The History of Mercy Seat Baptist Church
Mercy Seat Baptist Church began with the blending of two God-given visions: (1) Rev. James A. Brown, a graduate of Boyce Bible School, dreamed of starting a Southern Baptist Church; and (2) The Peninsula Baptist Association (P.B.A.) dreamed of starting many churches throughout the peninsula to reach the unchurched. A long-range planning study by the association during the late 1980s had revealed that about 75% of the population on the Peninsula was not attending a church.)
On June 5, 1990, a meeting of great significance was held at the P.B.A. building with approximately fifty (50) persons including Rev. Brown, leaders of the P.B.A., and the Virginia Baptist General Board (V.B.G.B.) in attendance. The V.B.G.B. shared their visions of the new church and through the leadership of the Holy Spirit, Briarfield and Aberdeen Roads in Hampton were chosen as the areas to concentrate efforts for our outreach and evangelism. Mercy Seat Baptist Church was chosen as the name of our church.
We were very fortunate in having the support of several ministers and churches during our initial struggle. These included: Rev. Trinkle, Rev. Tommy Harrell, and Rev. Aubrey Rosser, Rev. J. Doyle (Orcutt Baptist Church, Rev. Glen Lutz (Riverdale Baptist Church), Rev. Don Harvey (Memorial Baptist Church), and Dr. David Goodroe (Temple Baptist Church)
Under the guidance of God and leadership of Rev. James A. Brown, Mercy Seat embarked on its Christian mission of saving souls. Mid-week Bible studies, led by Rev. Brown, began in August of 1990 at Riverdale Baptist Church. Thanks to the kindness and support of the Pastor and Riverdale Baptist Church, many of the earlier functions were held there.
Our first service was held on October 14, 1990, at Lindsay Middle School on Briarfield Road in Hampton with Rev. Rufus Houston preaching the initial sermon. Our second church location was a trailer at West Hampton Baptist Church on Aberdeen Road in Hampton. On November 28, 1990, the Senior Choir was organized with eight (8) dedicated members and Mr. Walston as director and pianist. Mercy Seat formally elected its first Church officer, Deacon Marvin Jenkins, who was ordained February 19, 1991, in a special service at Riverdale Baptist Church. The first Women’s Day program was held on May 10, 1991, and Reverend Mae Corbin was the speaker at West Hampton Baptist Church. On June 2, 1991, our first baptism service was held at Riverdale and our first candidate was Mr. Dwayne McCoy. In August of 1991, Rev. Fred and Betty Williams spearheaded our Vacation Bible Study for a week, with thirty-five (35) workers from Macon, Georgia assisting them. This event was called the “Big A” and activities were held in the Sweet Briar and Brittany Apartment area. To commemorate the church’s conception, our first anniversary was held June 3, 1991 at Riverdale Baptist Church with Reverend Brian Williams, Pastor.
Of great significance in our church’s history was the organization of the Women’s Missionary Union (July 9, 1991) by Sister Viola Patterson, and the Acteen Club and Youth Choir (January 1992) by Jacqueline Brown-Battle, Patricia Shufford, and Elsie McKoy. In 1993, we also became actively involved in the Food Bank Program which has been a source of help to many people. We were able to distribute bread and staple foods for 30 to 40 families. This food was delivered using a 1977 Ford Van purchased for $700.00. On April 8, 1994, the Mercy Seat W.M.U. hosted the 92nd annual business meeting of the W.M.D. Peninsula Baptist Association. We had representatives from sixty-six (66) different Southern Baptist Churches. Catherine Gale was the director at that time. Reverend I. Charles Williams was selected as the Assistant to the Pastor and the Minister for the Youth in 1996.
We also ordained Brother Linwood Batchelor and Brother Otis Squires into the Deacon’s Ministry that same year. Reverend Williams was later ordained in a special service in June of 2000.
On October 17, 2004 Deacon John Coles, Sr. was ordained in the Deacon’s Ministry.
Our ministerial staff expanded in 2010 to include not only Reverend Williams, Reverend James and Elaine Gray, Evangelist Eleanor Jeter, and Reverend John Spruill . Reverend Georgette Fields joined in 2012.
Our Founding Pastor, James A. Brown was called home to be with the Lord in January 12, 2006. The Church selected I. Charles Williams as Interim Pastor. On April 23, 2006, Pastor Williams was selected as our Second Pastor. His installation service was presided over by Reverend James Gray.
In 2006, the W.M.U. was re-organized and in their initial meeting they chose as their first ministry effort to provide meals to the students of Christopher Newport University. Some of their other efforts included workshops for our youth, feeding the homeless, coats for the needy, the Angel Tree Christmas drive, kits for Africa, school supply drives and many other projects that are ongoing.
In November of 2006, the Deaconess Ministry was established with previously ordained Deaconess Gertrude McNeil, Deaconess Bennetta Pankey, Deaconess Rosa Wallace, Deaconess Vivian DeVoe and Deaconess Virginia Fauntleroy. They were joined by newly ordained members Sister Jacqueline Brown-Battle, Sister Chelsie Williams, Sister Jerelean Coles, Sister Jannie Jenkins and Sister Constance Massenburg. Brother Samuel Massenburg and Brother Joseph Battle were also ordained into the Deacon’s Ministry in the same special service with the Peninsula Deacon and Deaconess’ Counsel officiating. In December of 2006, Deacon Everett Myers joined the Deacon Board. In December 2007, Deacon Cecil Randall joined the Deacon Board. In January 2017, Deacon Otis Squires joined the Deacon Board.
In July 2010, Sister Carole Emanuel-Taylor was ordained into the Deaconess ministry and her husband Brother David Taylor was ordained into the Deacon’s Ministry in April 2012. In January 2015, Brother Reginald Newkirk was added to the Deacon’s Ministry and Sisters Margienette Whitfield and Adrienne Butts were selected as part of our Deaconess Ministry. Deaconess Linda Cowan, who had previously been part of the Deaconess Ministry of New West End Baptist Church joined our ministry in April 2015. In 2016, Deaconess Laura Garris joined our Deaconess Ministry and in 2017 Deaconess Ruth Squires joined.
Our church has been blessed to have gone through a renovation of our kitchen, new carpet and painting throughout the sanctuary. The upgrade of our electronic system remains to be completed. Mercy Seat is now part of the world-wide web at www.mercyseathamptonva.com. As part of the Youth Ministry, our Praise Ministry was established by Sisters Jacqueline Brown-Battle and Adrienne Butts. This Ministry now includes a Mature Adult Praise Team.
In addition to the Mass Choir and the Male Chorus, our Praise Team was established to minister on the fifth Sunday. All of our Music Ministry is devoted to the praise and worship of our holy and righteous GOD.
In response to all the signs that GOD is showing all around us, we had our First Annual Prophesy Conference in April of 2012. The speakers were Pastor Jeffery Knight, Pastor Robert Addison and Pastor Williams.
The Sweetbriar Apartments outreach, Neighborhood Outreach and other efforts to reach those who do not know or have drifted away from the Master are always ongoing. In 2015, we started a neighborhood outreach to make those in the immediate area aware of our church and the love of God. We made contact with some in the Michael’s Woods subdivision and some of the other housing areas near Hampton Roads Parkway. The WMU and Deaconess Ministries now have an ongoing outreach to the homeless souls that are in the downtown area of Newport News. They regularly go to provide food, clothing and blankets which are needed during the colder months.
The Pastor’s Aid Ministry was established in March of 2018. The goal of this ministry is to aid and assist the Pastor with outreach projects that are being planned. It was initially started with six members who were Sisters Gail Dunn, Margienette Whitfield, Bennetta Pankey, Rosa Wallace, Prentiss Moore, and Linda Cowan, who was chosen as the first president.
In September of 2018, we held our first Neighborhood Block Party. This event was sponsored by the Pastor’s Aid Ministry. This was our way of inviting those in the immediate neighborhoods and the rest of Hampton to come and fellowship with us. It was a success and we are looking at making it an annual event. It is our desire to expand this event to incorporate other churches as well.
In the past, we have fed seventy families, but because of the uncertainty in our economic situation, our Food Bank Ministry has been expanding to serve even more people. I thank God for the faithfulness of those who acquire the food and work diligently to distribute it to those in need.
As part of our commitment to not only preach but to also teach the word of GOD, another Bible Study was added on Wednesdays at 12:00 PM. The Wednesday Bible Study has become an integral part of our ongoing mission to “study to show ourselves approved and there have been members added to our congregation because of this ministry. I thank GOD for Deaconess Carole E. Taylor’s vision and for her desire to see this study come to pass. Deacon Everett Myers was the first teacher. It has been suspended temporarily because of the pandemic, but we look forward to it starting up again.
We have also added a time for a Scripture Lesson on the first and third Sundays during our morning service. This ministry utilizes the teaching talents of our Laypeople. It has been a pleasant surprise, because there have been so many of our members volunteer to share with our congregation. Minister Alverta Bethea has shown all of us that we can be used by GOD even in our later years, as she has skillfully and passionately shared her teaching gift with our Church.
God can see far ahead of us and this pandemic has not stopped our mission to share the gospel. With the help of our Audio-Visual Technical Team of Minister David Butler, Deacon Samuel Massenburg, Deacon Reginald Newkirk and our Church Secretary Ericka Byrd, our Online Ministry is coming into its own. Through this online ministry, our church and many others have been able to hear the gospel message. We have also been able to carry on our regular Tuesday night Bible Study by way of zoom.
Our Ministerial staff has also increased, and it’s been a blessing. Ministers Rambert and Jean Johnson, David Butler, Alverta Bethea, Frieda Smith, Lenora Haughton, Wilmer Landry and James Johnson have each assisted the Pastor in sharing the Good News of the coming Kingdom. Our newest Minister, Sister Felisha Johnson was also called into the ministry. She preached her initial sermon on October 18, 2020. She has joined her father and mother as part of our preaching ministry. Even though she is young in the ministry, she has shown a passion for her calling. Let’s pray that GOD will continue to use her for His glory due to the continued presence of the COVID 19 virus in 2022, for the time being, our Bible Study has been limited to Tuesdays at 7:00 P.M. virtually. We have a Zoom connection and it has allowed us to continue our study. The Bible says, “All things work together for good” and because we are virtual, we now have been able to study the Bible with other believers in Texas, Florida and Michigan. There was increased interest by members of the church to resume our regular Sunday school. Our dedicated Sunday school teachers heeded the call and we now have our Sunday school class which is held on Sundays at 9:00 AM.
Though our Outreach Ministry has been limited, members of our WMU and Deaconess ministries have found ways to still reach out. They have had efforts to collect food and school supplies for those that are in need. They are also continuing their efforts to minister to the homeless by giving them food, blankets, socks, gloves and head coverings. But most of all we are sharing with them the Gospel.
In July 2022, we also had our Second Annual Bible Prophecy Conference which lasted three nights. Our Speakers were Reverend R. L. Addison, from Third Baptist Church, Pastor Jeffrey Knight from United Bethel Baptist Church and I conducted the last night. This year was an added blessing because we were able to share the Conference with many more believers by way of the Church website and Facebook. We even had a believer call in from New Zealand.
Additions were also made to our church building in 2022. The Trustees renovated and completed the ceiling in the vestibule area and in the Pastor’s study. They are also in the process of refinishing the floor of the Fellowship Hall. With the help of the Technical Team, our Audio and Video equipment has been relocated to the balcony. There is only one regret, because of the continuing threat to Houses of Worship, the Deacons and Trustees have had to secure the services of an outside Security Company to ensure the safety of our members during Worship Services.
The Food Bank Ministry has had to increase its aid to the needy. Because of COVID-19, there are still some people who are unemployed or underemployed and in need of food for their families. Because of the need being greater, a new storage shed had to be purchased in order to help with the increasing needs of our communities. Even when COVID-19 continues, our Food Ministry still provides food to those who are in need.
The year of 2023 was a YEAR OF RESTORATION. As a church body we came together and made the decision to resume our regular Church services with face masks being optional. Even though COVID 19 is still with us, we have begun to conduct Church services with a degree of normalcy but still remain vigilant. The Diaconant Ministry and the Women’s Missionary Union (WMU) have resumed having their normal scheduled meetings. The need for the Gospel is even greater than ever and we are also continuing our outreach efforts to those who do not know Jesus Christ as Savior. Our plans are to work the areas of King Lincoln Park, Hunington Park, Gosnolds Park, the Buckroe Beach area as well as areas in the immediate vicinity of our Church. Our goal is to reach those who do not know our Lord and concentrate on areas where a great number of people congregate.
With all of the uncertainty and despair over the violence in our cities and even in some of our Churches, we have acquired the services of a security firm, to provide security for our Church. In September 2023, our Family and Friends Day was conducted outside to be more of a presence in our immediate area. Our desire is to be more welcoming to those who we consider our neighbors and invite them to be a part of our services, even if they have to do it from their own yards.
There is still a great need to provide both physical and spiritual food to those in need. Our Church’s Food Bank Ministry has increased its capacity to feed over 100 families and it is still growing. All of our members who assist in the Food Bank Ministry are hardworking and dedicated and we thank God for their faithfulness. This Pandemic has caused a crisis not only at our Church, but at many other Churches. With the Pandemic somewhat abating, Church attendance has increased, but it is still not where it was before this crisis first appeared. This is very evident among our youth and young adults, because many have chosen to watch the services online. We will continue to pray to GOD that Church membership and attendance will increase, because our GOD is faithful.
Sadly, we lost two of our charter members that has been here since the Church was first established. Brother Joseph Battle and Brother Haverd McKoy will be missed but we will honor their memory as we have with every member that has gone on before us. We honor their memory by continuing to be steadfast and unmoving always abounding in the work of the Lord.
There is much Kingdom work left to be done, but by the power of the Holy Spirit and with willing hearts we will be able to do what our King commanded us to do.
In obedience to the Great Commission, our church continues to grow in number and spiritually with a focus on Holy Living, sound Bible Teaching and being a witness to the goodness of our GOD.
Our church motto is found in the words written in Romans Chapter 8 verses 28 through 39. Those words are there to remind us that the love of our GOD will be with us no matter where we go or what we do!
Our Founding Pastor, Reverend James Alexander Brown and
First Lady Elizabeth Brown
"If I can help somebody along the way, then my living would not be in vain"
November 1, 1924 - January 12, 2006
Charter Members of Mercy Seat Baptist Church
Sister Mamie Batchelor, Deaconess Jacqueline Brown-Battle,
Deacon Joseph Battle, Sister Yvonne Brown, Deaconess Adrienne Butts,
Deaconess Jannie Jenkins, Deacon Marvin Jenkins, Brother Haverd McKoy
Pastor I. Charles Williams' Biography
I. Charles Williams was born in Van Vleck, Texas to the late Mr. and Mrs. J. D. Williams. He is the middle child in a family of ten brothers and sisters. He was raised in Bay City, Texas where he attended grade school and graduated from Bay City High School in 1970. He attended and completed Wharton College in May of 1972. He joined the U.S. Air Force, served for four years and was honorably discharged in 1975. He later attended Jefferson Davis and Brazosport College and upon graduation was employed at Dow Chemical Company in Freeport, Texas as a Chemical Technician. He is currently employed with the Williamsburg James City Schools in the Maintenance Department.
In July 1983, He married the former Miss Chelsie Frazier and they have been married for over thirty years. They have been blessed with four children, Omesha, Charles, Chandra and Christina and are the proud grandparents to three grandchildren, Kierstan, Collisa and Joseph.
He was raised in First Sacred Memorial Christian Church and came to know Christ while a member of Bethel Baptist Church in Freeport, Texas. He later joined Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Hampton, Virginia whre he served in the Male Chorus, Youth Leader and Sunday School Teacher. He was later licensed to preach the Gospel under the leadership of Pastor Lloyd S. Dillard in 1993.
Pastor Williams' religious training includes Evangelism training at Southcrest Baptist Church in Corpus Christi, Texas and New Olive School of Evangelism. He is a graduate of the Church Growth Institute at Regent University, a teacher and student of the Church Wide institute of Newport News, Virginia. He is currently attending the Center for Biblical Counseling in Forest, Virginia.
He later joined Mercy Seat Baptist Church where he served as the Youth Minister and assistant to the Pastor until he was called to be Pastor in 2006, where he is currently serving. Besides John 3:16 his favorite scripture is Romans 8:28-39. He loves GOD, preaching and teaching the word and serving GOD's people. His desire is to walk humbly before GOD and hear Him say "Well Done."
"Our focus on the coming Kingdom of God has given me the opportunity to look ever more diligently at what God is doing in this world. As the lyrics of one songwriter says "Lord whatever you are doing in this season, don't do it without me," is my prayer. Whatever He wants me to do, I want to do it and wherever He wants me to be, that's where I want to be. Jesus talked much about the Kingdom of God and I want the Kingdom of God to become our goal and desire too. Just the thought of someday being part of God's coming Kingdom should be encouragement enough to make us more committed to Kingdom building."