On November 5, 1892 New Hope Baptist Church (NHBC) originated from a prayer band of dedicated Christians. The Prayer Band rapidly and later became a Community Bible Class. Classes and worship services were held at Sloss-Sheffield Iron Company. Male members of the Bible Class formed a committee to move the services from the Sloss-Sheffield location. The first HNBC building was located at 3431 Second Avenue North, Birmingham. During the organization the church was under the leadership of Rev. King Nelson from 1892 to 1895. Reverend Nelson remained pastor until his death in May 1895.
Since its inception in 1892, NHBC has been under the leadership of ten pastors, all dedicated to the work of the Lord. A brief chronological history follows:
Reverend A.D. Sanders was the second minister to serve as pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. He served until his death in 1899.
Reverend F.A. Chapman became the third pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. The membership continued to grow, thus requiring a larger building. Reverend Chapman drew the plans for the new church, which was erected on the corner of Fifth Avenue and Thirty-Third Street North. He served as pastor until his death in 1902.
Reverend E.M. Davis was the fourth pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. The church continued to grow under his leadership. He resigned after two years of service.
Reverend W.T. Thomas was elected fifth pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. He served as pastor until his death in 1906.
Reverend J.H. Pearson was elected the sixth pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. He re-established the Board of Deacons and Trustees, organized the Ushers, Missionary Society and the Sunbeam Band. In order to expand their facilities, in 1912, L&N Railroad Company purchased the church building and property. The church moved to a new location at 3431 Second Avenue North. Reverend Pearson’s death in 1921 ended his fourteen years of service to New Hope Baptist Church.
Reverend J.H. Martin was elected the seventh pastor of New Hope Baptist Church in May 1921. He resigned in October 1932 to become the pastor of Zion Baptist Church.
Reverend E.M. Jenkins was elected the eighth pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. The Church and Sunday school were filled to capacity each Sunday. A gospel chorus and the E.M. Jenkins Choir were organized. On August 31, 1941 the church congregation witnessed the burning of the mortgage of the church properties and drew plans for an educational building. Rev. Jenkins served as pastor until his death in September 1945 before his plans became a reality. For almost a year, the church was without a leader.
Reverend Herman Stone was installed as the ninth pastor of New Hope Baptist Church on in May 1946. In September 1658, the church Kindergarten was organized. Realizing the community was moving and the church edifice was in question, a new location was found. A beautiful church building was purchased at 1154 Tenth Avenue South. And, on January 26, 1964 the first worship service was held in the new church. After many years of service at this location, church leaders became disturbed by the expansion of the University of Alabama Birmingham Campus. A committee formed and located the property at 1740 Cleburn Avenue Southwest, Birmingham. Services were held in the educational building. A contract to build a new sanctuary was awarded to Continental Church Builders of Nashville, Tennessee. And on May 15, 1973 digging of the foundation began. On April 7, 1974 church services were moved to the new sanctuary. January 6, 1986, the church was again without a pastor due to the retirement of Pastor Stone. However, he served as pastor emeritus until his death in 1988
Dr. Gregory L. Clarke was elected tenth pastor of New Hope Baptist Church on October 21, 1986. And on November 2, 1986, Reverend Clarke preached his first sermon. The subject of his first message was, “Middle Ways the Ladder”. Reverend Gregory L. Clarke was officially installed January 1, 1987. He came to the church young, vigorous and with a great zeal to serve. The church membership received him and pledged their support.
Numerous accomplishments have been wrought during Pastor Clarke’s leadership. Some of these, to name a few, include: Establishment of the Christian Board of Education, New Hope Christian School (K-5), Membership Revitalization Committee, Golden Age, a monthly newsletter, reorganization of the Board of Mission and Youth Department, new member orientation classes, extended weekly prayer service to include Wednesday night worship service, increased kindergarten enrollment to 90% and the Herman Stone Mass Choir by 200%; established the Prison ministry, Elder Care and Nursing Home Ministry, radio broadcast, expanded parking area, established several scholarship funds, economic development ministry, media ministry; increased the membership tremendously.
Expansions include: Family Life Center, totally remodeled sanctuary with new pews and carpet; Computer Center for school, library, book store, building to house the Daycare; building to house the Preschool; a community based Federal Credit Union, Mission House, Garden of Hope Senior Citizen Housing Facility, a Senior Citizens Recreational Center and a second location for worship – New Hope Baptist Church South Avondale.
Our Heritage has proven to be fruitful. Through faith and works of God has allowed New Hope to prosper. The hard work of the pioneers of New Hope has paved the way for us today. As we look ahead to the future, we must always hold to the blessings of the past and keep the legacy of New Hope Baptist Church alive in generations to come. The motto of the church, “Caring, Sharing and Spreading the Good News about Jesus”, must forever be held in each of our hearts and practiced in our daily live.