History of the Church – St. John Baptist Church During the year of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ 1924, the late Reverends Issac Jones and O. W. Willis were inspired by our Heavenly Father to conduct church services in the home of Bro. Henry and Sister Ida Dubois and to call it ”Bush Arbor“. The pulpit was made of palmettos. ”Bush Arbor“ was located on Randall Street between Westmoreland and Albany Streets.
After their departures, the Reverend N. W. Weaver was called to pastor the Church. He saw a need to organize the Church, along with his wife, Mrs. Clara Jenkins Weaver, whom GOD spoke to in a vision to rename it ” St. John Baptist Church “ and to watch it grow. ” St. John Baptist Church “was moved from Randall Street to a field between Grove and Easy Streets, north of Carter Street ; but the building on that site was destroyed by a storm.
In 1926, property was purchased and a wooden sanctuary was built on the north-west comer of Carter and Grove Streets, under the pastorate of the late Reverend C. W. Scott. The wooden furniture consisted of benches, tables, chairs and a pulpit stand. Reverend Scott was a man of GOD. He touched many hearts, helped to win souls to Christ; and, made many, many memorable contributions to the Church. The members and others who knew him loved him and remember his Christian walk with GOD. The main goals of the Church members were to praise, sing, pray, shout, serve the Lord with all their minds, hearts, souls and to love one another with brotherly love. During this time, the Deacons, Deaconess, Usher Boards and Choirs were organized.
The late Mrs. Willie Brown Emanuel was selected as the first mother of the Church. Box suppers, waistline parties, banquets, fish fries, wiener roasts and many other social activities were held inside or on the grounds of the Church. From 1935-42, the Church was under the pastorate of the Reverends Mathis, T L. Jenkins and Ben Cole. Mrs. Fannie Favors was selected to serve as the second Mother of the Church. During Reverend Cole's pastorate, the Junior Usher Board and Junior Choir were organized under the supervision of Mrs. Minnie Lee Shaw and Mrs. Isbell Hunter Cole. The Home Mission was organized by the late Mother Fannie Favors.
The late Reverend E. L. Watson was called to lead GOD's flock in 1942. Reverend Watson was a man anointed by GOD to preach the Gospel, guide Sheep, win Souls and lead the Flock to higher shores. He was a man who believed in progress.
Reverend Watson, along with the late Deacons Armond P. Pope, J. W. Baldwin, E. B. Barton, Sam Favors, Henry Dupree, Daniel Sipp and Steve Gaskins decided that the wooden sanctuary had served its purpose and a new block sanctuary had to be built to take its place. Commendations were given to them for their wise decision and sound financial move to build around the old sanctuary so services could be continue to be held while the new sanctuary was being built. The Church was still on the move. Deacon James Lovette, along with trustee, and Deacons were responsible for the construction of the parking lot.
A few years later, a parsonage was built behind the sanctuary on Grove Street. Membership of the Church grew in number and in Faith as well as work. A Fundraising Drive was held to purchase new pews, furniture and carpeting. The late Mother Fannie Favors’ long time dream of a bell being installed in the belfry became a reality. The Church’s annex was constructed during that time. The late Mrs. Lugenia Wallace was selected as the third Mother of the Church. The Church membership continued to increase and the members experienced the joy of worshiping in true Christian fellowship.
In 1964, Reverend Fred Louie Maxwell was called to serve as Acting/Interim Pastor due to Reverend Watson's illness. After Reverend Watson's death, which was a loss to our Church family and friends in 1965, Reverend Maxwell was appointed to serve as Pastor of St. John Baptist Church. At that time, the Church was located on the corner of Carter and Grove Streets. The first noticeable and remarkable trait of this Man of GOD was his outstanding ability to remember and call members and friends by their name.
The Church began a new dimension of growth under his pastorate. One of his greatest concerns was the Church's finances. He implemented a financial program that upgraded the Church's financial program that upgrades the Church’s financial system. He referred to TITHING as recorded in the Book of Malachi and other scriptures. TITHING was taught to the members and is the present financial system for financing God's Church.
In 1971, the construction of the East-West Expressway brought about a need for the Church to move which caused sorrow to the Church family; but, was a blessing for the growth of the Church. On December 31, 1971, St. John held ”Watchnight“ meeting jointly with Miller Memorial's Congregation. This became our first worship service in our new home and their last in their old home. We thank GOD for directing and giving foresight to our Pastor and officers to select our present location, 2025 West Central Boulevard.
On January 2, 1984, the Pastor's Wife, the late Mrs. Janie Maxwell, was called home by Our Heavenly Father. Although the Pastor's heart was deeply saddened by the loss of his devoted, faithful and spiritual wife, he did not falter and his Faith grew stronger in the Lord. Later, God smiled on him and he met Norweida Williams. In 1985, they were joined together in Holy Matrimony. God blessed him the second time with another faithful, loving, and devoted wife.
Through Reverend Maxwell's vision, other ministries were organized: Orientation Ministry, Advisory Council Ministry, Sunshine Choir Ministry, Youth Deacons' Ministry, Brotherhood Ministry, Ministers Wives' Ministry, Living Water Ministry, Infants' Blessing Ministry, Out-Reach Evangelism Ministry, and Young Men in Christ Ministry. One of the main ministries is called the "New Partners in Christ Ministry“, which is a link between new members and the Deacons. In 1989, there was a merger of Choirs 1, 2 and 3 into one Choir, which was named the Sanctuary Choir Ministry.
Under Pastor Maxwell 29 Deacons were added and a Deacon Training Ministry was started. Dr. Fred L. Maxwell’s accomplishments at St. John Baptist Church and the community are numerous, to mention a few: the author of a book entitled: "Where Is Thy Brother?, organizer and member of the Board of Directors of the Credit Union of the South Florida Missionary Baptist District Association, and established the Maxwell Terrace, a residency for the Homeless . Dr. Fred L. Maxwell was conferred with the Doctor of Divinity Degree and retired as Pastor in May 2001 after 37 years of service at St. John Baptist Church.
In March of 2002, Dr. Rolous A. Frazier, Jr. was elected as the new Pastor. Through his teaching and preaching the church has grown in abundance under Pastor Frazier. The church now has well over more than 1500 active members, and we Praise God for what he is doing, and what He will do in the future. Under Dr. Frazier's leadership a multi million church project was completed June 2009. The church has many new ministries that have made a tremendous impact in the lives of the people. Dr. Frazier main concentration for St. John is to love each other as a family. The motto of the church is “The Church Where Love Abides and Lives are Change”. St John is a loving and God fearing church where you are fed the word of God.
Yes, the late Mrs. Weaver's VISION is still a reality