Reverend Moses Wilberforce DeWitt Norman a masterful orator was installed as – third pastor of Metropolitan in 1905. Reverend Norman, a Republican knew no shortcuts to progress or success. He believed that the best interests of the race should be promoted “by the religion of Jesus Christ the accumulations of real estate, the education of the children, the cultivation of cordial relations with neighbors without sacrificing manhood or womanhood, (and) fidelity to the churches, for as he said, ‘the church means infinitely more to my race at this state than any other institution or any number of others combined.”‘ Under Reverend Norman’s leadership, the new Metropolitan Baptist Church building was completed. it was “erected in the best manner,” as the former pastor envisioned, with steam heat, electric lights and a magnificent pipe organ. During Reverend Norman’s 21 years of pastoral administration, the membership of Metropolitan continued to grow and the ministry in Hell’s Bottom continued.
Did you know that?
- Moses Wilberforce DeWitt (MWD) Norman was born on August 27, 1867, near Plymouth, North Carolina. He began his education by attending local public schools and subsequently attending the State Normal School in Plymouth where he had to work his way through school.
- In the year 1886, MWD Norman received his conversion experience to Christ and joined the Lily of the Valley Baptist Church.
- In the year 1887, MWD Norman received his call to preach the Gospel and was licensed by his home church to preach in September of that same year.
- In the year 1888, MWD Norman was ordained to the full work of the ministry and upon graduation from the State Normal School that same year began working as a public school teacher.
- While in Raleigh, MWD Norman met and fell in love with Miss Fannie Bridges (a Shaw University Alumna, accomplished musician, and teacher)- the two were joined in holy matrimony on November 19, 1892.
- In the year 1893, MWD Norman went on to study at the Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina where he received his A.B. degree and later he earned his A.M. degree. MWD Norman was held in such high esteem that he was made Dean of the School of Theology at Shaw University, a position that he held from 1893 to 1896.
- For five years, MWD Norman served as the president of the Roanoke Collegiate Institute, a denominational school located in Elizabeth City, NC.
- While serving as president of the Roanoke Collegiate Institute, he also served a circuit of four churches-Bethel in Perquimans County, Gale Street in Edenton, Welch’s Chapel in Chowan County and Olive Branch in Elizabeth City.
- In 1901 Rev. MWD Norman accepted the call to pastor the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Portsmouth, VA where he faithfully served as pastor for four years and during which time the church’s membership increased while the church’s indebtedness decreased.
- Upon arriving in Washington, D.C., in 1905, Rev. MWD Norman, his mission and Metropolitan Baptist Church met and a match was made.
- Rev. MWD Norman instituted the Scriptural method of raising finances (the duplex system) and was the catalyst for the development of new ministries such as the Baptist Training Union, the Boy Scouts, the Men’s Club, and the Women’s Club.
- In the year 1918, Rev. MWD Norman and the Metropolitan family completely paid off the debt on the sanctuary structure which began in 1888 and had surplus funds available for future church growth.
- During Rev. MWD Norman’s pastorship, steam heat and electric lights were installed in the church along with the addition of a pipe organ.
- On May 21, 1920, Rev. MWD Norman, in the name of the Metropolitan Baptist Church began depositing funds in the Industrial Bank of Washington, a practice that continues to this day.
- By the year 1922, the Metropolitan Baptist Church membership had grown to more than 5000 members.
- After the departing of this life of his first wife, Rev. Norman met and married the former Ethel Fitzhugh.
- In recognition of his many accomplishments, Rev. MWD Norman received the Doctor of Divinity degree (D.D.)from the Virginia Seminary and College, the LL.D. degree from the Guadaloupe College of Texas and the LL.D. degree from the Frelinghuysen University of Washington.
- On December 26, 1926, after an illness of several months, Rev. Dr. Moses Wilberforce DeWitt Norman the profound Christian orator and scholar from “The Old North State” departed this life, at his residence located at 1933 Thirteenth Street, N.W. at the age of 58.
Information provided by the Historical Book Committee