Hyde Park Seventh-day Adventist Church (formerly Mattapan Seventh-day Adventist Church) History
January 1987 - January 1996
From organization as a mission to organization as a church
In 1985 several members of the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church discussed the possibility of establishing a church in another section of Boston, Massachusetts, namely Mattapan. This possibility became a reality in the summer of 1986 when Michael R. Bernard, then pastor of the Berea church, completed a series of evangelistic meetings in Mattapan. A special committee was formed and on October 12, 1986, the Berea Seventh-day Adventist Church Board accepted the committee’s recommendation and voted that a mission be organized.
On January 17, 1987, the Mattapan Mission of Seventh-day Adventists was officially organized. It was a day tempered with mixed emotions as some 49 members, several individuals with pending transfers from other churches, and their families, under the leadership of Convelle Morton, the then first elder of Berea church, said “good-bye” to the mother church and went out to establish a mission in the Mattapan community.
There were many highlights during the nine years the group operated as a mission. In September 1987, Frances Winston shared her idea of establishing a children’s choir with Sabbath School teachers, Dotilda Reid, Monica Nixon, and Marjorie Shillingford Samuels. As a result of keen plans and Elder Morton’s encouragement, the Mattapan Children’s Choir was formed. The children’s choir made its debut on October 31, 1987. They were eventually given the official name of Hosanna Choir.
As time elapsed, Esther Reid and Rose Maynard dedicated some of their time, not only to teach the youth, but also to train their voices to sing for the Lord. As a result, the youth choir was formed and made its initial presentation on December 22, 1990. The choir eventually adopted the name Amania Choir.
Shortly after the youth choir was formed, the adult choir was organized under the direction of Elder Lee Davison. They gave their first rendition on January 19, 1991, the fourth anniversary of the Mattapan Mission. Over the course of time, directorship of the choir was placed in the hands of Marjorie Shillingford Samuels. Several years later, the adult choir officially adopted the name Majestic Choir.
From the growth of the children and youth of the Mattapan Mission, there spawned the need for a Pathfinder club. On January 31, 1993, with high excitement among the parents and enthusiastic members, the Mezuzah Pathfinder Club was born with Esther Reid at the helm as director and Marvwrick Turner and Cynthia Reid Morrison as deputy directors. The Mezuzah Pathfinder Club made great strides and received several awards from the Northeastern Conference Youth Department.
Over the years the mission grew through baptisms and transfers. However, baptisms accounted for the greater portion of its growth. That was the result of several factors which included Bible classes conducted by Fitzgerald Reid, personal Bible studies given by various members of the Mattapan Mission, individual member involvement in one-to-one evangelism, and several evangelistic meetings and revivals. The Mattapan Mission was blessed by the efforts of evangelists such as Dr. Kembleton S. Wiggins, Dr. Fitzroy Maitland, Dr. G. Earl Knight, and Pastor Raymond Saunders Jr.
One of the outstanding annual events of the Mission was its anniversary celebrations in January. During the early years, Berea, the mother church, would join each celebration. Among the highlights was the preaching by such Adventist church luminaries as Pastor Randolph Stafford, Dr. Barry Black, and Pastor G. Ralph Thompson. Who could ever forget Dr. Black’s rendition from memory, in the evening program, of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech? Who would forget the 100-voice combined young adult choir from New York that joined us for the first anniversary?
Also of great importance in the growth process of the Mattapan Mission was membership enrichment. Various programs were conducted in an effort to encourage the members in their spiritual walk with Jesus. They included a review of church doctrines, Bible classes, the study of Eschatology, Revelation Seminars, the study of Bible prophecy, the study of the Spirit of Prophecy, Sunday evening services, a tape ministry, Spiritual Pulse, and The Mother’s Connection. Who would forget the impact of those quarterly or semi-annual “Power Days” of all-day prayer and fasting with almost all the church members in attendance! Who would forget those frequent Saturday night prayer sessions that went from midnight to 6:00 a.m., on Sunday, with most of the church in attendance and small children sleeping on blankets and cots in the back of the auditorium!
The Community Services department was very active in the community conducting special Give-Away-Days and holding an annual pre-Thanksgiving Dinner for the residents of the Gallivan Boulevard housing development. The church was also involved through the Community Services department in donating much needed items to the residents of the hurricane stricken areas of the Caribbean.
The “Magnificent, Magnanimous, Mattapan Mission” is a phrase that was coined to describe the Mattapan Mission over the years. The Mission grew considerably and experienced the effects of the elements of life—births, deaths, weddings, illnesses, and many, many joys.
Nine years after its inception as Mattapan Mission, church organization services were held on January 19-20, 1996, under the theme “Onward! Upward! With This Hope.” It was a weekend of high celebration, praise, and thankfulness to God for the way in which He had led from its beginning as a mission to its organization as a church. Members, friends, visitors from the community, the Berea church, and representatives from the Northeastern Conference and Atlantic Union Conference were present for the weekend of events. At that time the church membership stood at 164 with more than 130 children and youth enrolled in the Sabbath School department. The church’s name was then changed to the Mattapan Seventh-day Adventist Church.
February 1996 - December 2007
From organization as a church to new church dedication
It is hard to believe that more than 11 years have passed since Mattapan Seventh-day Adventist Church was formally voted into the Northeastern Conference sisterhood of churches. Its mission was to continue proclaiming the Good News of salvation to people of Mattapan, Dorchester, and surrounding communities. Time has not changed that mission. The journey still continues onward and upward.
After the congregation was officially organized as a church, Elder Convelle Morton, continued in the role of spiritual leader of Mattapan church under Pastor Horatius Gittens, pastor of Berea and Mattapan churches. He used his pastoral training to steady the ship.
In May 1997 there was a change in leadership and Dr. Ives Roberts was appointed to serve as the first full-time pastor of the Mattapan church.
During his six-year tenure, the church experienced many successes and challenges. Building a sanctuary for a rapidly growing membership, while vigorously engaging in evangelism, was first and foremost in the minds of the leadership. With God’s leading and direction, the church grew annually at an average rate of nine percent. Baptisms accounted for an average of seven percent of annual church growth. Many new immigrants to the United States found Mattapan to be “a place like home.” Consequently, membership transfers from immigrant Adventists accounted for approximately two percent of the overall annual church growth.
In the summer of 1998, Mattapan church continued on its theme “Onward and Upward” by engaging in three weeks of evangelistic meetings, conducted by Pastor Ainsworth Joseph from New York. Thirty-one individuals were baptized.
In 1999, Mattapan teamed up with its mother church, Berea, to erect a big tent in the Dorchester/Roxbury areas of Boston to proclaim the gospel message with Pastor Conklin Gentry as the evangelist. At the conclusion of these meetings, more than 100 individuals were baptized. A new congregation, Roxbury Mission, was raised up in the Roxbury area of Boston and is now an organized church in the Northeastern Conference.
In October 2003 Pastor Cornelius Wesley was appointed to succeed Dr. Roberts as pastor of Mattapan church. Pastor Wesley’s three-year tenure at Mattapan was marked by intentional evangelism and significant growth.
Mattapan church went without pastoral leadership for approximately six months following the end of Pastor Wesley’s tenure in mid-2005. Elder Carveth DeLeon, the head elder, along with the board of elders and departmental leaders, provided the spiritual leadership at Mattapan during this transition, and seven individuals where baptized and welcomed into the church family.
Pastor George Bulgin was appointed as pastor of Mattapan in January 2006 and is the current pastor. Dr. Sylvan Lashley was appointed associate pastor that same year. After a brief stay, he was appointed pastor of the Gethsemane church in Brockton, Massachusetts.
The children and youth divisions of the church continue to grow. Many of the children who formed the original children’s and youth choirs have grown up and moved on to college and other pursuits in other places. However, some still remain and, together with those who have subsequently joined Mattapan, have continued the tradition of a vibrant youth choir. Dwaina Howson, a former member of the early children’s and youth choirs now leads the Amania Choir which continues to bless the hearts of Mattapan’s congregation.
The Majestic Choir, formerly Mattapan Church Choir, continues to be led by Marjorie Shillingford Samuels. Although some of its original members have moved to warmer climates, the choir continues to attract new members who are dedicated to using their voices in rendering praises to God and providing inspirational music for the church.
The Mezuzah Pathfinder Club continues to make great strides. It is currently under the leadership of Jannett Davis and her dedicated staff. For many years the Mezuzah Club has been recognized as one of the top pathfinder clubs in the Northeastern Conference. In a recent competition, it was named the number two club in the conference. Moving “Onward and Upward,” their eyes are set, not only on capturing the coveted number one spot, but to build strong character in the lives of its young people.
As the church continued on its mission, the need for additional workers arose. Men’s , Women’s, Singles’ and Children’s ministries were instituted. These are currently vibrant and active department in the church.
There are many challenges still before the church. However, this relocation to new facilities at 6 Webster Street, Hyde Park, Massachusetts, will ever be a reminder that we serve a pray-answering, miracle-working God, who sometimes says “no” and “wait,” but in His time blesses beyond our wildest imaginations! We are determined to press “Onward and Upward,” moving “Forward Together . . . Completing the Mission,” fully aware, in the words of one of the founding members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, E.G. White, “We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history”—Life Sketches, p. 196.
The church records put the membership on the day of the church dedication, December 15, 2007, at 304, and the church’s name was changed to Hyde Park Seventh-day Adventist Church.