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In June of 1938, as the Great Depression was coming to a close, Almighty God provided a vision for a church in South Philadelphia to a Methodist minister, the Rev. Paul Clifton Jackson. Rev. Jackson, following the Holy Spirit, assembled a small host of saints together who founded the Community Baptist Church. In September of that year, Rev. Jackson, along with Alberta Brown, Bessie Jackson, Emma Jackson and Ethel Johnson relocated the church to the corner of 21st & Manton St. These five brave souls, with the help of God, were responsible for our humble beginnings and to them we owe our sincerest thanks.
In 1946, the building was finally purchased. With their undying faith in God and the vision that He gave to their Pastor, Robert and Cassella Johnson, Harold and Mary Stevens, Anderson and Velma Freeman along with others, “pledged their homes” as collateral. In 1950, the front of the church was remodeled, transforming the “storefront” into a chapel and the church was renamed the “St. Paul Chapel Baptist Church”. On September 27, 1950, the church received its charter with thirty members, whose names can be found on the wall plaque in the back of the church today.
In 1952, after fourteen years as Pastor, God called Rev. Jackson to another church and the Rev. James C. Morris was called to pastor St. Paul Chapel. For the next five years, he provided spiritual direction, while also attempting to beautify the edifice.
In 1958, the Rev. James F. Jeffress was called to pastor St. Paul Chapel. He served faithfully until 1961 when his health began to fail. During his illness, the associate minister of the church, the Rev. Rudolph Robinson stood in the gap and provided ministerial stability. After being hospitalized, Pastor Jeffress was forced to retire and he asked the congregation to consider Rev. Robinson. In June of 1961, the church installed Rev. Rudolph Robinson as pastor of St. Paul Chapel.
At the direction of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Robinson initiated a building program in order to erect a new edifice. His vision was to house the church worship activities and services under one roof. In 1991, through sacrifice and prayer, the property located at the corners of Annin and Federal Streets on 21st were secured, and the architectural drawings were completed.
Ground-breaking was scheduled for April 1993; however, after serving as pastor for 32 years, on January 7, 1993, the Lord called Pastor Robinson from labor to his great reward. Pastor Robinson will always be remembered as a caring and loving Pastor, who loved the Lord and believed in the vision.
During the mourning period, our church had a spiritual bond and continued to trust God, and under the leaderships of the Associate Pastor, Rev. Phillip Griffin, Deacons and Trustees, our faith in God became even stronger as the congregation continued to pray for a shepherd. After 27 months, in April of 1995, the Lord called the Rev. Weldon H. Williams, Jr. as pastor.
Pastor Williams came with a strong desire to bring more youth into the fellowship. He also had a passion to continue the building project and in early 1997, he formed a building committee. April 1998 was targeted as the new date for the ground-breaking; however, plans for building were placed on hold, as Pastor Williams was called to another church.
St. Paul Chapel Church History
A few months later in 1998, the church called the Rev. Wallace H. Parham as Interim Pastor, and later installed him as pastor, where he served for six years. At that time, our congregation consisted of less than 50 active members, but we became stronger than ever, as we were determined to not lose faith that God would provide the increase in His time.
In August 2004, Pastor Parham was forced to retire due to failing health, but he continued to provide guidance as we sought to elect a new pastor, and a pulpit committee was formed. On October 17, 2004, St. Paul Chapel voted to accept a young minister, by the name of Rev. Jermaine T. Heath, Sr. Rev. Heath accepted the position, and began his duties as pastor on Sunday, December 5, 2004, and was later installed on Sunday, January 31, 2005.
God placed an anointing on Pastor Heath's life, and in return, St Paul Chapel was blessed as God Provided a tremendous increase to our membership, both numerically and spiritually. He gained recognition for St. Paul Chapel throughout the community through many programs such as: holding an Annual Community Fellowship in which food and activities were provided, established a Food Cupboard ministry that distributed food to households in the area monthly, and participated in Philadelphia’s Annual “Earth Day” Neighborhood Clean-Up.
Pastor Heath established several new ministries that benefited the spiritual wealth of the church which included the Men’s and Women’s, Follow-Up and the Audio/Video Ministries.
Pastor Heath believed in empowering & educating the leadership in the church. Under his pastorate, Associate Pastor Rev. John A. Croft, Sr., Associate Minister Daniel Jackson, Associate Minister Fred Knox, trustees and deaconess were added, and he has also ordained four new deacons to assist in carrying out the vision that God has given him for St. Paul Chapel Baptist Church.
In December 2015, God called Pastor Heath to move on and continue his work and St. Paul continued to pray that God will send us shepherd after his own heart.
On November 12, 2017 the congregation voted and elected the Reverend Joshua Goodin as their new Senior Pastor. Reverend Goodin was installed on Sunday, March 4, 2018. He immediately began to serve by reconnecting the church to the communities and establishing new fellowships with several churches in the Tri-State areas. He initiated and encouraged the officers and members of the congregation to enhance their spiritual gifts by studying themselves to be approved by attending trainings such as Leadership Summit 2018, Ministry Leadership, Deacons’ Leadership, Youth Leadership 2018 and Church Security Trainings. In April 2018, Reverend Goodin founded the St. Paul Chapel Restoration Community Development Corporation, of which he is the president. We are excited to see what God has for St. Paul Chapel Baptist Church and “We’ve Come this Far by Faith” and will continue to walk by faith.
We will carry out the ministry of God’s word, while living up to our new motto: “A Church in the Community, making an impact for the kingdom”.