A Legacy of Leadership
The Temperanceville community was blessed to have a man of God, Rev. Jimmie Cluff, who organized a group of people who called themselves Jerusalem Baptist Church. With no building to worship God in, Rev. Cluff held service under a tent until a storm destroyed it. As a result, he walked around Temperanceville selling eggs, butter and other agricultural products raising money to build a church. Land was purchased on February 21, 1878 and the edifice was subsequently constructed. Later, as the church grew, they built a new house of worship.
Rev. Cluff resigned and was succeeded by Reverend Perham. Upon Rev. Perham’s resignation, the church sought the leadership of their former pastor, Rev. Cluff, who returned and remained until his retirement. Following Rev. Cluff’s leadership, a call was extended to Rev. Thomas Byrd and later to Rev. Thomas Turlington. During Rev. Turlington’s administration the church was destroyed by a fire, and the members unified and rebuilt the edifice.
Following Rev. Turlington, a call was extended to Rev. Burton and Jerusalem moved progressively forward during his tenure, i.e., a new parsonage was constructed, church renovations were made which included new restrooms, a fellowship hall, and new pews.
Late in 1970, Dr. Edward L. Bruce began his pastorate. He was credited with being the church’s first seminary trained pastor. Dr. Bruce exposed the congregation to prominent ministers on a national level. Under his leadership the central heating and air-conditioning system was installed, the church’s exterior was bricked, the educational wing with a church office was added, and three ministers were licensed.
After the untimely death of Dr. Bruce, the church family sought the Lord for a pastor to prepare God’s people for the 21st century. In June 1999, Rev. Michael T. Scott was called to be the Visionary. His vision for Jerusalem was to be “the church on the Eastern Shore for people on the grow.” It was under his spiritual vision that we were blessed to increase significantly in membership, erect a billboard on Lankford Highway for outreach/evangelism, install new carpet and paneling in the sanctuary, and purchase a 15-passenger Dodge van.
Rev. Scott was supported by a staff of 13 ministers licensed to preach: Ministers Joyce Watson, D’Lorah Tucker, Rena’ Finney, Tamara Scott, Bonita Byrd, Janet Pitt, Relford Matthews, Sr., Shelia Savage-Goodman, the late Clark Chester, Sr., Charles Thornton, Terry Cropper, Doris Hope and Brian White. During his tenure, two ministers and nine deacons were ordained. In 2005 the church secured a $150,000 loan to finance the dining facility and lounge, and by God’s grace and dedicated members, the mortgage was burned on December 31, 2007.
Under Dr. Scott’s leadership, we gave birth to the following ministries: New Members Orientation, Jimmie Cluff Memorial Scholarship Fund, Media Ministry, a computer laboratory, Mentorship Program for youth, Youth, Women and Men Ministries, Grief Ministry, Health Awareness Ministry, Evangelism Ministry, Jerusalem Journal Newsletter, Junior Deacons Ministry, Senior Citizens Ministry, the Imani Leadership Institute of the Eastern Shore, and the only African-American Boy Scouts Troop on the Shore.
Purchasing 54.5 acres of land on Lankford Highway in Temperanceville to fulfill the vision of “The Holy City” was a celebrative highlight for Pastor Scott’s tenure. The “Faith Walkers” Capital Fund Campaign was initiated to build the Jerusalem Community Center, New Jerusalem Baptist Church, and assisted living housing for the elderly.
The history of Jerusalem took a revolutionary turn in February 2012 by extending a call to its first female pastor, Reverend Linda D. Stevens. Entering the pulpit on April 1st, envisioning the path New Season…Next Level, Jerusalem was guided to target two areas initially—tithe and mission. With that focus, JBC has done the following: become a 100% corporate tithing church, provided Thanksgiving meals for 20 needy families in Accomack County and Pocomoke, supplied Christmas gifts to children of incarcerated members, and contributed $1,000 to the Hurricane Sandy Relief.
In addition, Pastor Stevens, taking steps necessary to build upon the past while planting anew, enabled Jerusalem to witness 19 baptisms, an increase of 30 members, a weekly 6:00 A.M. Morning Dew Prayer (via telecommunications), formation of a Unity Choir, birth of a Step Ministry, refurbished the sanctuary, and painted windows interior/exterior. In 2013 “Pursuing the Vision’ was launched, Mission Ministry established, increased souls to the kingdom, landscaping around the sanctuary, music director/musician acquired, Reading Camp implemented, and donated over $19,000 to missions (including the Oklahoma and Philippine disasters) were among the fruits.
During 2014, Jerusalem highlights the consecration of three deaconesses: Betty Hall, Barbara Holden and Stephanie Williams; birth of a Senior Center program in partnership with Eastern Shore Area Agency on Aging; addition of over twenty members to the Family; liquidation of the remaining over $250,000 mortgage on the 54.5 acres for “The Holy City” campus; and launching in collaboration with Min. Brian White, ‘Stop the Violence Project’ for the greater Eastern Shore of VA. God has done far more than we recognize!!! We declare assuredly that His best—the miraculous—is in motion because Pastor and people are “Pursuing the Vision…Rethinking Church.”
The highlights of 2015 include the gift of a Ford van by Pastor Stevens on Resurrection Sunday via her previous church; Reverend Michael Chandler becoming Jerusalem’s first Youth Minister; and Jerusalem being honored by the Baptist General Convention of Virginia during the Annual Session for being a Core Giver in state, national and global missions. JBC was one of four rural area churches in the state to receive this recognition. We praise the Lord as we continue to “Pursue the Vision…Rethinking Church.” Glory to His Name!
In March of 2016, Deacon James Johnson was ordained; while Deaconess Angel Fooks and Trustee Braden Tyler were consecrated. Later in 2016, Jerusalem sponsored the historic pastoral retirement celebration for Pastor Stevens on September 24, 2016. We sincerely wish her well in this new season of her life.
A pastoral search committee, chaired by Deacon Ronnie Holden, was established in July 2016 and worked diligently to identify a new pastor. On February 10, 2018, the congregation voted to extend the call to Rev. Richard Holland of Baltimore, Maryland.
Rev. Holland mounted the pulpit of Jerusalem on March 4, 2018 and was installed as the 12th pastor of Jerusalem Baptist Church on September 30, 2018. Rev. Holland has brought a spirit of empowerment, prayer and authenticity to the congregation and the Eastern Shore. Long live Jerusalem Baptist Church…