History of Providence Baptist Church
Reverend Freeman B. Banks from Omaha, Nebraska met with Mr. J.S. Pough in a San Francisco café and decided a Baptist church was needed south of Market Street. Their ideas were discussed in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Pough. Two men met with them in the lobby of the Washington Hotel; thus Providence Baptist Church was organized with Reverend Banks as Pastor. The first worship service was held in the Washington Street Hotel on 4th Street. Then the small congregation moved to the Old Majestic Theater at 365 3rd Street. Sister Florence Wheeler paid the rent. The property was ultimately purchased for $25, 000.
Reverend Banks organized the Sunday School and appointed Brother Eli Evans as superintendent. The Autry family were the first pupils. Sister Estena Robinson was appointed Church Clerk; in addition, she served as Director of the Baptist Training Union for three weeks, then Brother Ancil Johnson was appointed. The Deacon Board was organized; Deacon J.S. Pough was appointed Treasurer and Chairman. The Senior Choir was organized, and Sister Mae Etta Wilson was appointed Musician. After she resigned, Brother Louis H. Narcisse was appointed Musician. Next, the Gospel Chorus was organized. Sister Lillian Singleton, niece of Brother Atha Burnett, came from Madisonville, Kentucky to Providence in 1944 to become pianist of the Senior Choir. Later, she became Minister of Music.
The Women’s Missionary Union was organized and had the following presidents from 1943-1945: Sisters Florence Wheeler, Bertha Gilmore, Mary Combs, Alice Felix, Estena Fite and Louise Williams. The Laymen and Brotherhood were organized by Brother James Mason in 1945. The Octet and Sextet singing groups were organized in 1946. In 1947, the first Easter Cantata was sung. In 1948, Brother Abler Johnson organized the Saturday Night Bible Class and Brother Atha Burnett was in charge. The Sunshine Band, Junior and Senior Red Circles and Young Women auxiliaries were organized by Sister Ethel Kay and Sister Liller Jackson. In 1949, Brother L.B. Edwards organized the Male Chorus; Brother Calvin Jones became president. (He later was elected pastor.) That same year, the congregation made the final payment on 365 3rd Street. The Youth Department was organized, and Sister Alice Johnson was appointed Director.
In 1950, the first Mothers’ Day program was held on May 4. Brother Atha Burnett was elected President of the Trustee Board. A lawsuit was filed to remove Reverend Banks as pastor. Litigation lasted two years. Reverend Banks was ultimately dismissed; Reverend Clinton W. Rogers was elected Pastor.
Providence has been known to sing all kinds of music. The Senior Choir and Gospel Chorus merged in 1945. The first Easter Cantata was sung in 1947. The Inspirational Chorus was organized on February 4, 1954. The first church picnic was held that year. In 1955, Providence joined the State and National Baptist Conventions. Sister Lois Bailey became pianist of the Gospel Chorus. In 1958, the congregation purchased the land at 1601 McKinnon Avenue and began to have plans drawn for the new Church. Brother Bozie Jackson demolished the old house on the land. The groundbreaking ceremonies took place. In 1959, the congregation marched from 365 3rd Street to 1601 McKinnon Avenue.
In 1961, Reverend Rogers was replaced by Reverend J.A. Hester who served as minister-in-charge until October 7, when the congregation voted to dismiss Reverend Clinton W. Rogers as pastor. On July 28, 1962, the congregation elected Reverend Calvin Jones Sr. to become their pastor. He was installed on November 25. Sister Rose Mary Watson directed the first Negro History Program and Mother and Daughter Banquet. The Board of Christian Education was organized. Sister Liller Jackson hosted the Harvest Fiesta. In 1963, Sister Estelle Taylor presented the first Deacons’ Wives Radio Program. Sister Ozella Smith started the first Vacation Bible School. Sister Ruby L. Payne was appointed as Church Program Chairperson. In 1965 Sister Lucille Diggs started the Ushers Green Leaf Tea. Father and Son’s first Banquet happened on May 20. Reverend Fred Taplin was ordained as a minister. Brother Charles Gray was ordained as deacon. Sister Ella Allen was appointed Director of Vacation Bible School. On October 8, 1967, the mortgage was burned. On January 25, 1969, Sister Daisy Lewis was appointed Assistant Director and Dean of Christian Education.
In 1970 The Drama Group presented a play “From the Cradle to the Grave” directed by Sister Liller Jackson. The WMU sponsored Feast of Twelve Tables. Brother Vernon Howard was elected President of the Usher Board. In 1971, Sister Daisy Lewis was appointed Director of Christian Education. A Family Banquet was held on June 17. Sister Tena Watkins served as Church Clerk. The Chancel Choir sponsored a Bay Cruise on June 12. On February 20, 1972, high school graduates were recognized. The Music Department sponsored a Music Festival. Brother Alex Pitcher was elected President of the Trustee Board. The Young Adult League was organized; Sister Mazie Price was Chairman. Brother Robert Cannon was elected President of the Usher Board. In February 1973, Sister Rosie Lee Howard organized the Fellowship Committee. On April 21, 1974, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the Education and Recreation Center. In May 1975, the new building was dedicated at the Homecoming Services. In 1976, the congregation purchased land for a parking lot. On September 17, the Chancel Choir sponsored a Bicentennial Banquet and Fashion Show.
Reverend Calvin Jones, Jr. was elected Assistant Pastor in 1987. On December 30, 1990, Reverend Calvin Jones, Sr. retired as pastor. On March 22, 1991, Reverend Calvin Jones, Jr. was elected pastor. Sister Lillian Gray retired as Minister of Music on December 30, 1992. On January 7, 1993, Pastor Jones merged the Chancel Choir, Inspirational Chorus and Gospel Chorus into the Voices of Providence. He also merged the Youth and Young Adult Choir and renamed that singing unit Voices of Imani. The Providence Foundation was organized and many programs have operated through it. The homeless shelter is one that is well known. Nearing completion is the senior citizens complex to be opened at a date to be determined.