It is Sunday morning on Norfolk Street, and the sounds of hymns and sermons can be heard on the blocks between Capen Street and Milton Avenue where the Mount Olive Kingdom Builders’ Worship Center, the New Jerusalem Evangelical Baptist Church, the Bethlehem Baptist Church, and, up a bit on Stanton Street, St. Matthew’s Catholic Church project their faiths.
The Mount Olive Kingdom Builders’ Worship Center, located at 234 Norfolk St. at Stanton, is the result of a merger of the Mount Olive Temple of Christ and the Kingdom Builders’ Worship Center. Rev. Susie B. Thomas, originally from Mount Pleasant, Texas, founded the Mount Olive Temple of Christ in 1966; the Kingdom Builders’ Worship Center was founded in 2000 by Bishop Robert C. Perry II; and they merged in 2003. They are dedicated to offering a center of worship to all with Sunday services held at 9:30 a.m. and noon, both in English.
The Bethlehem Baptist Church and the New Jerusalem Evangelical Baptist Church, both affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention denomination, are almost contiguous, located three houses apart. Both churches offer services in English and Creole.
The Bethlehem church holds a worship service at 11 a.m. on Sundays with Rev. Dr. Thomas Watson presiding as pastor in a one-story building with a white guard covering each window and entrance. The New Jerusalem church is also a one-story building. The sign above the entrance has the name of the church in English as well as in French/Creole. It holds worship services on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., on Tuesdays from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and on Fridays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. along with a night prayer time till midnight. There are also fasting services from 9 a.m. to noon on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The church advertises its mission as “proclaiming the gospel of Christ to the world by equipping members with the necessary tools to evangelize, witness, and spread the word of God, create an environment of love where people can be educated.”
St. Matthew’s Catholic Church is located at 39 Stanton St., just up the street from the Mount Olive Kingdom Builders’ Worship Center. Founded in 1900, St. Matthew’s is the only Catholic church between St. Angela’s down in Mattapan and St. Mark’s beyond Codman Square. Sunday Masses are celebrated in English at 10 a.m. and in Haitian Creole at 12:30 p.m. Colette Jean, the secretary at St. Matthew’s, says more people come to the Creole Masses than the ones in English. The parish grammar school was closed in 2006, when it merged with St. Gregory’s School at Lower Mills.