Wilkins E Jones


J. Luke Jones

 


Roland V. Jones

 


Rev Wilkin's O. Jones
Rev Henry Baldwin


Miller Memorial Baptist Church began modestly as a Sunday School in the home of Bettie Houston on the 2300 block of Stewart Street in North Philadelphia on August 4, 1895.  They quickly outgrew their small quarters and moved to the tiny rear hall of a building located at the corner of 23rd and Jefferson Streets. In 1902, the Rev. S.J. Comfort, formerly of Cherry Street Baptist Church, became the pastor.    Under his reorganization, Mt. Calvary Gospel Mission became Miller Memorial Baptist Church, a memoriam to the life and legacy of Reverend Theodore Miller, pastor of Cherry Street Baptist Church.  

In 1905, the Reverend Wilkins E. Jones was called to be Pastor. The churchís attendance increased so rapidly that they were forced from the rear hall to the front hall, and even the front hall wasnít adequate after a few short years. The church bought an old machine shop at 21st and Jefferson Streets and remodeled it into a church in 1907.  Eighteen years later, in June 1925, Rev. W.E. Jones broke ground for his still ever-growing congregation at the present site at 1518 North 22nd Street, at the cost of $150,000. The cornerstone was laid in September of 1925 and the main sanctuary was completed in February 1926.  Rev. W.E. Jones was a pillar in his North Philadelphia community, encouraging African Americans to own their own businesses and to buy their homes. He was referred to as a benefactor, philosopher, teacher, citizen and beloved pastor.  He believed wholeheartedly that the church should stand for the preaching of the gospel in its purity.  After serving diligently as pastor for 30 years, the Lord called his servant from labor to reward in 1935.

In 1936, the church body called Wilkins E. Jonesís son, John Luke Jones to be their under shepard.  The meteoric rise of Miller Memorial continued under J. Luke Jones.  Under his pastorate, the Excelsior School of Religious Education was opened in 1939.  He also oversaw the building of a quarter million dollar educational annex, containing more than twenty rooms, two large assembly rooms and a large cafeteria.  In December of 1964, three days before Christmas, the sanctuary was partially destroyed by a devastating fire set intentionally by arsonists.  Rev J. Lukeís faith remained steadfast as he continued to have worship services in the lower auditorium until the sanctuary was reconstructed.  His strength in the midst of tragedy kept the congregation together and thriving.  The welfare of others was a throbbing must in his heart.  J. Luke was adamant about allowing Christ to use our hands, feet, tongues, and resources to do Godís work on earth.  After 35 years of faithful service, poor health forced Rev. J. Luke Jones into emeritus status.  He was called home May 27, 1972.

The church had to select a new pastor and again they decided on a son of Miller- the Reverend Dr. Roland V. Jones.  Rev. R.V. Jones was no relation to W.E  Jones or J. Luke Jones, but was a longstanding and active member of MMBC just the same.  He had begun his service in Sunday School and B.Y.P.U. (Baptist Young Peopleís Union) and was director of Youth Activities for many years.  After receiving his license and ordination at MMBC, he went on to serve as pastor at the First Baptist Church of Darby in Darby, PA before being called back to his home church.  R.V. Jonesís vision was to revitalize the church and community and to get the membership involved.  He started Vacation Bible School, the Scholarship Committee and the Deaconess Board.  Under R.V. Jonesí pastorate, many traditions began that still continue today such as Good Friday Service, Easter Sunrise Service, and serving Holy Communion to shut-in members.  R.V. Jonesí service to God was not restricted to the walls of MMBC.  He was a member of many organizations, including the NAACP, the National Baptist Convention, and the Pennsylvania Baptist State Convention. He was founder and president of the North Central Council of Churches.  R.V. Jones was instrumental in the development of preachers of the gospel and gave birth to at least a dozen ministers in his twenty-two years as pastor.  In January of 1993, God called R.V. Jones home.

The MMBC family now had another difficult decision to make in choosing a pastor to guide them into the next millennium.  They chose another son of Miller, the grandson of Wilkins E. Jones- Reverend Wilkins O. Jones, Sr.   Rev. W.O. Jonesís vision for the MMBC congregation to be a catalyst in rebuilding the North Philadelphia community where the church was located became the churchís vision as well.  Many new events were organized with this goal in mind, such as Community Day: Bridging the Gap, in which members of the community joined with members of the church for a summer day of games and food; as well as health screenings and motivational speaking.  The Missionary Society also began the Share-A-Blessing program, which provided meals for disadvantaged community members weekly and on holidays.  In addition, Miller Memorial partnered with Reynoldsí Elementary School in a mentorship program created to assist the students, faculty and parents in any ways possible.  In November of 2001, after bringing the congregation into the 21st century, the Lord said well done to His good and faithful servant.

In 2001, Rev. Henry Baldwin, former Tuskegee Airman, preacher and teacher of Godís word was appointed to be Interim Pastor. His spiritual leadership and wise counsel kept the congregation unified and committed to Godís work.  Many ongoing projects were completed under his leadership, including the installation of a new kitchen.  His love of Godís word was central to his philosophy as a man of God. 

            Following years of searching and praying, the church was finally ready to select a new pastor for Miller Memorial Baptist Church.  On February 1, 2004, the Reverend Wayne M. Weathers was installed.  In the short time since Rev. Weathers has picked up the mantle, he has instituted several new committees and ministries such as the Intercessory Prayer Ministry, Public Relations Committee, and the Policy and Procedures Committee.  He has started a monthly tradition called Fellowship Sunday, in which Miller Memorial worships and fellowships with another church. 

As we stand boldly on the threshold of the future, we know that God still has great work for us to do.  With eager and dedicated hearts, and with the guidance of the Heavenly Father, Miller Memorial will march on.  As our proud past buoys us and our present prayers strengthen us, we are certain that our future will be bright.  

 

 

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