The Ebenezer Baptist Church was started as a mission in October of 1900 with fifteen members. The first meeting was in a house on Strawberry Street which can no longer be identified. The first pastor was the Rev. Edwards of Steelton, who was sent here by the Rev. J. T. Hamilton, pastor of Zion Baptist Church, Steelton, and a member of the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention. For several years, the little congregation worshipped in the Odd Fellow’s Hall at 525 Chester Street; and in Robert’s Hall in the 100 block of North Prince Street. Members from the State Missionary Board visited the congregation, from time to time, and stressed the need of greater religious work among the Negro People in Lancaster.
On December 23,1900, the mission was organized as the Ebenezer Baptist Church with a membership of seventeen. The first formal services were held in the Lancaster Court House and were conducted by the pastor who was assisted by ministers from nearby towns. The church covenant was read in these services.
The second pastor was the Rev. Albert M. Howe of Altoona. He was succeeded by the Rev. Taylor M. Davis, of Philadelphia, in June of 1903. Rev. Davis was a Theology student at Lincoln University. Under his splendid leadership, the church continued to progress and the lot at 420 Locust Street was purchased for the sum of three hundred seventy five dollars.
On July 17, 1904, the Rev. W. R. Carey was called as pastor to replace the Rev. Davis. During his administration, a church treasurer was elected; and a building and finance committee was organized to transact the business of the church. Building plans were drawn up by C. Emlen Urban and the contract to build the church on the lot at 420 Locust Street was given to Mr. E. B. Rhineer.
Although the church was organized on December 23, 1900, it was not incorporated until May 19,1905. Among the charter members were: the Rev. W. R. Carey, Thornton Monroe, John B. Welsh, Charles Green, Robert Spragons, William Payne and Fannie Monroe. The building of the church began in 1905, and on May 27, the corner stone was laid. The building was completed in 1906 and the Rev. W. R. Carey officiated at the dedication services. By that time, the membership had increased to twenty five. Rev. Carey served for four years; and under his vigorous leadership, the church grew in every respect.
The Rev. H. W. Childs followed Rev. Carey as pastor and resigned after serving one year. Then, The Rev. George W. Carter succeeded Rev. Childs in March of 1909 and served for two years before leaving to accept another charge. The Rev. A. W. Scatterfield then became pastor on January 27,1911. The church continued to progress under the leadership of all the ministers mentioned and the mortgage on the church was paid off. The Rev. J. C. King of Frankfort, Penna. conducted the mortgage burning services on Sunday, August 10, 1919.
The next year, the Rev. Morrison accepted a call to another church. Then, The Rev. J. E. Philpot, a field missionary from the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention, conducted services here for about one year. The church, then, branched out, and under the divine guidance of the Rev. Mark Thompson, the parsonage was purchased at 311 Locust Street.
Following the Rev. Thompson, the Rev. M. F. Matthews served from November of 1926 until March 8, 1927, at which time he was called to pastor the church. In 1927, the church on Locust Street was sold to the congregation of the Church of The Living God and the present edifice was purchased from the Pentecostal congregation at a cost of ten thousand dollars. The church was dedicated and the corner stone was laid in August of 1927. The Rev. J. C. King delivered the message. The Rev. Matthews and the Masonic Lodge of Lancaster assisted in these services. The charter was also changed in 1927, in that the church was transferred from the Ministerial Conference of Philadelphia to Ebenezer Baptist Church of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Under the leadership of Rev. Matthews, great things were done and the fruits of many ideals that exist today is a result of his interest and energy. He was instrumental in starting Rev. Louis A. Butcher, Sr. and Rev. William B. Carr in the Ministry. The Rev. Butcher was ordained in the Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Rev. Carr was ordained in Bethel A.M.E. Church. In 1944, the mortgage on the parsonage was paid off and linoleum was installed in the main auditorium of the church. The death of Rev. Matthews on April 29, 1945, again, left the church without a pastor; but the name he left behind was an accumulation of all the big and little things he did during his lifetime. He taught that if one would die great, everything he does down to the smallest detail, must also be great; and that nations and people must learn to live in harmony with each other; and feel morally responsible for contributing some good to the community around them. His sacrifices, his interests, and his desires will never be fully known. He is remembered as a genuine and sincere leader of his flock. Rev. Matthews was laid to rest in the valley in West Chester, Pennsylvania on May 2, 1945.
Under the leadership of the Official Board, whose chairman was Brother David Payne, and Rev. Louis A. Butcher, Sr., a son of the church, the church continued to go forward in Rev. Matthews’ footsteps. In February of 1946, a call was extended to the Rev. T. A. Crawford, of Washington, D. C., who was pastoring the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Rev. Crawford took charge on the first Sunday in May of 1946. In less than two years, the sum of $3,325.29 had been raised and paid out to cancel the mortgage and to make some very needed repairs.
Among the things accomplished under Rev. Crawford’s leadership are: renovation of the parsonage and the basement of the church; installation of pews; laying of sidewalk; the interior and the exterior of the church painted; a furnace installed; new lighting system and an electric organ put in; the pulpit, and the choir stand renovated; and the mortgage on the church was burned on Sunday, November 30,1947.
The Ministerial Association and its committees, the sister churches, the community friends of Ebenezer, and the rehabilitation and improvement fund played a great part in helping to renovate and beautify the church. The congregation of the Pentecostal Church contributed to the liquidation of the mortgage.
There were also others who made contributions to the church as follows: Sister Pricile Henderson, a silver Communion Set in 1922; The Sewing Circle, silver Communion plates in 1935; Brother and Sister Frank Hart, linen table cloth for the communion table; Sister Margaret Balis, first Junior Choir robes; St. John’s Episcopal Church, pulpit chairs; Bro. James Ewell, the Christian and U.S. Flags; Brother Talbert Michaels, collection table; St. Paul’s Reformed Church, bulletin board; Mrs. Hugh Kelly, kitchen sink; Mr. Jerry Wilson, water cooler; the First Baptist Church, Grace Evangelical congregational Church and the Ebenezer Baptist Church Usher Board, hymnbooks; Sister Thelma Morris, sponsored the painting of the church auditorium in 1936; and the Missionary Circle sponsored the painting of the church auditorium in 1943.
The following is a list of organizations and their respective leaders that were at work in 1950: The Sunday School, Deacon Hezekiah Snow, Superintendent; the Missionary Society, Sister Josephine Snow, President; the Junior Missionary Society, Sister Louis Butcher, President; The Coal Club, Sister Oplelia Jackson, President; the Usher Board, Brother Ernest Christian, President; the Choir Club, Sister T. Alexander Crawford, President; the Pastor’s Aid Club, Sister Margaret Balis, President; and the Willing Workers Club, Sister Clara Esely, President.
Rev. Crawford served this church from May of 1946 until July 1954. Under his leadership, the church progressed in every way. He was called to another field of labor.
For the second time in ten years, the church was without a pastor. Again, the Official Board, with the able assistance of two of the sons of the church, Rev. Louis A. Butcher and Brother James A. Ewell, who was then preparing himself for the ministry, transacted the business of the church in a very fine way.
On January 14,1955, The Rev. Leroy Mapp was called to pastor the church. Rev. Mapp took charge on the first Sunday in April, 1955. During his pastorage, the membership increased greatly; the youth of the church were organized into a meaningful working unit; the financial condition of the church was improved and a number of improvements was made on the building. Among them were: the laying of a concrete floor in the basement and covered with asphalt tile; side-wall panelling was installed and new rest rooms were provided. An address system and a water fountain were installed. The church was painted on the inside; carpet was installed in the sanctuary; and a Bible, a cross and candle sticks were acquired for the communion table. After eleven years of dedicated service to the Ebenezer family and the community, in April of 1966, Rev. Mapp submitted his resignation and moved on to pastor in another field of labor.
The Rev. R. T. Duncan, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, succeed Rev. Mapp in September of 1966. Rev. Duncan was a zealous personality. He contributed to the continuous progress of the church; and after about a year of service, he resigned to take up the pastorage at another church.
In July of 1968, the church extended a call to the Rev. Robert E. McMorris, who was Dean of Men at Morris College in Sumter, South Carolina. Since Pastor McMorris has been the Under-shepherd of the flock, the Lord has bountifully blessed the church. Among the many things that have been done are: a parsonage was purchased at 642 East End Avenue; the complete renovation of the church (inside and outside) as follows: the sanctuary was completely re-plastered; a new sub-floor was installed and covered with tile; new carpeting and a new steel baptistery were installed; new pews and new pulpit furniture were purchased.
The choir room was partially re-plastered; a new sub-floor was installed and covered with tile; partitions were installed to provide a dressing room for the choirs; two double closets for choir robes were built in and a door was cut leading to Lime Street.
In the basement, a new ceiling was put in; two foundation supports (steel post) were installed to support the upper floor; new lighting fixtures were installed; one wall was extended and replaced with cement blocks and a side door was cut leading to the parking lot.
A new furnace was installed and the furnace room was fire-proofed. The hot-water-heater was replaced; two new cooking stoves and a hood, a double sink and new kitchen cabinets were installed. The entire church was painted, twice, inside and outside.
Under the dynamic leadership of Pastor McMorris, and with the help of God and the people, Ebenezer has grown spiritually, numerically and financially.
The dedicated members of the Ebenezer Family, and the prayers and help of her many friends, and the sustaining hand of a merciful God, have been the secret that has kept Ebenezer on the march for seventy five years.
SURELY, “THE LORD HATH DONE GREAT THINGS FOR US, WHEREOF WE ARE GLAD!” (Psalms 126:3).
Under the leadership of Pastor McMorris, the Ebenezer Baptist Church Family continued to prosper. In 1975, monthly meetings of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People were held at Ebenezer. The Gospel Train Program was our first Black ministry in song over the radio and television. The inside of the church was painted.
1977 was the continuation of Vacation Bible School. In 1978, a new furnace was installed as well as the installation of air conditioning and the security system.
In 1979, Wilkins Garrett was licensed to preach the Gospel Ministry. In January 1980, Dale Ford and Freddie Weeks were licensed to preach the Gospel Ministry. Bro. Thaddeus Godwin and Paul Futch were put on trial for the Deaconiate 1980 was the creation of the Junior Choir and the beginning of the bus ministry. The church family recommended two(2) females to serve on the Official Board; namely Sisters Martha Johnson and Brenda Tyrance.
In September 1980, Brothers Godwin and Futch were ordained to the Deaconiate. In December 1980, the mortgage on the parsonage was paid off.
In February 1981, Kevin Daniels and Alonzo Bennett were put on trial to the Deaconiate. The church was perm bricked. Bro. James Thomas and Melvin Baber became licensed to preach the Gospel in 1981.October 1981 was the establishment of the Kamala Dennison Memorial Fund which was used towards the restoration and beautification of the outside bulletin board. The Nursery started in December 1981.
In June 1982, licensees Fred Weeks, Thomas and Baber were ordained to the Gospel Ministry with Kevin Danie and Alonzo Bennett ordained to the Deaconiate in November 1982. Earl Hammond was put on trial as a walking Deacon Ebenezer changed to the New National Baptist Hymnal. The major project for 1983 was the decorating of the church interior. Rev. McMorris was elected Moderator of Central Baptist Association. New robes were purchased by the Gosp Chorus.
In July 1983, Bro. Gregory Taylor was put on trial as a walking Deacon.
In June 1984, the van was purchased to increase bus ministry. Brother Taylor and Hammond were ordained to the Deaconiate in September 1984. New robes were purchased I the Senior Choir in January of 1985.
In June 1985, John Clark became a Son of Ebenezer Baptist Church. Projects for 1985 consisted of the installation of new carpet in the church, the first mortgage was paid in full and the windows were covered with plexi-glass. Hek Christian became the first female treasurer. In October 1986, robes were purchased for the Young Adult Choir. Ebenezer joined the local Chapter of the NAACP as a life member.
The accomplishments were many while Rev. McMorris was Pastor. The church had extensive involvement in con munity affairs. Activities include providing a space for the monthly NAACP meetings, the South Area Bing Conl Children’s Christmas Event, Minority graduation, Martin Luther King School Project for educational outreach program Water Street Rescue Mission, Crispus Attucks Center, assisting the School District of Lancaster in the dedication of d Carter-McCrae Elementary School.
Rev. Robert E. McMorris retired as Pastor of Ebenezer in July of 1988. Under his leadership, membership increase and members took an active part in the church. The services of Daniel Mack as Treasurer from 1975-1985 and Rosa Harris from 1977-1990 as Church Clerk should be noted.
During the period from August, 1988 to June 1989 the church was without a Pastor. Rev. James Thomas, our Assistant to the Pastor, the combined boards with Deacon Robert Baber, chairman of the Deacon Board from 1975-88 and Deacon Cornelius Cunningham 1989-present as Chairman continued as we moved forth. Trustee Chairmen Howard Sheppard 1989-90 and Leamon Troublefield 1991-present were willing and able to keep God’s finances and properties always proper order and repair. Membership continued to grow.
In June 1989, Ebenezer called the Rev. David Minus, Jr. as Interim Pastor. The church re-activated the You Department, increases in timings and foreign missions. And the parsonage was fully refurbished. The church set aside Brother William Harris, Sr. as a walking Deacon and he was ordained to the Deaconiate. The Pulpit Committee became actively involved in the search for a. pastor under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the church.
On March 10, 1990, Ebenezer called Reverend Roland Purnell Forbes, Jr. as Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church. He w installed as Pastor in June, 1990. Ebenezer definitely has been blessed. With our present Pastor, truly we, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, thank God for you and you labor in His vineyard and say, “the Lord hath done great thins for us whereof we are glad.”
The Lord continue to bless the church under the leadership of Pastor Roland P. Forbes. Pastor Forbes redesign the Christian Education Board with Sis. Ruby Wilkerson as the Chairperson, with classes for boards of the church to grow spiritually. The Youth Department was reactivate with Bro. Daryl Glover and Sis. Jurietha Sheppard as its directors. A new 1990 Doge van was purchased.
March 17-24,1991 we celebrate the church 90th Anniversary with a week of spiritual uplifting, with a banquet at the Holiday Inn. A new organ and sound system was purchased, a new roof was installed at the parsonage. A New Building Fund Committee was established in hopes of building a new Ebenezer with Bro. Howard Sheppard as Chairperson. The Combine Choir Day was established. The first church family album was completed.
In 1993 A Packard Bell Computer System was installed. Brothers Lawrence Galloway, Sr, Eugene Hampton and Abraham Morant was installed as Deacons and their wives as Deaconess. Bro. Clifton Jenkins became the church’s first full time pianist/organist. The first Men/Women’s Day was held. A plaque honoring past and present Sunday School Superintendents was blessed. Breakfast is being served after Sunday School. The New Building Fund Committee held a banquet at The Iris Club. In door/outdoor carpet was installed in the choir room, secretary’s office and back vestibule. The church celebrated Pastor & Sis. Forbes’s third anniversary with a banquet at Crispus Attucks Community Center.
In 1994 100 new King James Bibles was purchased and dedicated. A new heating system was installed. The Scholarship Fund was established. The Deaconess Ministry starting cooking and serving food at Crispus Attucks Homeless Shelter. The Food Bank Ministry was established.
In 1995 All boards became Ministries, and the Tape Ministry, The J.O. Y., and the Mime * Ministry was established. Deacon Thaddeus Godwin was licensed to preach the Gospel. The Deacon and Deaconess Ministry donated a new cross, candle stick holders and flower vases.
A second church family album was completed. The Scholarship Ministry became The Education Ministry. The church voted to start a retirement fund for our Pastor, depositing $2000.00 a year.
In 1996 Pastor & Sis. Forbes’s Sixth Anniversary was celebrated with a banquet at The Hotel Brunswick. Bro. Richard Hampton was licensed to preach the Gospel. The Mime Ministry went to Hartford, Connecticut to minister.
In 1997 The Mime Ministry went to minister in Florida, minister at a Community Concert at The Boys and Girls’s Club, minister at a Father’s Day Concert at the Fulton Opera House Studio Theater. New hymn books were purchased, the appliances were replaced in the parsonage and complete outside renovations begin on outside of the parsonage. The Couple’s Ministry was established.
In 1998 The Mime Ministry did a concert at The Lancaster Fulton Opera House. Bro. Allen Morant was installed as a Deacon and his wife as a Deaconess. A 1999 new Ford van was purchased. The Men and Women Fellowship Ministry was established.
The Education Ministry presented a banquet in honor of our seven high school graduates:
Sis. Shannon Ashley, Bro. Devon Forbes, Sis. LaTasha Godwin, Sis. Regina Hampton, Sis. Jecoah Jones, Sis. Shante Morant, Sis. Tiffin Preston, and Sis. Nakia Tumblin and two college graduates Sis. Veronica Johnson and Sis. Tyra Salapeh.
Renovations started on the church sanctuary with new all new windows, padding for the pews. While construction was being done, Sunday services were held at the Boys & Girls Club.
The Lord Blessed us with a completely new sanctuary. Sis. Vondol Hammond and Sis. Shannon Ashley was licensed to preach the Gospel. The Single’s Ministry was established. Pastor & Sis. Forbes’s tenth anniversary was celebrated with a spirit filled week and a banquet at the Brunswick Hotel. Biblical Counseling training was established.
The arrival of our present Pastor, Rev. Roland P. Forbes, Jr., brought a brand new passion and assignment for ministering to the very lives of God’s people both locally and internationally. Under the leadership Pastor Forbes’s since his arrival in March 1990 and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the ministry of Ebenezer has grown tremendously into a multi-cultural ministry that meets the needs of the community. Just to name a few E.B.C. now has two morning celebrations, a children and youth ministry (Joshua Empowerment), an outreach ministry (Room For More) which seeks to meet the needs of our local community, a Pastoral Care ministry which is responsible for meeting the daily needs of member, an Education ministry which provides Scholarships to High School and College Students, a Mime ministry which minister unto the Lord through dance and mime to name just a few. Most recently, the church went under renovations to complete Phase 1 of a 3 Phase Vision for the ministry, and is presently preparing to begin with Phase 2.
The Ebenezer Baptist Church ministers to its local community through various ministries such as the Room For More Outreach Ministry, which provides clothing, household items, toys, and other items to persons that who are without. Weekly E.B.C. provides breads and pastries and bi-weekly E.B.C. provides food to members with in our local community.
Today the ministry has over 600 Kingdom Citizens and counting and ministers locally, nationally and internationally with its missions work in Kenya, Africa.
The desire for this Kingdom Body of Believers is to, “Seek first the Kingdom…” Matthew 6:33 as we fulfill the mandate of Matthew 28:19-20 by, Possess the Kingdom…Processing and Producing Kingdom Citizens.