In the early 1880’s a large group was baptized into the membership of the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Among those baptized were the late Mr. William Henry White and his wife the late Mrs. Kate Garnett White. Shortly after his baptism, Mr. White was appointed to lead the Prayer Service of the said Church. Several of this group proved to be faithful helpers in the organization of The Mount Carmel Baptist Church.
Sensing the urge of greater service to God and his fellowman, and having been licensed to preach, Mr. White, aided by several members of Ebenezer, launched forth on a venture which widened his sphere of influence, and led to great and glorious achievements in the service of the Master. On what was known as Burying Ground Hill, in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Shackleford, he started an afternoon Mission Sunday School. Some of the first teachers in the Sunday school were the Misses Patsy K. Anderson, H.B. Fitzhugh, Lena Kemp, Emma Liggons, Emma Randolph, and Virginia Randolph. Mrs. Lend Jackson served as Organist. Under God’s guidance and the leadership of Mr. White this Sunday school flourished and grew, and the work accomplished soon won the recognition and admiration of the public, to the extent that as the weeks and months passed, larger quarters were sought and the organization of a church contemplated. Pioneering with Mr. White in this venture were the following persons who voluntarily withdrew their letters from Ebenezer Baptist Church: Messrs. Charles Burton, Burton Ford, William Poindexter, Wellington Stutely, and Mrs. Mildred Winfree. Together with other faithful helpers they formed the nucleus of the present church.
A Council from the Baptist Churches of Richmond was called in October 1887 with Rev. Richard Wells, Pastor of Ebenezer serving as chairman. The Church was then organized with Rev. William H. White as Pastor. The Church was given the name The Mount Carmel Baptist Church by Rev. Wells. On February 26, 1888, a council was called by the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Reverend Mr. White was ordained. The Ordination Sermon was preached by Professor J.E. Jones of Virginia Union University. The ordination prayer was given by Rev. Evans, Payne, Fourth Baptist Church; the Charge was delivered by the Rev. Richard Wells, Ebenezer Baptist Church; the Right Hand of Fellowship was given by the Rev. J. B. Baker; the Presentation of The Bible by Rev. James H. Holmes, First African Baptist Church. The Rev. William Troy, Second Baptist Church served as Moderator and the Rev. Thomas H. Briggs, First Baptist Church, served as Clerk. Following this, four young women who desired to become a part of this growing Church received their letters from Ebenezer; among them being the wife of the Pastor, Mrs. Kate White. In the meantime the Sunday School raised money for the purchase of two lots on which the first building was erected.
As a result of a revival in the summer of 1888, still at the home of Mr. And Mrs. Shackleford, many were converted and of this number, nine (9) persons were added to the membership of the Church. They were Mrs. Minerva Christian, Misses Anna Jackson, Lillie Valentine, Mary Strown, Octavia Jackson, Martha Graves, Phyllis Burton, Ada Harris and Mr. Robert Lee Haskins. The first Sunday in October 1888 was a great day at Mount Carmel. Its first Baptizing was reported to be one of the most picturesque religious ceremonies ever to be held in Richmond. The line of march formed at the Shackleford home and proceeded through historical Bacon Quarters Branch to the pond where the services were held. The Times Dispatch carried a picture of the ceremonies and estimated the witnessing crowd to be several thousand persons. Soon after this Mrs. Eliza Cook offered the use of her home for two weeks for a festival, during which time enough money was raised to pay cash for two lots on the corner of Saint James and Fritz Streets. In December 1889, through adversity and struggles, but with never failing faith, a new building was erected and dedicated to God with appropriate dedicatorial services. Financial aid was received from Mother Church Ebenezer, Sister Churches and friends.
Following a second revival, about fifty members were added to the Church by baptism. Each month there were more additions either by letter, Watch-Care or Christian Experience; among them were Deacon John Clarke, Mrs. Mary Anderson, Deacon Oswald Bowler, Deacon R. B. Clarke, and Ms. Missouri West, Sadie Holmes and Mr. William James. With this much enlarged membership many auxiliary organizations were formed; the Woman’s Missionary Society, Senior and Junior Choirs, Deaconess and others. A few more years of progress and inspiration and this building became inadequate to accommodate the members and friends. So, the lot at 1303 North First Street was purchased.
The Mount Carmel Baptist Church edifice was built in 1904 and dedicated in November, 1904, under the leadership of the founder The Rev. William H. White. The cornerstone was laid with elaborate service by Henrico Lodge of Masons. The first worship services were dedicatorial. On August 19, 1913, after a pastorate of twenty-six years, the founder and first pastor died on his sixtieth birthday.
In February 1914, the Rev. Edward D. Caffee of Salem, Virginia was installed as pastor. During his pastorate from 1914 to 1924, the members and friends of Mount Carmel made great progress that culminated in the glorious celebration of the burning of the mortgage. In 1924, the Rev. Berryman H. Johnson of Charlottesville, Virginia and a member of Fourth Baptist Church accepted the call of the Church and pastored for three years. In December 1927 he resigned to serve in another flock.
In 1928, the Rev. F. W. Black, Sr. of Norfolk, Virginia was called and at the same time that he was installed as pastor, a new Moeller pipe organ was dedicated. The “dream” of the founder was fast becoming a reality, for the Church continued to grow spiritually and numerically. The Senior and Junior choirs, Senior and Junior Missionaries, Pastor’s Aid Club, Willing workers Club, and a steadily increasing enrollment in the Sunday School made the influence of the Church felt in the community and city-wide. After nine (9) years of service, in August 1937, the Rev. Black Resigned.
During the interim the Church was served with supply pastors, mostly students in the School Religion at Virginia Union University. The Rev. John L. Wood, also a student at the University, was asked to serve as regular supply pastor in January 1938, and was elected as pastor in 1939. He led the church to a greater missionary outreach and many of the students at VUU came to work with the Sunday school and Baptist Training Union. Rev. Wood served until November 1943.
The Rev. Thomas F. Freeman, a native of Richmond, and serving as an instructor in the School of Religion at Virginia Union University was called to the position of supply pastor and assumed duties on October 7, 1944. His first major undertaking was to reorganize the Church With full cooperation from the Official Board and members. The Church was divided into twenty-two groups by the supply pastor and set out to a successful climax, “Mortgage Burning Day.” This was accomplished in nine (9) months, and the celebration was one of solemnity and beauty; the act of burning being done by the two oldest deacons, Osborne Bowler and John Clark and the two youngest members by baptism, Virginia Elizabeth Norrell and Rose Marie Thomas. During his administration the Church took in new life being sparked with by Rev. Freeman’s youth and enthusiasm. Many new departmental groups were formed and the Church was more highly organized for business efficiency. Mrs. Norma Madison became the first full-time Church Secretary. Some of the groups organized were: The Young Married Couples, the Church Interest Group, The social welfare Committee, The Young Women’s League, The Young Men’s League, The Teen-agers Progressive League and the Young Advisory council. The Drama Guild which was organized and directed by the late Mr. William White Pollard, grandson of the Founder, added much to the life of the Church, being informative and inspirational and making for a greater fellowship in the Church and community. A scholarship fund was established by the Youth Advisory Council to aid the young people of the Church who planned to attend Virginia Union University. The Junior Church with the Rev. Harold E. Pinkston as student Minister was indeed an asset to the Church’s program.
At the end of the first milestone in the administration of the Rev. Freeman, he requested a leave of absence in order to study at the University of Chicago for his doctorate. This was granted, and upon the suggestion of Rev. Freeman, Professor William J. Goodwin of Virginia Union University and head of the Music Department of the Church, was elected Co-coordinator of Church Affairs. This was indeed a noteworthy period in the history of Mount Carmel for there was at the time no known record of a layman being put in charge of a Church. With unswerving faith the supply pastor, Rev. Rosamond Kay, the Co-coordinator and the Church worked closely together and with very carefully laid and well executed plans and the cooperation of all, the Church moved forward rapidly. The exterior and interior of the Church were re-decorated, and the front improved. Thirteen new windows were placed in the sanctuary.
In September, 1946 the supply minister, Rev. Thomas F. Freeman was elected as pastor of the Church and was installed in November 1946 with one of the most impressive services ever witnessed by the Church and the community. In this administration the worship services were known for sacredness and solemnity, and the dynamic spirit-filled messages delivered by this consecrated leader, led the Church to new heights. This ministry continued until 1951, when Dr. Freeman was called to Houston Texas.
During this very brief interval which followed, the Church was served by the Rev. Earnest L. Cain, a student at the School of Religion at Virginia Union University, as acting minister. Have served the Church as student minister under Dr. Freeman, the Rev. Ernest Cain was able to keep the Church moving forward. In late 1951, Rev. Rosamond C. Kay, Jr. of Macon, Georgia having served the Church as acting minister during the period in which the Rev. Freeman returned to the University of Chicago to complete his studies for his doctorate, was called as pastor and assumed full duties in January 1952 and was formally installed on April 6, 1952. The Church continued to grow and make progress. The entire interior was redecorated, a choir room and a new kitchen added and a new heating unit installed. The Willing Workers Club was organized, and also the Deaconess Board was organized during his administration. After serving for a period of a little more than two (2) years, he was called to New Castle, Pennsylvania.
In July of 1954 without allowing the pulpit to become vacant, the Church extended a call to Dr. Edward D. McCreary, Jr., then the present pastor of Westwood Baptist Church, Richmond, Virginia. Upon his acceptance, a meeting was held on August 2, 1954 and he was unanimously elected Pastor of the Church. He assumed full duties on October 2, 1954. Installation services for Dr. McCreary were held on February 27, 1955. The young cleric and his congregation were no strangers to each other, for the Rev. McCreary had served the Church frequently during the administration of Dr. Freeman. During his pastorate, many improvements were made and the membership increased tremendously. The “dream” of vision of the founder had long since become a reality and the time was at hand for extended horizons. For quite some time the Church had contemplated moving to another location and soon after the coming of the Rev. Dr. McCreary, the need for a greater outreach in Christian Education became evident. The first board of Christian Education was organized and the first Director of Christian Education was appointed.
From 1954 to our Centennial year, two (2) ministers were ordained: Rev. Kidd Moore and Rev. John Pye. A son in the ministry, the Rev. Ernest Blue as licensed to preach at the age of fifteen (15) by the Church in the early 1960’s. Thirty-one (31) deacons were ordained, among them the first woman to be ordained as a Deacon in Mount Carmel as well as Richmond. Deacon Rebecca T. Madison was ordained to the Deacons ministry in 1976.
With the steadfast faith that had sustained her for more than sixty (60) years, and under the Divine guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Church made a successful move from 1303 North First Street. On the first Sunday in June 1958, the Church moved to its present location of 3200 East Broad Street. “And the people had a mind to work.” Here in the first four (4) years, the sanctuary was re-decorated, the pews refinished, a Baptistery Memorial Window installed and dedicated. A Gottfield Pipe Organ was installed and dedicated. The Old organ was donated to the Richmond Branch of Organist in Taiwan. It was the third largest organ in the Far East.
From 1969 – 1970, our pastor was granted a leave of absence to teach at the Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Massachusetts. He was the first Black to teach Religion at Mount Holyoke College. During this time the entire Church and Educational Building were renovated and air-conditioned. In the interim, the Church was ably served by Rev. Albert N. Johnson, a long time friend and associate and member of The Mount Carmel Baptist Church having served here during his student days at VUU (Virginia Union University).
In 1981 major renovations took place. New pews were installed, carpeting added and a new sound system installed. Fifty thousand dollars was raised in four (4) months to pay for major remodeling debt. As our Church grew, many changes took place. Many organizations were integrated. Young men became active on the Junior Usher Board, the Ladies Auxiliary Board and the Missionary Society. Women became active and accepted leadership roles on the Deacon Board; Trustee Board; Choir; Men’s Fellowship; Finance Committee; and Sunday school. Women served as Church Treasurer. The Men and Women’s Bible Class merged for Sunday school fellowship on the fourth (4th) Sunday of each month. The male Chorus, Voices of Hope and Carmelites were organized, and the Worker’s Council was formed. The Workers Council consists of organizational presidents and secretaries to assist the pastor in getting pertinent information to the members of the congregation. Bro. Ammon Bradford was ordained as a Minister.
Participation in Conventions was started and we continue to be active in the following Conventions: Shiloh, Baptist General Convention, Lott Carey, American Baptist Churches of the U.S.A. and Eagle Eyrie Youth Retreat sponsored by the Baptist General Convention. Mount Carmel was one of twelve (12) Churches in the State giving a 10th of its budget in Education and Missions to the Baptist General Convention. Mount Carmel became the first Church in Richmond to hold Maundy Thursday Services, also called Holy Thursday, commemorating the Death and Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
In 1983 the Jesse Jackson Presidential Campaign was organized at Mount Carmel under the Southern Christian leadership Conference. In 1984 the Memorial Bells were installed in July under the leadership of Deacon Charles E. Green, Dr. Charles E. Sutton and members of the congregation. Coming up on 1986-87, Dr. McCreary donated books to the Church worth over $1,000 for the establishment of a Church Library for the Educational program and the growth of the Church. The Church celebrated its 100th anniversary during his administration.
The Church with the financial assistance of Dr. Charles E. Sutton purchased three (3) pieces of property for parking lots.
Dr. E. D. McCreary retired on December 31, 1988. He served as pastor for 34 years. On December 25, 1988, he preached his last sermon as pastor. He performed baptism, dedicated three babies and two members were added on that last Sunday. The title of his last sermon was “Peace I Leave With You”, a most dynamic message! Dr. Edward D. McCreary was unanimously elected Pastor Emeritus in 1988. From January 1989 to June 1990, the Church was without a pastor and was under the leadership of the Deacons with Deacon George P. Armistead, III as chairperson. The church being without a pastor, Deacon Armistead with the assistance of Deacon Purcell Bell, were given the approval by the congregation to baptize two young converts, Masters Jason Davis and Douglas Cheatham. This was a great highlight in the life of the church.
On the first Sunday in June 1990, Rev. John S. Fountaine assumed pastorate. He baptized at 10:00 A.M., preached his first sermon as pastor and conducted communion. A few accomplishments during his administration: The Church van & Hammond Organ were purchased. The names of organizations were changed from “Boards to “Ministries”. The Gospel Choir was started. He founded the “Save The City Crusade” which was conducted for two successful years, reorganized the Finance Ministry during his tenure, the Sunday Morning Worship Service was recorded and broadcasted on the local radio station, and the church continued to grow. Dr. Fountaine resigned on the fourth Sunday in September 1995.
The Church was under the leadership of the Deacons, with Deacon Jerry A. Smith serving as chairperson. On the first Sunday in April of 1996, Dr. Wade Richmond became our Interim Pastor. He served until the first Sunday in August 1996.
Rev. Cessar L. Scott, Executive Minister of the Baptist General Convention, became our next Interim Pastor. Rev. Scott served until the 2nd Sunday in March 1997. Under the direction of
the Trustees, with Sister Bertha Carter serving as chairperson, the administrative office, the pastor’s study, and the library were all renovated and the Church acquired two additional properties. On February 12, 1997, Dr. Edward D. McCreary, Jr. and Rev. Cessar L. Scott participated in the dedication of The E. D. McCreary, Jr. Library. On April 6, 1997, Dr. Calvin C. Green began his tenure as Interim Pastor. Under his leadership and Dr. McCreary’ guidance, the Church ordained one of its own, Rev. Rosalind Bradley, on June 15, 1997. It was a great day for our Church.
In October of 1997, The Mount Carmel Baptist Church called Rev. William E. Jackson to be its 10th Pastor. He preached his first sermon on December 7, 1997 entitled ‘Follow Me’. His emphasis was on following him because he is following Christ. Under his guidance, the Church accepted the Theme “Discovering God’s Vision for Our Church”. A few of the accomplishments during his administration a “Leadership Council and Retreat was formed, a New Members Class, five computers were purchased for the Church and a Computer Task Class was held. The first Christian Education Institutional was started. Renovations were done on two offices in the lower level of the Church and the entire church was painted. A new Church welcome song was composed. The Children and Youth Minister position was organized under the leadership of Minister Lakendra Hardware. The Children and Youth held a block party to kick off a new ministry. Dr. William E. Jackson resigned on April 8, 2001.
Since April 2001, we have been served by several visiting preachers and two interim pastors. Dr. Calvin C. Green again served as Interim Pastor from April 2001 until May 2002. Under Dr. Green's leadership a Pastoral Search Committee was formed in March 2002. In June 2002 the Rev. George N. West accepted the call to serve as Interim Pastor. Under Rev. West’s leadership and the Ministry of Deacons, which was chaired by Deacon Jerry A. Smith, the church continued to grow spiritually and many souls have come to Christ. During the leadership of Rev. George N. West as Interim Pastor the church moved towards securing their next pastor. The Pastoral Search Committee, under the leadership of Deacon George P. Armistead III as Chair, recommended to the membership at their church session in May of 2003 their Pastoral Candidate, Dr. Stephen A. G. Howard. On June 7, 2003 the members voted unanimously that Dr. Stephen A. G. Howard would be their next pastor.
Continuing to function under the Leadership of Rev. George West, a recommendation made by the Deaconess Ministry, Rev. West and the Deacons Ministry, seven women were called to the Deaconess Ministry. A Consecration Service was held August 24, 2003. Those Consecrated were: Deaconess Gladys Williams, Deaconess Marian Levy, Deaconess Dorothy Sibert, Deaconess Vicky Maddox, Deaconess Sarah Vaughan, Deaconess Brenda Carter, and Deaconess Mary Brown. Later the Deacons Ministry call six Deacons-Elect. It was noted that after much training and prayers, they would be ordained in the future. An Appreciation Service for Rev. George N. West was held on September 14, 2003 to thank him for his faithful Leadership and Spiritual growth we witnessed while he served as Interim Pastor. Rev. West delivered his final sermon as Interim Pastor on September 28, 2003 during the Homecoming morning service.
October 1, 2003, on the last night of Fall Revival, Dr. Stephen Greene Howard took the reign as the 11th Pastor of The Mount Carmel Baptist Church. Dr. Howard preached his first sermon as
Pastor-Elect on October 5, 2003. This sermon was titled, “Where Do We Go From Her?” A Gala Affair to formally install him as Pastor was held in May 2004. Under the Leadership of Pastor Howard, our church continues to grow numerically and spiritually. In addition to the increase in New Disciples, the Deacons Family Tribal Ministry has been reorganized to include the Deaconess. Also, we have developed an Administrative Manual; a Reference Guide; and accepted a Church Theme and Mission Statement. Our Theme: Worshipping; Empowering; Discipling. “To Equip the Saints for the Work of the Ministry, for Building Up the Body of Christ” – Ephesians 4:12.
Christian Education, Sunday School and Senior’s Ministries have been re-organized and leaders trained. Deacons were Ordained. Those Ordained were: Deacon Bettie Gentry, Deacon Cora Smith and Deacon Herman Woolfolk. The ministry continues to grow. Physical Fitness classes like Karate, Aerobics as well as Spanish Classes were added to the ministry. Our Children and Youth were given a Sunday to lead Worship, along with the creation of the Children’s Church.
Dr. Howard has implemented several ministries and commissions which include Evangelism Ministry, Prayer Commission, Stewardship Commission, Promise land Commission, the LoCaSha Ministry and Reactivated the Transportation Ministry. A new church van, our second, was purchased. Our Women’s Ministry has been organized and held their third Women’s Retreat. Under Dr. Howard’s Leadership, a Media/Technology Ministry has been formulated, a website developed and computers networked for Administration and Education purposes. In keeping with Missions, Mount Carmel has made six Mission Trips abroad. During these trips to Jamaica, the Bahamas and Dominican Republic, they conducted Vacation Bible School, Revivals, health aids, food, clothes sharing and other mission services.
In 2004, the Carmel Empowerment Incorporated, a non-profit 501 (c)3 organization was established. Dr. Howard has done extensive research in Grant Writing and has applied and continues to apply for Grants for the advancement of our Church. He applied and received a Grant that enabled us to employ a Minister of Christian Education and Evangelism/Outreach. To expand our Outreach Ministry, we aired a live radio broadcast which aired each Sunday during the 10:00a.m. Worship.
In November 2008, Deacon Juanita B. Armistead and Gloria Woolfolk preached their trial sermons and were licensed to preach the Gospel. To involve the Ministers in the church, Dr. Howard appointed Rev. Sarah Dabney as Minister of Visitation; Rev. Wilhemenia Parker-Cunningham as Minister of Young Adults, Substance Abuse and LoCaSha Ministries; Rev. Andrew Diggs, who had served as Minister of Christian Education and Evangelism, was later appointed Executive Director of Carmel Empowerment; Rev. Juanita B. Armistead, who now serves as Minister of Christian Education; and Rev. Michelle Laws, who has been appointed to lead the Intergenerational Ministry.
Here at Mount Carmel, Disciples and Ministers are always being prepared to fill the Lord’s call. In 2007, Sister Frances Foster-Kittrell retired as Church Clerk after serving for 22 years. Deaconess Brenda Carter was elected Church Clerk following the retirement of Sis. Frances Kittrell.
Mount Carmel celebrated for the first time the “Seven Last Words from The Cross” on Good Friday. Originally, the Words were brought by various Disciples of Mount Carmel and other lay person, but in 2009, the Lord blessed us to have the Words brought by six female Ministers and one Deaconess.
During Dr. Howard’s Pastorate, additional property located at 918 North Street in Richmond, VA was donated to the church by the family of Deaconess Marian A. Settles. Along with the creation and dedication of the bookstore: The Carmel Corner. To reach out to the community, we adopted Chimborazo School in 2004, and have offered Financial Aid as well as Human Resources. In 2009, the Food Sharing Ministries began in addition to the existing Soup Kitchen. The Food Sharing Ministries offer food supplies to Senior Citizens and the community at large on selected Wednesdays.
The Disciples of The Mount Carmel Baptist Church are excited about the many exciting and great things God is doing in our ministry. In the year 2011 five additional Deacons were added to the Deacon Ministry. Those added were: Deacon Alberta Mixon; Deacon Brenda Armstead; Deacon Sarah Vaughan; Deacon Alfreda Greene; and Deacon Vicky Maddox.
The Promise Land Commission is continuing to move forward in fundraising and Leadership as they spearhead our “Journey to The Promised Land”. A movement geared toward a renovation and remodeling of our present church facilities, on February 18, 2012, the church sponsored an outstanding musical drama called “God’s Trombones” at the Henrico Theatre in Highland Springs, Virginia. This production was well attended and seemingly was enjoyed by all.
On Sunday, October 14, 2012, Mount Carmel Dedicated a Bookstore named Carmel Corner. Dr. Howard, who is very mission minded, continues to travel abroad with Disciples of Mount Carmel evangelizing the world for Christ. We are prayerful that God will continue to give Dr. Howard vision, wisdom and guidance to move our church forward into the Twenty-first Century in a most Spiritual and powerful way as we look forward to the Promised Land.