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History of St. Paul Baptist Church 

Old Landmark

St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church was organized in the portable building of the 21st Avenue School during December 1916, and is the second oldest Baptist church established in the City of Gary. Six people were involved in the organization plan: Bro. and Sis. Julius Collins, Bro. and Sis. Scotty Campbell, Sis. Rosie Pope and Sis. Leona Roberts, daughter of Rev. Martin Van Buren Bolden. Sis. Campbell suggested the name St. Paul and the group readily accepted this name. 


On July 17, 1917, two lots were purchased at 1938 Adams Street where the church was erected and remained until it was destroyed by fire on May 2, 1963. 

Rev. Martin Van Buren Bolden, served as the first pastor of St. Paul and was the organizer of the Northern Indiana District Association, and the Indiana Baptist State Convention, where he served as the president.  Rev. Bolden served as pastor until his death in 1925.


Rev. Perry Whittaker, St. Paul’s, second pastor, was called in 1926 and served as pastor for one year.  During this time, he led a financial drive that reduced the church debt.


Rev. William F. Lovelace, St. Paul’s third pastor, was called in 1927. During the Depression of 1929, St. Paul fed many people in the basement of the church and provided funds to assist those who required medical care and needed assistance with burial expenses.   As St. Paul’s membership grew, the church introduced new activities within the church, and expanded outreach activities in the community. Rev. Lovelace continued in the ministry until his death in 1942.    

Rev. Lester K. Jackson, was called as St. Paul’s fourth pastor on May 1, 1943. A dynamic leader, during his tenure the church’s outstanding debts were paid, war bonds were purchased, and youth activities were expanded.  Rev. Jackson brought new ideas to the church family and City of Gary, including the introduction of the concept of Men and Women’s Day church observances. He led efforts to improve employment opportunities for African Americans and, within the schools, supported integration and equal opportunities for students. 

St. Paul was destroyed by a suspicious fire on May 2, 1963.  It is believed that the fire was intentionally set in retaliation for the church’s progressive role for civil rights in Gary, and specifically for allowing activist Paul Robeson, who had been blackballed in the United States, to speak at St. Paul. Immediately following the fire, the congregation worshipped with the Christian Valley Missionary Baptist Church until the Mizpah Seventh-day Adventist Church opened their doors to St. Paul where the congregation remained for three years.  Rev. Jackson led the effort to build a new church home and on Sunday, January 16, 1966, the church’s Golden Jubilee, the congregation marched into the new edifice at 2300 Grant Street, where the church remains today. Rev. Jackson retired in 1968 and went to be with the Lord on March 3, 1977. His legacy remains within the church family as well as within the City of Gary.

Rev. Everett Gray, St. Paul’s fifth pastor, was called to lead the membership on December 17, 1968, and was installed as Pastor on Sunday, April 27, 1969. Under Pastor Gray’s leadership, structural improvements were made to the edifice, and the land surrounding the church. The members paid off the balance of a $93,000 mortgage through pledges and drives. After serving 36 ½ years, Pastor Gray retired on September 18, 2005.  He passed away on April 30, 2018.


Rev. Howard L. Carter, was called to lead the membership as St. Paul’s sixth pastor on December 9, 2009. The church immediately began to experience a restoration and spiritual renewing, a result of Rev. Carter’s inspiring and spirit-filled messages, and transformational leadership style.  St. Paul was blessed with many significant improvements to the church. In 2016, Rev. Carter proudly lead the congregation, and the City of Gary, during St. Paul’s year-long 100th Anniversary celebration.  Sadly, Rev. Carter was called home to be with the Lord on Saturday, September 11, 2021. His leadership, kindness, compassion and generosity will never be forgotten.  Associate Minister, Rev. Thurman Dillard, served as interim pastor until a new pastor was named.


Rev. Timothy L. Dotson, St. Paul’s seventh pastor, was called to lead the membership on February 18, 2023. (Bio)

St. Paul has been tossed by the wind and the rain but has remained steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the Lord, standing as a beacon light shining in darkness to bring men, women, boys and girls to Christ. This is the Lord’s Great Commission.  

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