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The Hopewell African Methodist Episcopal Church, originally the New Hopewell Church, evolved from very humble beginnings with her lineage tracing back to the late 1800’s. Hopewell began under a “Bush Harbor.” Research indicates a bush harbor (brush arbor or bush arbor) was sapling poles covered with brush in the custom built by Slaves, often secretly and in secluded places, for religious services held at night. This story of slaves often tells the story regarding the locations of African American Churches, today. The original place of worship was located near the Georgetown-Williamsburg county line, formerly called the Britton’s Ferry Road.
Before and during the Civil War, the enslaved people of the Oaks Plantation and surrounding area were permitted to have service in the basement of the Union Methodist Episcopal Church away from their established bush harbors. This group of faithful disciples of Jesus walked great distances and made many sacrifices in order to fellowship with other believers. It is due to the faithfulness of great lay leaders and members that Hopewell reaps a legacy of perseverance and vision. With the freeing of the slaves came the birth of Hopewell. The first worship temple was a log building erected on one (1) acre of land purchased from J. W. Durant for $1.00 on September 1, 1880. On September 27, 1886, twenty-five (25) acres of land was purchased from J. W. H. Price, making the total acreage of property that the Church owned twenty-six (26). The Trustees in charge of the transaction were James Mention, Ephraim Melvin and Stephen Melvin.
As Hopewell gathered for worship, instruction, and encouragement; they worshipped in various settings on this property for the glory of God. Since the founding, Hopewell has had two buildings of worship to be destroyed by fire, one in 1891 and another in 1926. A third worship center was torn down when a new worship edifice was erected in 1954. In 2008 the fourth worship building was buried where it once stood when the leadership and members marched into our current edifice.
Under the ministry of Presiding Elder P. J. Chavis, Hopewell became the “Mother Church” for the Williamsburg Circuit of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The circuit was a partnership with the ministries of St. Luke African Methodist Episcopal Church in the Rosehill Section of Georgetown and Chavis African Methodist Episcopal Church in Hemingway. The sister churches shared the same pastor and worked together to further the ministry of Christ.
From the inception of Hopewell, God sent godly, faithful, and visionary clergy leaders to help the church grow into a vibrant community of faith. We praise God for the anointed and dedicated leadership of African Methodist Episcopal Clergy (Bishops, Presiding Elders, and Pastors) who contributed to the formation, development, growth, maturity, and stability of Hopewell. We know that “everything rises and falls upon leadership.”
We thank God for the former Episcopal Prelates who served our congregation, they are as follows: The Right Reverends Wesley J. Gaines, Levi J. Coppin, Benjamin F. Lee, Henry McNeal Turner, William David Chappelle, John Hurst, Reverdy C. Ransom, Noah Williams, William Johnson, Joseph Flipper, Frank M. Reid, Sr., Isaiah Bonner, Samuel R. Higgins, Carey A. Gibbs, William F. Ball, Sr., Decatur Ward Nichols, Frank M. Reid, Jr., Frederick Calhoun James, John Hurst Adams, Henry A. Belin, Jr., Preston W. Williams, II, Richard F. Norris, and now currently, Samuel L. Green, Sr.
The following distinguished Presiding Elders have supervised the ministry at our Church: P. J. Chavis, J. J. Miles, Elder Gasden, H. B. Butler, S. A. Brown, Lee M. Seward, Rosalyn Grant-Coleman, and presently, the Reverend Dr. Sandy William Drayton.
The following distinguished Pastors to serve this station include, Reverends Abram Gordan, Nathan Taylor, Miger Thomas, B. J. Mance, W. M. Knox, Hollman, R. E. E. Jones, Austin, M. N. Thompson, W. F. McBrown, Chester Williams, Gerry, Selbie, Mitchell Hughes, Merddie Hudson, Hollin, Woodbury, W. P. Carolina, Wagoner, W. M. Milton, R. A. Brown, T. D. McClam, M. R. Hudson, Willie Hannah, Frank Ford, Jr., Alex Kinlaw, Richard M. Hillard, Dr. Juenarrl Keith, Elmore Williams, McNeil Evans, Jr., William McNeil, Dr. Kylon Jerome Middleton, and presently, Reverend Jarrett Britton Washington.
As the various pastors, lay leaders, and members worked together under the auspices of the Holy Spirit, Hopewell continued to make disciples of Jesus Christ. As the church progressed in ministry, our ministry fulfilled the objective of African Methodism by preaching the gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, housing the homeless, cheering the fallen, providing jobs for the jobless, administering to the needs of those in prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, asylums and mental institutions, and senior citizens’ homes; caring for the sick, the shut-in, the mentally and socially disturbed; and encouraging thrift and economic advancement.
Hopewell has been the launching pad for various ministers of the gospel. The ground of the church is fertile and the men and women of God have been commissioned by the Holy Spirit to do a great work. We celebrate a long lineage of gospel preachers such as, Reverends Sam Murphy, Norris Coakley, Jim Rogers, Andy Mack, Deary Kearson, Richard McCown, Levenus Green, Willie LeSane, Richard Coakley, Willie Hannah, Robert Morris, II, Vincent Vereen. We are ever thankful for those who are continuing the legacy through their service in the church today, Reverend Bobby L. Frasier, Reverend Benjamin Palmer, Reverend Brenda R. Blackstock, Reverend Irene G. McCown, Reverend Brenda P. Palmer, Licentiate Robert Morris, III, Licentiate Pamela Vereen, Exhorter Eunice C. Vereen and Exhorter Fenerect Greene.
The Hopewell today, would not be the church it is without the tireless contribution of its early officers. We continuously bless God for the service of these men and women in particular, Jim Mention, Ephraim Melvin, Stephen Melvin, Hamp Green, Louis Hardy, Monday Rogers, Caesar LeSane, Walsh Murphy, Simon Patterson, Sam Murphy, Norris Coakley, Ben Green, Andrew Mention, Jerry Hannah, Frank P. Green, Dave McCown, Sr., Julius Fulmore, Henry Fulmore, Jack Williams, Spencer McCown, Sazie Wilson, Walter Flegler, Williams Murphy, Liston Greene, Waitus Greene, James McKnight, James Palmer, Mack W. Mention, Sr., Sam Green, Jackson Hannah, Amos Mention, Frank Williams, Robert Barcus, George McNeil, Teddy Barcus, Deaconess Georgia McKnight, Fannie Fulmore, Mabel Kearson, Mack Mention, Jr., John Frasier and Mack Alston, Sr.
Today, the congregation is blessed to have 5 officers emeriti who continue to serve well. Sister Laura Fulmore and Brother Wendell Murphy, Steward Emeritus; along with Brother Cubit Vereen, Jr., Brother Leroy “LB” Barcus, and Sister Elizabeth McNeal, Trustee Emeritus.
In the summer of 2008 the Hopewell Church, under the leadership of the pastor, Dr. Kylon Jerome Middleton, built a new worship center complex in excess of $3.5 million. This building would serve as the jewel of the Georgetown District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The state-of-the-art facility would serve to be a result of dedication, love for the people of God, and commitment to a growing future. After the completion of the new worship center, Hopewell successfully hosted the 98thSession of the Palmetto Annual Conference, the largest annual conference in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
The primary purpose of the ministry of Hopewell African Methodist Episcopal Church is to teach the uncompromising Word of God and to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ! The ministry’s vision is plainly to reach the lost and teach the found! We are called to reach out beyond the walls of this Church and be a demonstration of the principles of the kingdom of God in the earth. Not only do we assume responsibility for this local Church, but for our community, our state, our nation, and our world. We are called to be the moral conscience of society, influencing our government and setting a standard of righteousness.
In November 2015, the Reverend Jarrett Britton Washington and his wife, Deronda Corbin Washington; were appointed to lead Hopewell to the next level of ministry and service. He is young minister by age, but seasoned with service to help push the vision, passion, and love for serving God’s people with excellence. Under his leadership, Hopewell transformed its mission and vision to be the “House of H.O.P.E.” Under this mantra Hopewell would now be a place where God is Healing, God is Omnipotent, God is our Praise and God is in our Evangelism. Pastor Washington completely reorganized our leadership structure and ministry systems for greater efficiency in the local church, focuses on church attendance and member impact, empowers the people to serve the present age, created the Hands of Hope Food Pantry, which now serves over 500 individuals in the Williamsburg and Georgetown Counties at no cost to the client, and increased the church’s financial systems to create more streams to do more effective ministry. In the summer of 2019, Hopewell completed the vision of creating a fully functioning three sectioned parking lot and roadway constructed to the glory of God. In addition, the church upgraded the audio visual aspects of the church to increase member involvement and church aesthetic. The officers and members have a goal to totally eradicate the mortgage with an aggressive stewardship campaign. Pastor Washington is an elected and ordained itinerant elder who serves as the Secretary for the Palmetto Annual Conference, as well as the lead secretary for the Seventh Episcopal District of the AME Church. He is a member of the General Board of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. To God be the glory, the church is moving forward