Founded by Reverend Green Hunter, St. John became a cornerstone of worship in Gainesville on November 20, 1879. During Hunter’s 13 years of pastoral leadership, three meeting houses were built and four deacons were ordained.
After Hunter, Reverends Washington, Pascal, W.M. Dorsey, Means, Parks and Rucker each served as St. John’s pastor through the years. The eighth pastor, Rev. E. J. Thompson, affectionately known as “Professor,” helped further develop
St. John through the purchase of new pews, an organ and organization of the church choir. St. John continued to grow over the years as pastors Harris, H.H. Anderson, H.D. Martin, H.M. Smith, B.B. Williams and S.M. Weaver came to serve. Reverend I.J. Watson briefly served in interim before Rev. J.C. Gaffney became pastor. The church continued to grow, serving more and more citizens of Gainesville and the surrounding areas.
Spiritual and Physical Growth
Later, Rev. W.D. Norfleet came to St. John. During his tenure, the Mother’s Board and Junior Choir (now known as the Angelic Voices) were organized. Rev. H.H. Fortson pastored St. John 23 years, from 1936 to 1956, and plans were underway to build a new church. The new church was built in 1941, and Fortson served until his death in 1956. Rev. Watson served as a supply pastor until Rev. Thomas L. David was called after Rev. Fortson’s death. During Rev. David’s leadership, new pews and a new organ was purchased. Rev. David later left St. John to become a Chaplain in the armed forces.
Rev. Warren G. Parsons, a Morehouse graduate, became the next pastor. During his pastorate, the educational wing of the church was completed. He also organized the Deaconess Board, Birth Month Clubs and fundraising activities to support the educational ministry. These clubs continued raising money for the church’s building fund.
Rev. Harold C. Turner followed Rev. Parsons, and was installed as pastor in 1962. These were times of turmoil in the African-American community, and at the height of the Civil Rights era. Rev. Turner was an active member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), and through the church, continued in the struggle toward equal rights.
In April 1967, Rev. C. T. Hester became pastor. The corner lot of Fair Street and Collins Circle was selected as the location for a new parsonage. The church continued to progress with the hiring of a salaried financial secretary and purchasing a new typewriter and mimeograph machine for the church office, a heating and air conditioning system, church bus, sound system, organ, piano and pews. In addition, renovations were underway through roofing, lighting, church steeple, kitchen upgrades, remodeling the sanctuary, library, baptismal and restroom facilities. The church also made investments through purchasing Chamblee, McCrary and High Street properties. The church was on the move, not only through physical changes, spiritual growth was at an all-time high. Twelve deacons were ordained during Rev. Hester’s pastorate.
Knowing Christ, Growing Christ, Serving Christ and Sharing Christ
After Rev. Hester resigned in 1991, Pastor Eugene L. Green was led to St. John in 1992. Pastor Green holds true to the church mission while continuing a legacy of spiritual development and growth. Pastor Green believes in building the Christian Education Ministry around the mission and purposes of the church. During Pastor Green’s tenure, he’s initiated the Love Kitchen, Crisis Ministry, Children’s Church, the Pansy Ministry and Wednesday night Bible Studies for adults, teens and children. Nine deacons were in ordained in 1999, seven in 2003 and one in 2004. To further the Transportation Ministry, two church vans and a Crystal Shuttle bus were purchased, in addition to adding salaried staff.
The church now holds two Sunday worship services, 8 and 11 a.m. A Praise Team was also organized to begin both worship services. Under Pastor Green’s leadership, Minister Michelle Mintz was licensed in 1998. Minister Mintz serves as the instructor for Teen Bible Study each Wednesday. In 2004, Ministers Freddie Webb, Paula Grayson and Sonya Dixon were licensed.
Pastor Green’s vision of Christ-like worship and service grew beyond the walls of the current St. John. Members moved to the new sanctuary in January 2006. Pastor Green’s mission of a caring atmosphere, quality leadership and community outreach attracted people of all ages, walks of life and cultural and religious backgrounds. After nearly 15 years of service, the spirit led Pastor Green to resign his post at St. John.
Community of Love, Striving for Excellence
Rev. Samuel accepted the call to the Gospel ministry in August 1995, and was ordained in May 1999, under the leadership of Reverend Nim B. Russell, pastor of Thankful Missionary Baptist Church of Rome, Ga. In May 2002, Reverend Samuel obtained a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, N.J. Pastor Samuel's vision for St. John is centered around Kingdom Excellence, focusing on ministry outreach. His plans are to expand St. John both physically and spiritually. With plans to reach the youth of St. John and the community by transforming St. John into a multi-purpose Youth/Teen Center with computer labs, educational spaces, café and game room.
He also plans to expand evangelism efforts with greater exposure through various media outlets, i.e. TV, radio and social media.