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Our History


Rev. Chester L. Smallwood
Rev. Charles Henry Hamilton
Bishop Melvin G. Brown

New Hope Baptist Mission was established on November 23, 1933, as a Baptist Mission, by Rev. Chester L. Smallwood. Eighteen officers were elected and Rev. Smallwood was appointed Pastor of the Mission on that day. A total of 60 persons were present for the organization and election of officers. The first offering collected was for a total of $15.  The Mission held its first service on November 26, 1933 (Thanksgiving night), in the basement of Mt. Nebo Baptist Church.

The following week the Mission secured its first permanent home at 444 N Street N.W., 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, Rev. Smallwood decided it was time for the congregation to have their own place of worship. The Mission located two vacant lots on Neal Place N.W. (between 4th and 5th Street) which they purchased. New Hope Baptist Mission was recognized as a 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 (one Sunday night after service) that the building located at 1217 5th Street N.W. was for sale and would be auctioned the next morning at 9:30 a.m. Unfortunately, all funds had been exhausted toward payments for the lots on Neal Place. Rev. Smallwood contacted as many Deacons and Trustees as he could on a Sunday night to discuss this great opportunity. Being a very progressive man with great courage, Rev. 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.” After speaking with the church officers, the Pastor went to the home of the president of 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. After the down payment was made New Hope Baptist Church moved to its new home at 1217 5th Street N.W.

Rev. Smallwood served as Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church for a period of four years. His successor, Rev. David Story served as Acting Pastor for six months until Rev. Charles Henry Hamilton was elected Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church. Rev. Hamilton then preached his first sermon on that 3rd Sunday in June, 1938. Under the leadership of Rev. Hamilton, New Hope Baptist Church had phenomenal growth. Several new ministries emerged; the mortgage was paid off; the lots were sold; and, all old debts were paid in full.

Fifteen years later in 1953, was the crowning 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 N.W. for a purchase price of $150,000. 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.

After the untimely death of Rev. Hamilton in 1982, a search committee was organized to select a permanent pastor. Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit Dr. Melvin G. Brown was appointed Pastor in 1987. Under his leadership and teaching, the Holy Spirit has been working to promote a spirit of worship and praise with the main message: “pressing towards the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ” (Phil 3:14).


The Jewish Connection!



Greater New Hope Baptist Church

(A Downtown Cathedral of Hope & Destiny)

Bishop Melvin G. Brown, Pastor/Senior Minister