A Great Legacy – Reverend Chestley Whitt Jr.
FORT WAYNE—The Good Hope Baptist Church was established 56 years ago in the spring of 1957 under the charge of the Rev. John Dixie of Pilgrim Baptist Church, the Rev. William Caldwell of Shiloh Baptist Church of Fort Wayne and the Rev. Reeves of Bessemer, Ala. The church had a very modest beginning with only thirteen chartered members. At the first organizational meeting, the founding minister, the Rev. Chestley Whitt Jr., was elected pastor. Reverend William Caldwell suggested the name, Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church. After the name was formally adopted, several men became Deacons, including, Buster Whitt, William Chapman, Bus Hopkins, Ananis Kelso and Roosevelt Barnes.
The first sanctuary was located on Gay Street; however, by July of 1957, the church moved to the corner of Hayden and Winter Street where the membership grew to 112. The church was blessed, membership continued to grow and a larger facility was needed. Land was purchased at 809 Elmrow Drive and a new sanctuary was built. In July 1975, the members of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church marched into the current sanctuary with more than 200.
In 1975, a five-member Trustee Board was appointed with Deacon James Whitt as its first chairman. The current Chairman Deacon Roy R. Williams was appointed in 1982. As expected, many changes have taken place over the years. In 56 years, Good Hope has been under the leadership of five pastors. The founding pastor was the late Rev. Chestley Whitt Jr. who served dutifully for thirty years (1957-1987), the Rev. Michael Gaines (1987-1988), the Rev. Cedric L. Walker (1988-1996), the Rev. James E. Mosley (1996-2005), and our current pastor the Rev. Timothy R. Williams who assumed leadership in January 2006 and was officially installed as pastor in March of the same year.
Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church participates in many community activities each year including but not limited to the following:
• Community Harvest Food Bank,
• Donations to the Wings of Hope women’s prison ministry,
• Clothing to the Vincent House, gifts to the Rescue Mission which assist in providing more than 75 Thanksgiving Dinners,
• Funds to the homeless at Interfaith Hospitality Network,
• Distribution of more than 75 Christmas baskets to needy families in the city and
• Support of the Concerned Ministers Scholarship fund.
Our current project is a multi-purpose addition to our building, which would provide much needed space where social, health, educational and cultural activities can occur.
Build a Dream 2015, is a capital campaign drive initiated in July 2011 to secure “seed” funds for this project. We have received pledges and monetary support from our members and friends across the city and nation.
Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church is a “Beacon of Hope” to our community and we invite all former members, current members, friends and the entire community to come celebrate during a three-day Homecoming Celebration at the church, scheduled for Aug. 23 through Aug. 25.
Scheduled events include:
• Evening food preparation, Aug. 23.
• Barbecue dinners at the church all day, Aug. 24 for $10.
• Sunday School, 9:30 a.m., Aug. 25.
• Sunday Morning Worship, 11 a.m., Aug. 25 with Pastor Timothy Williams.
• Sunday Afternoon Homecoming Celebration, 4 p.m., Aug. 25 with guest speaker, the Rev. Dr. Carl Whitt M.D., of Second Missionary Baptist Church of Niles, Mich.
For more information, call Deacon Roy R. Williams at (260) 447-7217.
This article originally appeared in the Aug. 7 print edition.