The History of Ebenezer Baptist Church
In the year 1891, a group of Christian folk began prayer meetings from house to house. The first public meeting of this missionary group was held in the Leslie School House on Academy Street. These meetings continued until 1893 under the direction of Rev. Charles Fariess who came to this city as a missionary worker from Yonkers, New York. On January 19, 1893 the church was organized, and Rev. Fariess served as pastor. He suggested that the church be named EBENEZER In honor of the church of which he was a member in Richmond, Through faith in God, personal sacrifice, necessity, and financial support of (he Christian community, Ebenezer held ground breaking at the preset site in 1904. Over a fire destroyed the quarters at Little Smith and Main Streets, eye began on the called by American Baptist Convention to the Chaplaincy. Reverend ,church was dedicated in May 1907 .
Following Rev. Fariess, Rev L.B. Brown became pastor. At that time many of our young women did domestic work. He purchased the house next to the church for a working Girls Home." He pastored two years.
Rev. B. W. Wicks followed as pastor. Through the influence of Deacon Hayes, property on Pershing Avenue was purchased for investment and to give at least two of our members a decent home. He pastored one year.
In 1924 Rev. Herbert Payne returned from Africa about this time and was soon called as pastor. He electrified the church and parsonage and the Working Girls Home, which had been arid to a member by that time. Rev. Payne revived the B.Y.P.U. This became an important part of the church program.
After five years 1930, he left and was followed by Rev. E.R. Mosley. The Uplift Club was organized. Two years later Rev. Mosley passed away. From 1932 - 1934 Ebenezer was without a pastor
In 1934 Rev. Thomas Jenkins was elected pastor and served for 12 years. Under his administration, the Relief club was Mrs. Nichols as president. The Improvement Fund, a splendid program involving the whole church. was started.
The Rev. Charles E. Byrd was the next pastor to serve the Ebenezer Baptist Church. He was called in 1947. He revolutionized the order of service organized the Gospel Chorus and the Couples Club. He established a building committee. The Couples Club adopted a girl in Africa. In 1951 Reverend Byrd left for military service and the Reverend C.E. Morton became interim pastor from 1951 to 1953. Reverend Byrd returned only to be called by American Baptist Convention to the Chaplaincy.
The Senior Usher Board of the Ebenezer Baptist Church joined the Westchester Ushers Assembly in April 1947. The late Mr. James Rodgers was the president of the assembly. The late Mrs. Lena Cropp was the president when we joined. Others that served as president Hilda Anderson, Robert Carpenter, and Mrs. Catherine Lewis.
In the 1950s the position of the moderator was established. The moderator is the presiding officer at business meetings. The following persons have served in this office: Mr. James Douglas, Mr.Clayton Thompson, Mr. Victor 0. Morris, Mr. Lloyd Wilkins, Mr. John Stroud, Mr. Glenn Johnson, Mr. Samuel Fleming, Mrs. Gaynelle Shorter.Mr. David Lewis, and Mr. James Boone, Mrs. Evelyn Newton and Ms. Tempi Hopkins.
Reverend Charles Sargent was called as Pastor in 1953.During his six years at Ebenezer the property on Pershing Avenue was sold and the money used to renovate 15 Smith Street to be used as a Parish House. We became active in the Dutchess County Baptist Association. Our pulpit was completely remodeled. The use of bulletins during the worship was introduced. The Boy Scouts and a Boys Club were started. The entire membership grew and the entire church participated in a church retreat at the YWCA property. Out of this forum came the position of church Moderator, the mission board, a dart ball club, and a very active Men’s club. Mrs. Virginia Sargent revitalized the youth work.
Other ministers that served Ebenezer were Rev. Coleman Briggs and Rev. Robert Dixon.
The Reverend Verner R. Matthew was called to the pastorate in 1960.There was continuous growth of the membership to the point of needing chairs in the aisles. This revealed a need for a larger building. The house at 17 Smith Street was purchased and demolished and operation 17 was started the first step in our building program. A day nursery was started in the Parish House. A Social Action Committee this committee an exchange program was conducted with the First Presbyterian Church. The Girl Scouts were organized with Mrs. Elois Wilkins as leader. The "Matthewettes' singing group replaced The Cherub Choir organized under reverend Sergeants’ administration. Ebenezer’s youth choir was organized May 3, 1961 with Mr. Victor Morris, director;
Miss Brenda James, pianist Mr. William Duke, Jr, president. The Jr. Ushers were started in 1964. Also in 1964 Ebenezer led a large contingency to the March on Washington.
The records show that, in 1964, Mrs. Carol The Board of Missions and Missionary Society continue to promote involvement of the entire church in addressing the issues of concern locally as well as internationally. Ebenezer is helping to solve the problems, through the collection of food and clothing, programs 'promoting awareness of issues, and donations to agencies and organizations serving those in need. The Missionary Society, under the leadership of Mrs. Ida Coleman, plans and prepares dinners for families and friends during their period of bereavement. Mrs. Martha Morgan and Mrs. Marion Jackson also chaired the Missionary Society.
The Reverend Walter R. Henderson, our present pastor, joined us June 1969. One of the first accomplishments under his administration was the appointment of an Executive Building Committee. The members were Mr. Clayton Thompson, Mrs. Frances Hodge, Mrs. Minerva Hopkins, Mr. Howard Kelly, Mr. William Key, Mr. Victor Morris and Mr. John Parker. Ebenezer continues to give praises to God for the many accomplishments.
In 1969, the Baptist Youth Fellowship (BYF) had as its leaders Mr.Ronald Gregory, Miss Terri Ransome, president the first Youth Retreat in 1969.The BYF is no longer functioning, however the retreat and revival have become annual events and each fourth Sunday youth serve as worship devotional period
In 1970, the Ladies Auxiliary was organized. In 1971, Mrs. Althea Brown was president. The Clothing Bank was a very viable program of the Ladies Auxiliary with Mrs. Clara Johnson, Mrs. Marion Stanton. and many other members giving devoted service to provide clothing for those in need.
In 1978, the Doctor of Ministry Degree was conferred upon the Reverend Charles E. Byrd and Pastor Walter R. Henderson.
The Boards of Deacons and Deaconess were combined in 1979 to form the Diaconate.
1979, Mrs. Valerie H. Stroud organized a nursery program to serve families during the morning worship. This program ended when Mrs.Stroud left the area. Other attempts to provide a nursery program were made by two of our youth Dana and Lena Fleming.
Youth messages were reinstated. The Male Chorus was reorganized with the following persons serving as musicians- Mrs. Marie Douglas Mrs. Marva Clark and Mrs. Ceista Little-Quinn. The Junior Usher Board has been reorganized with Mrs. Louise Morgan, Miss Delores Pittman Mrs. Vivian Roberts and Mrs. Barbara Moore serving as Matrons.
The Flower Committee of Ebenezer continues under the leadership of Mrs. Elois Wilkins. Mrs. Martha Twyman and Mrs. Mary Lewis were very active in the beautification program of the church. The contributions to mission have exceeded the
In 1982 Dr. Charles E. Byrd became the first Pastor-Emeritus. Deacon James Douglas and Deacon Thomas Willis were accorded the title Deacon-Emeritus. Deacon Victor O. Morris and Harry Freeman have become lay ministers.
1991 budget giving the Board of Missions an opportunity to assist more human service organizations than planned. Deacon Lloyd Wilkins chairs the Board of Missions. Each member of the board works to bring to the congregation relevant programs.
A Joint Board Observance is held annually in conjunction with the Board of Trustees, Two members of the Diaconate, Mrs. Martha E. Twyman and Mrs. Martha Morgan are in the Dutchess County infirmary both were very active in the work of the church. Mr. James Boone has been chairman of the Board of Trustees many years. The church's treasurer works very closely with the Trustees. Those having served as treasurer are Mrs. Beatrice Williams, Mrs. Allonia Hodge, Mr. Samuel Fleming, and Mrs. Earlene Mallory.
Recording the minutes of business meetings, preparing worship service bulletins, and submitting reports are just some of the jobs of the church clerk. Mrs. Mildred Hansen, Mrs. Earlene Bowman (Mallory},Mrs. Alice Kelly, Miss Carol Ann Robens and Miss Sandra Joyce have held the office of church clerk.
The church school is the teaching arm of the church and has had very strong leadership through
The church school is the teaching arm of the church and has had very strong leadership through the years. Former superintendents are Mrs. Bessie Riley, Mr. Victor Morris, Mr. Williams Key, Mrs. Barbara Reynolds, Mr. John Stroud, and Mr. John Bridges. Mrs. Bernice S.Henderson. The church school has always encouraged participation of its youth in leadership roles.
In June 1986, a cradle roll and nursery roll were Started. This has led to increased enrollment in church school, thus the need for a young adult Bible class was recognized and in June 1988 the first class was held. The Birthday, Anniversary and Activity Calendar is a product of the church school. Initially in 1988, it was published as a fund raiser for the building fund.
In 1990, the church school conducted its first Evangelistic Outreach Activity to recruit families for the church school in the neighborhood of the church. This has become an annual event with each class participating and distributing fliers.
Our very active Board of Christian Education formed in the early 1950s gives direction to the Christian Education program; its early leaders were Mrs. Bessie Payne,Mrs. Virginia Sargent and Mrs. Thelma Morris. Under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Gaynelle Shorter, the celebration of Black History began with Dr.. Ivan Van Sertima as the keynote speaker. Keynote events such as flour Man from Georgia", a theatrical production with a cast comprising adults and youth among the congregation; keynote speakers such as Mrs. Dorothy Height, President of the National Association of Negro Women; the presentation of recitations by famous Black writers and excerpts from God'sTrombones by a cast of Ebenezer's youth. Ebenezer has a strong commitment to education as is evident by the establishment of the Beatrice Williams Scholarship in the early seventies, the establishment of the Ebenezer Scholarship Fund in 1987. In 1997 the Board of Christian Education established the Betty E. White Scholarship.
The Gospel Chorus and the Senior Choir were been combined to form the Ebenezer Choir with Mrs. Marva Clark and Mrs. Evelyn Newton acting as musicians. Prior to the combining, Mrs. Marie Douglas served as director. The history of Ebenezer records these names- Mrs. Rose, Mr. Ralph Ward, Mr. Victor Morris, Mrs. Laura Strother and Mrs. Marva Clark as Ministers of Music.
Our Social Action Committee, with a history of outstanding accomplishments, continues as a indispensable agency in the community. Mr. Victor 0. Morris chaired this committee for many years, and Mrs. Thelma Usher.
Ebenezer hosts a community Vacation Bible School each year.
In 1990, the Nurses Guild was organized. Mrs. Margaret Mizell performed as first chairman.
The Board of Stewardship and Finance held its first Annual Day in October, 1991 under the leadership of Mr. Noel Miller. Mr. Glenn Johnson served as chairman.
The Girl Scout program has continued for more than 25 years. There are four troops: Daisies, Brownies. Juniors and Cadets. The leaders are Mrs. Elois Wilkins, Mrs Catherine Lewis, Mrs. Deborah Fleming, Ms.. Brynie Cooper, Mrs. Valerie Geer, and Dr. Margaret Wade-Lewis.
In November 1991 another Component of our youth ministry was organized, "a role model club for boys
We acquired the Shubert building Feb. 28, 1994. This was where we held our services while waiting for the new church to be built.
In April of 1996 Rev. Walter R. Henderson went home to Glory leaving a 27 year legacy behind. He was the longest pastor to ever serve at Ebenezer.
Ground breaking for the new church was on May 29th 1996.
July 14, 1996 Ebenezer elected Rev. E. Clayton Wade as the Interim Pastor. Ebenezer's Pulpit committee Started a search that took them across the United stated of America.
June 15, 1997 we installed Rev. E. Clayton Wade as the new pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church.
July 6,1997 we had our first service in the new Ebenezer.
Ebenezer Baptist Church is affiliated with the following organizations: Dutchess interfaith Council; Church Women United; Central HudsonBaptist Association; Mid-Hudson Association of American BaptistChurches, New York State; American Baptist Churches, New YorkState; Empire Baptist Missionary Convention; and American BaptistChurches, USA.Through financial contributions and involvement of individualmembers, Ebenezer supports the following: The United Negro CollegeFund; The Children's Home of Poughkeepsie; NAACP and its legaldefense fund, Habitat for Humanities; The Baptist Home; missionprograms of the affiliated associations; The United Way of DutchessCounty; The American Cancer Society; Harambee; Mid-Hudson/CatskillMigrant Farm Workers; Dutchess Outreach; Mental Health AssociationNorthside Resource Community Center; Church Women United, BeulahBaptist Church Soup Kitchen; Lott Carey Convention.
On April 9th 2013 Ebenezer Baptist Church Paid off their Mortgage!!
On July 12, 2015 Ebenezer Baptist Church Elected Rev. Michael Bell, Jr. as their new pastor.