“Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.” Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen and called the name of it Ebenezer. This name truly defines the Ebenezer Baptist Church. For one hundred and thirty-two years the Ebenezer Baptist Church has sat upon its little corner of Semple Farm Road as a rock to this small community and the greater Hampton area.
Believing that all things are possible, in 1884 the sisters: Jennie Presson, Keziah Presson, Maria Strong, and brother William Russell founded the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Spiritual and organizational guidance during that early period was provided by Reverends: Ebenezer T. Byrd, John Lovett and H.P. Weeden.
In 1889, the Reverend Lewis D. Lively was called to the pastorate of the church and served with distinction for nearly forty-eight years. It was with Reverend Lively that God enabled the congregation to grow to erect the sanctuary on the present site in 1925. Under his leadership, organizations such as the Willing Workers, Choir and Male Usher Board were organized. Reverend Lively died September 9, 1937.
After the passing of Reverend Lively, the church was without a pastor for approximately 3 years. The Pulpit Committee was charged with the responsibility of securing ministerial leadership during this time. The Pulpit Committee recommended that the church call Dr. George S. Russell as its pastor and the membership unanimously accepted the recommendation. Thus, Dr. Russell accepted the call as pastor and began serving the congregation on Sunday, May 14, 1939. Much was accomplished through the cooperation of the congregation and the pastor. Ebenezer, like many other churches during this time, held semi-monthly services, on the second and fourth Sundays.
The fifth Sunday was reserved for the participation in the Sunday School Union. Reverend Russell inspired all to honor God and to glorify His Holy name through our living with one another. Ebenezer became a bright and shining light in the community. Under the pastorate of Dr. Russell, the church moved literally from the country church to the modern church. This was evidenced by the organization of the Usher Board, Deaconess Board, Missionary Circle, Junior Choir, Men’s Club, Men’s Chorus, Junior Missionary Circle, and the Baptist Training Union. Many physical improvements were made at this time as well.
The greatest accomplishment of this pastorate was the increase in membership. Membership increased approximately fifty percent with youth and young adults accounting for seventy-five percent of the total number. During this time, the church moved to having Sunday Morning Worship Services on each Sunday, except the fifth Sundays, at 11:00 a.m.
Due to illness, Reverend Russell retired and was named Pastor Emeritus in 1965. He died October 5, 1966.
The Pulpit Committee was once again commissioned to find a new pastor. On July 22, 1966, Reverend Maurice Carter was called. Ebenezer was now eighty years old. The membership continued to grow. Both spiritual and physical goals for the church were established under the Carter leadership. For a first, Reverend Mathew Winder, Sr., was licensed and became an associate minister.
Reverend Carter served the congregation for five years. He resigned to become pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Newport News.
Once again the church found itself without a leader, but the membership drew closer together to continue the work of God’s church. For fourteen months spiritual fervor remained at a peak, stewardship doubled, and faith in God increased.
In September, 1972, the membership called Reverend Walter R. Dean as pastor. Committed to the theme “My Call to Fulfill,” Reverend Dean immediately heightened the forward thrust of the church. It was under his leadership that worship service at 11 o’clock on each fifth Sunday was offered for worshipers. The mission and programs of Ebenezer were enlarged and new areas unfolded. The church became more focused on the needs of people within and without our circle.
At the beginning of the 1990’s, the Pastor revealed a vision from God for the spiritual and physical growth of this branch of Zion. The community around us swelled and the ‘need’ became great to enlarge our ministries and our building. The plans to construct a larger edifice surfaced. After much prayer, sacrifice, and fasting the church broke ground in June of 1993 and construction began in April 1997.
On Palm Sunday, March 28, 1999, the vision was made clear and the congregation marched from the old sanctuary to its new sanctuary. The new edifice was dedicated in July, 1999. With larger doors, Ebenezer expanded its call to all who will come in.
For 48 years under Pastor Dean’s leadership, Ebenezer has extended its reach into the community with several new ministries. We now have the following major ministries: Diaconate, Christian Education, Fellowship, Missions, and Worship Support. Each of these major ministries has numerous mini-ministries that support our congregation, our community, and our country (see a breakout of these ministries on our website). These efforts are winning souls for Christ and adding to the growth of the church.
Today, Ebenezer continues to embody that “rock” upon which God built as we strive to become God’s Transformational Church - " Transformation - A Mandate to Reach the unsaved and Those Who Have Fallen Away.”