The name Ebenezer, meaning “Stone of Help,” reflected God’s guiding hand in founding this ministry. Established in 1964, its roots traced back to Stamford, Connecticut. Pastor Edgar Lashley, driven by a vision, and his close friend, Rev. James Ferguson, tirelessly searched for a church to match this vision.
Amid setbacks, a divine voice directed Pastor Lashley towards Bridgeport – a direction he found unexpected given his past departure from the city. Yet, in heeding this call, his search resumed. Although he initially found a church that didn’t align with his vision, a timely intervention by the late Deacon David Johnson led him to another church for sale. Upon seeing it, Pastor Lashley immediately recognized it from his vision. Subsequent negotiations revealed that he might have the opportunity to purchase it if the initial buyer failed to secure a mortgage within forty days. By the fourth Sunday of January 1965, the Late Bishop Roderick Caesar dedicated this church as the Ebenezer Gospel Assembly.
From its inception, divine intervention marked EGA’s journey. Despite starting with only four members and limited funds, the exact amount they had saved matched the cost of the church’s furnishings. Pastor Lashley often remarked, “hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”
Built on unyielding faith, EGA witnessed Pastor Lashley, assisted by fervent prayer warriors like the late Sister Catlin, the late Sister Smith, and diligent workers such as the Late Elder Herman Jeffries, preparing the church’s opening. Though many contributed to this endeavor, charter members like the late Evang. Hilda Smith played a crucial role.
As the church progressed, God nurtured leaders passionate about soul-winning. Elder Herman Jeffries, the then Assistant Pastor, actively encouraged young worshipers, resulting in a youth choir renowned for its anointed singing. Many of these youths evolved into today’s church leaders.
EGA’s legacy is one of profound love for God and souls. Reverend Lashley’s devotion to scripture birthed the Extension School of the Bethel Bible Institute, now known as the Foundation Bible Institute. Mother Lashley’s dedication to missions, both local and overseas, left an indelible mark, and her exemplary life shone as a beacon of godly womanhood.
Challenges, Transitions, and the Future:
In a 1991 FBI school session, Reverend Lashley suddenly suffered a severe headache, which led to an intense surgery at Yale Hospital. Doctors doubted his recovery, predicting an end to his ministerial duties. Yet, divine intervention and collective prayers dubbed him “The Miracle Man.” Later, he retired to Barbados, where he continued his mission, assisting in the establishment of another Bible school.
In 1995, Reverend Thomas W. Hayes succeeded him, undertaking a gradual but determined transition. Having closely observed Dr. Lashley’s leadership, he confidently continued EGA’s mission. The church expanded its outreach and internal ministries, focusing on various societal issues, including child abuse and AIDS. Reverend Hayes also took on leadership roles outside EGA, emphasizing service to those Jesus termed the “least of these my brethren.”
The church’s vision evolved to encompass the five-fold ministry: Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, Pastor, and Teacher (Eph 4:11). A palpable excitement permeated the atmosphere as the Spirit of God moved powerfully. The small church at the intersection of Bunnell and Deacon Streets expanded its reach, aspiring to establish a multi-purpose deliverance center.
By 2021, after 27+ years of dedicated service, Pastor Thomas Hayes retired, passing the baton to our New Senior Pastor, Elder J. Patrick Hayes. Read more About Our Pastor here. The church, firmly rooted as a “Stone of Help,” continues to shine brightly, with Jesus as its Chief Cornerstone.