The Rev. M.J. Hunter Sr.

The Baltimore Sun

The Rev. Molester Jack Hunter Sr., who was pastor of New Hope Christian Baptist Church for more than three decades and was a foster parent to more than 100 children, died of heart failure April 21 at a hospital in Atlanta. He was 86 and lived in Reisterstown.

Mr. Hunter had been visiting a daughter in Atlanta when he became ill. He had lived on Presbury Street for 40 years before moving to Reisterstown in 1982.

The son of sharecroppers, he was born and raised in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.

During World War II, he enlisted in the Army and served in the Pacific. After being honorably discharged in 1946, he moved to Baltimore and worked in the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad's Locust Point freight yard, loading freight cars.

He later held jobs at Kaiser Aluminum Corp. and FMC Chemical Corp. in Curtis Bay before he retired in 1980.

Mr. Hunter's transition to the ministry grew out of his carefree days of playing pool, hanging around dance halls and drinking, family members said.

His "real walk with God," began during his days at Christian Memorial Church, where he was an active member, usher, missionary and deacon, said a daughter, Robin Turner, of Owings Mills.

Mr. Hunter and his wife of 52 years, the former Dorothy L. Fleming, also were foster parents who raised and cared for 149 foster children between 1950 to 1998, family members said. Mrs. Hunter died in 1998.

"The were emergency foster parents, and children came at all hours of the day and night. They took in some of these children and raised them as their own," said another daughter, Ernestine Day of Atlanta. "They had lots of love in their hearts for these children, and they were still coming back to visit with their children and grandchildren."

Mr. Hunter graduated from the Baltimore School of the Bible and Family Bible Ministries and was ordained a Baptist minister in 1966.

A year later, he established New Hope Christian Baptist Church in the 1900 block of W. Franklin St. with the help of the Rev. Tom Godwin of New Christian Memorial Church.

The church later expanded and moved to Oakley Avenue, and then in 1982 to its present building in the 500 block of N. Chapelgate Lane. Mr. Hunter served as pastor for 34 years until he retired in 2001.

"He could be very animated with his sermons," said the Rev. Elmore E. Warren Jr., pastor of White Stone Baptist Church. "He was concerned about his congregation's problems and sought to help them any way he could. He gave them religion and he gave them his time."

Mr. Hunter duties included running the Dance and Step Ministry, the M.J. Hunter Youth Ensemble and W.O.R.T.H.Y - Women Overcoming the Rejection and Trauma of Hurtful Yesterday. He also served on the deacon board, was a pastor's aide and a Sunday school teacher.

The Rev. Vernon D. Shelton Sr. who has been pastor of the church since 2006, visited Mr. Hunter when he was hospitalized in Atlanta several months ago.

"He was clearly a man who loved preaching the word of God. He was compassionate, and his church was his family," he said. "He also gave opportunities for young preachers to come and preach."

In his later years, Mr. Hunter enjoyed shooting pool and taking his family and grandchildren on fishing trips to Fort Smallwood Park.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at White Stone Baptist Church, 3001 Baker St.

Also surviving are two sons, Molester Jack "Bo" Hunter Jr. of Owings Mills and Brian Jefferson of Atlanta; seven other daughters, Christine Edmond, Stacey Washington and April Burley, all of Randallstown, Roslyn Coleman of Glen Burnie, Laura Gould, Crystal Jacobs and Pamila Thomas, all of Baltimore; a sister, Florence McNiel of Roanoke Rapids; 24 grandchildren; 15 great-grandchildren; and three great-great-grandchildren.

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