By Jackie Hampton,
As expressions were given Sunday, July 29, at the sanctuary dedication service of New Hope Baptist Church in Jackson, one of the photos that momentarily appeared on two big screens displayed a banner which read, “IT TAKES TEAMWORK TO MAKE THE DREAM WORK.” This photo was taken over five years ago at the groundbreaking ceremony on the grounds of what was then the future home of New Hope Baptist Church.
The words on that banner precisely described why Pastor Jerry Young of New Hope Baptist Church praised, thanked and shouted words of gratitude to architects, designers, engineers, bankers, New Hope members and specific individuals and groups that made the construction and completion of the new edifice located at 1555 Beasley Road possible.
New Hope ushers and greeters were all smiles as they worked and overheard people describing the new sanctuary as ‘beautiful,’ ‘magnificent’ and ‘breathtaking.’
In his call to worship, Young stated he was refocusing his thoughts by first saying “I need to worship Him because of who He is and my God, for what He has done.” It was abundantly clear that he was grateful and looking forward to this highly anticipated service where more than 1500 people gathered for this historical occasion.
Mike Espy, a candidate for U.S. Senator and member of New Hope, stated in his welcome that a building does not necessarily make a church, because the word of God can be received in a tent, a barn, or even on a hillside, as long as there are people yearning to see the face of God and to hear the spoken word; however, chuckles and hearty applause could be heard throughout the sanctuary when Espy asked the question, “ But isn’t it wonderful to be seated on pews with cushions, to listen to a choir that can all be assembled in the same place with great acoustics, and all members can worship in a unified service?” Espy went on to say that it is great that this denominational achievement for Young is taking place at a time when Young is serving as president of the National Baptist Convention, USA.
In the occasion, New Hope member Alexis Morris stated that the church was honoring God by dedicating the church back to Him and that there will be a phase two and a phase three in the future to include a fellowship hall and a student center.
Local officials participating in the service included The Honorable Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba, City of Jackson; City Councilman Ward 2 Melvin Priester Jr.; State Representative Debra H. Gibbs; Senator Sollie B. Norwood Sr. and Mississippi Attorney General Jim M. Hood.
Expressions were also made by William McElroy, M3A Architecture, PLLC; Gretchen Ware, Senior VP of Trustmark Bank; and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the National Baptist Convention Fred Campbell and pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Redwood City, Calif.
The New Hope Mass Choir, directed by Ruthie Sayles and Gisele Gentry, provided the music for the occasion. It was evident by the loud applause and standing ovations that the more than 100-member choir provided exceptional music to the listeners. Practically everyone in the sanctuary stood after the singing of “The Heavens are Telling.”
The message was delivered by William J. Shaw, past president of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc. and pastor of White Rock Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pa. where he has served as pastor for over 62 years. He took his message from Isaiah 6:2-9.
After the message, a hugh symbolic key of the church was presented to Young by Brad Fountain, president of Fountain Construction and John Patterson, chairman of the New Hope Building Committee after which the congregation participated in the act of dedication followed by the prayer of dedication led by Willie McGriggs of New Hope.
President of the National Capital Baptist Convention Charles W. McNeil Jr. and pastor of Unity Baptist Church in Washington D.C. gave the benediction. Members of the New Hope family as well as visiting friends agreed that the time spent at the three hour plus service was very well spent.