Ebenezer Baptist Church West History
The Ebenezer Baptist Church West, formerly known as Landrum Chapel Baptist Church, was established in 1878, one year following the end of Reconstruction. The Reverend Collins Henry Lyons, the founding pastor, and others organized Landrum Chapel and in 1889, changed the name to Ebenezer Baptist Church. Three short years after the founding of the church in 1881 Rev. Lyons, a visionary, worked with others to establish Jeruel Academy, a private school for African Americans. Initially, classes were originally held at Landrum Chapel. Courses taught at the school included English, Greek, Latin, French, history, mathematics, public speaking, agriculture, sewing, cooking, music, and printing. In 1924, Jeruel Academy would merge with three other schools, and the name was changed to Union Baptist Institute. Falling victim to urban renewal plans for what was the Linnentown neighborhood, a historically Black community in Athens, Union Baptist Institute was dissolved, and the building was demolished in 1956. The University of Georgia dormitories now sit on the site, and a historical marker commemorates this significant part of Ebenezer Baptist Church West’s history and the history of Athens, GA.
Gaps in historical record keeping prevent the recording of the names of the first three men who succeeded Reverend Lyons. However, having been faithful over a few things, Ebenezer was blessed to continue ministering and spreading the Gospel under successive pastors, including the Reverends J. A. Walker, J.W. Scott, and D. C. Bracy. In 1898, the Reverend J. H. Horton became the pastor. Under his leadership, in 1921, Ebenezer began turning its eye towards the future and purchased a portion of property located in a thriving Black community in what became known as the Hancock Neighborhood. Subsequent tracts would be donated by families prepping the church for relocation.
For a brief period, 1934-35, Ebenezer was under the leadership of the Reverend J.B. Reid, and on the second Sunday in January of 1937, under the pastorate of the Reverend C.J. Gresham, the Ebenezer Baptist Church family moved to the present location at the corner of Reese and Chase Streets. Reverend Gresham served admirably as pastor until 1952. Over the next twenty-six years, from 1953-1979, Ebenezer would have four pastors: the Reverends J.H. Sanders, Charles Stokes, William Hudson, and Wesley Griffin. The distinct leadership of each man resulted in continuous progress. A parsonage was completed under Reverend Stokes, and under Rev. Sanders, Ebenezer’s Trustee Board was established. Many church improvements were made under the leadership of Rev. Hudson, and the L. B. Eberhardt Education wing was constructed under Rev. Griffin.
From 1979 – 2019 Rev. Dr. Winfred Martin Hope served as senior pastor. Under his visionary leadership, Ebenezer experienced unprecedented growth and prosperity while settling outstanding debts on the educational wing, purchasing three new vans and additional church property, one of which would become the church’s Fellowship Hall on West Broad. In 2008 – 2009 the church would worship at Clarke Central High School while the church was rebuilt and a steeple added. Many ministries were developed during his tenure as pastor. On the state and national levels, Dr. Hope was active in many different capacities with the Georgia Missionary Baptist Convention of Georgia, Inc. (GMBC), the National Congress of Education, and for many years he served as Dean of the Congress of Christian Education of the General Missionary Convention of Georgia, Inc. He remains a much sought-after preacher, teacher, and lecturer on the local, state, and national levels.
Hearing the voice of God and the echoes of Moses’ 40 years leading the children of Israel through the wilderness, Dr. Hope announced his retirement from pastoral ministry and remains a faithful member of the ministry into which he poured his heart, his family, and his life. On the June 11, 2019 the church came together and voted unanimously to elect the Rev. Dr. Daryl G. Bloodsaw as the thirteenth pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church West.
A native of Monroe, Georgia, Dr. Bloodsaw returned home to the South after serving as pastor of First Baptist Church of Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York. Shortly after being installed at Ebenezer West, he shepherded the church through the tumultuous times of the Corona Virus pandemic. Not satisfied with virtual worship alone, he initiated a daily morning prayer call 6 days a week and made the necessary arrangements to hold socially distanced in-person worship services in the parking lot of Clarke Central High School. While out of the sanctuary during the pandemic, Dr. Bloodsaw led the church through a 17-month capital campaign that culminated in burning the mortgage at Watch Night Service on December 31, 2021. Pentecost Sunday, June 5, 2022, became a historic day at Ebenezer West as it marked the first ordination of women as deacons. The church worshipped in the parking lot for sixty-four consecutive Sundays, enduring rain only twice, proving once again the wisdom of our ancestors whose witness taught us that God is always faithful and that God will make a way somehow.
Born under the shadowy existence of the Post-Reconstruction South and continuing into the 21st Century, Ebenezer Baptist Church West is firmly rooted in a past that established a solid foundation and continues marching valiantly and victoriously towards a century and a half of ministry in August 2028. Positioning the church for the future, we hold fast to that old hymn: We’ve come this far by faith leaning on the Lord. Trusting in His holy word, He’s never failed us yet. Oh, oh, oh, can’t turn around…We’ve come this far by faith.