Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Pastor James E. Hightower responded to the call to establish a New Testament Church. On November 2, 1994, Minister Hightower, Founding Pastor, and 104 faithful members formed Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church, and following incorporation became Greater Elizabeth Missionary Baptist Church (GEMBC). Alfonso Dawson Mortuary’s Elizabeth Chapel served as the temporary home until 2001. The foundation of the church was built on three guiding principles, it would be Bible based, Christ centered, and Holy Spirit led. These guiding beliefs remain the cornerstone of the church today.
GEMBC has prospered for over 20 years through God’s blessings, resulting from the church’s continued focus on the “Word” of God, Christ as the “center” of the church and continuing to “walk by faith and not by sight…”
1994 – 1998
Eighteen (18) members provided $1.9 million in collateral ($600,000 was needed) for a new church home. The first outreach ministry was launched, Saints with a Testimony (SWAT), to impact communities by witnessing and winning souls for Christ; the first Missionary effort began with a $200 monthly donation to Feed the Hungry Ministry; the first three choirs were created: The Mass Choir, Male Chorus and Youth Choir; and using Proverbs 3:5-6 as a resource, the church purchased nine (9) acres of land for $200,000, paid for in cash. As construction began on the new church sanctuary, Pastor Hightower encouraged members to continue to “walk by faith and not by sight.”
GEMBC embarked on nine (9) years of focused service and foreign missionary work:
- Vacation Bible School was created (in 2005) for Greater Elizabeth and surrounding community youths and has continued with great success through 2014
- The Task Force Ministry (in 2005) was established to serve as the guiding arm for the Hurricane Katrina Outreach Ministry and future needs.
- Other service ministries were formed to support GEMBC members and local communities, including the Transportation Ministry, a church bus was purchased and still currently serve the members; The Missionary Society has fed the less fortunate for 19 years at Thanksgiving, Christmas and other times during the year; this service is still ongoing. Ministers and Deacons of GEMBC started a Prison Outreach.
- GEMBC expanded into foreign ministry work (beginning in 2007) to include Caribbean outreach through Bluewater Bible College. A church donation purchased 1500 gallons of drinking water for the area. Christmas in Liberia for Orphans, an effort by members and friends of GEMBC, resulted in collecting over $11,000 to buy 40 pounds of rice and send a 40 foot container filled with utility items from mattresses and clothing to non-perishable items, bibles, and story books. The Missionary workers from GEMBC, partner churches and Carver Bible College served Africa through three missionary and teaching trips.
After the retirement of Pastor Hightower and through prayer, patience and faith, Minister Rickey Jones, Sr. was called by God for pastoral consideration. Members joyfully responded by selecting him on March 24, 2012. Minster Jones began as the under-shepherd on April 1, 2012, and was installed as the second Pastor on July 1, 2012. Pastor Jones leads God’s flock by Romans 8:28, “And we know all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” The first (2) years were spent gathering, rebuilding, restructuring and regenerating the church. Under new leadership, a mission was established:
“each one, reach one, for the ONE…who died for all”
Additionally, an agreed upon vision statement was established:
“We are a multi-generational church that takes the holistic approach to impact the Community and the World for the Cause of Jesus Christ.” ~Ephesians 3:14-15, III John 1:2, Matthew 28: 19-20
The following auxiliaries and ministries actively serve members and the community: Added Members Discipleship, Christian Education, Courtesy Guild, Deacon Board, Deaconess Ministry, Golden Ages Ministry, Health Care Ministry, Missionary Society, Mothers Board, Music & Worship Arts Ministry, Pastor’s Aide Ministry, Sunday School Ministry, Technology and Audio Visual Ministries, Transportation Ministry, Usher Board Ministry, Vacation Bible School, Wedding Ministry, Women’s Ministry, Youth & Young Adult Ministry (YYAM) and the Men’s Ministry. Through the Women’s Ministry, GEMBC adopted the Cascade House (a transitional house for displaced families). GEMBC has established an Annual Christmas Toy Drive for members and the community and actively participates in Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence Awareness activities each October.
We invite you to join us in our journey as we (1) Glorify the Lord, (2) Grow in Grace and in the Knowledge of Christ, and (3) Gain the Lost.