Ebenezer United Methodist marks 115th year of of service
Black church traces its roots to Overtown
Gigi Tinsley | 8/22/2013, noon
The members of the Historic Ebenezer United Methodist Church are very excited and elated about the fact that next
Sunday, August 25th, they’ll be celebrating the 115th anniversary of their church. And while they have prayed together in different homes of worship throughout the years, and been led by a host of pastors, perhaps it is their faith that has kept this congregation together. Ebenezer is currently located at 2100 NW 36th Street where they hold concurrent services in English and in Spanish. But no matter what language in which the service is held, their members continue to get married, buried, have babies blessed and of course, given God their praise.
Looking back at the early years
Ebenezer has an interesting past that as one would expect goes all the way back to Overtown — the only safe and allowable haven for Blacks during Miami’s days of segregation. It all started in 1898 with Rev. Davis (first name unknown) on the corner of Third avenue and 11th Street with just a handful of faithful worships — a faith that still prevails.
The following pastors lead the ancestors of this current flock to where it is today: J.S. Smith, 1890; J.A. Grimsley, 1901; Lawrence J. Little, 1905; Henry W. Bartley, 1906; N.A. Grimes, 1908; W. Pericles Perkins, 1909; Niger Armstrong, 1914; Albert Emanuel, 1919, L. Calvin Foster, 1923; William P. Holmes, 1927; John A. Simpson, 1934; William O. Bartley, 1949; Otis Burns, 1950; George F. Ponder, 1956; Aaron D. Hall, Sr., 1957; Oliver Gordon, Sr., 1990; James F. Jennings, 1992; Alfonso T. Delaney, 1999; and Jimmie L. Brown, 2000-2004.
According to the printed history of Ebenezer, Hall [1957-1988] was the youngest man ever to be appointed to the position of district superintendent. “He brought to Ebenezer youth courage, determination, vision and the ability to display a keen respect for one’s wishes with warm and human understanding,” reads the ‘Excerpts of Church History.’
From 2005 to the present, Dr. Joreatha M. Capers has been the spiritual leader of the congregation.
Looking forward to another 115 years
From 2005 to the present, Dr. Joreatha M. Capers has been the spiritual leader of the congregation — and she’s the first female to serve in that capacity.
“She has done a marvelous job of stabilizing the brothers, sisters and children,” said Bertha T. Martin, who was baptized at Ebenezer in 1945. “Pastor Capers has had her ups-and-downs, but through it all, she has learned to lean and depend upon the Lord. She knows that prayer changes things and has frequently reminded us of that fact. I personally just wish all of us would get warmer towards each other and closer together. If we do this honestly, God will bless all of us and the glory goes to him.”
The chairpersons of the 115th anniversary are Shirley Jackson and Minister Gregory Robinson. Both say they are excited about Sunday’s service.
“In the spirit of Sankofa, I give honor to the ancestors for laying a solid foundation 115 years ago for us to stand upon today,” Jackson said. “And for laying the groundwork for future generations to build upon.”