A Look At Saint Jude Through The Years
The origins of Saint Jude Missionary Baptist Church began in June 1959 when the Reverend Timothy Dillard resigned as the Pastor of the Friendship Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. After Reverend Dillard’s resignation from Friendship, he and a small group of devoted Christians met on June 15, 1959 and organized the Saint Paul Mission. The Saint Paul Mission later united with the Macedonia Baptist Church under the Pastoral leadership of Reverend W. L. Denton.
On September 20, 1959, this small committed group of believers were organized as Saint Jude Missionary Baptist Church under the direction of Reverend W. L. Denton, Reverend B. F. Johnson, and Reverend C. C. Rhone. On that same day, Reverend Timothy Dillard was called as the first pastor. The organizing members were Deacon and Mrs. Moses Rentie, Deacon and Mrs. Robert McGee, Mrs. Janie Hamilton, Mrs. Catherine Boone, Mrs. Jacqueline Little, Mrs. Barbara Berryhill, Mrs. Willie M. Glover, Mrs. Lee Martin, Miss Charlene Little, Mrs. Ora B. Walker, Ms. Johnnie M. Gipson. Children who were also founding members of the fledgling congregation were Debra Betheney, Brownie Betheney, Esther L. Gipson, Frankie E. Gipson and Gail Berryhill.
At the inception of the church, Pastor and Mrs. Dillard often held worship in their home and with much faith and perseverance, Saint Jude continued on to create and file official bylaws with the Secretary of State of the state of Oklahoma. As would be expected, problems began to arise with having worship services in a home with a growing congregation. Space became an immediate issue and larger facilities were sought. After numerous disappointments, the church purchased its first property, located at 1400 Northeast 8th Street in September, 1960. With a great sense of accomplishment and pride, the congregation paraded from 1301 Northeast 13th to the new location. It was discovered, however, that this new location, in solving one problem, had created several more. The building had adequate worship space, but contained no running water, restrooms, kitchen, or office space. This proved challenging and yet in this small space the Lord continued to increase His church. During this period, Saint Jude was blessed with the joining of Mr. Robert and Betty Lynch, Ms. Geraldine Green, and Mr. June Carter. As was the case with children of the founding members of Saint Jude, the children of the new members became members as well. Phyllis Lynch, Brenda Lynch, Bernard Lynch, Terry Lynch, Scottie Green, Ruben Green, Ann Green, June Carter III, Maurice Carter, and Anthony Carter all joined Saint Jude and played a vital role in the life of the church. It was also during this time that Reverend Leroy Edwards became the Assistant Pastor of Saint Jude. Many improvements were made in all aspects of church life as the congregation continued to grow.
After a few years, the Urban Renewal improvements caused the need for yet another move as the area including and surrounding the church was sought for development. With mixed emotions, Saint Jude sought a new home and property was purchased on May 5, 1966 at 2809 N. Fonshill. The congregation was grateful to have a new home and things seemed to continue to improve from the 8th Street location. After a year, however, our beloved founding pastor, Reverend Timothy Dillard, became gravely ill. On the third Sunday in January 1969, Reverend Dillard attended what would become his last service and on the first week of February, Pastor Timothy Dillard went from labor to reward.
Though the members of Saint Jude were greatly saddened and affected by the passing of Pastor Dillard, the realization that the work of God’s church must continue became abundantly clear and Reverend Leroy Edwards was called to be our next pastor. Under his leadership, members were added, the finances increased, and spiritual blessings were received daily. Following the tenure of Reverend Edwards, Reverend T.J. Robinson served as pastor from 1980 – 1991, Reverend Alverter Irin served as pastor from 1991 – 1994, and Reverend Lee Pettit served as pulpit supply pastor from 1994 – 1995. It was also during this period that Reverend June Carter III was ordained as a minister.
In October 1995, Reverend Al C. Brothers was officially welcomed as the new pastor of the Saint Jude Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Brothers, along with his wife Ollivett and their children, served graciously. During Pastor Brother’s tenure, Saint Jude experienced many capital improvements including the renovation of the church edifice, installation of a new roof, addition of an exterior awning, creation of new exterior signage, and installation of stained glass windows. Under the leadership and teachings of Pastor Brothers, finances for the church increased significantly. Additionally, the church enjoyed the pleasure of Pastor Brothers having a number of associate ministers who were able to assist him in his duties to the church. These associate ministers were Reverend June Carter III, Reverend John Clement, Reverend Rickey Floyd, Reverend Bernetta Phillips, Reverend Willie Nolan, and Reverend Conners.
In 2007, Pastor Brothers health began to fail and while the church prayed fervently for the Lord to intervene and allow His servant to recover on Earth, the Lord’s choice was for Pastor Brothers to close his eyes for the final time on February 7, 2009. Though Pastor Brothers ceased to exist with Saint Jude from a physical sense, his legacy and the works he tirelessly provided for the Lord and to Saint Jude yet speaks for him. Pastor Brothers left a legacy of faithful service, love for family, and a desire to uplift mankind. Because of his faithful and impassioned work in the East Zion Consolidated District Association, Oklahoma Baptist State Convention, and the Camp Burge Youth & Adolescent Development Foundation, the Open Air Tabernacle that sits on the hills of Camp Burge was named in honor of Pastor Al C. Brothers I on November 7, 2010.
After the demise of Pastor Brothers, it became apparent that the church was in need of a new pastor. A pastoral search committee was formed and the Reverend David B. Young I was called to lead our church in November 2009. Reverend Young was installed in December 2009 and began to work immediately. Pastor Young, First Lady Nisha Young, and his family soon became a very vital part of the ministry and were welcomed with open arms by the members. Reverend Young shared a vision that God had showed him with the congregation. This vision began with the organizing of the church’s business model. During this period, the Benevolent, Bereavement, and Facilities policies were developed, the church Bylaws were revised, and the church logo was created. The church also enjoyed the purchase of a Hammond organ.
In order to accommodate the growth that was taking place and would take place in the future, a vision from God was given to Pastor Young that showed a new location that would add over 14,000 additional square feet of worship and ministry space. In November 2010, Saint Jude relocated to 1001 N.W. 92nd in the northwest section of Oklahoma City. The relocation proved to be to an area where there would be many opportunities for outreach and ministry. In 2011, Rev. Larry Goss joined Saint Jude as an associate minister and provided a significant impact in the life of the church. Also during that time, Brother Emmanuel Brothers, Brother Anthony Carter Sr., and Brother Harold Leverett were ordained as deacons. In celebration of the move and blessings that God had given to Saint Jude, a gospel music workshop was conducted with National Gospel Recording Artist Malcolm Williams serving as the guest clinician and a fabulous Dedication Musical commenced on May 14, 2011. The weekend celebration concluded on May 15, 2011 with the dedication and placement of the new cornerstone. Under the leadership and direction of Reverend David B. Young I, the church was able to complete many renovation tasks to include the installation of a new roof and HVAC units. Total remodeling commenced in the church foyer, administrative offices, first floor bathrooms, chapel, and sanctuary. Installation of carpet in all classrooms was completed. Necessary purchases for the betterment of the present and future church were conducted to include a pulpit, portable baptismal, state of the art audio/video equipment, choir chairs, and an audio booth. These improvements served the church in great fashion as the ministry began to experience outstanding growth spiritually, numerically, and financially. As any great leader would do, Reverend Young sought to put the church in a position where the success of the church would not hinge on whether or not he was the specific person to lead the church, but that whatever pastor God sent to Saint Jude would have the resources to lead God’s people to unprecedented heights. Recognizing that his season of service was complete at Saint Jude, Reverend David B. Young resigned as pastor on August 31, 2014.
After the resignation of Reverend David Young, Saint Jude stood without pastoral leadership for over one year. Sunday, September 20, 2015 was the day that Saint Jude was introduced to a young preacher by the name of Reverend Bill G. Caldwell II, who was invited to preach as a guest for the morning worship service. As it would stand, a church meeting was conducted on January 17, 2016 to discuss the calling of a pastor. At that meeting, Reverend Bill G. Caldwell II was nominated as the lone candidate and on January 24, 2016, Reverend Caldwell received a unanimous vote to be the next pastor of the Saint Jude Missionary Baptist Church. Reverend Caldwell, his wife Kameelah, and their children have lovingly transitioned into working components of the ministry that is Saint Jude Missionary Baptist Church. Installation services for Reverend Caldwell and his family were performed on April 17, 2016. Goals and aspirations for the direction of the church have already been stated and numerous projects have been successfully completed under the administration of Reverend Caldwell. Recognizing that those who preceded him played their parts and that it is now time for him to play his, Reverend Caldwell is committed to building upon the foundation that was laid by Reverend Timothy Dillard and built upon by the succeeding pastors. With prayer, faith, and commitment, Saint Jude Missionary Baptist Church will reach for unprecedented and previously unimagined heights.