Religions and Spirituality

New Hope Baptist Makes History, Ordains Female Deacons this Sunday


EAST ORANGE, NJ – In the 38 year history of New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, Barbara James and Brenda Thurmond will become the church’s first female deacons at a formal ordination ceremony on Sunday, February 28 at 4:00 p.m. at the church, located at 144 Norman Street in East Orange.   

At New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, the biblical role of deacons is to serve the Lord by conducting the caring ministry of the church in doing the benevolence work, visiting the sick, being alert to the spiritual needs of the congregation for the purposes of freeing the pastor to focus on prayer and the ministry of the Word, promoting unity within the church and facilitating the spread of the gospel.

They are selected from within the membership of the church and qualifications focus primarily on character and relationships within the church, family and community.  The deacons also have to participate in and successfully complete a training program prior to being considered for ordination.   

Sign Up for E-News

The church currently has eight male members serving on its Board of Deacons.  “This is an important moment in the history of our church.”  “We are completely filled with joy and welcome and value the exceptional spiritual and leadership gifts Barbara and Brenda will bring to their roles as deacons, said Rev. Dwight D. Gill, pastor of New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange. 

Both Ms. James and Ms. Thurmond have been long-time, active church members for several years in various roles, ministries and activities.  Ms. James has been a member for 20 years, joining and being baptized in 1996.  She presently serves as superintendent of the Sunday School, chair of the Prison Ministry and Sunday School teacher at Windsor Gardens Health Care Center in East Orange and the Essex County Juvenile Detention Center in Newark.   Ms. James also serves as the campaign chair and small groups director for the church’s spiritual growth initiatives.   One of her favorite scriptures is Galatians 6:9 - “Let us not grow weary of well doing:  for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”  According to Ms. James, she loves this scripture because it encourages you to be faithful and persistent in following the example of Jesus Christ in doing all the good we can.  “I am thrilled and grateful to be ordained as a member of the Board of Deacons and have deep affection for my church family, but it is the word of God that allows my focus to remain on serving and doing good,” explained Ms. James.   A native of North Carolina, she is also a retired educator with 43 years of service to the Newark, New Jersey Public Schools.  Ms. James earned a B.S. from Winston Salem State University in North Carolina and Master’s Degree from Kean University in Union, NJ.  In addition, she holds New Jersey certificates for Teacher, Principal/Supervisor and Assistant Superintendent with Specialization in Curriculum Development.   

For Ms. Thurmond, being a member of the church has been a “family affair.” Her mother was a member of the Missionary Ministry and served on the Ways and Means Committee, and  her sister is a member of the Music Ministry.  She also has a cousin who is the church’s clerk and a cousin who is a founding member who is a member and former chair of the Board of Trustees.  “I am greatly humbled and honored to become a member of the Board of Deacons, but I did not make the journey here alone.  It has been a family affair with my parents and numerous relatives who have supported me along the way and made sure church was and is an essential part of my life,” said Ms. Thurmond.  She joined the church in 2006 and has worked mainly with the Sunday School. She has served as a New Members Teacher and worked with the church’s Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN), which houses homeless families who are in need of shelter at churches.  Ms. Thurmond also serves on the Pastoral Care Team and enjoys serving as a host home for the church’s small group spiritual growth campaigns. Ms. Thurmond attended the East Orange School system, graduating from East Orange High School. She received an A.S. from Essex County College, B.A. from Montclair State University, and an M.A. from Walden University. Ms. Thurmond has been employed as a 1st Grade Teacher at East Orange Community Charter School for more than 15 years and is planning to retire this June. She has also worked on the curriculum team for several years. Ms. Thurmond was previously employed by East Orange Child Development Corp. – Head Start for 11 years.  

She is married to Bennie Thurmond, Jr. (42 years) and they have three children James C. Holt, Michelle D. Thurmond, and Bennie Thurmond 3rd and one grandchild, Donyah M. Richardson-Thurmond.

About New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange:

New Hope Baptist Church of East Orange, which has a rich history and nearly 2,000 members, has been serving the spiritual and social needs of the community for many years.  The church provides numerous Christian education programs and community outreach initiatives such as a Food Pantry Program and programs for Youth, Seniors, Women and Health.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

East Orange/Orange

Adults Step Up and Speak Out to Protect Children from Sexual Abuse

April 18, 2018

EAST ORANGE, NJ — The East Orange YMCA is marking National Child Abuse Prevention Month with Five Days of Action, April 16-20. Leading up to Healthy Kids Day, a national initiative to improve the health and well-being of kids, Five Days of Action raises awareness on how adults can step up and speak out to prevent child sexual abuse.

“By encouraging adults to step up and speak out, ...

Essex County Announces Partnership with Nine Local Charitable Organizations

April 16, 2018

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Essex County will participating in nine special partnerships to increase awareness about and help raise funds for the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, the Arc of Essex County, the New Jersey Children Alliance, Stop for Nikhil, The Valerie Fund, the Arthritis Foundation, the Saint Barnabas Medical Center's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and ...

How to Get Potential Clients to Feel Confident About Your Ability

For people to contract with you, they need to have confidence in you. They need to know that you’re going to do what you say you’ll do. But, how can they know this before you work with them? There are plenty of signs that they’ll look at to determine if you’re trustworthy.

* Do What You Say You Will – Whether it’s in a group, one-on-one, or otherwise, ...

Likability is Key to Attracting Clients

Likability is a quality that you need to have to get people to know you and trust you. If you want the full trifecta of like, know, and trust, then it all starts with being someone that people like. You really can learn to be more likable and it's all to do with your demeanor. But, being likable starts from within. If you care about and find value in others, it’s going to show through ...

What to Do and Not Do During Networking Events

When you go to networking events with a goal of getting more high-quality clients, there are some things that you should and should not do. There are tried-and-true methods to use that successful business people have perfected. Follow them, and don’t try to reinvent the wheel if you want to be successful.


* Choose the Right Events – It’s fine to go to ...

April is National Stress Awareness Month

April 14, 2018

National Stress Awareness Month-April 2018

Stress is a topic that people often joke about.  However, it is not a matter to be taken lightly. Stress is unfortunately one of the most common mental health issues and stress factors increasingly affect the well-being of American’s and others world-wide. According a study by the American Psychological Association, despite stress levels ...