Ebenezer Baptist Church History
July 14, 2012
The Central Baptist Church was established in the early 1800’s with the congregation being comprised of African American residents living in the adjacent areas. This Church flourished and the name was later changed to the Brick Baptist Church. After the death of it last pastor, the Rev. Kit Green, in 1881, the church slowly disbanded following the loss of spiritual leadership. Some members of the Brick Baptist Church, wishing to have a place to worship, regrouped in 1884, and formed the Ebenezer Baptist Church; in which a sanctuary was built only blocks
The first pastor, Rev. Jeffery Jenkins, from Port Royal, SC, developed a strong program to dispense the gospel of Christ and ordained a group of God-fearing men to assist him in this endeavor. Rev. Jenkins died in 1886. Under his leadership, Deacon Kit Chaplin, 1886-1888, the first Chairman Deacon of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, carried the torch, until the Rev. Ishmuel Williams was called to serve as pastor from 1888-1894, while Deacon Kit Chaplin remained in service as Chairman Deacon.
1895 God called another under-shepherd, Rev. D. C. Washington. Deacon Kit Chaplin continued to serve as Chairman of the Deacon Board during the leadership of Reverend Washington. Also under the leadership of Rev. Washington, during the early 1900’s, Ebenezer became a part of the Old Ashley Association and in 1931, Benjamin Mack was elected Treasurer.
The Reverend Demus C. Washington served as the pastor of the Ebenezer Baptist Church for 39years, during which time the Board of Deacons contributed greatly to the spiritual growth of the church. While the available records are inconclusive, speculation would be that Rev. Washington vacated the pulpit for any number of reasons which would include his death. During the years 1934-1936, one could assume the Board of Deacons provided spiritual leadership and administrative functions required to sustain the activities of the Church. Additionally, they were able to obtain the services of the Rev. Joseph Heyward who served briefly as pastor in 1937.
In 1938, a most unfortunate incident occurred! The Ebenezer Baptist Church facilities were consumed by a fire that destroyed most of the church records! The congregation, under the leadership of the Board of Deacons, made the only decision possible: to rebuild, and to embark on a program to solicit funds including donations and taxation of the members.
As the new church began to emerge, services continued to be held under the trees and the search began for a pastor as well. The facilities were eventually completed, dedicated and opened for worship as the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Rev. Collin Byrd became pastor during the period of 1942-1948.2 1949-1969 God sent the Reverend A. J. Flewellen to serve as pastor in 1949. Being officially installed in the year of our Lord 1950, Rev. Flewellen, with the aid of the Holy Ghost and under his conservative leadership, and Isaiah Chaplin as Chairman Deacon, the Junior Choir were organized, the centralization of the Deaconess Board, and the Missionary Society established. Brotherhood Club and Pastor’s Aide Auxiliary organized; along with the First Women’s Day Celebration. Amenities within the church were purchased water fountains, restroom, kitchen, and
pastor study constructed. A heating system was installed and a valid system for collecting offerings was developed. The spiritual growth of Ebenezer was flourishing: deacons ordained, ministers were called to preach glad tidings of Jesus Christ: Arthur Owens (1964); Willing Workers Auxiliary organized at the home of Sister Rosetta Taylor, installed on January 15, 1967. Furniture purchased for entire church (1968), and a complete central heating and cooling system installed.
After God called Pastor Flewellen home in 1969, the Board of Deacons took charge of the worship services under the leadership of Deacon Isaac Chaplin. Shortly, thereafter, a search for a pastor began and Rev. Collins R. Byrd returned in 1971 for a brief period, resigning in 1972. The records are incomplete, but most probably the Board of Deacons conducted the Worship Services until Irwin Middleton became the Interim Pastor in 1977. Thus Rev. Collins R. Byrd, 1971-1972; Reverend Irvin Middleton, Ebenezer Baptist church, Interim Pastor 1977-1979. During Pastor Middleton’s tenure as pastor, three deacons were ordained and the Birthday Club was established under his ministry.
November 4, 1979, Reverend James G. Stokes was installed as pastor. He was a God-sent spirit filled man, who brought constructive and innovative ideas to the entire church. The Young Adult Choir was organized under the leadership of Pastor Stokes and the direction of Sister Carrie Major on November 27, 1979. In 1980, the Nurse’s Guild was founded and installed.
On March 29, 1981, Ebenezer held a mortgage burning ceremony; laid the cornerstone which declares “For the Salvation of Man” by Deacons: Frank Simmons: Chairman Deacon; Jack Johnson, Arthur C. Smalls, Pool Assistant Sam Brown; Trustees: Bro. Henry Williams, Treasurer; Harold Atkins, Clerk, Ernest Warren: Chaplain, James Singleton: Chairman and Samuel Jenkins: Co-Chairman. Further, a dedication service was held naming the dining hall, “The A. J. Flewellen Social Hall.”
- 1982 The Conference Room was named in honor of Deacon Emeritus Benjamin Mack.
- 1983 The Senior Choir was re-organized by Brother Richard Byas who resigned shortly thereafter due to illness.
- 1984 Brothers Arthur C. Small and Willie S. Wilson were called to preach on June 26th. Deacon Jack Johnson was installed as Chairman of the Deacon Board.
- In 1985, under the astute leadership of Pastor Stokes, the spiritual level began to reach new heights, 3 deacons were ordained. WVGB began broadcasting our weekly church services and the sidewalks were constructed by Deacon Harold Atkins.
- In 1986, Sister Alvenia Smalls, the Mother of the church went home to glory, the mantle was passed to Sister Mae Johnson. A new roof, steeple, railings with new steps, construction of the pulpit along with erosion protection around the church were completed under the supervision of Deacon James P. Smalls and Brother Samuel Jenkins.
- In 1988, Brother Joseph P. Bryant preached his initial sermon.
- 1989 The Gullah Praise House Shouters were organized by Sister Lula M. Holmes during the tenure of Pastor Stokes.
- 1990 Brother William Allen Galloway preached his initial sermon and another deacon was ordained. On May 30th, our Church Mother, Sister Mae Johnson expired. Sister Florence Boles was appointed as Church Mother.
- 1991 Deacon Emeritus James Gray and Deaconess Louise Robinson were called home to Glory. Also during this year, Deacon Peter Smalls, Brothers Joe Brown and Earl Washington were deployed to Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf.
- 1992 Pastor James G. Stokes was called home to Glory on August 27th. He was laid to rest in the Church’s Cemetery. Rev. Arthur C. Smalls served as Interim Pastor. Deacon Jonathan Williams resigned as Sunday School Superintendant. Brother Jeffrey Gardner was elected as Superintendant of Sunday School and Sister Maebell Danzler, as the Assistant Superintendant. The Women’s Auxiliary donated new vertical blinds for the church and additional property was purchased. In December, Brother Henry Williams resigned as Church Secretary. He served faithfully for forty-five years and a classroom was named in his honor. Sister Odessa Major continued the responsibilities of Secretary.
“And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” Romans 10:15
After much prayers and searching, Ebenezer was blessed with a young charismatic preacher, full of the Holy Ghost, anointed, called and elect of God, chosen for good works. On September 10, 1993, Leonard Ritter, Sr. was installed as pastor. Deacon Jack Johnson was Chairman of the Deacon Board during this dispensation of time. Pastor Ritter’s vision: “A Growing church for a coming Lord.” His wife, our beloved First Lady, Gloria Ritter, always persevered with him. He is the father of three children; however, one of his daughters, Laverne, predeceased her mother.
Under Pastor Ritter’s leadership and pastoral care:
In 1993, Deacons were ordained, the Pastor’s Study remodeled, more property was purchased behind the church, and the scholarship fund was reorganized and renamed the Ophelia Watson Gross Scholarship Fund.
• In 1994, on July 13th the groundbreaking ceremony was held to commence construction for additional Sunday School classrooms.
• In 1995, Sister Lula Holmes was elected the first Church Historian. Sister Lottie Chaplin appointed Youth Director. Church Council was reinstated. The additional Sunday School classrooms were completed and Sister Georgia Wiggins organized the first annual church bazaar.
• In 1996, Deacon Joe L. Simmons preached his initial sermon; the first Vacation Bible School was held and the First Feast, instituted by Sister G. Wiggins was held on January 1st, and each year thereafter.
• In 1997, Sister Beatrice Washington was appointed Director of Christian Education. Brothers Melvin Glover, Chester Moyd (now deceased) and Joe L. Freeman were ordained as Deacons on June 15. The church also purchased a new bus and van.
• In 1998, our membership increased and many of the sons became pastors of their own church. Such as Rev. Joseph P. Bryant, 3rd Macedonia Baptist Church; Rev. William Galloway, First Euhaw Baptist Church and Rev. Willie Wilson, Adam Street Baptist Church.
• In 1999, Minister Beatrice Washington preached her initial sermon and received her license.
• In 2000, upon the demise of Chairman Deacon Jack Johnson, Deacon Harold Atkins was elected. Sister Vanessa Bryan was elected Church Clerk. In March, Minister Rosie Washington preached her initial sermon and received her license. First Lady Ritter established our Praise and Worship Services which were held on the first Saturday of every month.
• In 2001, Out of the Praise and Worship Services came the inception of the first time ever, Prayer Warriors, established and instituted by our pastor who recognized the most significant arsenal of a Christian in battling the fiery darts of Satan; for he recognized that “we fight not
against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age.” The group consists of spirit filled men and women with a mind to pray with the anointing, taking on the whole armor of God, so that we will be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Also, during this point in time, Deacon and Trustee Emeritus Program evolved. Within Pastor Ritter’s tenure, the church purchased new computers, printers/fax machines and other office equipment. Major renovations were made to the Pastor’s Study, along with the men and women’s restrooms. Workshops were held to meet the growing spiritual and economical necessitates of the church.
• In 2003, renovations to the men and women’s restrooms were accomplished and inauguration of the Help Ministry as the foundation of help for those in need.
•On October 17th, 2004, Brothers Elijah Brown, Arthur Chisholm, and Mark Stockman were ordained as Deacons. During this time as well, Pastor Leonard Ritter, Sr., sought to go to a higher level in Christ Jesus, receiving his Master’s of Divinity was a definite goal in reaching and connecting to gain souls from all walks of life and making a comparative impact! Although his educational abilities in no wise supersede his most important degree, that of being a bona fide born-again, man of God, who is capable of preaching as well as teaching. He has met and is meeting challenges as they come toward him by praying and much fasting.
•In 2005, Ebenezer’s Fellowship Dinner was incorporated on 1st Sunday in December, annually. Deacon J. P. Smalls elected Chairman of Deacon Board; Co-Chairman: Deacon Benjamin Heyward. A new auxiliary evolved the Finance Committee; and the resignation of the Board of Trustees. New Board of Trustees installed: Thomas Lynard, Chairperson; Naomi Brown, Asst. Secretary, Francise M. Smalls, Secretary; Hazen Gadson, Chaplain; Freddie, George Coleman and George Blake. Sister Elizabeth Major elected Treasurer. In recognition of all fathers on Father’s Day, Fellowship Dinner honored all which was formulated by First Lady Ritter.
•In 2006. During Pastor Ritter’s tedious tenure, Sister Rebecca Mack, appointed “Mother” of the Prayer Warriors. Ebenezer campaigned to assist the hurricane victims in New Orleans, Louisiana, spearheaded by Deacon Smalls. In August, new chandeliers were placed in the
church’s sanctuary along with other lighting and installations in the A.J. Flewellen Hall and the classrooms.
• In 2007 of June, Deacon Willie Robinson was named Deacon Emeritus.
•A strong and faithful servant of the Lord, Deacon Willie Mouzone went home to Glory.
• In 2009, Annual Church Picnic sponsored by the men of Ebenezer and held the Saturday preceding the Church’s Anniversary.
•In 2010, April 22nd, the demise of First Lady Gloria Ritter. On September10th, Pastor Ritter reinstated the new Nurses Guild, chaired by Sister Christine Smalls, Deacon Advisor Arthur Chisholm. Deacon Harold Atkins was named Deacon Emeritus.
• In 2011, Pastor installed and ordained Brothers Joe Jenkins and Joe Murray as Deacons.
•2012, Complete transformation of the Ebenezer Baptist Church; January 8, Ground Breaking Ceremony.
February: Sister Mary A. Heyward rehired as Church Secretary. Sister Linda Jenkins hired as Church Financial Secretary.
On March 30th, of this year, Ebenezer first time ever, reached out to the Prison Ministry.
May 19: 1st Appreciation Celebration for Pastor L. Ritter, Sr. who continues to be a beacon of light at home, in churches, in communities, and states.
Pastor L. Ritter, Sr. continues to be a beacon of light at home, in churches, communities, and states. It is written: “So you, son of man: God has made you a watchman for the house of Israel; therefore you shall hear a word from the Mouth of God and warn them for Him. When God say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you shall surely die!’ and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will God require at your hand. Nevertheless, if you warn the wicked to turn from his way, and he does not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.” Ezekiel 33: 7-9 NIV It is written, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.” II Corinthians 4: 7-11