The sixties brought many changes to the American way of life and thinking. It brought the death of the founding father of the Church of God in Christ. Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, however, by the time of Bishop Mason's death in 1961, COGIC had spread to every state in the Union and many foreign countries; its membership was more than 400,000 and it had more than 4000 churches. Many youth, and adults were blessed by the traditional teachings of the church. Located on the east coast, in the heart of a place called “Seatack,” in Virginia Beach VA. Barnett Karl Thoroughgood, a teenaged, sanctified preacher was inspired by God to begin a work amongst the youth. Reared in Holiness all his life, Barnett knew the life-changing power of Jesus Christ and wanted to share it with all, especially his peers. So moved, he began to hold a “prayer meeting” where young Christians like himself could fellowship together. The prayer meeting became known as the “Youth Consecration Band (YCB).” The YCB met every Saturday night in the living room of the home of Mother Elsie Tann, the house still stands (2023) on South Birdneck Road in the Seatack section of Virginia Beach, Virginia.
The YCB became a powerful entity in the religious activities of the Seatack area. Under the capable leadership of the young Minister Barnett Thoroughgood, the group expanded filling two rooms of Mother Tann’s home. During these services, many young people were saved, sanctified, baptized, and filled with the Holy Ghost. The YCB services would last for hours, and time was not an issue for people who came expecting miracles, healings, and deliverance, and they received them.
The YCB soon became a traveling ministry. Using transportation provided by Mother Carrie Williams, the YCB traveled throughout Virginia and North Carolina singing and preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Adorned in black and gold, the YCB became known as young, sanctified people who brought the “Spirit of God” with them.
God spoke words of hope and encouragement. This propelled Minister Thoroughgood to go on with the work.
The reputation of the YCB grew so until the enemy sought to disband the group. People began to talk intensely against the ministry until its formidable leader thought of ending the ministry. But God through his anointed handmaiden and prophetess, Mother Annie Albritton, spoke words of hope and encouragement which propelled Minister Thoroughgood to go on with the work. Little did he know that the work would blossom into a thriving fellowship of hundreds of believers in the following decades.
These members cared for each other like brothers and sisters. They accompanied Elder Thoroughgood on several occasions when he conducted revivals and other services. It was reported that they spent more time at church with each other than in their individual homes. They were together and had all things in common. If any member was lacking in any area, the church collectively came together to supply the need.
When disputes arose between members, they would discuss the matters openly; not wanting bad feelings to develop. The saints not only professed “HOLINESS” but possessed it as well. They demonstrated it in their actions as well as their apparel. They were peculiar, separated, sanctified, and not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The saints operated in the Spirit of God with an unusual fervor. As the Spirit would lead, the missionaries would move through the crowds finding their way to the lost in an attempt to lead them to Christ. There they would tarry until the spirit of conviction fell and the lost would come to the altar with their hands raised asking “what must I do to be saved.” Like the YCB prayer services, time was not an issue. The saints would tarry for hours with others-allowing God to have his way. The word spread and the crowds continued to get larger and larger.
In January 1970, New Jerusalem was established in a three-room flat. The late Bishop David C Love, presiding prelate of the first ecclesiastical Jurisdiction, State of Virginia COGIC came to dedicate the church as the “New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ.”
In May 1971, just a year and four months after the initial launch of the church, construction began on the first renovation and addition to the church. When pastor Thoroughgood assembled the ten male members of the church he found all the trades needed to complete the work. The members came together after working all day to work on the new sanctuary. While the men worked many of the women came together to cook meals so that no one had to go home for dinner. Several of the women also helped with the outside work by pushing wheelbarrows of materials for the men. Deacon Wilford J. Tann, Sr. was very instrumental in the building projects during this time. Members came donating their time and materials to complete the building. Chairman Otis Olanda and Mother Sylvia Thoroughgood purchased blocks that were initially for use in their home but donated them to the church for the church’s addition. Sister Ernestine Coston raised money at the Saturday Night services for the first chandeliers.
In 1972-‘73, the church began to overflow in attendance, and plans were made to further expand the church to accommodate the growth to increase seating to more than 200. This wing of the church transformed the building into an L shape sanctuary, which was quickly completed. God blessed New Jerusalem with men of various talents and skills to perpetuate this building project.
Individuals and families who joined the church during this period were Bernice Caffee, Doris Cuffee, Leon and Delores Fitzgerald, Gene and Janie Jarvis, Linda Johnson, Lovey Jordon, Judy Little, Gloria Poole, and many more.
As the church continued to grow, there were appointed Elders including James Cornell Little, Osborne Wilder, and Robert Albritton. The first Deacons were Otis O. Thourogood, who was appointed Chairman of the Deacon Board, Donald Wiggins, who was appointed Vice-Chairman, John Wilson, Johnny Caffee, Raymond Hawkins, Kenny Johnson, and Eddie Hoggard. The first missionaries were Sylvia Thourogood, Doreatha Darrell, Margie Felton, and Evelyn Hawkins.
The church was umbrellaed 1970-1971 under the First Jurisdiction, State of Virginia, and the leadership of Bishop David C. Love.
In 1972 New Jerusalem COGIC was moved into the Second Jurisdiction, State of Virginia where Bishop Samuel L. Green Jr. was the Jurisdictional Bishop. Elder Thoroughgood became the District Superintendent of the Virginia Beach District, Second Jurisdiction, and New Jerusalem COGIC became the district headquarters.
In 1974-‘75, a second-story building project plan was initiated and additional construction set in motion by Raymond C. Stith and Wilford J. Tann, Jr. who also became a member of the church and quickly stepped into the role of “chief builders” in the project. Brother Stith spent his days working in the church until others got off from their day jobs to join him in the work. A second story was built to provide space for administrative offices classrooms and community outreach programs.
The expansion was completed in 1977. God continued to manifest Himself mightily in worship services, “many souls were healed, delivered, and set free by the power of the Holy Ghost.” The ministry of New Jerusalem steadily grew until the membership far exceeded the seating capacity of the L-shaped sanctuary.
In 1978-‘79 Elder Barnett K. Thoroughgood saw himself and his congregation in a dream. He was building a much larger church building with steel construction. Inspired by God, he laid out the floor plans for the new church, describing on paper in detail where the entrance, the altar, choir stands, and pew would be in this newly constructed sanctuary. The layout was noted for the new worship facility.
The decade of the eighties brought forth many changes to the ministry. The seeds that were planted in good soil in the seventies would be manifested in the upcoming decades.
The membership was now more than 500 people. One Sunday morning in early 1982, Elder Barnett K. Thoroughgood was moved by the Lord to lead his congregation out of the crowded L-shaped sanctuary to an open field behind the church. There he instructed the saints to join hands and proclaimed that God said “This would be the place of the new sanctuary.” That Sunday Reuben V. Williams joined the church that wasn’t even built yet. The Church employed the services of Livas and Associates Architectural firm to create the official blueprint for the new church based on Pastor Thoroughgood’s drawings and designs.
In 1983, the foundation was laid for a 1.6-million-dollar project.
God blessed New Jerusalem with several men who could construct the new worship center. The men and women got busy Deacon Alvin Armstrong oversaw the “Building Fund.” Deacon Raymond Stith supervised the laborers, and under the outstanding leadership of Raymond Stith, the men of the church constructed the multi-million-dollar facility. The Masonry work was erected by Elder Donald Wiggins, Alvin Armstrong, Deacon Otis King, Bobby Davidson, Michael Davidson, Rufus Cheatham, and Leroy Burton. Carpentry construction workers were Deacon Clifton Tate, Reuben Williams, Wilford Tann, Jr., William Dorman, Earnest Plummer, and Pernell Majors.
Painters included: Mary H. Johnson, James A. Johnson, and Deacon Henry Lassiter. Insulation and wall finishers included: Dennis Cox, Deacon Clifton Tate, Karl Thourogood, Chairman Otis O. Thourogood, Reuben Williams, Robert Beckett, and William Dorman. All Trimming and molding were hand milled by Deacon Raymond Stith. Plumbing was installed under the leadership of Chairman Otis O. Thourogood. Countless other members and friends worked along with the men in their endeavors. The pastor helped fulfill every job imaginable to facilitate the completion of the edifice.
Included in the building projects was the narthex, the new men’s and women’s west wing bathrooms, the pastor’s study, the first lady’s reception office, and the bridal suite was a part of the new addition that Deacon Stith, Alvin Armstrong, Elder Donald Wiggins, and others strived and completed.
Also, in the late’80s, monies were raised by the “A-Team Catering” again under the magnanimous leadership of Bishop Barnett Karl Thoroughgood to begin the kitchen remodeling phase, a scullery was added for dishwashing, and a food service line along with the existing east wing, men and women bathrooms, Wilford J. Tann, Sr. hallway and the entrance way located on the east side of the property. This project was led by Kent Poindexter and guided by the wisdom of Dr. Barnett Thoroughgood, and several others who worked also on this project namely Robert Earl Cooper, Eugene Guidry, Karl Thoroughgood, and Michael Penny, he began and form the “Pew Committee” which helped to raise monies, along with Bishop Thoroughgood to complete the beautification and furnishing of the Sanctuary. Michael was determined to get the project finished; he would ask everyone to give; so that the kitchen would be fully equipped with modern commercial cooking equipment. And to subsidize the ongoing projects, the A-Team Catering crew (Alice Hall, Charlotte Walker, Sarah Lawrence, Doris Campbell, Mable Beckett, Valerie Alston, Dorothy Stevenson, Lynette Cooper, and Joyce Roberts, along with many others), all were at the heart of the work, helping to raise additional monies for the remodeling that was also going on. Elder YD Thoroughgood and Kent Poindexter were instrumental in obtaining the large fryer that we still have in the kitchen today. Mr. Edward Brown also contributed to kitchen equipment. Mr. Harold Britt who worked in the concrete industry saw to the pouring of the concrete flooring (of the west wing) for the new Men and Women’s bathroom facility and Bishop Thoroughgood’s new study. Roy Gregory did all the tile work including the women’s Bathroom (pink) and the Black and white tile work in the men’s bathroom, he also did the Wilford J. Tann, Sr. hallway and the entranceway located on the east side of the church, in addition to the two existing bathrooms, the sacristy (a room in a church where sacred vessels and vestments are kept and where the clergy vests), the hallway, the scullery, the kitchen, and the dining hall.
In 1988, though not complete, they began having worship services in the new sanctuary due to the large influx of members. The church continued to grow, becoming an integral part of the greater Hampton Roads religious community. The Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project (STOP) Organization, a federally funded community action program for the entire city of Virginia Beach, was housed in New Jerusalem. The Social Ministries of New Jerusalem COGIC continue to serve the needs of the community at large.
As the only full-time church in the area, New Jerusalem continues to meet the spiritual needs of congregants as well as residents of the community daily. New Jerusalem is known throughout the state of Virginia as a thriving Pentecostal Holiness ministry where deliverance from any ailment can be obtained. Under the leadership of Elder Barnett Thoroughgood, New Jerusalem has become a nationally known church as well as internationally for its mission work in the country of Haiti. On September 15, 2001, Dr. Barnett K. Thoroughgood was consecrated into the office of Adjutant Bishop.
In 2003, there were more than 1800 members, 1100 active, more than 500 families, five pastors, five elders, six ministers, twenty-three deacons, and nearly fifty missionaries-ranging from junior to licensed evangelists serving the church. The organizational structure of the church grew to include several departments and auxiliaries.
As the church approached the year 2005, Bishop outlined to the congregation his vision which called for the completion of the Raymond C. Stith Fellowship Hall, a chapel, a Christian Academy, a women’s and men’s shelter, a daycare center, a family life center. Transitional Housing for the Disabled, LLC, and surrounding properties were purchased.
The Raymond C. Stith Fellowship Hall was completed in 2005. The Donald Wiggins Administrative Educational Annex was completed in 2010.
In December of 2010, the City of Virginia Beach honored Bishop Thoroughgood for his numerous contributions to its communities by renaming “Erie Avenue,” where the church is located to “Bishop Thoroughgood Avenue.”
On Sunday, February 5, 2012, after delivering a life-changing message, Bishop Barnett Karl Thoroughgood was called from labor to reward during New Jerusalem’s midmorning worship service. He will be greatly missed by his wife, Ernestine Coston Thoroughgood of 39 years; two sons, Emmanuel, and Jonathan and one daughter Mekia Bonita, along with other children he helped through the Social Services Foster Care Program and those whom he took under his wings to mentor are too numerous to name. Countless lives have been changed by this great fallen “General of God’s Kingdom.” Bishop Thoroughgood left a legacy of service to New Jerusalem COGIC and surrounding communities both home and abroad, nationally, and internationally serving the church at large. He was blessed to accomplish many things all to the glory of God: A beautiful edifice, an administration building, twenty properties, two busses, a van, an accredited Bible College, service to the Church of God in Christ as the “First Commissioner of the Ecclesiastical services.” The countless deeds done by this “Man of God” and “God’s General” this founding pastor cannot all fit into this brief written history.
On Saturday, May 19, 2012, Elder Adam Lavell Thourogood, Sr. was installed as Pastor of New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. Elder Thourogood was licensed as a minister on January 2, 1994, and was later ordained as an Elder in the Church of God in Christ by Bishop Samuel L. Green, Jr. on August 16, 1997, He was married to Mrs. Charmyn Thourogood for over twenty years. Together they parented six children, Adam Jr., Charnell, Jessica, Aaron, James, and William.
Elder Adam Thourogood continued with the vision set forth by Bishop Thoroughgood as well as fulfilling the vision God gave him for the church. He revitalized the audio and visual system for the church and implemented the “New J Report,” which revised the announcement procedure. He started founded “The No Strings Attached Community Outreach Ministry,” and “Hannah’s House.” The Second Sunday District Services were changed to 5 pm, so he started having dinners for sale for members and friends who did not want to go home but could continue to fellowship before the second service. He started an advisory board with members of different age groups to discuss what he could do to make the church better. In addition, he formed a committee to establish a “New Jerusalem Policies and Procedures Manual.” Several ministers were ordained as Elders, such as Calvin Roberts, William Ferguson, Ramone Emmett, and Philip Moore. There were also deacons and trustees who were promoted to the Executive Board of New Jerusalem under the leadership of Elder Adam Thourogood.
On April 21, 2015, New Jerusalem COGIC suffered a great loss when Pastor, Adam L. Thourogood died in a tragic accident. Members pulled on God and kept focused on Pastor Adam’s 2015 vision, “We Believe God.”
On Saturday, January 30, 2016, Superintendent Yd Bernell Thoroughgood was installed as Pastor of New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. He had been married to Lady Shylene Smith Thoroughgood for 45 years and had four children: Jennifer Thoroughgood (deceased), Diyan Ward, Yvette Gregory, and Waddee Bernie Thoroughgood.
Pastor Yd Thoroughgood pastored the “Church of the Advent Church of God in Christ” since 1979. He served as Superintendent of the Virginia Beach District, Second Jurisdiction of Virginia COGIC. He served also as the Commissioner of Ecclesiastical Service for the International Churches of God in Christ and was appointed as one of the Jurisdiction’s Administrative Assistants. He served on the Board of the Church of God in Christ High Rise (Norfolk, Virginia).
Tragedy struck again, on Saturday, June 9, 2018, Pastor Yd Bernell Thoroughgood suddenly died and New Jerusalem was deeply saddened and again without a pastor.
During this time New Jerusalem suffered the loss of its third “Man of God” who was faithful in carrying out the duties as pastor to its flock, however, realizing the need to stabilize the congregation the general assembly chose Elder Samuel L. Woodhouse and after that Superintendent Joseph Williams who served as interim pastors` for a short while to continue to steady the flock of the Lord as transition continued in the “House of God.”
The flock needed an enduring solution to the situation so unbeknownst to us the Lord had a man in the shadow waiting, Dr. Waddee Bernie Thoroughgood who would step up as God’s Man and be put into place to serve the flock of the Lord at New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. Dr. Waddee Bernie Thoroughgood was installed as pastor on November 20, 2020.
From 1970 until the present, the New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ has served as a beacon for countless numbers of lives. Its effects have been felt around the world. From a three-room flat to a 1500-seat auditorium, there is more work to be done. For we believe that we are about good work and dare not come down. We will continue to support our God-given leader as he proclaims the gospel of Jesus Christ and ministers to the whole man.