THE HISTORY OF GREATER FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH
In 1908, a group of baptized believers in God saw the need to organize a “Baptist Church” in the community of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. That same year, New Hope Baptist Church was founded, under the leadership of Pastor Kilgore.
The church was located in the 700 block of Rogers Street, known as the “Brick Yard.” It was also called the “Shackle Rods,” because there was nothing past Rogers but pumping oil wells. These were long rods attached to each oil well that pumped up and down extracting the oil from the ground.
In 1925, New Hope Baptist Church members approved a resolution to change the church name from “New Hope Baptist” to “First Baptist Church”. John and Susie Hollingshed were witnesses of this document, along with Church Clerk Ira O. Garcia and Pastor J. W. Jones. At the courthouse, the name was recorded “First Baptist Church – Colored” because another First Baptist Church had formed after this one. The church name was appropriately changed to Greater First Baptist Church.
The church was moved to the 600 block on West 6th Street during the mid 1920s. Through the unified spirit and hard work, the membership decided to build a church. God sent Rev. W. L. Owens to us and under his leadership, construction began on the church basement located at 616 West 7th Street, now known as Adams Boulevard.
Pastor Owens immediately began to organize the church into working departments, such as, Trustees, Deacons, Deaconess, Adult Choir, Youth Department, B.T.U., Benevolent Fund, Building Fund and Brotherhood. Rev. R. A. Johnson brought us from the basement to the sanctuary in the early 1940s. M.R. Reed served on the Deacon Board.
The church, again began to see the need for more space, so the officers began formulating a plan to build on the 616 West 7th Street site. The property at 10th and Jennings became available and was purchased under the leadership of then Pastor the Rev. Donnell Smith.
Other pastors were Rev. R. A. Johnson, Rev. D. C. Sargeon, Rev. James Johnson, and Rev. Clarence Schuller.
Many have accepted their calling into ministry at Greater First Baptist Church. Among them were Victor Paul, Verl LeFlore, Ernest Roberts, Walter Pettiford, Olus Holder, Nate Harry, Richard Forney, Samuel Kariuki, Charles Washington, Willie Chambers, Joyce Dodd, Patricia Oulds, Mary Wallace, Odis Adams, “BJ” Earl Jones, and Anthony Nash.
In May 1987, Dr. Timothy Jackson was called and served as pastor for 25 years until January 2013. Rev. Ernest Roberts served as the assistant pastor until his death in September 2009.
Rev. Victor A. Paul, Sr. was voted Pastor by the church body in May 2013. He officially relocated from Houston, Texas, on September 2013. Under his leadership, new ministries have been created, and the membership has grown as individuals have accepted Christ by baptism and Christian experience. With Pastor Paul’s exciting vision of change and progress, we began a journey of rebranding and refreshing, all in the matchless name of our Savior Jesus Christ.