“Koinonia” - Fellowship
Acts 2:44 & 47 (NIV)
All the believers were together and had everything in common . . .
praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
137 Years of History
It was 1885 when twenty-six earnest Christians obtained their letters from the Rehoboth Baptist Church (mother church), and founded Mount Moriah Baptist Church. The name of the church was suggested by one of the members, and unanimously accepted by all.
RECOGNITION OF THE CHURCH
The church was recognized on Monday, July 13, 1885, when a council of pastors and delegates from twelve Baptist Churches, declared the existence of the Mount Moriah Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. The churches included: Shiloh, Bethlehem, St. Luke’s, Virginia Avenue, Enon, Walker Memorial, Macedonia, First, Third and Fourth Baptist of Washington, D.C., along with Beulah and Third Baptist of Alexandria, Virginia.
FIRST HOME AND MEMBERS
Mount Moriah’s first services were held in the home of Brother Sampson & Sister Fannie (Katie) Thomas, located at 1220 2nd Street, S. W., Washington, D. C. The first members included Brothers John Delaney, Thomas Delaney, James Eglan, Walter Epps, Charles Fields, Joseph Hailstorks, Arthur Howard, Charles Richardson, James Shorts, Sampson Thomas, Luther Washington, Frank Thomas; Sisters Nellie Berry, Everlina Cox, Mary Dent, Priscilla Dent, Lucinda Fowler, Susie Hailstorks, Harriet Howard, Margaret Molden, Maria Price, Fannie (Katie) Thomas, Mary Thompson, Caroline Upshur, Helen Washington and Mary Vincent.
Reverend Henry Scott was the first pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church. He led this church as pastor for seven months. On Sunday, November 8, 1885, the first Sunday School was organized by Reverend Scott with a total of twelve. Brother James Short served as the first Superintendent of the Sunday Church School for eight months. Reverend Scott later resigned as pastor, to enter another field of work.
On Friday, May 7, 1886, the Reverend James Clinton Dent (wife Mary), of Charles County, Maryland, accepted the calling to become the second pastor of Mount Moriah Baptist Church, and to continue to teach God’s word to His people. Reverend Dent began his pastorate on Sunday, June 5, 1886. The membership grew to the extent that the church relocated to its second house of worship at 3rd and Van Streets, S. W. in 1887.
Under the steadfast pastorate of Reverend Dent, Mount Moriah not only grew in number and financial security, it found the need for a larger house of worship. A new edifice at 2nd Street (between M and N Streets) S. W. – in 1891, was built and became the third house of worship. In 1900, this building was remodeled and free from debt in 1906.
Reverend Dent remained pastor for 22 years 5 months and 2 days. He was called from labor to reward on Saturday, November 7, 1908.
On February 11, 1910, following the death of Reverend Dent, Reverend F. W. Williams, of Queens Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, was called to pastor Mount Moriah. Unable to accept the position, he requested permission to recommend someone he felt worthy of the position of third pastor of the church.
Reverend F.W. Williams recommended the Reverend Dr. James Harvey Randolph (wife Alberta), of Tidewater, Virginia. Dr. Randolph preached his first sermon at Mount Moriah on Sunday, April 3, 1910 and was selected to be the next pastor on Monday, April 11, 1910. On Thursday, May 5, 1910 he accepted the pastorate Dr. Randolph was officially installed on Sunday, July 24, 1910.
Dr. Randolph began his pastorate by revising the church structure and enhancing the ministries. His zeal for education and instruction led to the conception of mid-week Sunday School Teachers’ Classes. He forged alliances with religious institutions, conventions, and conferences. As Executive Secretary of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention from 1918-1940, Dr. Randolph encouraged Mount Moriah in its local and foreign missionary work. Though small in stature, Dr. Randolph was a man of enormous vision, courage, and humility. It was indeed that vision which sparked his architectural design for Mount Moriah’s fourth house of worship at Third and L Streets, SW. The ground was broken on Monday, February 18, 1924, and the cornerstone was laid on Friday, May 30, 1924. The church was dedicated on Sunday, September 20, 1925 and the mortgage was burned on Sunday, April 1, 1951.
Mount Moriah was housed in this location for 34 years. This building was considered to be one of the most beautiful and historic edifices in the city by its members and the community. However, as a result of the Southwest redevelopment, the church was forced to sell the 3rd and L Street location to the Redevelopment Land Agency for $361,000.00.
On Sunday, February 2, 1958, the members processed in a 200-car motorcade to its fifth house of worship at 17th & East Capitol Streets, N.E. This location was purchased from Second Baptist Church, now in Southern Maryland, for $350,000.00.
Dr. Randolph served faithfully as pastor of Mount Moriah for fifty (50) years until July 6, 1960 when he passed away at the age of 90. His tenure as pastor for this period, distinguished him as the Dean of Baptist Pastors in the Washington, D.C. area, having pastored a single church longer than any other Pastor in this city, at that time. While Dr. Randolph’s death marked the end of an impressive spirit-filled tenure of dedicated teaching, preaching, and counseling, it signaled the beginning of a new era of community based evangelism.
After being without a pastor for two years, Mount Moriah called upon the eldest son of the church, Reverend Dr. Emmett Starks, to serve as Associate Pastor in the interim.
On Sunday, July 8, 1962, the Reverend Robert Gilmore Williams Sr. (wife Doris), of Petersburg, Virginia, was installed as the fourth pastor. Much was accomplished under Reverend Williams’ pastorate. He instituted a five-year program, which encompassed a broad-based emphasis on spiritual growth, individual commitment and stewardship. Many improvements were made to the church facility and to the musical program of the church.
Reverend Williams had a vision for Mount Moriah’s future. Part of that vision was to have the church purchase surrounding properties in the neighborhood. During his pastorate, we purchased four additional properties and a parsonage for the first family. Before his Home-going, all properties were mortgage free. Other parts of his vision were evidenced in his Expansion and Renovation Program. Included in this program, along with other major projects was the construction of a balcony to increase the seating capacity in the sanctuary; a renovated prayer chapel; and outside ramps for the physically challenged. Reverend Williams instituted the “TOGETHER WE BUILD PROGRAM” to raise funds for the expansion and renovation projects.
Reverend Williams’ twenty-five years of faithful and untiring service to Mount Moriah ended on Friday, October 2, 1987, when God called him to his heavenly home.
In late 1987, Mount Moriah was once again seeking a shepherd. Reverend Dr. Edward A. Hailes Sr. was asked to serve as Interim Pastor. His administration was so impressive that it led to his installation as the fifth pastor on Sunday, October 23, 1988.
During Dr. Hailes’ pastorate, the Venture in Faith debt was liquidated, and additional ministries were formed - such as the Evangelism Ministry, Prison Ministry, Alcohol Abuse and the Edward A. Hailes, Sr. Scholarship Fund. Dr. Hailes was a dynamic champion for the youth and he gave them many opportunities to participate in church activities, including speaking from the pulpit on the fifth Sundays. He spent time counseling our youth and was always willing to help them in any way he could – especially in education. It was Dr. Hailes who instituted the “EDWARD A. HAILES, SR. SCHOLARSHIP FUND”, in which he was one of its largest contributors. This scholarship program was established to provide funding for the purchase of textbooks and supplies for graduating seniors seeking a post-secondary education. It was Dr. Hailes who also instituted the practice of “SHAKE YOUR NEIGHBOR’S HAND” during our morning worship service. In 1997, Dr. Hailes retired for health reasons. He was later named Pastor Emeritus, and served in this capacity until Monday, January 9, 2006, when he answered God’s call to come home and rest.
All of our First Ladies, along with their families have taken rank in the church according to their husbands’ respective administration and have been strong supporters in advancing the work of the church. Each of our known First Ladies: Sister Priscilla Dent, Sister Alberta Randolph, Sister Doris Williams, Sister Nettie Hailes and Sister Janice Dalton have played significant roles in assisting their husbands to carry out their respective Divine Assignments here in Mt. Moriah.
Once again, Mount Moriah was without a pastor for several years. However, when we started our search, God sent to us our next and current shepherd, Reverend Dr. Lucius M. Dalton of Madison Heights, VA. On New Year’s Eve, 1999, Reverend Dr. Lucius M. Dalton ushered in the new millennium for the Mount Moriah congregation as our sixth pastor. He was installed as the sixth pastor on Sunday, March 19, 2000.
Pastor Dalton came to us, as the late Margaret Washington once said, “like a young Joshua, already highly experienced in the pastorate and quite capable of pursuing his ministry here.” After he observed Mount Moriah for one full year, Pastor Dalton proceeded to provide the church with his spiritual vision of growth, which included a focus on the youth and senior adults of the church. He reminded the membership that “God loves a cheerful giver” and that through the spirit of giving, Mount Moriah would grow and become self-supporting.
In 2002, God led Mount Moriah to commit as a congregation to developing a mind like Christ. That commitment resulted in Pastor Dalton’s first book, Doing What God Requires, published in December 2003. This book is a verse-by-verse exposé of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and the compilation of twenty-one sermons preached by Pastor Dalton as he encouraged us to live like Christ. In February of 2011 Pastor Dalton’s second book, The Lord Will Provide was published. The Lord Will Provide traces the steps of Abraham from the time the Lord called him to leave home for a land that the Lord would show him (Genesis 12:1) to the time he proved his willingness to sacrifice Isaac on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:1-14). It details Abraham's constant struggle with faith and doubt and then compares Abraham's faith and doubt with that of humanity. The Lord Will Provide was preached as a seven sermon series in 2010 to commemorate the 125th Anniversary of Mount Moriah Baptist Church.
Pastor Dalton licensed and ordained the first female minister of Mount Moriah - Reverend Janelle Thompson. He also, ordained Reverend Edward A. Hailes Jr., Reverend Chester Bryant, Reverend Rachel McPhail Boyd, Reverend Tammi D. Brantley, Reverend Josette L. Franklin, Reverend Lisa Banks-Williams and licensed Minister Lorenzo McCrea, Minister Bruce D. Hasty Sr., and Minister Tracie Williams. As pastor, he installed the first two female Deacons of this church – Deacon Geneva Greene and Deacon Sandra Kilgore.
In 2005, Pastor Dalton received his Doctorate of Ministry Degree from Howard University School of Divinity. His study was entitled: Creating A Mission-Minded Congregation. Pastor Dalton is a strong advocate of missionary work. As a result, shoes and sewing machines were sent to Uganda, Africa and funds were provided for a well in India. During the tremendous disasters (Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina), the church participated in providing finances, shelter and clothing. We also regularly send teaching resources to Africa for Christian Education. Additionally, under Pastor Dalton’s leadership, Mount Moriah continues to be a strong supporter of Lott Carey Foreign Missions, the District of Columbia Baptist Convention and the Capitol Hill Group Ministries. In the community the church annually provides school supplies and assistance to the students of Payne Elementary School, and partners with Eliot-Hine Middle School and Eastern High School as a part of daily outreach efforts.
For the past 19 years, Pastor Dalton has brought to us the Word of God with much enthusiasm. Under his pastorate many improvements have been made and continue to be made to the worship experience and the church facility. Pastor Dalton encourages the participation of our youth, young adults and seniors by promoting weekly worship experiences that are intergenerational. Youth are appointed to ministries and committees to encourage their involvement, contributions and knowledge. Pastor Dalton restructured Children’s Church which serves as an age appropriate worship environment for youth ages 9 and younger each week at 10:45 a.m. Pastor Dalton has refocused the spiritual lives of our congregation through weekly Bible Study, Sunday Church School, and Leadership Workshops, four to six week sessions during March and April annually. His emphasis on educating disciples has resulted in a spirit-filled and energized congregation. Each year of his pastorate has begun with a new church theme intended to guide and focus our work in God’s vineyard. Pastor Dalton says that “Vision is not just the finish line; it is the whole race; it is a picture of what God wants us to do.” “The spiritual target of Mount Moriah Baptist Church is the un-churched, the uncommitted, the un-evangelized, and the unreached.” Pastor Dalton has been led to design a six-point strategy to guide Mount Moriah in realizing the vision given by the Holy Spirit: The Moriah Plan—Manager, Outreach, Recruitment, Involvement, Advertisement, & Homework. “Prayer is the key to fulfilling our vision.” “Our prayer is that Mount Moriah will grow as a result of our faithfulness to witnessing.” In July, 2010, a new digital church sign was erected in front of the church. In September, 2011, a new sound booth was built and LED monitors, video cameras and DVD recording equipment were installed in the sanctuary as well as LED monitors in the children’s area and the lower auditorium and in 2012 in the Prayer Room.
In 2013, God gave Pastor Dalton vision to institute a daily Prayer Line. He states, “The Prayer Line is probably the most important thing I as Pastor have done during my tenure at Mt. Moriah.” Members and friends call in every morning Monday through Friday from 6am to 6:15am to join in corporate devotionals and prayers—a powerful and necessary time for all as we come together to seek God’s face each day. “WE CANNOT NOT PRAY!”
Pastor Dalton desires to lead us closer to Christ by providing us with much needed knowledge so that we will be able to lead others to Christ by spreading God’s Word to the “uttermost parts of the world.” Mount Moriah Baptist Church continues to be a beacon light serving the community of the Nation’s Capital for 134 years “Loving Like Christ Loves!”