Mount Vernon Missionary Baptist Church
80 Years of Spiritual Growth
In 1927, the late Rev. G. H. Wingfield started a community church school in a one-room house located on Third Avenue. Children began coming to Christ in such numbers that the community church had to move to a three-room house on First Avenue. There were praised-filled, high-spirited services in that old house. As the members continued those worship-filled services that house began to rock and shake very badly. The congregation continued to grow until there wasn’t enough room to worship. At that time the members decided to build a church. The members went to Rev. Wingfield and told him that they wanted a church. Rev. Wingfield responded to the group’s request and went to Rev. Charles Williams to obtain permission from him to organize a church.
The church was organized on Wednesday, April 2, 1930. This took place in the same old room, rocky, and shaky house. Those present were: Reverends G. H. Wingfield, P. A. Green, O. C. Parker, and Eddie Williams; Deacon Willie Bogan and Henry Grier; Brothers Johnny Bostic and Earl Fryer; Sisters Delia Derricott, Lizzie Bynes, Georgia Williams, Frances Williams, Margaret Bogan, Mamie Thomas, Irene Grier, Ida Bogan, Mamie Lou Wingfield, Ida Bostic, and Ellen Peterson. Children present were Henry Wingfield, William Bostic, Thelma Wingfield, Johnnie Mae Bostic, and Richard (Jack) Bynes. The Rev. O. C. Parker presided. Deacon Henry Grier named the church “Mount Vernon Baptist Church.” There was not a church nearby with that name. During that service Rev. Eddie Williams prayed and Rev. P. A. Green delivered the sermon.
After the sermon, the doors of the church were opened. The following people joined: Sis. Lizzie Bynes, Sis. Margaret Bogan, Sis Georgia Williams, and Sis. Frances Williams. Rev. G. H. Wingfield was called as Pastor and the Rev. P. A. Green led him to the pulpit and presented him with a Bible. The service closed with a song and dismissal prayer by Rev. O. C. Parker. Following the dismissal, a repast was served. Sis Ellen Peterson, Sis. Ida Bostic, and Sis. Ida Bogan provided and served coffee, condiments, and food. The Church continued to worship in the old three-room house until a house was from Deacon Mal Tubman. This house was once used for frolicking, romancing, gambling, and drinking. The house was torn down and a church was built to serve Almighty God. Mr. Willie Parks framed the first church while staying at the home of Deacon and Sister Willie (Ida) Bogan until he completed his work. Shortly after completion, we moved into our church. The church had no windows or doors and we had boards nailed against the walls for seats, kerosene lamps hung on the walls for light, and a pot-bellied coal heater was used to keep the members warm. Many souls were saved and members were added to the fold.
Rev. Wingfield was Pastor for four years resigning in 1934. We then called Rev. James Robinson who pastored for two years until he resigned. Following his resignation, Rev. F. H. Hall was called as Pastor. He pastored for about two months. On July 17, 1937, we called Rev. Fred Franklin Cook, Sr. as Pastor. Under Rev. Cook’s Pastorate, four men became members of the church bringing their deaconship with them. They were Deacons Willie Bogan, Shepherd Wright, Ed Screven, and Leon Hurst. Rev. Cook later ordained five additional deacons. They were Allen Pryor, Richard Bynes, Abraham Dunn, Messiah Conley, and Andrew Bogan.
Other accomplishments under Rev. Cook’s leadership included naming Elizabeth-Chapman the Sunday School Superintendent in 1943. Sis. Chapman served in this capacity for fifty-four years. Another lot was purchased next to the church on First Avenue for $124.00. On the land, a block structure was built for the amount of $800.00. The following members put up their homes against the borrowed bank loan: Deacon Willie Bogan, Bro. Allen Thomas, Jr., Bro. Phillip Barnes, and Rev. Audler C. Youmans and one white man, Mr. Porter, from Babcox and Wilcox Company. The block church was completed in 1955. Members and friends purchased chairs for the church. The mortgage for the block structure paid off in 1962. In 1949, Sister Bernice Bogan, Minister of Music, began playing piano for the church at the age of nine. She continues to play for Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church today.
During the latter two years of Rev. Fred Cook’s pastorate, he was chronically ill. Rev. John Samuels assisted the church for some time. Later, Rev. W. J. Hooper was elected to serve as Interim Pastor. Rev. Cook served Mt. Vernon faithfully and untiringly until his death on January 13, 1963. Following Rev. Fred Cook’s death, Rev. F. Francis Cook was called as Pastor on July 17, 1963. Under Rev. F. Francis Cook’s leadership, auxiliaries were reorganized along with the Church’s Gospel Memorial Choir. The cornerstone was laid in 1965. Pews were purchased from Mt. Calvary Baptist Church for $50.00. A public address system was also purchased. Seven deacons were ordained: Theodore Miller, E. L. Thomas, Donald Williams, Jimmy Hudson, Sam Lewis, Roosevelt Foreman, and Roy Mutch. In 1965, Rev. Cook reorganized and renamed the Junior Choir to F.F. Cook Gospel Memorial Choir in memory of his father the Rev. Fred Franklin Cook, Sr.
In 1979, Rev. Cook presented to the church the consideration of possibly purchasing Calvary Baptist Church on Olive Road. Negotiations and programmatic interventions began with the following persons as pursuants: Rev. F. Francis Cook, E. L. Thomas, Bernice Bogan, John Swint, Henry Howard, Henry Brooks, Charles Walker, and Dr. Raymond Bard. The amount of $175,000.00 was agreed upon between the officers of Calvary Baptist Church and the officers of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.
Mt. Vernon shared occupancy with Calvary Baptist Church until Easter Sunday 1980, when we permanently relocated to this building. When this journey was made, there was a total of 18 consistent paying members. Rev. Cook continued to serve as Pastor until his resignation in 1981.
In January 1981, Rev. Johnny Bussey was called to pastor. Under Rev. Bussey’s administration, one deacon was ordained, Deacon Bennie Holmes. A choir was organized, the Inspirational Singers. Rev. Bussey resigned in September 1983. During the interim between Rev. Bussey and Rev. M. C. Adams, the Rev. Kenneth Matthews served as the Associate Minister. Rev. Matthews was a faithful and dutiful minister who was especially loved by the youth of Mt. Vernon. Rev. Matthews was ordained at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church.
In July 1984, Rev. M. C. Adams was called as pastor. During Rev. Adam’s pastorate, he ordained three deacons: Garnett Johnson, Gene Jones, and Antonio Lewis, Sr. Many persons were baptized and Rev. Adams served until November 1986.
Rev. R. E. Donaldson became pastor in March 1987 and served until 1997. During his pastorate, nine deacons were ordained: Johnnie Bokknight, Leroy Glover, Mackie Sinkler, Ruben Chapman, III, Yule Mitchell, Joe Francis, Harvey Fields, James Brantley, and Flenoise Torrence; three others joined the church bringing their deaconship with them: Tommie Sampson, Jr. Raleigh Waltower, and William Jordan. The Male Chorus and Senior Choir were organized. The Junior Ushers were reorganized and an organ was purchased for the sanctuary.
The Southside Tutorial Program, Inc., which is housed at the Mt. Vernon Missionary Baptist Church was established in 1995. The tutorial program encompasses grade levels second through twelfth and all academic areas are supported.
In 1997, Deacon Harvey Fields was named as Superintendent of Sunday School and Sis Elizabeth Chapman became Superintendent Emeritus.
Rev. Marvin L. McRae became the Interim Pastor in 1997 and served until he was called pastor. He was installed on April 26, 1998. Rev. McRae gave the church “Vision 2000.” During his pastorate, manifestations of this vision included: complete renovations to the kitchen, a new parking lot, replacement of sanctuary windows, the addition of a handicap lift, installation of new tile covering on the floors on the first level, new carpet on the floors of the sanctuary, new upholstery on the choir pews and pulpit furniture, the purchase of new hymnals and bibles for the sanctuary by the Board of Deacons and the Board of Trustees, the baptismal pool was refurbished and new draperies for the pool were installed; construction of a covering to the porch at the front entrance of the Church. Mt. Vernon has also been blessed to purchase a van for transportation. Children’s Church became a part of the worship service but was discontinued with the objective of improving Sunday School attendance. The church was computerized for the financial staff and secretary. Also during his pastorate, four deacons were ordained: Lindsey Fielding, Rodney Geter, Bobby McDaniel, and Shaun Thomas. One member joined bringing his deaconship with him: James E. Blocker.
In order to assure that the church meets our financial needs, monthly mortgage groups were reinstituted as we continue the process of implementing the Church’s Strategic Plan. A security system was added to the church. On April 24, 2005, history was made when the Church Cornerstone was laid as an activity for the Church’s 75th Anniversary Celebration. The Mission in Action (MIA) was reinstated, July 2007.
Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Mrs. Janie Green, with the support of the late Pastor Marvin L. McRae, Sr., organized the Voices of Mt. Vernon. Sis. Chavonne Steed was elected choir President and Bro. Ladell Fortune was hired as the choir’s musician. After several rehearsals the Voices of Mt. Vernon made its debut on the third Sunday in September 2005. The choir’s first selection was “Jesus Promises”. The choir currently leads the church’s music worship on the third Sunday of each month.
During the illness of the late Rev. Dr. McRae, the Rev. Dr. Sam Tanksley was consulted by Rev. McRae and he agreed to become Assistant to the Pastor. While Rev. Tanksley served in this capacity, he was called as Interim Pastor of the Thankful Baptist Church, however, he continued to provide Bible Study, visit the sick, bury the dead, perform marriage ceremonies, and attend special programs of the church. Following Rev. Tanksley’s call as Interim Pastor, Tabernacle Baptist Church provided ministers for the Sunday morning worship services during Rev. McRae’s illness and death on July 11, 2008. Those ministers included: Minister Jonathan Richardson, Rev. George Miller, III, Rev. Darnell Jenkins, and Rev. Sheffie Rouse. Rev. Rouse ministered faithfully each Sunday from October 2008 through the fourth Sunday in April 2009. On November 16, 2008, the Youth Choir of Mt. Vernon was renamed the Marvin L. McRae, Sr. Memorial Choir. The choir was dedicated on May 22, 2009.
Following sixty days of mourning the death of our late Pastor, Rev. Dr. Marvin L. McRae, a Pastor Search Committee was appointed by the Church Moderator / Chairman Board of Deacons, Deacon Andrew Bogan and approved by the church in conference. Deacon Rodney Geter served as Chairman of the Pastor Search Committee. Following the receipt of applications for pastor, the applications were reviewed by the committee and four applicants were interviewed. Three of these applicants were presented to the congregation to preach during a Sunday morning worship service.
The congregation voted on February 15, 2009 and elected Rev. Chavas L. Boyd who began his pastorate on May 3, 2009. Under his pastorate he has licensed one, Sis. Marilyn Heath as minister on November 15, 2009.
Since our last anniversary, May 23, 2010, we have been blessed to add 54 members to the church roll. And sadly, the death angel has visited Mt. Vernon once during the last year, calling Sis. Lottie Bell from labor to reward.
The following members served as Church Clerk: Bro. Johnny Bostic, Dea. Abraham Dunn, Sr., Sis. Nona Wingfield, Sis. Georgene Crawford, and currently, Sis. Margaret Chapman.