Celebrating God's Faithfulness for 63 Years
Years: 1954 – 1966
The Mt. Moriah Baptist Church was organized May 30, 1954, in the home of Bro. Theodore Buchanan at 1527 McKinley Avenue, Joliet, Illinois. Bro. Buchanan called the Reverend James McNear into his home and expressed his dream about having Sunday school for the underprivileged children in the neighborhood. This dream became the Willing Workers Club in 1953. Sunday school was taught every Sunday. The Willing Workers Club grew and the Spirit of God moved upon the members to organize a church. Rev. A. Harris was contacted, and he organized a council of ministers to participate in the organization of a new church. Rev. Harris served as Moderator; Rev. W. H. Woods, Superintendent of Missions of the General Baptist State Convention of Illinois, read the covenant of adoption; Deacon Lucius Ingram served as Secretary; and Rev. George Brass gave the Dedicatory Prayer. Three members joined with letters from the Shiloh Baptist Church: Dea. Buchanan, Sis. Inez Buchanan, and Sis. Beatrice McNear. One candidate for baptism, Sis. L. McDonald, was taken in the same day. The name, “The Mt. Moriah Baptist Church” was chosen and Reverend James McNear was called as Pastor.
The members of Mt. Moriah worshipped in Bro. Buchanan’s home until his death in January 1955, and then moved to 2301 Fairmount Avenue, Lockport, Illinois. Under the leadership of Pastor McNear, the church began to grow. Some of the first members who joined were: Dea. Curtis Travis and his wife, Sis. Rosie Travis; Sis. Henrietta Hinton; Sis. Lorraine Edwards; and Sis. Mayme McCain and her family. Sis. Birdie Russell Wright and Sis. Odessa Harbin Boyd were the first candidates to be baptized by Pastor James McNear. The first officers of the church were: Sis. Velma Fox, who served as the Superintendent of the Sunday school; Sis. Mayme McCain, who served as the first President of the Mission; Sis. Arnetta Lee, who served as the first President of the Usher Board.
As the church continued to grow, there was a need for a larger place of worship, so the members of Mt. Moriah began building a church in 1956. In April 1957, the basement was completed and the church worshipped in the basement until the sanctuary was completed in 1960. The members of the congregation built the new church. Brothers Wilbert and William Alexander were in charge of the construction. They, along with other members of the church, built the church in their spare time after leaving their jobs each day. The women of the church fixed meals on Saturdays for the men. This was a beautiful sight to behold; brothers and sisters working together in harmony for the Master’s building. Love, joy, and long-suffering were enjoyed by those who were involved.
The church purchased new pews and pulpit furniture in February 1963. The mortgage on the church was paid off in 1965. The church purchased two lots, A Hammond organ, a mimeograph machine and air conditioning was installed. The Christian Youth Fellowship purchased an American flag and Christian flag for the church. A portrait of our Pastor was bought by the Christian Youth Fellowship and they also sent the Pastor to New York for the Pastor’s Anniversary. In 1966 we purchased office furniture for our Pastor’s study and
purchased two more lots on Fairview Avenue. With four lots together, plans were made to build another sanctuary on the property across the street from the church.
A building fund program was started in 1969. The ground breaking ceremony was held on the first Sunday in October 1971. We moved into our new edifice on November 24, 1973. At the Dedicatory Service our guest churches were the Manual Baptist Church from Chicago, Illinois and other local churches from Joliet. The late Reverend James W. Walton, Pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church, Lockport, Illinois, delivered the message.
Our Pastor, the late Reverend James McNear, after 30 years of leadership, told the church that he planned to retire. He encouraged the church to establish a Pulpit Search Committee and make plans for a new pastor.
In April 1983 the late Reverend James McNear retired as Pastor of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. He will be remembered as a builder, a strong leader, and as a Pastor who was like a friend and father to us all. We praise God for the time, labor and service Pastor James McNear gave to the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church.
Years 1984 – 1995
In April 1984 God moved upon the members to call Reverend Ricky Freeman as pastor of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. He began his pastoral duties on May 6, 1984. Pastor Freeman was concerned not only with spiritual growth, but also in social justice for mankind. He encouraged the church to become participants of J.A.C.O.B., a local church based-community organization, and to give ongoing financial support to the Will Grundy Free Medical Clinic, HELP Food Pantry, and the Peter Claver Center. Under his leadership we purchased additional property to the north of the church. We established the Reverend James McNear Scholarship Fund, which provides support to all members who are in college. Many upgrades were made to our building; such as, replacing the public address system, remodeling of our washrooms and classrooms, landscaping the church and paving the parking lots, replacing the air conditioning and heating system, purchasing a computer system and copier, TV and VCR, and installing new tile on the basement floor. We appreciate the 11 years of service and spiritual guidance Pastor Freeman provided to our church.
Reverend Freeman made known his intent to resign as Pastor effective December 1, 1995. The church elected a Pastoral Search Committee on November 10, 1995 and the committee began to work very diligently under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Years 1996 – 2008
On July 1, 1996 a call church meeting was held and the Pastoral Search Committee presented to the church their selected candidate for the pastorate of the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church. God moved upon the membership to elect the Reverend Clint Wilburn to be our leader and pastor. Pastor Wilburn began his pastoral duties the first Sunday in August 1996. Pastor Wilburn has provided a spirit-filled ministry for us all through his preaching and ministering to the needs of God’s people and reaching out to save souls.
Under his leadership we have purchased four plus acres of property on Barry Avenue in Lockport, Illinois for future expansion. A Building Fund (Seed of Faith) program was established to watch the vision grow and be fulfilled. A tutoring program for the youth in the community and a food give away program were established. In 1999 we installed new carpeting and renovated the sanctuary. Our church has traveled to Memphis, Tennessee, St. Louis, Missouri, Petal, Mississippi, Decatur, Illinois and Springfield, Illinois to support our Pastor’s ministry.
In 2007 our website was designed which not only provides information about our church and
Ministries, it also can be used to submit prayer requests.
In 2008 we purchased a van to transport members or anyone needing a ride to our church services, and to have transportation available to transport our youth and members to various activities.
Years 2009 - Present
The Busy Bee Ministry was instrumental in having members pledge toward the purchase of new entry doors for our sanctuary. The doors were installed in September 2011.
In 2012 we remodeled the women and men washrooms, purchased black art for the sanctuary, tiled the foyer and enlarged and remodeled our Pastor’s Office and Church Office.
Our first lady, Sis. Beatrice McNear, who was the first member to join our church, and served untiringly beside her husband during his 30 years as Pastor, and who served faithfully
thereafter until her health failed, went home to be with the Lord in August 2012.
In 2013 began the construction of a media room which gives us the capability of screen presentations of our services, as well as the ability to tape CD’s and DVD’s. The construction was completed in February 2014. We have had several “movie nights” for our church. In the near future, we will stream our live services to spread the “good news” world-wide.
In our attempt to stay current with today’s technology, our Pastor sends SMS messages to members’ cellphones each morning; giving a word of encouragement and hope.
The P2Q (Princess to Queens) Ministry was organized in December 2013. P2Q is a rite-of-passage group for girls ages 12-16 as a tool to train our girls in the way they should go as the Bible instructs so that they may be prepared to live their lives more abundantly. This group was organized by First Lady Hilda Wilburn, Sis. Lorraine Easley and Sis. Ebonie Fowler.
Our future plans include replacing our pews and carpeting, expanding our kitchen, classroom
and sanctuary space
Our youth are now actively involved and participating in the life of the church by conducting our worship services each fourth Sunday. This involvement includes our Youth Choir, Youth Ushers, and the Baptist Youth Fellowship. Future plans are for our youth ministry will be expanded to include a “Youth Church”; conducting their own worship service.
Our church knows the importance of prayer and has committed to not only attending
weekly prayer service, but also attending a special two hour prayer service (Standing in
the Gap Prayer Vigil) each month focusing on a specific theme and also a monthly Prayer
Journey touching various neighborhoods in the Joliet/Lockport area.
During our 62 years as a church, we have the following active ministries: Deacons
Ministry, Deaconess Ministry, Trustee Ministry, Ushers Ministry (Senior, Junior
and Pee Wee), Baptist Youth Fellowship, Sunday School classes for all ages, Women
and Men Ministries, Benevolence Ministry, Kitchen Ministry, Health Unit Ministry,
Music Ministry (Adult, Youth and Men Choirs), Busy Bee Club Ministry,
Evangelism/Mission Ministry, Media Ministry, Social Committee Ministry, Kitchen
Committee Ministry, Education Ministry, an Administrative Council (consisting of
all the leaders of our church and three members at-large), and a Board of
Directors. Seventeen ministers have been called to preach; six have been ordained.
Nineteen Deacons have been ordained. We presently have seven Deaconess-In-Training.
We continue to support the “Mt. Moriah Baptist Church” in Swaziland, South Africa which
we have faithfully supported for 37 years. We continue to provide financial support to the
Will Grundy Medical Clinic, Christ Pantry, The Blessing Table, Morning Star Mission,
the Peter Claver Center and Day Break Shelter. We continue to bring joy to the residents
of Sunnyhill Nursing Home each Christmas when we sing carols and distribute gifts to
We continue to support our college students through the Rev. James McNear Scholarship
As a church family we continuously find ways to celebrate and fellowship with one another.
We fellowship in our annual Church Picnics, Senior Day Celebrations, Valentine’s Day
Celebrations, Movie Outings, Skating Outings, Bowling Outings, and we
continuously recognize the accomplishments of our members in their school
and work activities. We celebrate every member’s birthday during our Morning Worship
Many people have been saved and nurtured through the ministries at the Mt. Moriah
Baptist Church and many lives have been touched. We praise God for our church and
for God’s faithfulness and guidance. We are especially thankful for all the members of
our Church Family. For sixty-two years we have endeavored to do the will of God through
our church and in our community. We will continue as a united body to give God
the glory as we look forward to the future. We will press toward the mark for the prize
of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ !