Greater Mount Carmel AME Church History
Greater Mount Carmel began as an idea placed by God on the mind and heart of a devout Christian man and his wife, Rev. and Mrs. George Washington Gholston, who opened their home to a small group of people. They met regularly for some time in Rev. Gholston’s home and became the first Black Methodist Church of Doraville, Georgia.
Rev. and Mrs. Gholston attended worship services regularly. However, the custom during and shortly after slavery was that Blacks and Whites attend services together, which often meant that the Blacks did not enjoy the exuberant style of worship that many preferred. The Gholstons longed for a church for Black people so that they might worship God in their own way. God made this dream a reality and Greater Mount Carmel has its beginning in 1888 at the home of Rev. and Mrs. G. W. Gholston on Chamblee Tucker Road, in what is now Embry Hills.
The membership grew and most of them lived in or near the town of Doraville. It was then decided to move the meeting place closer to the majority of the people, making the Church more accessible. An old building was rented that was once used as a lodge hall in the City of Doraville and worship services there for some time. Later, the meetings were moved further up Peachtree Road to an abandoned storefront. This building was used for service and housed the first school for Black children in the area. The very first teacher for the school was Miss Mary J. Gholston, the sister of Mrs. T. M. Ford and Rev. Gholston.
It was here, while holding service, that Rev. Gholston grew weary of moving the meetings from place to place and blazed the trail for a new movement to establish a permanent place of worship. A plot of land was purchased and construction of a church building was commenced. Rev. Gholston donated the timber, which the officers cut and dressed to build the very first house of God for the Greater Mount Carmel membership.
Rev. Gholston was the first and founding Pastor of Greater Mount Carmel Church and pastored the church faithfully during three separate periods. Rev. Gholston was assisted by a group of devout Christian officers, including Rev. T. M. Ford (his brother-in-law), Rev. J. A. Johnson and Rev. Robert Lidal. Officers and members alike made many sacrifices on behalf of the church.
In addition to pastoring Greater Mount Carmel, Rev. Gholston served the public good. In 1904, he was appointed by Bishop H. M. Turner the Board of Trustees of Morris Brown College and continued serving until 1919, under the leadership of Bishop J. S. Flipper.
In 1912, the edifice for Greater Mount Carmel Church was completed. Rev. Gholston was pastor once again and was assisted by Rev. T. M. Ford and Rev. Jerry Parsons. For some time, worship services were held each Sunday. God, in His loving mercy, allowed most of those early members to see their dream become a reality.
In the late 1940’s, the church burned. A new church was built on the present site of the General Motors Plant of Doraville, when Rev. Lawrence Williams served as Pastor. A few years later, General Motors purchased the property and the Church relocated to Carver Circle. Due to the impending construction of Interstate Highway 285, Greater Mount Carmel was forced to relocate. In 1959, Pastor John W. Sanford gathered the officers and members together and soon began the construction of a new building on Carver Drive. At that time, the Steward Board consisted of James Gholston, Grover Jackson, Ernest Jett, Sr., W. E. Stone and Eddie Floyd. The Trustee Board members were Sam Daniel, Harvey Mosley, Sr., Johnny Bain, Lee Pledger, Sr., Perry Craft, Sr., Gholston Peeples, Samuel Woods, Sylvester Warbington, Henry Graham, and Clim Davenport.
In 1961, under the leadership of Pastor Sanford, the members of Greater Mount Carmel moved into the current sanctuary. Bishop R. Wilkes dedicated the Church and burned the mortgage, with Bro. John Bein holding the pan. During the tenure of Pastor Sanford, two young men were ordained into the ministry: Rev. Mclinton and Rev. Willey Bussey.
In 1971, Greater Mount Carmel greeted its new Pastor, Rev. Edsel Ford Robinson, Sr., who served untiringly. Under his leadership, a number of candidates joined the church and formed the E. F. Robinson Club. Four people were ordained into the ministry: Rev. Richard Pledger, Sr., Rev. Melvin Williams, Rev. Dahn Junius and Dr. Loiuse Spears. Pastor Robinson accomplished many great things during his ministry with the help of the members. These efforts results in stained-glass windows, a new heating system, a new air conditioner, new carpet, new light fixtures, and a paved parking area.
With the assistance of Mayor Norman of Doraville, Mrs. Fannie Mae Jett, Pastor Robinson and Rev. George LaSure, construction of the playground was begun. In conjunction with State, County and City officials, funds were allocated. An area on the Church property was graded, smoothed and sodded. There were picnic tables and benches as well as softball and football fields with bleachers.
From 1995 to 2000, under the leadership of Pastor C. O. Adams, several ministerial candidates preached their trial sermons. The Church established recreation activities for the youth and several ministries for seniors, children & youth. The Church also experienced new additions and renovations: red velvet pew cushions, a new library, a new piano & organ, painting in upstairs classrooms & hallway and in fellowship hall, an electronic security system, a new sound system, an upgrade to the Pastor's Study, a pulpit prayer stand, new carpet in sanctuary and vestibule, a sanctuary lecture stand, an awards/trophy curio, a new church roof, handicapped parking spaces, a central heating/air conditioning system, renovation of the fellowship hall, kitchen, bathrooms & upstairs lounge, an upgrade to the electrical system, a new copy machine, a new computer, new software and a fax machine.
In the 2000-2001 Conference Year, under the leadership of Rev. A. Jarvis Childs, 3 ministers joined the Greater Mount Carmel family: Rev. Katherine Allen, Rev. Joseph Baker and Rev. Earl A. Glover, Sr.
In 2001, Greater Mount Carmel restored the altar and renovated the vestibule under the leadership of Rev. James A. Alexander, Sr.
Bishop Frank C Cummings, during the tenure of Presiding Elder S. W. Wicker, appointed the Rev. Dr. Henry D. Andrews, Sr. to the pastorate of Greater Mount Carmel in June 2002. Rev. Andrews came to Greater Mount Carmel with inspiration and motivation and exhibited powerful preaching and undying commitment. God blessed the Church to add 20 new members to our flock, both youth and adults. God blessed the members of Greater Mount Carmel to be able to paint the exterior of the Church.
In June 2003, we were blessed to have such a fine Shepherd to lead our flock for another conference year. Thirteen new members were added and the Church experienced further enhancements: the J.W. Sanford Fellowship Hall was painted, all classrooms, hallways, front and side entrances to the Church were re-carpeted and a new church sign that displays Church services was added. Additionally, Greater Mount Carmel was blessed to add a noon day "Hour of Power" Bible Study every Wednesday.
Under the leadership of the Rev. Dr. Michael A. N. Jones, the 2004-2005 conference year began a new day to work toward kingdom building through prayer and commitment. God blessed Greater Mount Carmel to grow numerically through the addition of new members as well as grow spiritually by hearing the Word, visiting the sick, caring for one another, participating in the Hour of Power Bible Study, holding Love Feasts and following the will of the Savior. The Church was blessed to receive the donation of a new sound system, which enhanced the quality of the worship. Greater Mount Carmel was also blessed to install a new handicapped-accessible bathroom at the front entrance of the Church. Additionally the Church established a presence on the Internet with the development of a website.
In June, 2009, Bishop William Phillips DeVeaux appointed the Rev. James A. Hardaway as pastor of Greater Mount Carmel Church. The theme “It’s A New Season, It’s A New Day” was adopted during the year. God blessed during the year and the Church saw an increase in membership and stewardship. The worship bulletin was used as an educational tool to help both youth and adults mature in the faith. A “Special Time of Sharing with the Young Folks” was started every Sunday during worship.
During 2010, the Church was blessed to have the Rev. Dawn A. Wright to connect with us and she jumped right in, working with established ministries and spearheading new innovative ministry development. Later, in 2011, we had the Rev. LeQuint Caswell to connect with the Church. Rev. Caswell was a student at Turner Theological Seminary from the Eighth Episcopal District.
A major blessing come to the church in May 2011 when Greater Mount Carmel was awarded a Worship Renewal Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Michigan, with funds provided by Lilly Endowment Inc. The grant provided opportunities, through engaging workshops and other leaning events, for persons to reflect upon the influences on their understanding of worship and those of others. This process helped to bring down barriers that can hold persons from experiencing worship when something is outside of –what for them is– the norm, the familiar, the tradition. Persons serving as workshop presenters included Dr. Lisa M. Allen – Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Dr. Ralph C. Watkins – Associate Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth Columbia Theological Seminary, Dr. Ann E. Streaty Wimberly – Professor Emerita of Christian Education at the Interdenominational Theological Center, Dr. William D. Watley – Sr. Pastor of Saint Philp A.M.E. Church and Dr. James Abbington – Associate Professor of Church Music and Worship at Candler School of Theology Emory University.
In 2013, Bishop Preston Warren Williams II, Presiding Prelate appointed Rev. Clinton Brown, Sr. as Pastor. Under Rev. Brown’s leadership several choirs were named, more than 15 new members joined, and a campaign was launched for facility improvement. Under Rev. Brown the following associate ministers served: Rev. Dawn Wright, Rev. LeQuint Caswell, Rev. A. Candace Gaines and Rev. Mark Wilson.
In June of 2016, Pastor Jeffrey L. Streator was appointed Pastor of Greater Mount Carmel Church. Joining him were his wife, Dr. Joycelyn L. Streator, and six children, Micaiah (17), Janae (16), Joyce (8), Janice (7), Julianne (5) and Jessica (1). Under the tenure of Pastor Streator, several new members have joined and Greater Mount Carmel has been blessed with the addition of Rev. Arthur Reeves and Rev. Jann Murray. Over the past three years, the members of Greater Mount Carmel have been able to achieve significant improvement to the property, including: installation of a new sign on the playground, new outdoor carpet on the church patio and steps, installation of 300 new ceiling tiles in the sanctuary, painting of the sanctuary, and a new sign at the entrance to the church property. Additionally, the members have revitalized the Children’s Church Ministry, created a new website (www.greatermtcarmel.org) where members and friends can hear sermons and view current events.
Many ministers have been sent by the Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Church to the pastorate of Greater Mount Carmel and each one performed a great work toward keeping the dream alive. The names of pastors appointed to Greater Mount Carmel are as follows: Rep. George W. Gholston, first Pastor and founder, Rev. T. M. Ford, Rev. Jerry Parsons, Rev. S. H. West, Rev. C. H. McClarin, Rev. T. B. Bell, Rev. J. W. Means, Rev. J. C. Clark, Rev. W. M. Pitts, Rev. Henderson, Rev. A. K. Zellers, Rev. E. Muckels, Rev. J. R. Wilshire, Rev. Langsters, Rev. Shropshire, Rev. S. M. Gaither, Rev. Whatley, Rev. Lewis, Rev. J. H. Hills, Rev. Jacobs, Rev. Renfro, Rev. J. S. Grant, Rev. J. H. Lowe, Rev. E. G. Clements, Rev. L. Williams, Rev. W. A. Williams, Rev. M. L. Few, Rev. John W. Sanford, Rev. Edsel F. Robinson, Sr., Rev. C O. Adams, Rev. A. J. Childs, Rev. James Alexander, Rev. Henry Andrews, Rev. Dr. Michael A. N. Jones, Rev. James A. Hardaway, Rev. Clinton Brown, and Rev. Dr. Jeffrey L. Streator.
Greater Mount Carmel African Methodist Episcopal Church did not happen by accident. It started with an idea which was nurtured, dreamed about, prayed over and finally developed. Many people sacrificed their time, their money and their energy since 1888. Many of those individuals are deceased but their spirits still linger in this place. We celebrate their great legacy today!