On Sunday, November 14, 1943, one hundred and seventy-five persons met in the chapel of Mr. J. Everett Price’s Funeral Home at 1120 North 25th Street, Richmond, Virginia.This group of God-fearing people had been led by the Holy Spirit to separate themselves from the MountOlivetBaptistChurch to seek the Lord’s direction in formulating a new worshipping community.After prayer, the first order of business was to call a spiritual leader.An invitation was extended to Reverend Freeman Roosevelt Berlack.
Secondly, they formed a temporary organization and then established some officers including Deacons, Trustees, Church Clerk, Treasurer and Bible School Superintendent.Many people volunteered their time, talents and finances to help establish the church.
The name for the new church community was inspired by God when Reverend Berlack recalled a statement by the President Franklin D. Roosevelt; “In the strength of Great Hope, we will meet our common cause.”Pastor Berlack stated it would symbolize the faith that these worshippers had in their God and their future.
On January 22, 1944, a church edifice was purchased from the Church of the Nazarene congregation for seven-thousand dollars.By June 1944, Great Hope had achieved permanent recognition and was formally organized as GreatHopeBaptistChurch.This recognition was based on sixty-two organizational letters received from MountOlivetBaptistChurch.These letters are still a part of our archives.Pastor Berlack was unanimously elected Pastor for life.In thirty-six months, the mortgage was burned.
March 1, 1954, Great Hope purchased a new building from the VenableStreetBaptistChurch congregation.This larger facility, located at 2101 Venable Street provided more space for the growing membership and its many programs.Great Hope also established a Child Day Care program in this building.
On October 31, 1971 Great Hope gave a Service of Appreciation and Recognition for Dr. Berlack who decided to retire.
Reverend David J. Winters was installed as Great Hope’s second Pastor on February 27, 1972.Many additional organizations were started and the church was completely renovated.Several ministers were ordained or licensed and a Sunday Morning nursery was established.Dr. Berlack, our founding minister, passed away on January 29, 1982 and was funeralized at GreatHopeBaptistChurch with Reverend Winters delivering the eulogy.
In 1982, Pastor Winters accepted a call to the Greater Corinth Church in San Antonio, Texas.Reverend Henry Miles was elected interim pastor and served the church with dedication, inspiration and humility.
On October 26, 1983, God directed the congregation to extend the pastoral call to Reverend Earl Bledsoe and he was installed as Pastor on May 5, 1984.
Since 1984, the church has accomplished even more including the purchase of additional property, new buses, installation of a computer system, ordination of new ministers and the establishment of a year-round worship service.The church is involved in the One Church One Child Program, Caritas, and Feed the Hungry outreach program.The 50th Church Anniversary celebration began in December of 1992 with a parade and was followed with a celebration that lasted 11 months.The banquet was held on November 19, 1993.
In 2007, a major renovation/construction project began at the church.Great Hope continues to participate in worship service with other congregations throughout Virginia and in other states as we seek to spread the word of God.
We feel confident that we will move ahead and make new strides as a Christian people in the new millennium.