New Hope Baptist Mission was established on November 23, 1933, as a Baptist Mission, by Reverend Chester L. Smallwood and small group of persons. Following the appointment of Reverend Smallwood as Pastor and the election of officers the Mission held its first service on November 26, 1933 (Thanksgiving night) in the basement of the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church. Eighteen officers were elected, and Reverend Smallwood was appointed Pastor on that day.
The following week the Mission secured its first permanent home at 444 N Street, NW, where the congregation worshipped for one year. Worship services returned to the basement of Mt. Nebo once it became vacant. Due to its rapid growth and overflowing services, Reverend Smallwood decided it was time for the congregation to have their own place of worship. The Mission located two vacant lots on Neal Place, NW (between 4th and 5th Streets) which they purchased. New Hope Baptist Mission was recognized as Baptist church by the Ministers Conference of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity, at which time the name was changed to New Hope Baptist Church.
As the church moved forward with its plans to pay for the lots and build a new church, Sister Augusta Parker informed the pastor that the building located at 1217 5th Street, NW was for sale and would be auctioned the next morning at 9:30 a.m. Unfortunately, all funds had been exhausted toward payments for lots on Neal Place. Recognizing this as a great opportunity, Reverend Smallwood contacted as many Deacons and Trustees as he could on a Sunday night to discuss the matter. Being a very progressive man with great courage, Reverend Smallwood believed nothing was impossible with God. He told each officer contacted, ‘Brethren, let us try God and see if there can be some way to buy the church.” He then went to the home of the president of the Industrial Bank to discuss the plans for the church that was up for auction. The president of the bank agreed to make the down payment on the church of $9,550. New Hope Baptist Church move to its new home at 1217 5th Street, NW.
Reverend Smallwood served as Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church for a period of four years. His successor, Reverend David Story, served as Acting Pastor for six months until Reverend Charles Henry Hamilton was elected Pastor. He preached his first sermon on the third Sunday in June, 1938. Under the leadership of Reverend Hamilton, New Hope Baptist Church had phenomenal growth; several new ministries emerged; the mortgage was paid off; the lots wee sold; and all old debts were paid in full.
Fifteen years later in 1953, was the crowing achievement of New Hope Baptist Church. The Church saw a need to expand, and the decision was made to purchase the beautiful, spacious, and picturesque church located at 816 8th Street, NW for a purchase price of $150,000. On June 3, 1954, New Hope Baptist Church was renamed Greater New Hope Baptist Church upon moving to their new home in downtown DC – where it still stands today and is considered a historic building. The burning of the mortgage occurred after 12 years on November 1, 1965.
Following the untimely death of Reverend Hamilton on December 21, 1982, the Church named the Reverend Melvin G. Brown form Cambridge, MA as its shepherd where he remains today as a dynamic, charismatic, spirit-filled leader. Pastor Brown, a graduate of Harvard University’s School of Divinity (Cambridge, MA) was elected as Pastor September 1985. Installed February, 1986; received his doctorate in Theology in June, 2005; and was consecrated a Bishop by the Church Alive Ministries International, USA, Inc., on April 17, 2009.
During Bishop Brown’s tenure at GNHBC, the sanctuary has been re-painted, the carpet has been changed, pews have been upholstered, and the mural of Jesus & the Cherubs have been changed from euro-centric. The sound system has been upgraded and Greater New Hope is now connected to the world-wide web. He has changed the church’s offering structure from being “dues” drive to “tithes & designated offerings.” In a direct attempt to cultivate church-wide “biblical literacy.” Pastor Brown teaches weekly bible study on Tuesday evenings. As the world navigate through the entire time. Under guidance of the Holy Spirit, he is dedicated to maintaining an effective and viable witness for Christ Jesus in the inner-city of the Nation’s Capital here in Washington, DC. To GOD be the Glory!