Church History

The Church of Hope, (New Hope Christian Methodist Episcopal Church) was founded by the late Prentis A. Bryson, Sr. and John D. Smith on April 12, 1912. They rented Ford’s Hall on West Railroad Ave.; secured a piano and five to ten C.M.E.’s living in Evanston. The organizer was the late Reverend T.L. Scott, Pastor of St. Paul C.M.E. Church of Chicago.

The early members were: Mrs. Mary Freeman, Mrs. Miller, The Moriss Family, Mr. and Mrs. Charles and Carrie Pringle, Mrs. Graves, Mrs. Alexander, The Collins Family, and Mr. and Mrs. Overstreet. New Hope’s first church building was located at Greenbay Road and Asbury Avenue. That property was lost.

We lost many of our families and members. Then in 1925, The Church of Hope was sent a Pastor, the late Bishop B.J. Smith, who was a student at Garrett Theological Seminary. He was given the task of locating members and establishing the church again. He began by having service in member’s homes, until a lot with a small three room cottage was secured at the corner of Grey Avenue and Emerson Street. The faithful members during that time were: James Lyle, Mary Lyle, Georgia Harris, Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Robinson, Amelia Belcher, Lucille Belcher, Jessie Jones, Florence King, Marie Bryant, Mary Freeman, Edward High, Mark Belcher, Mary Collins White, Rose Smith, Ella Smith, James and Minnie Rice and Minnie Jones Winkfield.


We are happy to have pastors who have become Bishops – they were: Bishop W.Y. Bell, Bishop B. Julian Smith, Bishop R. O. Bass and Bishop Chester A. Kirkendoll, Bishop Henry M. Williamson, Sr. Bishop Kirkendoll who received his license for the ministry from The Church of Hope. Bishop E.P. Murchison assisted Rev. Lightfoot in the building of this church. When Rev. Lightfoot was not present (because he was employed by the US Government), he was always on the ground overseeing the work or the business.

Former Pastors

Bishop W.Y. Bell, Bishop B. Julian Smith, Rev. A.W. Walls, Rev. Saffo, Rev. Meyers, Rev. T.H. Ross, Rev. A.R. Davis, Rev. T.C. Lightfoot, Rev. H.T. Trigg, Rev. Frank Smith, Rev. Ernest P. Pettigrew, Rev. O.L. Naylor, Rev. R.D. Jackson, Rev. S.A. Gathings, Rev. Henry Williamson, Rev. Roscoe McKinney, Rev. John H. Loving, Sr., Rev David S. Hayward, Rev. Terrell A. Jackson, Rev. Dr. Charley Hames, Jr., Rev. Linda A. Jordan, Rev. Lavisha S. Williams, Rev. Willie B. Weaver, Rev. Stanley K. Evans, Rev. Reginald T. Burke, Sr., Rev. Ralph Tolbert.


The Church of Hope is blessed to have four families who currently have a fourth generation still working in its vineyard. Below are the names of the original members and their current relatives who are with us now.

  • Gene and Olivia Wilkerson, their child Louise
  • Ella Ruth Johnson her daughters, Brenda Grier and Beverly Bonner, Beverly’s daughter, Danielle, and grandchildren LaCory, Jahnari, Monaye, Jacobi, Jayla
  • Henry Perrin’s daughter, Donna Palmore


Many people have worked faithfully and diligently to make the church what it is now. Many are no longer with us, some have moved away and some have aged gracefully among us continuing to share their wisdom and guidance.

Special recognition is given to select past members

Mr. Prentis Bryson who was a lifetime member of the C.M.E. Church and joined The Church of Hope at an early age. He was an active church member, serving at various times as Sunday School Superintendent, South Eastern Missouri, Illinois and Wisconsin Annual conference lay leader for 28 years, Chairman of the Steward Board, local lay leader and class leader.

Ms. Dorothy Marie Pringle who served as secretary of the church for more than forty years. She had the honor of signing Rev. Kirkendoll’s license to preach. Mrs. Pringle served in many capacities. She played piano for the Sunday School, was church clerk, prepared the bulletin and was financial secretary and treasurer for the missionaries. She was a delegate to many district meetings and attended several Annual and General Conferences.

Only three members who attended church in the original three room cottage remain with us. Louise Shands who was a member of the choir and member of the Board of Christian Education; Esther Pringle Weldon who was a member of the Board of Christian Education and who performs dramatic readings for the church; and Kenneth Brown, former President of the Usher Board and a faithful keeper of the door for more than 40 years. To this day, he still stands and sometimes sits.

Below are the names of person who worked faithfully and diligently to make the church it is now. Many are deceased some have moved away the others are seniors.

John and Mattie Williams, Charles and Pearl Henderson, Dorothy Pringle, Ella Ruth Johnson, Mattie Mitchell, Louise Wade, John and Elizabeth Armstrong, Rev. and Mrs. Eugene Wilkerson, Katie Lyle Bryson, Fannie King, Mr. and Mrs. Rufus Miles, Wilhelmina Strong, Roosevelt and Vera Seals, Raymond Lackey, Lucille Zachary, Burnice Samples, Prentis A. Bryson, Jr., Douglas Taylor, the Perrin Brothers (Henry, Talmadge and James), Ophelia Otey, Daisy Coleman, Ida Perry, Ms. Emma Davis, Johnnie Perrin, Linda Jay. We thank and praise our God for bringing us this far by faith with a legacy of love, hope and endurance that continues to fuel our current members to and future generations to come.