Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church Is Over 100 Years Old
Do something great and odds are it’s going to be around a long time.
To still be around over a century later, well, that speaks for its own greatness – and this is the category into which the Mount Pleasant Missionary Baptist Church in Midlothian falls.
As for the secret of the church’s longevity? Reginald K. Reynolds, who has been the pastor since 1988, said it’s simple, really.
“I am not sure if there has been a secret. We maintain the tradition that our church was founded upon the Word of God. The Word of God is central in everything we do,” Reynolds said. “This truth has kept us through the Spanish Flu of 1918, two world wars, Jim Crow, and integration in the south.
“We are community of believers whose faith is grounded in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.”
The church has 105 active members, one for each year (and then some), Reynolds likes to tell folks. And he said every member, regardless of one’s socio-economic status, race, education or gender, is a “VIP” (Valued Important Person) at MPMBC.
Reynolds himself came to the church well over a quarter century ago, and he said each day as its leader has been a blessing.
“They have trusted me to teach, counsel, and pray with them. They have allowed me to walk along side of them in painful and joyful places,” he said.
But Reynolds isn’t the oldest member. That honor belongs to church patriarch Wilbur Blatty, age 90.
“He is a life-long member of our church. The matriarch of our church, Vernice Nealey, passed last year at the age of 87. Our church fellowship is blessed to have men and women of faith like them,” Reynolds said.
Maintaining Closeness Through Growth
Over its long history, the church has been involved in many projects as it has grown and continues to flourish. For example, the congregation worked alongside the Midlothian School District with an organization called The Pride and Progress Club to make the transition from a segregated school district to an integrated school district peaceful.
“We started as a small congregation in the home of one of the pioneering families of the congregation. Even as we grow we try not to lose the closeness that the original congregants had in 1918,” Reynolds said.
Marge Robinson is one of the church’s newest members. She moved to Midlothian in 2018 and, looking for a church home, paid a visit to MPMBC. In fact, it was her first and only visit as she stayed and immediately joined the congregation.
‘Vibrant and Meaningful Worship’
“Why? The church had and continues to have an atmosphere of vibrant and meaningful worship that exudes a spirit of grace and warmth. Pastor Reynolds is an effective, caring pastor in front of and away from the pulpit. He is a leader who knows when it is time to share a wise, prophetic word and when it is appropriate to make us laugh,” Robinson said.
“I adore our lovely first lady (Tammy), along with the entire congregation. I love the closeness and safety net of being a member of this quaint, authentic church. The simplicity of the worship, which focuses on worshipping God in spirit and in truth without unnecessary bells and whistles, was a huge draw for me.”
The COVID-19 pandemic, as with many churches, has hindered in-person services at MPMBC, but Reynolds said that hasn’t stopped he and his members from remaining close – while respecting the virus and social distancing, of course.
“It has been a challenge not to be able to visit and interact with members in person. We are close-knit group. We have been able to remain connected through prayer, technology and members checking on one another,” he said.
And together they continue to tackle the challenges of the world in spite of the Coronavirus.
“Our challenge is to consistently develop disciples for Christ who exemplify His character in our citizenship, in education, in the workplace and in recreation. We stress education and civic involvement,” Reynolds said. “Our world is increasing evil with social, racial and political turmoil. We are proponents of doing good wherever we are. Our mantra is /Be not overcome by evil, but overcome with good.’ (Romans 12:21)”