Ebenezer Church History
"Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the Lord has helped us." 1 Samuel 7:12
It has been said in the scripture that Ebenezer is a Hebrew word meaning "stone help". Rev. James Kelly, inspired by the phrase, began to organize Ebenezer Baptist Church in 1900. Rev. Kelly could not stand on the "stone of help" alone. Many untiring and dedicated Christians joined him in establishing the first Baptist Church in the Redhill Community. Assisting him were Deacons P.B. Gray, W.W. Donnell, and J.C. Crumpton.
Ebenezer began its growth as a 30 x 40 foot wooden framed structure. Concerned community citizens rallied to the cause of Kingdom building. Distinctly remembered are the Groome brothers who assisted in the construction of the church by hauling lumber by horse drawn wagons to the building site in Sedgefield.
With the physical facilities completed, the church elected Rev. T.R. Bumpas as the first pastor. The members of Ebenezer began to prosper and glorify God. Sunday School was held each Sunday morning under the leadership of Mrs. Frances Walker and Rev. James Kelly. Worship service was held the first Sunday of each month at 3 o'clock p.m.
Rev. J.T. Hairston was called to pastor at Ebenezer in July of 1909. During Rev. Hairston's fifty years of service, Ebenezer was moved from its original site in the Sedgefield area to its present location in 1928. New life sprang up as new people began to move into the community. The Tarpley and Saunders families were two of the first families to join Ebenezer. They supported the church both spiritually and financially. The Missionary Circle, the Senior Choir, the Senior Usher Board, and the Youth Sunshine Band were organized under Rev. Hairston's Pastorship. Annual revival services were moved from the fourth Sunday in July to the fourth Sunday in September. Following Revival services, baptism was held in a pond near what is presently known as the Sedgefield Golf Course.
Deacon Holland Goins was chairman of the Deacon Board and held the church on a forward steady course. In 1939, Rev. I.R. Tarpley, dedicated to the Christian cause, served as Associate Pastor of Ebenezer where he worked for numerous years in the church community. Rev. I.R. Tarpley passed October 23, 1983. His loyalty and dedication were indeed an inspiration to those who knew and loved him.
After the passing of Rev. J.T. Hairston in 1960, Rev. J.E. McCoy accepted the pastorship of Ebenezer. During this time, progress was made and new programs were implemented. The single white wooden-frame structure was remodeled and brick veneered including a larger sanctuary. Worship services were held the first Sunday of each month at 3 o'clock and the second and fourth Sunday mornings at 11 o'clock. A Pastor's Aide Committee and a Deaconess Committee began during Rev. McCoy's tenure. During his leadership, Rev. Dewey Evans briefly served as Associate Pastor. Girl Scout and Boy Scout Troops were also organized. Choir robes were purchased for the Senior and Young Adult Choirs. After ten years of laboring faithfully, Rev. McCoy resigned as pastor in 1970.
Chairman, Deacon Ray Linney, Sr. stepped up and resumed the leadership role of Ebenezer Baptist Church until May of 1970. It was at this time that Rev. Willie L. Gladney was called and began his pastorship at Ebenezer Baptist Church. Steadfast in his eagerness to fulfill the duties of a Christian leader, Rev. Gladney continued to move the church forward. Several programs were re-established and new programs were implemented. The membership increased to the extent that Sunday worship services changed from its previous format to the first, second, third, and fifth Sundays of each month at 11 o'clock. The fourth Sunday Worship service was later included. The first Sunday Youth Devotion was implemented. The physical facilities of the church were expanded and remodeled including a baptistery, a pastor's study, new bathroom facilities for men and women, a fellowship hall which can be converted into three classrooms, a kitchen, a ladies lounge, and central air conditioning in the old and new structure.
Under Rev. Gladney's leadership, the sanctuary pews were cushioned; a steeple was placed on the top of the church; a two car-receiving porch was built; and the parking area was paved; handicap ramps in the front and rear entrance of the church were built; and new bathroom facilities for men and women were added in the Vestibule. A Kitchen Committee was formed to coordinate fellowship meals. A Youth Department, a Youth Usher Board, and a Male Chorus were also organized. The Young Adult Choir became the Gospel Choir and Sunshine Band became the Junior Choir. New choir robes were purchased for the Senior and Gospel Choirs. A new piano and organ enhanced the music department. A monthly Monday night Bible Study began under the leadership of Rev. Gladney. Church students were recognized and received scholarship awards from the Ebenezer Baptist Church Scholarship Fund. A church directory was published and water fountains were installed. There were four new deacons ordained on November 16, 1997 and five new trustees appointed. Under Rev. Gladney's leadership, Rev. James Rudd, Rev. Frank Blount, and Rev. Fredrick Lucas served as Associate Pastors. This was the era that Ebenezer Baptist Church was blessed to be debt-free. On December 31, 1997 Reverend Gladney retired after twenty-seven years of faithful and devoted leadership. He was honored at the annual Christmas dinner in 1997. Rev. Dr. W.L. Gladney served as Pastor Emeritus until his transition into heaven in February 2018.
On January 1, 1998, O.J. Linney, Chairman of the Deacon Board assumed leadership, while church members prayerfully and patiently searched for a pastor. With God as his guide, he led the church through several months of successful growth. He implemented the following committees: Pulpit Search Committee, By-Laws and Constitution Committee, Finance Committee as well as the Special Programs Committee. Under his leadership new windows were installed in the fellowship hall, the sanctuary was painted, church gutters were installed, and vinyl siding was added to the outside of the church. New furnaces were bought, moving the church from oil to gas, and the walls of the basement were redone. Ebenezer Baptist Church members were thankful that Deacon O.J. Linney allowed God to lead and direct him.
Through fasting and praying for a Shepard to lead the flock, God answered the prayers of the Ebenezer Baptist Church on June 6th of 1999. The Bible says, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord" (Psalm 37:23). This was clearly evident by the way the church membership has grown. Under the direction of Howard L. Woods, Jr., the church membership began and continues to flourish. New Comers Ministry was developed. Under his leadership, the following church ministries have been added: Women's Ministry, Tape Ministry for all sick and shut-in members, Annual Youth Ministry Lock-ins, Men's Ministry, Outreach and Prison Ministries, Deacon and Trustee Ministries. These ministries of the church support our present and future growth.
The Church Nursery was established and Annual Fun Day progressed. Activities for our Youth also increased as the church family supports and join the youth on many outings. An additional bi-monthly Bible Study and regular Youth Conferences are held. A web page was designed with a church e-mail address; a church pictorial directory was published; a computerized financial and church membership database was created; and an alarm system was installed. The Finance Room was remodeled. The land adjacent to the church was purchased and plans are being made to accommodate all who wish to come and worship. For that purpose, the Building Fund was established. The Building Committee and Leadership Committees were formed and meetings are regularly held in preparation for expansion and renovation. The Kitchen Committee was changed to the Social Committee. The Newsletter Ministry was created. The Trustee Ministry welcomed nine new Stewarts including two women and seven men.
A Souvenir Booklet was published in 2000 to commemorate Ebenezer Baptist Church's one hundred years in existence. Wednesday night Pre-Founders Day services began under the leadership of Pastor Woods. Rev. Bobby Biggers briefly served as Associate Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church and Rev. Fredrick Lucas continues to serve as Associate Pastor.
God always provides the increase. The leadership of Pastor Woods has continuously, exceedingly, and abundantly blessed us. The slogan at Ebenezer is "Building the Ark, One Soul at a Time". Our vision is "Teaching All People the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Worshipping through effective evangelism, fellowship, and Christian Family Relationships". Our scripture is "Christ in you the Hope of Glory" (Colossians 1:27).
The 11 o'clock worship service has increased in seating capacity. In August 2016, we added an Early Morning Worship Service at 8:00 AM. God has brought us a mighty long way. We've been blessed by His goodness and saved by His grace. We pray that God will continue to bless us as we grow and prosper in His name.