HOPE SPRING M.B. CHURCH
Hope Spring Church (which for many years was affectionately referred to as the “Lake Church”) was established in 1865, just after the end of the Civil War when the shackles of slavery were abolished. It began in a brush harbor under the "pioneer" leadership of Reverend Marion Dunbar. A brush harbor is a covering made of branches and brushes supported by posts, designed to shield from the elements; it was the only structure available for worship services to the former slaves who made up the congregation. This “temporary” structure served as a place of worship for a number of years, as evidenced by a deed executed on September 12, 1871 by Mrs. Mary L. Garland of Lynchburg, Virginia which indicates that she “donated 2 acres of land from [her] plantation on the west side of Livingston Road and on which the members of the Colored Baptist Church have erected a building for church and school purposes”. Thus, a more permanent structure for a church and school was first built on the Church’s present site between 1865 and 1871.
Reverend Marion Dunbar’s name is frequently mentioned in the creation of a number of churches in central Mississippi. During this time, in addition to Hope Spring, Reverend Dunbar was affiliated with the founding of Mt. Helm, Terry Grove and Cade Chapel Baptist churches. He was a powerful force in establishing the Baptist religion in the community of slaves and former slaves until his death in 1892.
Reverend Robert Thompson was the second pastor of Hope Spring. The oldest cornerstone on the front of the Church reads that Hope Spring was founded in 1876, identifying Reverend Thompson as pastor. This marks the establishment of the official name, Hope Spring Baptist Church, and the construction of the first structure on which a cornerstone was dedicated. Reverend Thompson served as pastor for 40 years. Many souls were won to Christ, sometimes numbering as high as fifty baptized at one time in the nearby lake. Thus, the fame of the Lake Church began to spread.
Following the death of Reverend Thompson, Reverend A. G. Morris served as pastor for three years, assisted by Reverend D.W. Williams. Reverend Williams succeeded Reverend Morris, and became Hope Spring’s fourth pastor. Although his tenure was relatively short, he was known for his excellent preaching and teaching.
In 1920, Reverend Williams passed away and Reverend James McClenty became pastor. For 33 years, Reverend McClenty preached the gospel of Jesus Christ. The record is that there was none found to be his "superior" for he was one of the most outstanding preachers of the 20th Century. Reverend R. W. Crawford was both licensed and ordained by Reverend McClenty and served as his assistant for 17 years. Other preachers associated with the Hope Spring Church were Washington Anderson, S.P. Minor, and Joe Henderson.
Reverend James McClenty died in 1953 and Reverend R. L. White became pastor. For approximately 38 years, he gave unselfish service until he became debilitated with a stroke. Ministers serving under Reverend White were Reverend G. M. Jones, Reverend E. J. Hines, Reverend Willie Young, Sr., and Reverend Neddie R. Winters. Under Reverend White’s leadership, the Church saw the completion of two major rebuilding projects. The first in 1956 when, using recycled wood from the old building, the church was rebuilt using real brick. The second was in 1985 with the construction of the existing approximately 5,000 square foot sanctuary.
After Reverend White, Reverend Neddie R. Winters became the seventh Pastor of Hope Spring M. B. Church and served for seven years. He was successful in leading our congregation in the following endeavors: Construction of the approximately 3,600 square foot R. L. White Fellowship Hall; the purchase of the first church van; and affiliation with Mission Mississippi and Project Amos.
Starting in 1999, and for nearly 15 years, Rev. Walter L. Johnson, Jr. served as the Church’s eighth Pastor. Reverend Johnson was assisted in his ministry by Reverend Arthur Harris, Reverend Sylvester Huntley, Reverend Dwight Manning and Evangelist Delois Bell. During his tenure, Reverend Johnson implemented the following: establishment of innovative ministries to assist in the spiritual growth of the Church and its members; establishment of the Hope Spring Hall of Fame; purchase of a church bus; and renovations to the sanctuary to include the acquisition of audio and security equipment.
In March of 2016, Hope Spring called visionary leader Dr. Samuel L. Thompson as its ninth pastor. Dr. Thompson soon introduced a solid pastor’s vision, mission statement and Church mandate. Other accomplishments include initiating a Five-year plan, Administrative Council, Family Care Plan for the deacons ministry, establishing a evangelism class, a summer feeding program with additional Jackson sites and obtaining a USDA grant for Mississippi gardens.
In addition, under Dr. Thompson’s leadership the fellowship hall was remodeled, new iron fencing and arch were installed at the Hope Spring Cemetery. Currently the church bus is being retrofitted into a mobile feeding program and a Church Web site is being created. Dr. Thompson is assisted by associate ministers Reverend Allan Cole and Minister Archelous Knox along with Lead Evangelist JoAnn Owens.
Hope Spring has historically been a very involved and influential congregation in the Jackson and surrounding areas. For many years, a white wooden school building served as the home of “The Lake School for Negro Children”, providing educational opportunities to African American youth in the area. The Church has long been affiliated with the Hope Spring, Hinds and Adjoining Counties District Association, and the Mt. Center Sunday School and BTU Congress. Hope Spring’s prominent status in the region was noted by its inclusion in the name of the District Association. During the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s, its choir was highly regarded as one of the most prominent choirs in the region. The Youth Department of Hope Spring with devoted, energetic leaders, has been well-organized and active for over 58 years.
We thank God for keeping this Church in existence for 152 years. It was built and purchased by our Lord Jesus Christ. We thank God for a wonderful Church family. We look back and know that “we’ve come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord”. We look back, we look up and we look ahead, knowing that it is GOD's power that strengthens us and makes our way perfect. This is the History of Hope Spring M.B. Church, and our history is still in the making.