A Historic Journey – 130 Years (1877 – 2007)
Theme: “Celebrating Our Past, Preparing for Our Future”
The Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded on June 8, 1877 under the pastorate of Rev. N. Gray, as part of a circuit that included Galilee AME church in
. The first sanctuary was built by three trustees, Richard Wood, George Larkins, and Wilson Turner, who purchased a one-acre tract of land in the “Popular Ridge” area of
, at a cost of $134.55. The church was erected adjacent to a “colored” schoolhouse that had been built in 1875. The original church was a log structure which was destroyed by fire in 1919.
In 1920, the first building fund was established, under the pastorate of Rev. J. T. Bailey, when members were asked to put away a penny a day for a month to raise the necessary funds for construction of a new church on
Queen Anne Road
in Mitchellville, MD. Additionally, members paid ten cents per Sunday for “class dues” to support the ongoing operating expenses of the church.
The second church structure, built in 1925, is a one-story, front-gabled building of wood frame construction. It is typical of small meeting houses from the early 20th century. Centered in the south gable of the building is a small entry tower with a pyramidal roof. Two paneled doors provided entry to the sanctuary. As was typical of structures built during that time period, the church had no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing. A pot belly stove provided heat and “out houses” on the outside of the church were built to accommodate the restroom needs of members. Members buried their family members in a small graveyard behind the church. The structure is still standing today and was designated a historic landmark by the State of
in 1986 and is registered as the oldest AME historic site in
All of the members of
lived in the Mitchellville community, which was classified as a rural farming section of
’s County until recent times. Most members were farmers or sharecroppers who primarily raised tobacco. The members enjoyed church and walked several miles regardless of weather to attend services. During the winter, many of them wore shoes wrapped in burlap sacks because of the deep snow. They never complained about the long walk, or about the length of the service, since the church was their only source of fellowship and recreation. They served the Lord with gladness and welcomed the fellowship with other believers. Sunday offerings averaged about $4.00 each week from member donations of nickels and dimes.
Church Expansion and Community Transition
In 1946, electric lights were installed and a choir loft was built to accommodate the church’s first choir. From 1946 to 1965, programs were expanded to include Sunday School and
. There were also annual pilgrimages to the
, where church members participated in old fashion baptismal services. In 1958, an eight-foot extension was added to the sanctuary. A multipurpose room with kitchen was also added.
By 1965, many Black families began moving out of the Mitchellville area. The church was in serious need of repair and plumbing. The membership had
only reached about 35 and Sunday offerings were barely adequate to meet the operating costs of the church. Despite this dismal outlook, the small band of members kept the faith and toiled untiringly, with much prayer, to continue to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Their faith and untiring efforts began to pay off as the years rolled on.
In 1973, Mrs. Sylvia Myers, who served on the Building Fund Committee, seized the opportunity to place a $25 deposit on a five-acre parcel of land next door to the
Queen Anne Road
church, until she could meet with the rest of the committee. The committee overwhelmingly approved her action and purchased the land. The mortgage on the land was paid in full within two years. It was during this time that the dream of building a new church with running water and indoor plumbing became a reality.
In 1976, there was an expansion of the Youth Department and other church organizations were strengthened. The building program also accelerated during this period.
Church leaders and members took a giant leap of faith in 1982 and began construction on the new
Queen Anne Road
. The brick building was a $250,000 construction project. Construction of the new sanctuary was completed in December 1984. The first worship service was held in the new facility on December 23, 1984. A dedication service was held on March 31, 1985. A resolution was introduced to change the name of the church to Greater Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church at the Washington Annual Conference in May 1985. Church membership grew rapidly during the first years of worship in the new facility.
In 1988, Reverend Jonathan Leslie Weaver was appointed as pastor of Greater Mt. Nebo AME church. Since his appointment, more than sixteen hundred persons have joined the church and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior -- “To God be the Glory.” In 1992, only eight years after its construction, the
Queen Anne Road
facility could not hold the throngs of new worshipers that flocked to the church, even after moving to two worship services each Sunday. Consequently, worship services were moved from the
Queen Anne Road
site to a site on
The 1995 purchase of an eighty-seven acre tract of land located at
and Route 301 in
, was another milestone in the church’s history. At this site, phase I of a new worship center has been built and a larger, phase II sanctuary is planned along with a Family Life and
, and Senior Housing Facility. Construction began on the first phase of the new worship center in early 2003 and was completed 2005.
Pastors and Pastoral Contributions
During its 130-year history, twenty eight preachers of the gospel have served as pastors of Greater Mt. Nebo, including Rev. N. Gray, who was the first pastor in 1877. Others include: Rev. Custis, Rev. Norman Brown, Rev. Johnson, Rev. W.T. Brown, Rev. Heartsfield, Rev. Stevenson, Rev. J. Jones, Rev. L.P. Herring, Rev. J.O. Wing, Rev. Henry Lewis, and Rev. Walter Murray, who served during the period of 1878-1919. Pastors who succeeded Rev. Murray include: Rev. J.T. Bailey (1920-1925); Rev. William H. Brown (1925-1945); Rev. Matthew Bailey (October 1945 – April 1946 ;) Rev. Raymond Smith (1946 to 1949) and Rev. M. Arthur Camper (1949 to 1951). Pastors who served during the period from 1951 to 1976 include: Rev Jesse C. Taylor, Rev. Joseph Grant, Rev. William McQueen, Rev. William Bell, Rev. James E. Dorsey, Rev. William Chew, Rev. Roland Howard, Rev. William Holt, and Rev. Napoleon Hines. Rev. James A. Carey served from 1976 to 1987; Rev. Mack Bell from 1987 to 1988; and Rev. Jonathan L. Weaver from 1988 to the present.
Pastors who made significant contributions to the building program and/or the spiritual growth of the church are as follows: Rev. J. T. Bailey led the beginning of the construction of the first
Queen Anne Road
site in 1920; Rev. Raymond Smith made many renovations to the church from 1946 to 1949; Rev. M Arthur Camper raised the Sunday School to a new level, spiritually, and started the first
. During his pastorate, he was a student at
and showed a great interest in and love for young people. Rev. William Chew organized the church’s first official building fund and made additional renovations to the church in 1958. In 1976, Rev. James Carey led the congregation in the construction of the second
Queen Anne Road
worship facility. Rev. Jonathan Weaver championed the efforts to pay-off the mortgage on the second
Queen Anne Road
facility in seven years; led the movement of the worship services to
401 Prince Georges Boulevard
, and guided the purchase of eighty-seven acres of land at Route 301 and
The Church in 2007
has grown physically from less than 75 members in 1988 to nearly 1600 members. Two Bible Study classes are held each week, and adult and
classes are taught on Sunday mornings. Fourteen ordained ministers serve on staff and over twenty sons and daughters have been called into the preaching ministry. Four churches and several external ministries have been birthed with the support and encouragement of this church. Over forty ministries are alive and working within the church. The focus of many of the new ministries is spiritual growth, outreach, evangelism and assimilation of new members.
A major expansion of the Youth Ministry was initiated by Rev. Jonathan Weaver in 1994, when he brought in a dynamic young minister, Rev. Keith Battle, as the first Minister to youth. A 6:00 p.m. service, which focused on youth, was established by Rev. Battle in 1997. In 2000, Rev. Battle was called by God to pastor his own church. After Rev. Battle’s departure, three other ministers have served in the capacity of Minister to Youth at Greater Mt. Nebo: Rev. Shawn McBride, Rev. Shannon Pettiford, and Bro. Carlos Perkins, the current Minister to Youth.
Under the leadership of these four powerful Youth Ministers, Greater Mt. Nebo’s youth have received a wealth of spiritual education, guidance and nurturing. Separate Children’s and
services are held during each Sunday service. Additionally, Bible study classes are held each week for children and youth from tots to young adults. A number of other activities and trips are held for the youth throughout the year, including mission trips to
Trinidad and Tobago
, and the
has enjoyed a legacy of excellent music for many years. This legacy began in 1949 with the Mt. Nebo Gospel Chorus (presently known as the Mt. Nebo Gospel Singers) as one of the church’s first organized choirs. The Mt. Nebo Gospel Singers remained in existence for over fifty-five years spreading the gospel throughout the
Metropolitan area and the East Coast until May 2005.
Several other choirs have been added to the Music Ministry over the years. The ministry is composed of a Minister to Music, three Choir Directors, six choirs, a Praise and Worship Team, and a group of gifted and talented musicians. In 2002, the Music Ministry was expanded to include liturgical dance and drama, and is now called the Music and Arts Ministry. The Liturgical Dance Ministry includes children, youth, young adult, and adult dance teams including, a separate men’s dance team, as well as, special combined teams formed for various occasions.
Bertha Bell Women’s Missionary Society
The Bertha Bell Women’s Missionary Ministry carries the light of Jesus into the broader community, and performs numerous outreach activities on behalf of the church. The ministry has a membership of nearly 100 members working in the vineyards for Christ. We truly thank God for the mighty work He is doing through the Greater Mt. Nebo Missionary Ministry.
Greater Mt Nebo is indeed “Celebrating Our Past”! Yet God is not through with us yet. 1Corinthians 2:9
says, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor mind conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (NIV). We love God! So, we are also “Preparing for Our Future”. We want to give God the very best of everything -- our resources, talents and time. We are striving for a more excellent way to serve God in His awesomeness.
We acknowledge God’s excellent blessings, as the church has toiled and been successful over the years because of faith, prayer and praise. We also thank God for the “cloud of witnesses” and individuals who paved the way for us to be where we are today. We reflect on the past, reach to the future, and rejoice in the Lord for His mighty works.
We give all glory and honor to our Lord and Savior for the marvelous things He has done at Greater Mt. Nebo over the past 130 years. We look expectedly toward the future, realizing that “It’s not about us, it’s all about Him”