2017-08-11 / Life

Pastor sees beauty, heritage in New Hope Baptist Church

BY DEREK MOY
DISPATCH RECORD


The Rev. Spencer J. Majors and his wife Joyce sit on pews that were handmade at least 60 years ago. New Hope Baptist Church has a small membership, but Majors said it is his calling to serve God there. 
DEREK MOY | DISPATCH RECORD The Rev. Spencer J. Majors and his wife Joyce sit on pews that were handmade at least 60 years ago. New Hope Baptist Church has a small membership, but Majors said it is his calling to serve God there. DEREK MOY | DISPATCH RECORD When entering New Hope Baptist Church, one immediately is welcomed by white swinging-style doors that open to reveal a church full of history.

The Rev. Spencer J. Majors said the building has all the makings of a spiritual experience. It was deeded in 1890, and the congregation that started the church began in the 1860s.

“I don’t know what happened in the past,” Majors said. “I’ve always asked folks, and everybody would give me a tidbit here, but nobody actually gave me a full history of the church. From the papers I’ve found and information I’ve got, I do know [the congregation is] 158 years old this year.”


For nearly 19 years, the Rev. Spencer J. Majors has tended a small congregation at New Hope Baptist Church on College Street. The church’s founding dates back to the late 1860s, and the house of worship was built in 1890. Majors said he has a special connection to the church. 
DEREK MOY | DISPATCH RECORD For nearly 19 years, the Rev. Spencer J. Majors has tended a small congregation at New Hope Baptist Church on College Street. The church’s founding dates back to the late 1860s, and the house of worship was built in 1890. Majors said he has a special connection to the church. DEREK MOY | DISPATCH RECORD What little is known doesn’t really matter, as the small congregation faithfully attends every first, third and fifth Sunday to worship with a pastor who has been there for 19 years.

“We only have about maybe seven members, but like I told them, God told them He’ll raise up a remnant,” the pastor said. “So, out of 158 years, there’s still a remnant.

“I’m a firm believer in God’s Word,” Majors said. “When two or three come together, He’s in the midst. That’s what I stand on each and every Sunday.”

New Hope Baptist leans to the sides on its foundation, the floor creaks, and the handmade benches in the back likely were made during the civil rights era to remind worshippers of what the church has been through and overcome.

This is no mega church, with thousands of members generating massive donations to further expand a ministry. What it does have, the 59-year-old Majors said, is heart and God’s blessing.

Majors said the church used to be a training ground for new pastors who would travel to and from the church, learning to spread the Word of God. Majors decided to stay, as he felt something at New Hope calling to him.

The building was burned badly in a 2008 fire, caused by some kids. The pastor said the church’s strength showed through, as well as the community’s support.

The roof has been repaired more than a few times, as has the exterior. The outside is original, and was sanded and painted in 2010 with the help of Grace Fellowship.

New Hope Baptist Church sits next to the former Colored School. Majors has been trying to shed the church’s reputation as a black-only church, as race shouldn’t be a factor in worshiping God, he said.

“When I first came, everyone called it the ‘Colored Church,’ ” the pastor said. “I don’t believe in that. All of God’s children are welcome. It’s not about color, it’s about fellowship, and I instill that in members that we aren’t a ‘Colored Church.’ ”

The church’s foundation may date to the post-Civil War days, but it has become a beacon of the times: all are welcome. “I’m doing what God wants and making sure the sanctuary stands,” Majors said. “I accept this calling.”

Inside the more than 120-year-old building, the interior is spotless. The pastor is a servant, after all, he said. Majors cleans and sweeps along with his wife, Joyce.

Mrs. Majors makes sure her husband focuses on the work at hand, and she has encouraged him to begin the process of getting a historical marker for the church.

Majors and his wife make the trip on Sundays from Waco, where they live. The miles add up, but Majors said he wouldn’t want it any other way.

If the church were to receive a million-dollar donation, nothing about his ministry would change, Majors said. The church might have its foundation leveled or perhaps purchase windows that don’t leak, but he would keep the soul of the building.

“You feel the past here,” Majors said.

The small membership – sometimes just three attend services, other times maybe 10 – leaves the congregation feeling like a family.

Majors told of a time when he was visiting a worshiper in the hospital, and the member seemed both shocked and scared to see him there. Was she receiving her last prayer? Was her condition worse than she thought?

No, no, he assured her. He was there to offer support.

“Church is supposed to be like family,” Majors said. “Members take care of each other, and I’m just a phone call away.”

While Majors said he has been tempted to move on and pastor at another church, he remains stout in his belief that God wants him to be there at New Hope Baptist for the few.

“Think about it; we gathered in the same place, right after slavery, and God still allowed this place to be here,” he said. “I feel blessed just to walk through the doors.”

The congregation gathers every first, third and fifth Sunday at 600 College St. Sunday school starts at 10 a.m. A time of worship follows at 11:30 a.m., and there is plenty of room in the pews, Majors said.

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