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Bishop James Marshall Whitaker, a Native of Scotland Neck, North Carolina, is the 6th of 7 children born to late Junious and Carrie Whitaker and raised in the Lambert's Point Section of Norfolk, Virginia.  He graduated from the historic Booker T. Washington High School in Norfolk.  After completing high school, he matriculated at Virginia Union University where he earned a Bachelors of Arts degree and a Masters of Divinity degree.  Bishop Whitaker continued his studies at New York University where he earned a Masters of Philosophy in Religion degree.

The background of Bishop Whitaker tells the story of a dedicated, bold, and courageous servant.  While a student at the School of Theology of Virginia Union University, Bishop Whitaker counseled inmates and taught biblical studies at the State Penitentiary in Richmond, VA.  Furthermore, Bishop Whitaker accepted the call to pastor Mount Vernon Baptist in White Stone, VA in Lancaster County in July of 1958, during his senior year at the School of Theology of Virginia Union.  Bishop Whitaker pastored Mount Vernon Baptist Church from July of 1958 to May of 1964.  After receiving the Masters of Divinity, Bishop Whitaker worked with the Washington, D.C. Department of Corrections as a Pastoral Counselor at the Lorton Reformatory, National Training School for Boys, the Washington D.C. Jail, Washington D.C. General Hospital, Laurel General Hospital, and St. Elizabeth Mental Health Center in Washington, D.C. from 1959-1961.  Furthermore, Bishop Whitaker was one of the courageous fighters in the Civil Rights Movement standing for justice, equality, and economic empowerment.

In March of 1964, Bishop Whitaker accepted the call to become the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church.  Bishop Whitaker preached his first sermon as Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church on June 7, 1964.  The sermon was entitled, "Love: The Love of God and the Love of Christians One for Another."  This sermon marked the beginning of a beautiful relationship between Pastor and People, which still continues.

Bishop Whitaker is blessed to have a family that stands with him.  Bishop and Mrs. Otelia Whitaker have been married for forty-three blessed years.  Mrs. Whitaker, a retired Elementary School Teacher, serves as the Minister of Music of New Bethel, whereby; she has given of her time and talent proficiently since 1964.  Through this union, the Lord has blessed Bishop and Mrs. Whitaker with 4 children and 9 grandchildren

In Bishop Whitaker, you see a family man, a dedicated man, a strong black man, and most of all “God’s Man.”  We praise God for Bishop James Marshall Whitaker.  Truly, he is a blessed man whose steps are ordered by the Lord.



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      Dr. Mark Micaiah Whitaker is the third of four children born to Bishop James M. and Otelia McIntyre Whitaker of Portsmouth, VA and the grandson of the late Deacon Junious and Carrie Whitaker of the Lambert’s Point Community of Norfolk, VA via Scotland Neck, NC and the late Deacon Joseph and Etta McIntyre of the Mount Hermon Community of Portsmouth, VA.  He is married to Dr. Ingrid Whitaker, who serves as a Tenured Associate Professor of Sociology at Old Dominion University.  They are the proud parents of four children – James (1st Year Law Student at North Carolina Central University; 2019 Master’s Degree graduate of Georgetown University; 2017 graduate of North Carolina A&T State University – Full Basketball Scholarship), Naomi (1st Year Master of Public Health Program at Emory University; 2021 graduate of East Carolina University – Full Track Scholarship, Dean’s List), Nathaniel (Sophomore, Morehouse College) and Rachel (11th Grade – I. C. Norcom High School, Honor Roll, Track, National Junior Honor Society).    

     Dr. Whitaker was educated in the Portsmouth Public School System.  In 1983, he graduated 4th in his class with honors from the great Manor High School, was named the Most Valuable Basketball Player in the City of Portsmouth, Tidewater’s Most Valuable Player by the Virginian Pilot and First Team All-State Boys Basketball Team, and was elected as President of the Student Government Association.  He furthered his education at Virginia Tech where he was the recipient of a full-athletic scholarship in basketball, served as President of the Black Student Alliance, was listed as Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. (Virginia College Brother of the year 1987), and graduated from Virginia Tech in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Science.  In 1989, Dr. Whitaker received a Masters of Business Administration from The Pennsylvania State University Smeal College of Business. Moreover, in 1993, Dr. Whitaker received the Doctor of Jurisprudence (Law Degree) from The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law where he served as President of the Black Law Students Association in 1992 and 1993 and served on the College of Law Honor Council.  Dr. Whitaker has done further studying in the R.B. Pamplin College of Business Doctoral Program at Virginia Tech and the Samuel Dewitt Proctor School of Theology of Virginia Union in the Masters of Divinity program.

     In 1992, Dr. Whitaker was licensed as a minister and ordained in June of 1995.  Dr. Whitaker serves as the Assistant Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in Portsmouth, VA where his father, Bishop James M. Whitaker has served as the Pastor since June of 1964 and his mother, Otelia McIntyre Whitaker, is the Minister of Music.  For 25 years, Dr. Whitaker taught on the collegiate level at Virginia Tech in the R. B. Pamplin School of Business from 1993-1999 and Hampton University from 1999 – 2018 where he earned Tenure and the rank of Associate Professor of Management in the School of Business.  

     In May 2002, Dr. Whitaker was elected to the Portsmouth Public School Board as the youngest person ever elected and served until December 2014.  As a School Board Member, Dr. Whitaker served as chair of the Minority Contracting Committee and the Corporate Sponsorship Committee.  Moreover Dr. Whitaker was very instrumental in the School Board implementing a Minority and Women Business Enterprises Program, Middle School Athletics Program, Pay Equity Study, and in advocating for a culture of fairness and respect for all.


    On Tuesday, November 4, 2014, Dr. Mark and Dr. Ingrid Whitaker made history by becoming the first married couple elected to Portsmouth City Council and Portsmouth School Board respectively.  They speak TRUTH TO POWER advocating for Social and Economic justice.


Dr. Mark Micaiah Whitaker is one who believes that, through Christ, we can do all things and no weapon formed against us shall prosper. To God be the GLORY!



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Otelia Wainwright McIntyre Whitaker
First Lady & Minister of Music


Wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, educator, musician, and our First Lady, Otelia Whitaker has served as Minister of Music since 1964 assisting her husband, Bishop James M. Whitaker, in ministry.  A gifted musician, she started in music at the age of four and plays both the piano and organ.  Mrs. Whitaker received a BS in music from Norfolk State University.  She was employed as a music teacher in the Portsmouth and Newport News Public School systems.  She became certified in elementary education and taught music and fourth grade unitl she retired in 1995.



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Administrative Assistant


Cynthia T. Baxter-Ferguson was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia.  She has been in New Bethel since she was born in July 1977.  She has been a member of New Bethel Baptist Church for over 20 years.  She is the Administrative Assistant and Notary Public,  a member of Voices of Praise Musice Ministry, Carrie Hardy Missionary Ministry, Couples' Ministry and Jubilant Dancers.

After graduating from I. C. Norcom High School in 1996, she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science with emphasis in Information System from Norfolk State University in 2001.

She is the daughter of Deacon Richard & Ruby Baxter and the youngest sister of Sylvia Alston, Keith Baxter and Darlene Baxter.  She has been married to Lamont A. Ferguson for 13 years.  They have three daughters Imani (10 years old), Adrianne (7 years old) and Riona (20 months).




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Assistant Minister of Music


Robyn Alexander enthusiastically serves as our Assistant Minister of Music sharing her gifts on the keyboard, piano, and organ.  Mrs. Alexander is emloyed as a Music Teacher with the Virginia Beach Public Schools System.



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Deacon Robert Davis is one of the most talented musicians in the world.  He serves faithfully at New Bethel Baptist Church and assist other churches and groups when they worship and fellowship at New Bethel.  Deacon Davis is also a gifted artist having graduated from Norfolk State University.   Deacon Davis served as an art teacher in the Norfolk Public Schools until his retirement.  Over his tenure as a teacher, his students received many awards at art shows throughout Virginia.  Deacon Davis also serves as a Trustee of New Bethel Baptist Church   


We have several who serve as percussionist for the church:

Tyler Fontinella

Deacon, Phillip Whitaker

James "JP" Whitaker

Nathaniel "Nate" Whitaker


  May 2022  
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