Greater First Baptist Church History
The Greater First Baptist Church Ministry began under the leadership of Rev. Herbert Benton in the year of 1930 as the “First Colored Church” which was located on Bell Avenue; a few years later, moved to Rose Street as the “Metropolitan Baptist Church.” In 1934, the church moved to 1001 W. Perrin Avenue under the name of “First Baptist Church.” Rev. Benton pastored Greater First Baptist from its’ inception until his health failed in 1978 and He officially retired in August, 1981 after his 52nd Pastoral Celebration. Rev. Benton made his transition on June 4th, 1982.
Pastor Kenneth Applin led Greater First Baptist beginning in 1978 as Assistant Pastor during the illness of Pastor Benton and was called to the Pastorate in December 1981 prior to the death of Pastor Benton. Pastor Applin was instrumental in the Incorporation of Greater First Baptist Church on December 22nd, 1981. The church’s name was changed from “First Baptist Church” to “Greater First Baptist Church” at the time of the incorporation process. The Church’s Incorporation status allowed the church to transact business (such as, buy/sell property, maintain a checking and savings account, etc…) in the State of Ohio and throughout the United States of America; a great victory for the church. Pastor Applin served until his death in September 1st, 1986. The contributions that Pastor Applin made to Greater First Baptist will forever be remembered in the chronicles of our history.
Rev. Alvin Harmon and Rev. Floyd Moore served the church as Co-Interim Pastors after the death of Pastor Applin until a pastor could be called.
Pastor James Kelly served Greater First Baptist Church as Pastor from December, 1987 to September, 1989.
Pastor Ronald Clark served Greater First Baptist Church as Pastor from June, 1990 to March 1995.
Pastor James Jones was called to serve as Interim Pastor in April, 1995. During that time, he brought the church back to financial stability. In May 1996, he was called to the Pastorate of Greater First Baptist Church and he served for 3 years and retired in August of 1999.
Pastor Dewitt Means, Jr. served as Interim Pastor from September, 1999 until May, 2000 at which time; he was called to the Pastorate of Greater First Baptist Church. The Installation Service for Pastor Means was held August 10th, 2000 with a representation of every denomination of the city. Under the leadership of Pastor Means, Greater First Baptist moved into the 21st Century with a website and has purchased 22.2 Acres of land at 1925 S. Burnett Road for our future Vision Building Site. The Land was purchased in two phases: (1) the purchase of 17.2 acres on April 13th, 2004 from a private owner at $73,000.00 and (2) the purchase of 5.0125 acres on December 29th, 2004 from the Liedertafel Club at $50,000.00.
On January 28th, 2005, the Greater First Baptist “Voices of Praise” opened for the Holmes Brothers at Kuss Auditorium with a stellar performance.
We were blessed to hold our “Land Dedication Service on September 24th & 25th, 2005. We made our first walk through of this property in July, 2011. The church body was excited, but we had to wait for further instructions from God. There were two other offers on this property; however, they were not accepted. It is certainly true, that whatever God has for you, no one else can obtain it. God has blessed us with more than One Million Dollars in assets. This is only a prelude to the blessings of God. There is a final portion of the Vision given. Habakkuk 2:3 says, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.”