Mt. Helm celebrates 180 years of ministry

November 19, 2015 in Religion

By Jackie Hampton


Pastor Jerry Young was the guest speaker for the anniversary service. Photo by Jackie Hampton

Pastor Jerry Young was the guest speaker for the anniversary service. Photo by Jackie Hampton

The 180 year anniversary weekend celebration of Mount Helm Baptist Church, the oldest African-American church in the capital city, pastored by C. Edwards Rhodes II, MDIV, culminated on Sunday with a 3 p.m. service of praise.

“Renewing Strength to Change Lives that Change the World” was the theme for this year long celebration. The afternoon service was held in the church’s sanctuary located in the heart of downtown Jackson at 300 East Church St.

Pastor Jerry Young of New Hope Baptist Church, president of the National Baptist Convention USA, Inc., delivered the anniversary message. In his introduction of the guest preacher, Rhodes described Young as a man of great wisdom, integrity and one filled with the Holy Spirit. He also referred to Young as a father figure to his wife, Allison, and as a profound prolific scholar who understands that the task of being president of the National Baptist Convention, USA is mighty, but God is greater.

The mass choir of New Hope provided the music for this momentous occasion. The choir’s rendition of “The Blood Has Miraculous Power” seemed to set the tone for Young’s message.

It was evident by the loud applause from those in the congregation that the New Hope choir heightened the anticipation of what their shepherd would say in regards to this historical church’s 180 year anniversary celebration. As he began to address the congregation, Young said he was absolutely clear that “the blood of the lamb” still has miraculous power.

Pastor Young titled his message “A Paradigm for Progress.”  He focused on the question, – if you want to keep moving either individually as a Christian or collectively as a church, how do you keep moving forward in spite of all the challenges?

He said the problem with most people in making progress is that they often confuse speed with progress. “It’s not about your pace but your direction,”’ he said. He went on to say if you are moving 100 miles per hour heading in the wrong direction that is not progress.

Young said you must take a concise measurement to see where you are, you must be willing to release your past, release your victories and your defeats.

Young used scripture Philippians 3:11-14. He said your victories will make you complacent and your defeats will paralyze you.

It’s not often that Young leaves the pulpit and approach the floor of listeners but he did so during the service. He got close and personal as he encouraged Mt. Helm to press toward the mark. “Mount Helm is not done yet,” he said. He asked for forgiveness from English teachers when he said, “After 180 years, it ain’t over yet Mount  Helm.”

In addition to the afternoon praise service celebration on Sunday, Rhodes gave his anniversary message at the 11 a.m. service. His message titled “Turning it Around” led the congregation to stand to its feet and the gospel choir to begin singing, “It’s Turning Around for Me.” Rhodes in his message said when you turn around, you don’t need to turn 360 degrees because you will end up in the same place you started. “It’s better to turn 180 degrees instead,” he said.

With more than 40 years of membership at Mt. Helm, Earnest Cook III and wife, Barnessa, expressed how joyous they felt over the recent events that had taken place in celebration of this milestone. As youth leader at Mount Helm Barnessa Cook said she witnessed on Friday evening at their celebration banquet the fruits of Proverbs 22:6 – “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

The guest speaker for the banquet was Derrick Donnell, whose roots began at a very early age at Mount Helm. Barnessa said, “Derrick has grown up to be a remarkable young man. Donnell spoke on the subject, “Renewing Strengths to Change Lives that Change the World.”

Ernest Cook, trustee at Mt. Helm said, “This has truly been a time to remember and we are blessed to have witnessed what God has done and continues to do not only for Mt. Helm but for believers everywhere.

Walter Reed, chairman of the anniversary banquet said, “The baby steps we took when we were first established have involved into firm footprints on our journey to becoming one of God’s most outstanding Christian institutions.”

The moderator for the banquet was Maggie Wade, anchor woman at WLBT-TV.