The History of First New Hope Baptist Church, 3rd Edition
Deacon Frank Hart, the original author of First New Hope Baptist Church’s history, stated, “we see all through the South large groups of black people suddenly move from darkness into the light of a new day. Without any knowledge and very little hopes for their future, they turned to God. Their prayers were answered in this part of the state with a young man by the name of Patrick Henry Graves.”
Reverend Patrick Henry Graves was born in Louisa County in 1840. The local community came to know Graves he became an itinerant minister conducting prayer meetings. In 1868, a group of people seeking to form a fellowship appointed Graves as their pastor.
In 1871, 15 men gathered at the home of Fleming Ellis and formally organized FNHBC under the pastoral guidance of Reverend Graves. These men were Richard Moss, Sr., Elijah Lawrence, Pleasant Broadus, Fleming Ellis, Mike Banks, Albert Carter, Cluff Shelton, Constant Howard, Steven Baker, Hampton Williams, Barnet Woolfork, Sr., Charley Ellis, Ruben Brooks, George Roane, and William Williams.
An acre of land was purchased and deeded to the church by William and Lucy Williams on November 1, 1880. Pastor Graves selected the church’s first deacons. The original members of the Deacon Board were Richard Moss, Sr., Elijah Lawrence, Pleasant Broadus, Fleming Ellis, Rubin Brookland, William Williams. The deacons selected the Trustee Board members who would help plan the building of a frame church. Those original Trustees were Pleasant Broadus, Fleming Ellis, Washington (Wash) Minor, Philip Minor, George Roane, and Mike Banks.
Women took active roles in the creation of the church body and building. Sara Hart organized the first Willing Worker’s Club which gave the church its first Communion set. Alsie Ellis was an active member until her death in 1944 at age 98. Carrie Ellis taught Sunday School and brought the church’s first piano from Washington, D.C. Mattie Ellis became the church’s pianist and organized the glee club that remained active until 1938.
In 1906 the present building was erected by Pastor Graves’s oldest son Spurgeon Graves and his partner Watson Coleman. A cornerstone was laid and consecrated therefore designating the structure a house of worship.
On May 9, 1910, sons of original deacons, Samuel Broadus and James Henry Ellis were ordained to that ministry. Deacon Samuel Broadus was elected the first Chairman of the Deacon Board and moderated meetings until his death in 1949. Deacon Ellis served as superintendent of the Sunday School for many years until his health failed.
In 1912, Reverend Graves was debilitated with an illness that left him unable to carry out his pastoral duties and engaged his cousin, Reverend O.T. Harris, to serve as Pastor Interim. Reverend Graves sadly passed later that year.
On September 8, 1917, Reverend China H. Coleman was elected Pastor. For the next 15 years the church progressed with the organization of the first choir, a Missionary Society, and Pastor’s Aid Club.
Dr. E.L.R. Guss was elected Pastor on June 14, 1935. The church continued to thrive with the reorganization of the Usher Board under President Henry Armstead Hart. The church was wired for electricity and the first furnace and baptismal pool were installed and to building fund for improvements established. After 21 years of service, Reverend Guss was forced to resign after suffering a stroke.
Reverend Floyd H. Gayles was installed as Pastor June 15, 1958, and the church altered its worship service program from meeting once a month to twice a month on second and fourth Sundays.
Reverend Louis T.W. Jackson’s 37-year tenure began on July 16, 1967. FNHBC was well organized, debt free, with a robust building fund. Reverend Jackson oversaw the construction of an annex to the rear of the church to include five rooms and a fellowship hall. The church’s ministries grew with the establishment of two more Sunday services, a Nurses’ Unit and Men and Women Choruses.
In August 2004, FNHBC elected assistant pastor, Reverend Gilbert Thomas Garcia, and installed him on November 20, 2004. Carrying on in the tradition of his forebears, Reverend Garcia promoted the creation of the E.L.R Guss Scholarship fund and Next Generation Choir. a, He served with Reverends Donald Lindsey and George Patterson as associate ministers.
Today, FNHBC continues its ecclesiastical progression under the leadership of Reverend Stevenson Reed. Reverend Reed is a highly educated man and a former U.S. Army Officer, supported by his wife and co-laborer in Christ, Lady Yvonne Reed, an equally educated woman and Behavioral Health Specialist.
The church has listened 11 ministers: Reverends William Moss, Philip Berkley, Ruben Brooks, James Henry Broadus, Coleman T. Williams, Dabney Garlic, Otha Coleman, George Shorter, Ernest Moss, Gilbert Garcia, and Ministers Rebecca Carter and Melissa White.
Past deacons are Cluff Shelton, Hamilton Williams, Constant Howard, Oscar Crutchfield, Billie Ware, Robert Ware, Dudley Ware, William H. Lewis, Eddie Ellis, Nelson Jackson, Clayborne Jackson, J.Shelby Guss, Otha Coleman, DeWitt Coleman, Boyster Ware, Ernest Moss, John Moses Minor, Louis Boggs, Frank Hart, Elmore Banks, Samuel Minor, Earl Sugars, Jr., and Lucian John Ware, Jr. Although there may be more, we do not have a record of their names. Today, the Deacon Board members are Clyde Broaddus, Jr., George Minor, Melvin Thompson, and Rodney White.
Past trustees were Willie H. Levi, John F. Levi, Henry Armstead Hart, Andrew Ware, Eddie Ellis, Elmore Hunter, Richard Thompson, Clyde E. Broadus, Ernest Moss, Amos Thompson, Samuel Minor, Louis Boggs, and Lester Lewis. The current Trustee Board members are Clifton Johnson, Jr., Rodney Jackson Sr., Henry Powell, and John Henry Stanley.
Past Usher Board (now Ministry) members include Clara Williams, Lorraine Boggs, Rosa Broaddus, Rosa Lewis, Sam Minor, Betty Hart, Grace Hart, Lester Lewis, Hilda Carter Boggs, Eddie Jacob Boggs, Alice Minor, Lucian Ware, Jr., and Linda Alsop. Today, the Ushers Ministry members are Faith Jackson, Rodney Jackson, Sr., Grace Ware, Anita Jackson, Lucy Davis, Jessica Wall and Rodney Jackson, Jr.
The Music Ministry is led by Stephanie Burchett, Vincent Burchett, and Wilson Lewis.
In 2014, the first Financial Secretary was Linda Alsop succeeded by Sharon Johnson in 2018. Patricia Ware is Church Clerk and Markus Reed is the Assistant Church Clerk. Curtis Hart, Willie Fox, Joyce Moody, Esther Banks, and Clyde Broaddus, Jr have served as past treasurers. Today, the Treasurer is Linda Alsop.
In conclusion, to express the spirit of this updated and revised history it is appropriate to again quote the original author, Deacon Frank Hart. “After […] years of spiritual progress, the First New Hope Baptist Church has withstood the test of time. It still stands as a tower of inspiration to all who come within its reach.”
– August 7, 2021