The Usher Board
The Nineteenth Street Baptist Church on its
Ushers shall faithfully serve as doorkeepers and representatives of the Church. All who enter the house of God shall be greeted warmly and treated with kindness, tact, and courtesy. It is also the responsibility of Ushers to ensure that perfect order is kept in and around the Church at all times during Worship Services. The Usher Board’s mission is to make everyone’s visit a blessed and pleasant experience.
The first official reference to an Usher board is found in church records dated back to 1914. Starting humbly, records show by the year 1933 that the Usher Board membership had grown to 40 members. At that time, the board was comprised of an all male roster since women did not join the ranks of the usher board until the mid 1970’s.
As the church progressed and membership increased, Brother Melvin (Dick) Tyler established and organized the Junior Usher Board. The first Junior Usher Board was composed of 15 young lads whose ages ranged from 10 to 18 years. It was the responsibility of this board to serve during the third and fifth Sunday morning worship services. It was also the board’s responsibility to sponsor and support one Sunday evening program per year. Normally the evening program was held on Youth Sunday.
Brother Tyler directed the Junior Usher Board for twenty-eight years from 1947- 1975. When the church relocated in 1975 from 19th& I Sts., NW to its present location, 4606 16th St., NW, Brother Lee Teague assumed the role as director serving until 1979. From that date until now, the Usher Board has been blessed with a host of fellow ushers who have continued the junior usher leadership legacies of Brothers Tyler and Teague.
In September, 2001, Sister Brenda Lightening Tolbert proposed the establishment of a new component of the Usher Board, young adult ushers (ages 17-35) — a bridge between the Junior ushers and the Senior ushers, feeling that some teens felt too old to be juniors and too young to be seniors. The board approved the change. Under the Presidency of Brother David Lewis and during the 2003 Usher Day Program, Young Adult Ushers were introduced. Hence, three distinct components of the Usher Board were established —the Senior, Young Adult, and Junior Ushers.
Brother John Jackson was elected president of the Usher Board in 2006. During his 4-year tenure, new security challenges were met and new initiatives were launched. Specifically, in cooperation with the Secret Service, Brother Jackson successfully directed usher coverage in response to heightened security when the then President-Elect Barack Obama and family visited our church on January 18, 2009. Also, Brother Jackson spearheaded an initiative worth noting — to name the Church lobby entrance after the late fellow usher, Brother James Littlejohn, a move that was subsequently approved by the Church. A bust of Brother Littlejohn’s image was mounted in the Church lobby to commemorate his memory and decades of time-honored service as Entrance Greeter.
Other milestones since the Usher Board’s inception include:
- In 1970, the first Usher Day service was celebrated. Since then the Usher’ Day service has been an annual event on the 2nd Sunday in January.
- On December 12, 1974, Sister Sehon Grigsby became the first woman accepted to the Usher Board.
- In 1978, Sister Eleanor Banks was elected the first female president of the Usher Board.
- In 1978, Brother Elmer Brooks developed and issued the first comprehensive Training Manual for Ushers.
- Brother James Littlejohn held sway as the Chief “Entrance Greeter,” serving from 1956 until poor health in 2006. He also served as Archivist spanning a term of 29 years from 1976 – 2005.
- On November 10, 2005 and during Brother David Lewis’ presidency, the Usher Board was installed as a member of the Interdenominational Church Ushers Association (ICUA).
- On January 8, 2006, ushers strutted for the first time the usher’s march under the direction of Brother John Jackson.
- On January 10, 2010, an Ushers’ day anniversary, ushers wore for the first time official ICUA usher badges, a welcomed change initiated by Sister Evangeline Stevens.
Usher Board Presidents
Haywood Smith Guy West Frederick Rhone
- 1933 1933 – 1937 1937 – 1958
Leonard Randolph George Thornton Eleanor Banks
1958 – 1969 1969 – 1978 1978 – 1979
James B. Johnson Marion Gale James Turner
1979 – 1982 1982 – 1984 1984 – 1988
Sandra Caviness Elmer Brooks Harrison Lightfoot
1988 – 1991 1991- 1993 1993 – 1995
Marita Langford Margaret Corbin James Turner
1995 – 1997 1997 – 1999 1999 – 2000
Roman Holton David Lewis Brenda L. Tolbert
2000 – 2002 2002 – 2004 2004 – 2006
John Jackson Larry Holland John Jackson
2006 – 2010 2010 – 2012 2012 — 2014
Each president and all board members have contributed to the ongoing richness of the Usher Board. It is therefore our desire to continue to be productive contributors in our church community.
For a day in your court is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness. Psalm 84:10