…and upon this rock I will build my church:and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Matthew 16:18
Jerusalem Baptist Church was born in the hearts of a group of adults and children who met to worship in a three room dwelling near the West End Furnace. These hearty souls later established a Sunday School in a house on Eleventh Street, Southwest. That Sunday School and great teachings continue today.
During its history, Jerusalem has been blessed with leaders who have met and overcome many obstacles. There were no records of the members of the first Sunday School or when the first congregation met, however, the Lord blesses the members to organize the church in October, 1898.
The first church building, a wooden structure that was painted white, was purchased from First Presbyterian Church in 1907 and was moved to 1014 Norfolk Avenue, Southwest during the pastorate of the Rev. Moses S. Johnson (1905-10).
Little is known about the first ministers, the Rev. Scott and the Rev. Winbush, but the congregation continued to grow and later called the Rev. C. D. Henderson (1911-14) and the Rev. M. L. Gordon (1914-19).
The congregation built its parsonage two years after the Rev. J. H. Robinson (1919-25) was named pastor. The parsonage remained in use through the administration of Rev. Donald Boyd (1976-81).
The Rev. G. W. Owens of Halifax, VA (1925-28) succeeded Rev. Robinson. The Owen Willing Workers were named for this leader. A stained glass window in his memory has been placed in a classroom of the Armor of Faith. Also, during this period, Mrs. Estelle Golden and Mrs. Madge Wheaton held school classes in two back rooms of the church. This was the first public school in the black Southwest Roanoke neighborhood that was west of the Tenth Street Bridge.
Under the administration of Rev. D. A. Jackson (1928-33), the church organized a Junior Choir. The Baraca House, which served as a meeting place for the church and community was constructed during the pastoral leadership of Rev. E. T. Brown (1933-39).
Rev. William N. Hunter came to Jerusalem as the successor of Rev. Brown. He served as pastor for 35 years, from 1940-75. During his leadership many repairs were made on the old building, and on May 18, 1952, the congregation marched from the Old Jerusalem to the New Jerusalem. The W. N. Hunter Choir was formed and named in his honor.
A year after Dr. Hunter retired from Jerusalem, the congregation called Rev. Donald Boyd (1976-81). During his administration the church was remolded and the lower auditorium was named in Dr. Hunter’s honor. In 1982, God led the members of Jerusalem to call Dr. J. Eugene Young to be the under shepherd.
Dr. Young (1982-05) served as the preacher with the second longest tenure. The church experienced a rebirth spiritually, physically, and financially. The congregation was blessed to build the “Armor of Faith”, which houses offices, Sunday School and meeting rooms. A ramp, needed musical instruments, additional furniture and fixtures, and a new sound system had been added during this era. Also, the W. N. Hunter Fellowship Hall was remolded in 2002 and a steeple was added in 2004 along with the ramp and steps which have been refurbished.
In February, 2005, God called our great leader Dr. J. Eugene Young. Our Deacon Ministry led us after his death.
The physical structure has seen changes but faithfulness, trust, praise and thankfulness remain the foundation of this congregation. Jerusalem has a rich history of members whose families have persevered and been in the church most of its history.
In the winter of 2006, the church elected a Pastoral Search Committee to diligently work to seek our next pastor. Nearly three years after the home-going of Rev. Young, the congregation called Rev. Floyd W. Gregory, Jr. His Installation service was held on March 30, 2008.
In the time he has been our leader, Rev. Gregory has help the church in experiencing spiritual, financial and spiritual revival as he challenges us to actively participate in church ministries, especially Sunday School and Bible Study. Ministries for youth and women also are seeing a rebirth under the direction of Pastor Gregory and his wife, Evangelist Shirley Gregory.
Because of its history, Jerusalem has seen one other church grow from it and has licensed several preachers, including Evangelist Brenda Howard. In October 2008, there were four deacons ordained. They are Deacon George Ferguson, Deacon Ernest Brown, Deacon Larry Reynolds and Deacon Glenn Cooper.
During, the past three years, Pastor Gregory has helped to increase attendance to bible study and renovations on the kitchen was completed in Nov. 2011 and dedicated on January 8, 2012. He also was instrumental in the church having a “Community Day” which was first held in 2010 and continues to be success for the past three years. Deacon ordination was held for two new deacons, Deacon Al Meeks, III and Deacon George Harrington, Sr. on January 29, 2012.
We have been truly blessed by God at Jerusalem during the past 118 years. Let us continue to trust in the Lord and allow Him to lead and guide us through His blessings to greatness.