The Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church (GGMBC) was created by God through the use of His man-servant Pastor J.R. Halsey on the fourth Sunday of January in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred eighty-two. It was a cold, icy winter day when a group of believers came together in a small section of a church located on the corners of Broadway and Gay streets, Old Knox Presbyterian. After the Word was preached and the invitation was given for discipleship, sixty-six people joined what is now known as the Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church.
The years that followed were not without difficulties and hardships, but they were also not without GOD. With His directions, His blessings, His grace and mercies, His Divine guidance, His Son interceding on the Church’s behalf and the indwelling Holy Spirit abiding in the hearts and minds of its members, the church pressed on. Although the first year of Worship Services was held in the basement under adverse conditions, such as no heat, overflowing toilets, and no water, the members did not grow weary. They did not lose faith or sight but kept their eyes on the mark, and the Lord blessed His Church. The Church grew in the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and its membership increased.
The Church was officially set apart from the New Pilgrim Baptist Church on the fourth Sunday in March 1982. It had its first Deacon’s Ordination Service on the fourth Sunday of May 1982. Other special services held during this first year included: a Combined Men and Women’s Day, a Youth Day, and Ushers’ Anniversary. The ministries/ auxiliaries formed during this first year were the Ushers’ Board, Sanctuary Choir, Vocal Choir, Male Chorus, Children’s Choir, Youth Choir, Christian Club, Nurses Unit, and the Men’s Progressive Club.
In December 1982, the Church moved to North Avenue and Wolfe Streets, where it shared the Sanctuary with the Faith Lutheran Church. The Church was allowed use of the Sanctuary on Sunday afternoons, Thursday evenings, and Saturday afternoons. Its Sunday morning service began at 1:00p.m; the same time services at other Churches were ending. All other activities including prayer services, church school, choir rehearsals and other meetings were held on Thursday evenings, or Saturday afternoon. Many people said, “This Church would not survive”, but through the Grace of God and the many prayers of saints and well- wishers, the Church continued worshiping, praising, trusting and believing by the faith that God would bless them and bring them; and He did!
On Sunday, November 9, 1986 God gave the Church its own sanctuary at 2525 East Preston Street. He not only gave the Church a sanctuary, but other buildings, which have been used for a variety of activities including: Christian workshops, vacation bible school, choir rehearsals, and sharing with other bodies of believers who were in need of a place to hold their worship services. It has been said by some that God not only blessed GGMBC with “peanut butter,” but with “jelly” to go along with it.
In January 1992, God called Halsey home. With God’s help, the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and Deacon Marrow’s leadership, the Church prayed that God would send them an Under Shepherd, whose steps were ordered by the Lord. While waiting for God to move, some grew weary and left the Church. Others became impatient and formed their own Church. Some tried to elect a Pastor by unethical means and formed their own Church after the Lord called our current Pastor. The rest of the Church waited on the Lord, looking to Him with faith to send the man that He had already selected and ordained to be the leader of His flock.
In August 1994, God revealed to the Church, via a church election, that He had chosen Reverend Reginald Thomas Sr. to be the leader of His flock. Formal Installation Services were held on the first Sunday in November 1994, but Reverend Thomas, Sr. actually became the Pastor of GGMBC immediately after the election.
Since 1994, Reverend Reginald Thomas has served as the Pastor of the Greater Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church in Baltimore. Maryland. During that time over thirty active in-house ministries have been established and the church has grown to approximately 1,000 active members. Pastor Thomas has impacted the lives of his congregants as well as the surrounding community. He has acquired a total of nine properties in the community. Under his leadership, Greater Gethsemane Ministries has been mobilized to go beyond the walls of the church in order to bring people to Jesus by meeting both their spiritual and physical needs, empowering them to break generational strongholds, and equipping them with the information and resources to not just live, but to live more abundantly. In addition to his pastoral ministry, Reverend Thomas has served as the Baltimore City District Overseer for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. Pastor Thomas’ commitment and love extends not only to the people of God, but to the community as well. He is founder of Urban Life Solution, Inc., a community development corporation that is designed to effectively minister to individuals, families, and the urban communities at large by teaching and empowering them to overcome societal and economic stronghold.
When we look back and see how far we have come, truly we have a testimony.
When we think about how much the Lord has blessed us, our souls cannot help but cry out Hallelujah! Thank You, Lord, for having Your way in our lives, in our homes, and in this Church, and thank You for choosing Pastor Thomas to continue to lead this body of believers.