edifice was dedicated in July 1999. With larger doors, Ebenezer expanded its call to all who would enter in.

During the 2000s Pastor Dean emphasized our call to all who would come in, and greatly expanded outreach in the surrounding community. To facilitate the mission work, the following major ministries were developed: Diaconate, Christian Education, Fellowship, Missions, and Worship Support. Each of these major ministries has numerous ministries supporting our congregation, community, and country (see a breakout of these ministries on our website). These efforts won souls for Christ in Hampton, Newport News, and surrounding cities. Outreach included the Senior Ministry’s annual Prayer Breakfast, our Military Ministry, the Parenting Ministry’s quarterly family night dinners and the Fall Festival. Outreach was further evident as we supported foreign missions in Haiti and Kenya adding to the body of Christ.

Under Pastor Dean’s leadership forty-four ministers were licensed. Five have gone on to Pastor Churches: Pastor Calvin Williams, Beulah Baptist Church in Tampa, Florida, Pastor Marsay Winder, Branches of the Vine Community Church, Hampton, Virginia, Pastor Gregory McGee, Sr., Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church, Winona, Mississippi, Pastor Douglas Smith, Mount Olive Baptist Church, Barhamsville, Virginia, and Pastor Darrell Hudson, Morning Star Baptist Church, Gloucester, Virginia.

Pastor Dean also had a heart for our youth. During his tenure he encouraged outreach to embrace tender minds and eager spirits by supporting religious retreats, camps, educational trips, and workshops. These experiences included trips to Camp Friendship, Wakefield Retreat, Eagle Eyrie Camp, Bush Gardens, Great Wolf Lodge, Kings Dominion, Water Country, The National Museum of African American History and Culture, the Smithsonian National Museum in Washington, D.C., the Outer Banks to visit the light house, aquarium, and The Sight and Sound Theater in Ronks, Pennsylvania. The youth also regularly attended praise and worship services at the Acquire the Fire Conferences in Norfolk, and Richmond Virginia. The youth received life skills on such topics as Teenage Dating Violence, College Life Experience, College Entrance exams and Scholarships preparation. The Senior Ministry also supported our youth by sponsoring trips to include the youth. Activities included attending the play “Buffalo Soldier” at the American Theater in Hampton Virginia, the Frederick Douglas House in Washington, D.C. and the Baltimore Black Wax Museum. During the regular Sunday morning worship hour, Toddlers Loving Christ (TLC) Ministry for babies nine months to four years old provided early Christian education and activities that focused on friendship with Jesus Christ.

After much prayer and with guidance from the Holy Spirit, Pastor Dean ordained the first Women Deacons of Ebenezer Baptist Church in 2017. These women: Deacon Joyce Bright, Deacon Jeanette Grase, Deacon Fortunata Green, Deacon Chenelle Harris, Deacon Gladys Jordan, Deacon Helen Johnson and Deacon Carolyn Waites, exemplify the fact that God uses ordinary people to accomplish His great works. The expansion of the EBC’s Diaconate to include women servants in this office was consistent with the biblical example of Phoebe and other women in the Bible.  This was the last most passionate and impactful contribution in the legacy of our beloved Pastor Dean prior to his death.

For 48 years Pastor Dean served Ebenezer with love, wisdom, and the full guidance of the Word of God. He held firm to his motto “my calling to fulfill” and ensured that the Ebenezer congregation was equipped to “Reach the unsaved and Those Who Have Fallen Away.” After a lengthy illness, Pastor Dean died on December 20, 2020.

On March 15, 2020, we held our first live streamed service. These services continued for eighteen months. Additionally, we implemented “Park and Praise” parking lot services on September 20, 2020, as weather permitted. With this “new normal,” Ebenezer embraced the new format of worship to all its members, whether at home viewing virtually, or in person as the CDC lifted pandemic restrictions. In this virtual worship experience God’s Word was manifested, heightened and allowed this body of believers to take the Gospel to a global audience. Our worship service viewership extended to faraway places like Canada, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, India, Kenya and Nigeria. As a result, EBC’s opportunities for witnessing increased exponentially as instructed in Mark 16:15 which says, “And He said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the world.”

Once the CDC and state restrictions were lifted a collaborative effort from the Diaconate and Health Ministry facilitated a phased in process for the safe return of our in-person attendees. On May 23, 2021, we resumed hybrid services: offering both in person and live streaming.

During this period, our Outreach Missionary work was responsive to the community food deficits caused by the pandemic. Under the direction of Taylor Teagle, our youth led the “Pop the Trunk” food initiative twice during 2021-2022. This ministry was a transition from the former Self Help and Resource Exchange (SHARE) program for feeding the hungry.

In 2021 the Pulpit Search Committee convened to begin a search for the next Pastor who would lead Ebenezer Baptist Church into the future. The Search effort was expansive reaching out across the nation for candidates. After the selection of qualified candidates, the Diaconate Pastoral Interview process was initiated. This procedure consisted of the following: two in-depth interviews by the panel, preaching for a month, teaching Bible Study, providing words of encouragement, a teaching, or a sermon for Inspirational Thursday, and finally the facilitation of Corporate Prayer. The candidates were tasked with presenting a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, obstacles, and threats) analysis which projected a five-year growth plan for the church. The EBC membership (adults and youth) had an opportunity to fully engage with the candidates during a question, and answer forum.

As we began our one hundred and thirty eighth year (eight being the number for new beginnings), we looked forward to selecting and installing a “new” Pastor who would lead us into the “new” era filled with mighty works for the Lord our God.

On Sunday, November 13, 2022, we celebrated our 138th anniversary in service to God. The Legacy History Committee highlighted our past and our future. Our past is represented by our 90’s Club members who tap into longevity and faithfulness as an important part of the EBC foundation. Our 2022 members are Sister Mary Chaplin, Sister Maggie Elliott, Brother Stanley Lovett, Brother Walter Lovett, Sister Kathleen Stewart, Deacon Ernest Waites, and Sister Lucile Winder. Our youth represents our present and our future. Our celebration theme, “Standing on the Shoulders of God’s Inspired Greatness,” gives our youth the opportunity to showcase their leadership abilities, gifts, and successes linked to EBC’s influence upon their lives.

After two years without a Pastor, the Ebenezer membership elected Minister Terrence R. Teagle as our eighth Pastor on Saturday, November 12, 2022. In his grateful, heartfelt acceptance of the congregation’s greeting as our new Pastor, Minister Teagle defined Ebenezer as a ‘Christ Centered, Multigenerational Church of Believers that will be directed to Love God, Love People, and Let Everyone Know.’

Installation services for Pastor Teagle were held on the weekend of July 15 through July 16, 2023. On Saturday, July 15 at 5:00 p.m. the Pastoral Installation Banquet was held at the Hampton Convention Center, Hampton Virginia. Bishop Shawn D. Smith of Greater Love International, McDonnough, Georgia presented the evening message. The installation service was held on Sunday, July 16 at 3:30 p.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church with the Reverend Doctor Walter M. Brown Jr. founding Pastor of Bethany Ministries, Prelate of Kingdom Minded Association of Churches, Jacksonville, Florida presenting the installation sermon. Reverend Doctor Shelton Murphy, Pastor of Mount Gilead Baptist Church, Norfolk, Virginia and Moderator of the Tidewater Peninsula Baptist Association performed the Laying on of Hands. EBC youth, Miss Destini Jones and Mr. Emory Whitfield lit the eighth candle denoting Pastor Teagle as the eighth Pastor in the lineage of Ebenezer Baptist Church.

Pastor ‘T’s and Lady Dawn’s first year set the spiritual foundation of their ministry, by teaching during their first Bible Study series, Fruit of the Spirit and Spiritual Gifts. They also reinstated ministries and activities that had to lay dormant during the COVID-19 pandemic including the Women’s Fellowship, Community Unity Day, Family and Friends Day and Fall Festival. New ministries and activities were introduced to include the Pop the Trunk Community Food Drive during the Spring, Thanksgiving and Christmas, the inaugural College Fair, and the celebration of HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Day as part of the February Black History Month commemoration. After an extremely busy start to his Pastorship, Pastor ‘T’ designated the month of August as Selah — a time to pause and reflect on the goodness of God.

As we celebrate the 139th year of Ebenezer Baptist Church we honor our 90 plus Club members who represent the fruit of the spirit through their religious, professional, public and private lives. Demonstrating to all how wonderfully God works through us to enrich the body and our local community as they put into practice God’s words of wisdom, kindness, generosity, and selflessness. Our 2023 members are Sister Mary Chaplin, Sister Maggie Elliott, Brother Stanley Lovett, Brother Walter Lovett, Sister Kathleen Stewart, Sister Lucile Winder, Sister Margaret Logan, and Sister DelRosa Johnson. We are blessed over and over by knowing each one of these members of EBC. 

The Ebenezer family looks forward to what God will do in this body while we travel the spiritual road with Pastor ‘T’ as he follows God’s direction for this branch of Zion.