To review the history of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church, please select from a timeframe below.
In the year 1981, God placed a vision on the heart of the late Reverend Robert A. Samuels to organize a Baptist church in southern Prince Georges County. On March 21, 1981, Reverend Samuels met with a faithful few, including Carolyn Samuels, Lillie Brown, Iceline Burwell, Lenora Dabney, Edward Evans, Sister Larkin, and Walter Webb to start the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church. It is said that in naming the church, Reverend Samuels reflected back on an Indian trail in Xenia, Ohio outside his hometown of Chillicothe. The name “Enon” (also spelled “Aenon” or “Ennon”) is also found in scripture, in John 3:23, where it records that John the Baptist baptized “at Aenon near Salim because water was abundant there; and people kept coming and were being baptized.” God nurtured the seed he had planted in Reverend Samuel’s heart, and the first official service was held on Palm Sunday, April 12, 1981 in the multipurpose room of the Melwood Elementary School in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.
Throughout their first years of work, they produced magnificent fruit for God establishing a Sunday school, ordaining and licensing Wilbert Williams as a minister, ordaining Theodore H. Grier as their first deacon, and installing disciples as officers of the church. One of the disciples, Charles Byrd, located three acres of land on Old Marlboro Pike in Upper Marlboro and suggested that the location would be a great site to build an edifice to worship God. Based on that suggestion, the disciples pooled their resources and purchased the land in October 1981. When Prince George’s County raised the rent and developed other requirements for continued use of Melwood Elementary School, the disciples prayed and canvassed the area for a new meeting place. God heard their prayers. Mt. Ennon Baptist Church worshipped at Christian Academy Elementary School until 1984.
With God’s guidance, in April 1984, Pastor Samuels called a church meeting and informed the congregation of the availability of the Independent Baptist Church building at 9832 Piscataway Road in Clinton, Maryland. The congregation voted to purchase the property, and Brother Barron Bass secured financing to purchase the church. On June 2, dedication services for the new site were held. Pastor Samuels and the faithful members sacrificed to endure some of the financial challenges of purchasing and maintaining the site on Piscataway Road. Pastor Samuels and two other disciples mortgaged their homes to purchase the site. Other disciples paid the utility bills or paid portions of the church mortgage. Pastor Samuels and the membership continued to persevere in this work amidst difficult congregational challenges until the end of Reverend Samuels’ service in January 1989.
The Mt. Ennon Church family weathered this time of transition by holding steadfast to their faith in God. Deacon James Knight, Chair of the Deacons, provided leadership for the church until God answered the prayers of the membership on December 19, 1989 when Reverend James H. Neal answered the call to serve as the church’s next pastor. Led by the Holy Spirit, Reverend Neal led the flock to higher heights in ministry. A humble servant of God with a heart for the people, Reverend Neal organized the existing auxiliaries into departments and established many new ministries to encourage the growth of the disciples of Mt. Ennon and better serve the needs of the community. Under his leadership the church membership grew from 300 to more than 2000. God led him to declare the year 1993 “the year of sacrifice.” During the year, with an increased focus on tithing, the church retired its $500,000 mortgage, purchased a church van for community outreach, and made the church accessible for physically disabled worshippers. Under Pastor Neal’s leadership, many new ministries were introduced, the warm nights program for the homeless, new members orientation class, aerobics class, a prison ministry, a tutorial program, and retreats for our youth, singles, women, men and married couples. He nurtured three sons in the ministry that were eventually called to pastor their own churches and licensed Mt. Ennon’s first daughter in the ministry, Minister Irene Ford Smith. Through the “Blessing for Children” banking ministry, disciples taught our children God’s plan for saving and financial stewardship. For Easter Sunday 1997, Pastor Neal declared that everyone would “dress down” or wear “come as you are” attire. The church was filled to capacity for all three services and forty-five thousand dollars was raised. It was also in 1997 that God revealed another portion of his plan for Mt. Ennon. He planted a seed in Pastor Neal to build a new edifice to worship and cultivate disciples. A building fund was established and the disciples began to work towards the fulfillment of God’s plan. When disciples began to get weary, Pastor Neal reminded them to believe in God and God’s work will be fruitful. From the groundbreaking service in September 2001, Pastor Neal literally rolled up his sleeves and labored with the congregation to initiate the vision of God. To the disciples’ dismay, Pastor Neal was called home to be with the Lord on December 2, 2002, months before the congregation went into Phase 1 of the new edifice and held its first worship service in the new sanctuary on April 20, 2003. Pastor Neal’s legacy of service and his commitment to encouraging members to be active servants of Christ left an enduring imprint upon Mt. Ennon.
Once again, Mt. Ennon was without a pastor and the disciples prayed and fasted for God to move and bring a new shepherd to continue God’s plan. Deacon Walter Harvey, Chair of the Deacons provided leadership for the church until February 6, 2004, when the Lord once again blessed Mt. Ennon with an anointed man of God, Reverend Delman L. Coates, to serve as the new under-shepherd.
Pastor Coates sought to lead the church by revitalizing the spiritual foundation of the church through relevant preaching and teaching, reverent worship, innovative ministry, and a focus on congregational care. From the very beginning of his ministry at Mt. Ennon, the church experienced considerable spiritual and numerical growth, and Pastor Coates sensed the long-term need for future expansion. In March 2004, he initiated efforts, along with Sister Barbara Palmer, to begin contacting area land owners to express the church’s interest in property acquisition, and worked to prepare and position the church for the next dispensation of God’s plan.
With Phase 1 of the new church complete, the church began paying its mortgage on the edifice in March 2004. To the church’s dismay, however, the County had blocked construction on Phase 2 of the new church, which included the chapel, baptistry, classrooms, and offices, due to legal issues for over a year. The church’s legal counsel and construction consultants had attempted to reach a resolution with the County on this matter and were doubtful a resolution could be reached. Despite their efforts, Pastor Coates, within months of his arrival at Mt. Ennon negotiated with county officials to reverse their rulings against the church and was able to obtain the required building permits to complete Phase 2 of the church’s edifice. During his pastoral installation on May 23, 2004, Pastor Coates surprised the church by unveiling a portrait he had commissioned of the late Reverend James H. Neal, and he announced his desire to have the church dedicate the chapel in honor of Reverend Neal. Construction on Phase 2 began that summer and was completed a year later.
In September 2007, the membership of Mt. Ennon Baptist Church was a catalyst for a national campaign to challenge the commercialization and marketing of negative and derogatory images of black men and women in the entertainment industry. The Church’s participation in the Enough Is Enough Campaign positioned the Church to have a role in social justice and community issues.
During Pastor Coates’ tenure, the church ordained it’s first female Deaconess (Deaconess Mary Waters, September 6, 2006) and the first female clergy (Reverend Irene Ford-Smith and Reverend A. Colette Rice, November 7, 2007).
In April 2008, Pastor Coates unveiled a Church wide growth initiative called the “Stewardship Take-A-Step Initiative.” This initiative is designed to encourage each church member to grow in their faith by trusting God in the areas of “Spiritual Growth, Service Growth and Substance Growth.
Pastor Coates has led the church to embrace the vision statement that we are “A Caring, Christ-centered, Community Church, with a Kingdom Agenda.” As a reflection of that vision, the church has incorporated the Mt. Ennon Development Corporation for social service and community outreach initiatives. The church has added over 4,500 new disciples, initiated support for foreign missions, expanded support for home missions, started a summer camp for youth, revitalized ministries, created new opportunities for service, implemented the Congregational Care Ministry, expanded Sunday School classes, established a Computer Training Lab, updated the church’s financial management and reporting controls, doubled the church’s land holding by acquiring 14 additional acres of land, and much more.
From a divinely inspired work developed in the house basement to a congregation of more than 7,000 fruitful disciples, Mt. Ennon continues to work towards the fulfillment of its purpose of growing disciples for Christ. God continues to guide and direct us as we prayerfully forge ahead ever seeking to know Him and work towards advancing the Kingdom.