Thursday, April 9, 2015

The Beginning of Southern Mission

In my last blog piece, “Tracing your Religious Affiliations” I talked about the churches attended by my maternal family when they migrated to St. Louis.  The time period for that piece covered the early 1940s through 1956 when my mother joined another church – Christ Southern Mission Baptist Church.

Recently, I came across the history of Christ Southern Mission Church printed in a 1945 church directory and wanted to share their story.

Southern Mission Baptist Church --  2966 Market Street

Southern Mission M.B.C. was organized in 1898.

Rev. Ben Cage, a settled minister nearing his sixtieth birthday, was their first pastor.  Their permanent home was with Sister Mary Moon who lived at 12th and Washington Street.  Brother Mose Jackson united with the church during the year 1910.

As the years passed, many changes were made in the church.  During the year of 1917, Rev. Terry became their Tenth pastor.  The property on Montrose and Market was purchased in 1918.

In 1919, Rev. Terry retired as pastor of Southern Mission and Rev. Ed Jackson of Mississippi was called to pastor Southern Mission.  The church moved to a storefront on Cardinal and Market Street during the construction of their new building (see picture above).  The basement was completed in 1923.  About that time, the church was divided.  Some members followed their pastors and many remained with the church.  Bro. Mose Jackson and Mother Moon were some who remained with the church.  There was a great indebtedness on the church that caused the members much worry.

During the year of 1924, a young man came to St. Louis in the person of Rev. Herman Gore.  Through the influence of Rev. Owen, Pastor of Gallilee Baptist Church, Rev. Gore conducted a ten-day revival for Southern Mission.  Many joined the church.

Rev. Herman Gore, Sr.

Rev. Gore was called to pastor Southern Mission, March 15, 1924.  Under his leadership the church began to grow.  The finances also increased.  

The usher group expanded from one group to four.

Group One Usher Board

Group Two Usher Board

Senior Usher Board
Rev. Gore was called to pastor Southern Mission for life in 1931.  During the twenty years under Rev. H. Gore, the church became debt free.

In Spring 1945, a beautiful home (farm) was purchased by the church for the seniors.

Southern Mission Baptist Church Choir
Southern Mission Baptist Church later became known as Christ Southern Mission Baptist Church.  Several members in the gospel community came out of Christ Southern Mission Church.  One member in particular, Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith, later joined the Lively Stone Church of God, who starred in the movie “Say Amen Somebody”.  

Mother Willie Mae Ford Smith
Many of my paternal family placed their membership with this assembly beginning in 1956 to present day.    

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tracing your Religious Affiliations

23rd & Delmar Church of God In Christ
Recently, I came across a picture of my maternal grandfather, George Watson with a group of people in a church setting.  As I looked at the picture I began to wonder what church was it taken in and the timeframe.  At that moment I realized in tracing my roots, I had not given much thought to looking at the clues in my family’s church affiliations.  My mother shared with me years ago her family attended 23rd and Delmar COGIC after they migrated to St. Louis and later to another assembly, Holy Ghost Tabernacle COGIC.  The photo had me intrigued, so I began to look into which church the photo was taken in and when.  I also wanted to know when they attended 23rd and Delmar and when the family moved to the next assembly, if it was possible to find out why?

Grandfather George - Back row on left & Daniel Gaines - Back row center

As I continued to look through the treasure trove I came across a calendar from 2008.  It was a calendar commemorating the church’s 100th year in existence. 

Elder & 1st Lady Bostick
I began looking through the calendar at other photos taken during the church’s history.

Men in Sanctuary

Outside the Church

Baptizing at the Riverfront - Mississippi River
Bingo!!  The background of this photo identified the church from above that included my grandfather.  Based on the dates of when the family migrated to St. Louis and other information shared, placed the timeframe somewhere in the early-1940s.

Inside Sanctuary at 23rd & Delmar COGIC

By the late 1940s the family, reason unknown, moved to another assembly, Holy Ghost Tabernacle COGIC.  Once again, my grandfather is shown in the photograph.

Holy Ghost Tabernacle COGIC
I went to visit a relative and showed both photos to her.  She identified another relative, my maternal grandmother’s brother Daniel captioned in the first photo and recognized her own picture in the one above - Holy Ghost Tabernacle!  In 1956 mother moved a final time to another assembly, Christ Southern MB Church.

When tracing your roots it is vital to leave no stone unturned.  Those small tidbits of information may lead you to key dates and important events where your ancestors were a part.