HISTORY OF THE ST.
PAUL BAPTIST CHURCH:
YESTERDAY, TODAY, AND TOMORROW
Precious memories, how they linger,
how they ever flood my soul in the stillness of the midnights. Precious
sacred scenes unfold……
The St. Paul Baptist Church history
evolved from the midst of the Reconstruction Period following the Civil
War. It evolved from the dark days of the smallpox, cholera, and yellow
fever epidemic of 1873 and 1874.
During this dark period men, women, and children died
by the hundreds. Prayer meetings were being held in various Negro
communities, including the house site on Third Street between Old Raleigh
Road (now Jackson Avenue) and Commerce Street. The prayer-meeting site was
later moved to the Advent Church on Randolph Road (now Seventh Street) to
accommodate the increasing number of attendees.
the formal organization of the St. Paul Baptist Church occurred in a house
on Johnson Avenue (now Jackson Avenue) that was used as a drug store and
called the three corner house because of its shape. From this three
cornered house on May 2, 1879, an abstract deed for the house site of St.
Paul Baptist Church issued to Robert Hall, Jacob Walker, and Harrison Myles
as trustees of the Church. The first fifteen members besides the trustees
were Henry Carpenter, Leanna Austin, Annie Carpenter, Ellen Strong, and a
The Reverend John B. Roberts was called to pastor the
church, and in 1887 he laid the foundation of the Church. Following his
death, his successor, Reverend Simon J. Hunt of Trenton, Tennessee, built
From 1896-1906, St. Paul Baptist Church had three
pastors: Rev. John H. Roberts, from Sherman, Texas: Rev. J. B. Woods, former
pastor of Middle Baptist Church: and Dr. A.L. Hall, pastor of a neighboring
north Memphis church.
After nine years in 1915, the young pastor, Rev. R. B.
Roberts was called to pastor the St. Paul Baptist Church. Rev. R. B. Roberts
was the nephew of the St. Paul’s pastor, Rev. John B. Roberts, and he was
also the brother of former St. Paul’s pastor, Rev. John H. Roberts. Rev.
R. B. Roberts pastured two churches simultaneously: New Salem and St. Paul.
Successfully pasturing The St. Paul Baptist Church for more than twenty
years, Rev. R. B. Roberts cleared the church of all indebtedness and rebuilt
the church in brick after the fire in 1931, and he also left this church
clear of debt.
In 1937, after the death of Rev. R. B. Roberts, Rev. J.
J. Tillman was called to pastor the church. Rev. Tillman was noted for his
emphasis on Christian education and for his orchestrating physical
improvements to the church.
In 1940, Rev. A. R. Williams was called to pastor St.
Paul Baptist Church. He, too, emphasized Christian education, and he
continued to enhance the physical structure of the church begun by Rev.
Tillman. He pastured St. Paul Baptist Church for fifteen (15) years.
1955, Rev. Samuel Herring, Sr. was called to pastor the St. Paul Baptist
Church. Under his pastorate, the church moved from the Concord and Jackson
location to its location at 1144 East McLemore. During his tenure new
auxiliaries were added, the building was renovated, and properties from
James Street to Greenwood, including a house on McLemore, were purchased.
He served as pastor for thirty years until his departure in 1985.
In 1986, Rev. Lawrence Barksdale, Sr. was called to
pastor St. Paul Baptist church. During his tenure of two years, he provided
stability through unsettling times.
the year, 1989, Rev. Rickey Bernard Harvey was called to pastor the St. Paul
Baptist Church. During his tenure of nine years (1989-1998), he
orchestrated the completion of the $55,000.00 renovation of the sanctuary.
In the year 2000, Dr. Christopher B. Davis, Sr. was
called to pastor the St. Paul Baptist Church. He arrived with
determination, dedication, enthusiasm, and a vision for The St. Paul Baptist
Let us then be up and doing with a
heart for any fate; still achieving, still pursuing, learn to labor and to
Today, under the leadership of Rev. Christopher B.
Davis, the St. Paul Baptist Church has embraced the concept of doing and
achieving from the words above from the poet, Henry Wardsworth Longfellow.
Since he has assumed the mantle of pastor of this church, he has inspired
his membership to embrace God’s vision for this church- “Seeking the
Salvation of the City.” To make this vision a reality, Pastor Davis led the
St. Paul family in securing a new 13 acre site, complete with sanctuary,
education building, and family life center. St. Paul continues to embrace
the vision of "With faith, all things are possible, if you believe!"
We press toward the mark of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus
At St. Paul Baptist Church, we envision in
the near future a new comprehensive worship facility that will be a beacon
of light in the community. In addition, as we move forward, we are trusting
God to increase our membership to double its current size.
As we seek to make our vision a reality,
being lead by the spirit of God, we plant and water and ask God for the