The History of Mt. Carmel Ministries, Pearl, MS
Ricky and Denese Sutton had united with the Mt. Carmel Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS with their young son, Dwayne in 1983 under the pastorate of Rev. Joseph Dossett. Shortly afterwards, under the leadership of the Pastor Kenneth Fairley, they dedicated themselves to faithful study of God’s Word and consistent fellowship with the church. While Denese had found a home singing in the choir and in the mission work of Circle Sarah, Ricky was still in search of his place in the church and decided that he wanted to become a deacon. Not feeling that he had been called into that position, he joined the choir and even led a song—but the Lord (and other members of the church) stepped in and confirmed that he was not called to sing. In November 1984, Ricky Sutton fulfilled his call to preach God’s word and delivered his first sermon from the book of Matthew.
As the years passed, Rev. Sutton submitted himself to the work of the Lord and to Pastor Fairley who entrusted many responsibilities to his care. He served as youth pastor for the campus ministries at USM and developed the faith of many young people who were persuaded to trust the Lord as their savior. He continued to serve them as their Sunday School teacher for many years until he became the Sunday School Superintendent. He was later given charge of Operation Doorbell, a witnessing ministry which canvassed neighborhoods and shared the good news of Jesus Christ. Sr. Pastor Fairley, on every hand, pushed Pastor Sutton to complete every assignment, meet every deadline, and sacrifice everything to serve well, knowing that God would reward him for his obedience. The results produced a seasoned man of God who found favor with the Lord and as he learned that he could clearly trust the Lord for all things.
The time had come when Rev. Sutton and his wife had agreed that the Lord was speaking to them about making a change. Unaware that God had been dealing with the other on the same issue, the topic of returning to Rankin County was casually broached at the dinner table late in the spring of 2005. After daily prayer on the matter, they knew that the Lord had released them to go forward, but letting go of the place they had called home and the people they had loved for the past 25 years would not be easy. When they met with Pastor Fairley to share the news with him, he didn’t make it any easier on them in leaving Hattiesburg, but he knew that the Lord had spoken and it was time for them to be released. After receiving the blessings of the church, the couple was sent forward in May of 2006 to continue the work of the Lord.
Not knowing anything except trusting in God’s word, Pastor Sutton began to ask, seek, and knock. Their son Dwayne and his wife Shandrika had united with a local church when they moved to Jackson, but once they learned that their parents were planning to establish a church, they talked with their pastor and asked to be released to serve alongside their father. Bro. Johnny and Sis. Gloria Weathersby and their two children had been former members in Hattiesburg, who first united with the church as students in the young adult ministry. One fateful day, they went to pay their cell phone bill in Flowood, and the young man who greeted them recognized them immediately, even though it had been more than ten years since he had last seen them. Dwayne reminded him who he was and told them that his parents had moved to Brandon within five miles where they lived and that they were planning to start a church. Having been in the area for over two years, the couple had not been able to find a local church where their family could worship. They gave Dwayne their number and asked him to have Rev. Sutton call them. The call quickly rekindled the relationship, and they excitedly consented to join their labors to start a church.
Upon hearing that his brother was preparing to start a church, Marcus jokingly said that he would be glad to help out if he could be a deacon. As the vision was shared, the Lord anointed his heart and his hands to the work, and to the calling as a deacon. The youngest brother, Maurice, had known that his big brother was a Godly man whose prayers were answered when he needed surgery. After the Lord healed him and he did not have to have surgery, he knew that his brother’s testimony was real, and he likewise submitted to him as his Pastor and dedicated himself to establishing a church. Within a week, Maurice had found a building.
With the ink barely signed on the lease, the date for the inaugural service had been set for two weeks later, but the office space that would become the place of worship needed a great deal of work. By that time, the list of people who expressed a commitment to become members had grown. With their aid, the floors were carpeted, the walls painted, the ceiling tiles replaced, the pulpit built, and church signage purchased and installed. With the loving support and encouragement of the Pastors Mitchell and Debra Dent of the Mt. Carmel Church in Vicksburg, the members of the Pearl church were called to receive an initial seed of furnishings for the building. With the moving van loaded down with chairs, office desks, credenza, altar bench, tables, podium, and communion table, the office space was quickly converted to a place of worship. The new church only needed a few finishing touches and purchased microphones, cables and stands, electric piano, drums, and the remaining furnishings for the foyer and Pastor’s study. Final donations were made by the Weathersbys to complete the conference room, and the Hattiesburg church donated the sound board and speakers. The office building had become a church at last.
On February 11, 2007 at 6:00 p. m., the doors of Mt. Carmel Ministries of Pearl, MS were opened to a packed house. The Hattiesburg Church choir rendered the music and Pastor Sutton delivered a word from God to change our lives forever, “I’m in a Hole, but I’m Coming Out”. Fully persuaded that the Lord had called and elected Pastor Ricky Sutton and his wife Lady Denese to organize and lead Mt. Carmel Ministries of Pearl, Senior Pastor Fairley committed them into the hands of the Lord and together with the agreement of the saints, blessed them in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Since its inception, the Lord continues to meet the needs of the growing fellowship. The following men were determined to be saved and filled with the Holy Ghost and were set aside as the initial Deacons in Training: Bro. Johnny Weathersby, Bro. Marcus Sutton, Bro. Dwayne Sutton, Bro. Donny Epting, Bro. Maurice Sutton, Bro. Eric Griffin, and Bro. James Hudson. The first praise and worship team and children’s choir was established under the leadership of Minister of Music, Bro. Cedric Robinson. New members’ classes were established to educate all candidates for membership of the articles of our faith and principles of Christian governance. Bro. Dwayne Sutton activated the first youth ministry. In July, the ladies of the church met in the home of Lady Denese and organized the Women of Integrity Women’s Ministry, which immediately organized a multi-family charity garage sale to bless the needy and purchase back- to- school items to donate to area children.
September produced many milestones for the church’s continued growth with the first baptismal service and new members’ graduation. Sis. Jatoria Weathersby and Bros. Jamon Weathersby, Marcus Sutton, Jr. and Lamon Sutton became the first members baptized by Pastor Sutton. Graduates of the first new members’ class were Johnny, Gloria, Jamon, and Jatoria Weathersby, Shandrika and Carmen Sutton, Tabitha Griffin, Jeannean Neal, Marcus Sutton, Sr., Marcus Sutton, Jr. and Lamon Sutton. The first baby dedication service was held, presenting Ms. Kaitlyn Poole to the Lord in the assembly of the congregation. Sunday School and Bible Study began the following week and are sustained by members and visitors who are growing in the word.
The church purchased a CD recorder, and Bro. Maurice became the operator of the audio ministry and records each Sunday’s services. The dance ministry was organized in November and performed for the first time in December 2007 under the direction of Shandrika Sutton.
With the increase in membership and capacity attendance at morning worship services, the Lord challenged Pastor Sutton to prepare to enlarge his territory. In April, 2008, the church moved from its store front location to a larger building that had previously served as a video store, but the Lord revealed to Pastor Sutton to prepare for end times ministry and assigned him to build a new church. An official church board was established with the following members appointed by the Pastor: Sis Rosie Pridgen, Chair, Bro. Pertis Watts, Vice Chair, Sis. Denese Sutton, Secretary, Bro. Rodney Rainey, Bro. Johnny Weathersby, and Bro. Marcus Sutton. Three men were set aside for Deacons in training–Deacon Pertis Watts and Bro. Michael Taylor and Deacon David Hill, who filled the vacancies left by Bro. Dwayne Sutton, Bro. Donnie Epting, Bro. Maurice Sutton and Bro. Eric Griffin. As the Pastor shared the vision of the Lord with the church, the members trusted his leadership and believed God to bring it to pass. The search for land did not take long before a five-acre site was located, purchased and dedicated. In August 2015, Mt. Carmel Ministries held its first service at the newly constructed church at 190 Eldorado Road, Pearl, MS. Yes, we have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord. Oh, we can’t turn around because He’s never failed us yet. No, not in one thing!
Today, the church is thriving with devoted members who love the Lord and are dedicated to growing in their Christian faith. as we continue to serve in the Jackson Metropolitan communities of Flowood, Pearl, and Brandon. To God be the glory for placing his Name with us that we should follow Him wherever He leads.