Pilgrim Journey: The History of New Mount Pilgrim
On May 19, 1950, a meeting was held at 1150 West Lake Street in Chicago, Illinois at 8:30pm for the organizing of a church. The Church name, New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church was suggested by Bro. James R. McCoy. From 1950 to 1955, under the leadership of Reverend J.H. Johnson, at 1150 West Lake Street, the church membership grew. In the summer of 1955, New Mount Pilgrim moved to 7 North Racine (at Madison).
In 1957, the congregation moved to 1740 West Madison. The congregation continued to grow. In 1963, the church moved to 2708 West Washington. Reverend Johnson resigned and Revered George Henry Smith was elected as Pastor. In 1965, New mount Pilgrim moved to 3332 West Fifth Avenue, where Reverend Smith resigned as Pastor and Reverend James R. McCoy accepted the call of the church to serve as Pastor.
Pastor James Richmond McCoy served tirelessly in building the church. Under Pastor McCoy New Mount Pilgrim experienced a tremendous growth in membership, expansion of the sanctuary, and the building of a Fellowship Hall.
Pastor McCoy’s tireless efforts to build New Mount Pilgrim and serve the community brought prestige to the church. He developed the Christian Education program of the church and continued to promote education as key to the future. Pastor McCoy, himself, a Moody Bible Institute student, instilled in his congregation the importance of academic preparation.
Nearing the end of his pilgrimage, Pastor McCoy’s growing vision began to encompass acquiring facilities to further the aims of training children and youth for the Kingdom of God. In his final year, Pastor McCoy became consumed with moving the church from 3332 West Fifth Avenue in East Garfield to the historic old St. Mel Catholic properties in West Garfield. Very few people saw this vision clearly as Pastor McCoy. In 1992, Reverend James Richmond McCoy at age seventy-five was a man on a new, large mission to move his church from the comfortable surroundings of Fifth Avenue to the uncertain challenges of Washington Boulevard.
On Easter Sunday, April 18, 1993, New Mount Pilgrim marched from 3332 West Fifth Avenue to the landmark facilities at 4301 W. Washington Boulevard. The Spirit of the Lord fell on the great host of worshiper’s and Pastor James Richmond McCoy the humble man from Aberdeen, had fulfilled a life goal. This mission was accomplished.
On May 14, 1993, Pastor James Richmond McCoy’s earthly pilgrimage had ended and he was called to an even greater and the richest reward.
In the Spring of 1993, the spirit of grief and uncertainty hung over the New Mount Pilgrim congregation. During this period the church had two powerful remaining assets that kept the congregation afloat during turbulent times. This congregation retained a fervent spirit of prayer. And New Mount Pilgrim yet had the presence and stability of spirit of Mother Sarah Ann McCoy.
These unsettling times affect greatly the stability of the congregation and yet, out of this congregation emerged a pastoral search pulpit committee that, by early August, was moving deliberately to prayerfully research the credentials of the young Pastor who performed the burial rites for the late Pastor McCoy. Pastor McCoy, a close friend of the late Reverend Elijah J. Hatch, had remarked that Reverend Hatch’s son may one day pastor New Mount Pilgrim.
On September 22, 1993, after an outpouring of anointed prayer, the committee offered and the church accepted the Reverend Marshall Elijah Hatch as the fourth Pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Hatch accepted the call and on the first Sunday in October, Reverend Hatch preached his first sermon as Pastor of New Mount Pilgrim. The sermon’s title was the beginning in leading the congregation in continuing the pilgrimage of faith: When nothing is what you see” – keep on looking (I Kings 18:43-44). In October, after a brief installation celebration, Pastor Hatch set about the task of obtaining financing for the church sanctuary and parking facilities on Washington Boulevard.
Beginning in the Fall of 1994, Pastor Hatch began the annual sacrificial gift campaign for the Church Anniversary. Continuing the legacy of the late Pastor McCoy, Pastor Hatch lead the church away from reliance upon fundraising, and raised the standard of free will sacrificial giving. These annual campaigns proved quite fruitful and by the Summer of 1997, mortgage retirement stood about $45,000 from payoff.
In August of 1997, while traveling together on a summer crusade in Zimbabwe, Africa, Deacon Jerome Dowdy, a great man of faith, challenged Pastor Hatch to lead the congregation in climaxing the Mortgage Burning Vision of Victory in the Fall of that year. Upon their return home Pastor Hatch refocused the congregation on the Vision of Victory to burn the mortgage by raising $50,000 in sacrificial gifts from the Church 47th Year Anniversary by November of 1997. And even further, Deacon Dowdy rallied the men to collectively pledge $30,000 and challenged the women of New Mount Pilgrim to give the remaining $20,000 altogether.
The true joy of the New Mount Pilgrim story is not measured in monies but in the impact of the church’s ministries in the West Garfield community and beyond. While the congregation is grateful to God for delivering the treasured worship facility to its’ charge, the church’s highest praise to the Lord is offered for God’s great deliverance of souls and the Holy Spirit’sregeneration of hearts and rebuilding of lives and families.
In 2000, Renovation Phase III Completions: Central Air Condition in Sanctuary, Baptistery built, East Stained Glass Window (“MAAFA Remembrance”), Residential Housing on Washington Boulevard corridor (“Pilgrim Village” realized)
In 2001 Renovation/Community Development Phase IV Completions: Single Family Housing, Acquired Rectory, Handicap Accessibility, and Church Exterior Signage.
In 2002 Renovation Phase V Completions: Additional Parking Lot purchased at 4225-31 W. Washington Boulevard.
In 2004 Renovation Phase VI Completions: Property purchased at 4258 W. Washington Boulevard.
“Pilgrim Village” as a catalyst for change and empowerment is an expansion of the vision of ministry of New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church. Based on what the Lord has already done, we yet believe that He will exceed with abundance all that we can ask or think. To God Be the Glory!