The Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded on June 8, 1877 under the pastorate of Rev. N. Gray, as part of a circuit that included Galilee AME church in Anne Arundel County. The first sanctuary was built by three trustees, Richard Wood, George Larkins, and Wilson Turner, who purchased a one-acre tract of land in the “Popular Ridge” area of Prince Georges County, at a cost of $134.55. The church was erected adjacent to a “colored” schoolhouse that had been built in 1875. The original church was a log structure which was destroyed by fire in 1919.
In 1920, the first building fund was established, under the pastorate of Rev. J. T. Bailey, when members were asked to put away a penny a day for a month to raise the necessary funds for construction of a new church on Queen Anne Road in Mitchellville, MD. Additionally, members paid ten cents per Sunday for “class dues” to support the ongoing operating expenses of the church.
The second church structure, built in 1925, is a one-story, front-gabled building of wood frame construction. It is typical of small meeting houses from the early 20th century. Centered in the south gable of the building is a small entry tower with a pyramidal roof. Two paneled doors provided entry to the sanctuary. As was typical of structures built during that time period, the church had no running water, electricity or indoor plumbing. A pot belly stove provided heat and “out houses” on the outside of the church were built to accommodate the restroom needs of members. Members buried their family members in a small graveyard behind the church. The structure is still standing today and was designated a historic landmark by the State of Maryland in 1986 and is registered as the oldest AME historic site in Prince George’s County.
All of the members of Mt. Nebo lived in the Mitchellville community, which was classified as a rural farming section of Prince George’s County until recent times. Most members were farmers or sharecroppers who primarily raised tobacco. The members enjoyed church and walked several miles regardless of weather to attend services. During the winter, many of them wore shoes wrapped in burlap sacks because of the deep snow. They never complained about the long walk, or about the length of the service, since the church was their only source of fellowship and recreation. They served the Lord with gladness and welcomed the fellowship with other believers. Sunday offerings averaged about $4.00 each week from member donations of nickels and dimes.
Church Expansion and Community Transition
In 1946, electric lights were installed and a choir loft was built to accommodate the church’s first choir. From 1946 to 1965, programs were expanded to include Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. There were also annual pilgrimages to the Chesapeake Bay Beach, where church members participated in old fashion baptismal services. In 1958, an eight-foot extension was added to the sanctuary. A multipurpose room with kitchen was also added.
By 1965, many Black families began moving out of the Mitchellville area. The church was in serious need of repair and plumbing. The membership had only reached about 35 and Sunday offerings were barely adequate to meet the operating costs of the church. Despite this dismal outlook, the small band of members kept the faith and toiled untiringly, with much prayer, to continue to “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Their faith and untiring efforts began to pay off as the years rolled on.
In 1973, Mrs. Sylvia Myers, who served on the Building Fund Committee, seized the opportunity to place a $25 deposit on a five-acre parcel of land next door to the Queen Anne Road church, until she could meet with the rest of the committee. The committee overwhelmingly approved her action and purchased the land. The mortgage on the land was paid in full within two years. It was during this time that the dream of building a new church with running water and indoor plumbing became a reality.
In 1976, there was an expansion of the Youth Department and other church organizations were strengthened. The building program also accelerated during this period.
Church leaders and members took a giant leap of faith in 1982 and began construction on the new Mt. Nebo Church on
Queen Anne Road. The brick building was a $250,000 construction project. Construction of the new sanctuary was completed in December 1984. The first worship service was held in the new facility on December 23, 1984. A dedication service was held on March 31, 1985. A resolution was introduced to change the name of the church to Greater Mt. Nebo African Methodist Episcopal Church at the Washington Annual Conference in May 1985. Church membership grew rapidly during the first years of worship in the new facility.
In 1988, Reverend Jonathan Leslie Weaver was appointed as pastor of Greater Mt. Nebo AME church. Since his appointment, more than sixteen hundred persons have joined the church and accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior — “To God be the Glory.” In 1992, only eight years after its construction, the Queen Anne Road facility could not hold the throngs of new worshipers that flocked to the church, even after moving to two worship services each Sunday. Consequently, worship services were moved from the Queen Anne Road site to a site on Prince George’s Boulevard.
The 1995 purchase of an eighty-seven acre tract of land located atCentr al Avenue and Route 301 in Prince Georges
County, was another milestone in the church’s history. At this site, phase I of a new worship center has been built and a larger, phase II sanctuary is planned along with a Family Life and Wellness Intergenerational Center, a Christian Academy, and Senior Housing Facility. Construction began on the first phase of the new worship center in early 2003 and was completed 2005.