Antioch Missionary Baptist Church, known in the later 1800's as Aimwell Baptist Church, was first located on North Street in Pascagoula. The earliest church records are incomplete; thus the names of some of the leaders of the first years are not available. The members of the pioneer church were more interested in maintaining a place in which to worship God than they were in leaving a written legacy of their deeds. However, the first deeds were drawn up on April 21, 1921. under the pastorage of Rev. Haywood Brooks, who served as Pastor from 1921-1929. There is no exact authoritative, comprehensive history of all the very early phases of the development and progress of Aimwell Baptist Church, but it is significant that several ministers served as Pastors of the church when it was on North Street.
In 1919, while under the pastorage of Rev. Brooks, the city of Pascagoula witnessed a destructive storm that completely destroyed Aimwell Baptist Church. The pioneer members cleared a spot on telephone road and continued to hold church in a wide open space, while seeking a place to worship so that they could come in out of the weather. The church family found a shotgun house on North Street to hold worship. While there the land was purchased and obtained by Deacon Anderson Davis, a member for the sum of $50.00. This land extended from U.S. 90 to where it is today. Rev. Brooks held a revival and a Brush Arbor was built. He baptized his first flock in the river between Sam Reese's and Walker Shipyard. During the revival 25 members were baptized. $600.00 was raised and this began the making of plans for the building of the church. The pioneers got together with the Pastor and purchased lumber from Delmas Lumber Yard for the frame of the church and windows were purchased by volunteers for $8.10 each. The first church bell was purchased by the Willing Workers Auxiliary for $58.00 from Richmond, Virginia.
The church was erected in 1921and the name was changed to Antioch Baptist Church. After relocating several times, Pastor Brooks organized the Willing Workers and Choir, his wife Mattie Brooks, served as musician. He preached his farewell sermon at Antioch on August 25, 1929. He was honored with a farewell banquet on the church lawn and churches in the county honored him with a special anniversary service at Antioch in recognition of his years of dedicated service. The Rev. Kaydo Shields, of Grand Bay, Ala. was elected pastor in 1930 and served until 1933. In 1933 the Rev. J.W. Smith, of Grand Bay, Ala was elected as pastor, he was the brother in law of Rev. Shields. He pastored until 1936. The Rev. J. Franklin came to Antioch in 1936 from Gulfport, MS. It was he who first brought Antioch into the Shiloh District Convention. Rev. Franklin served as pastor from 1936-1942. From 1942-1951, the Rev. E.D. Burns from Bogalusa, LA. Served as pastor. At this time the membership greatly increased. Other additions were made namely: two front offices, gas and water installed the wood structure was bricked. Rev. Burns resigned in 1951.
From 1951-1952 Rev. Frank Smith of Kosciusko, MS., came to Antioch and the first mortgage burning was on March 16, 1952. Under the pastorage of Rev. Smith, a parsonage was needed and the church family purchased a house and moved it to the present site. Rev. Smith was the first minister to live in the parsonage. The Rev. Jackson Clark served as interim pastor during the absence of a Pastor and held Antioch together from 1952- April 1953. The first Missionary Sunday School was founded on July 9, 1961. By the Rev. Clark, who served as Superintendent for the remainder of his life. He purchased one hundred hymn books and a used piano from the First Baptist Church on Live Oak In Pascagoula. The present day piano (upstairs) was donated by Sis. Alma Patton. April 24, 1953-September, 1961, Rev. Johnny Mays, became pastor of Antioch. Under his pastorage the church family made pledges to pay for another addition, this was the upstairs Sunday School Department, Baptizing pool, Annex (fellowship hall) in the rear of the church and the ladies lounge. The Junior choir was formed and a Organ was purchased. Rev. R.T. Thomas, was called to pastor Antioch from October 9, 1961-1964. During his pastorship the Secretary's office was moved to the rear of the church, air conditioning was installed and the work on the upstairs class rooms were completed, and Choir#2 was organized.
In 1964 a new Pastor, the Rev. L.D. Chapman came to Antioch for full time services. Under Rev. Chapman pastorage communion was given the first Sunday night of each month. The following brothers were Deacons: Deacon Mack Keeton, Deacon Napoleon Thigpen, Deacon Pertis Watts, Deacon, Dallas Manning, Deacon, S.A. Green, Deacon Amzie Smith and Deacon Calvin Lett. The following programs were initiated; a full time Secretary, Reorganization of the Brotherhood. Young Women Auxiliary, Junior Mission, Daughters Of Zion and Youth Auxiliary. Rev. Chapman served as pastor from January 1964- November 1980. His focal points were to update the beauty of the church by adding new carpet, microphone system, cushion pews, telephone system, new hymn books, a stove and refrigerator. He purchased the land that was originally Antioch in 1919, which was used as a parking lot.
In March 1981, Dr. John W. Davis, Sr., was elected as pastor of Antioch. A native of Laurel, MS. He was licensed and ordained into the ministry in 1960 by Dr. Thomas O. Howard. Upon graduating with a Bachelor Degree in music, with emphasis in voice, he continued his education at the American Bible College, Kansas City, MO.There he graduated with a Bachelors degree of Bible Philosophy and obtained a Master of Bible Philosophy Degree. Upon completion of his dissertation, titled "Christianity A System Of Truth", he was awarded a Doctorate Of Divinity Degree in 1968. Pastor Davis is married to the former Virgie L. Sumlin, of Waynesboro, MS, who today is a retired Educator. They are the parents of two sons: The Rev. Dr. John Davis, Jr. and Maurice B. Davis. He is presently a life member of the NAACP and SCLC, former President of the New Educational State Convention of MS for 29 years, 29 plus years on the Board of Directors of the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., and former Chairman of the President's Council of the National Baptist Convention, USA, INC. Under Pastor Davis leadership, the Mass Choir was organized with 88 members. New choir robes were presented in a Carnegie Hall Concert with about 1000 people squeezed into the church as well as outside. During the first nine months at Antioch, the followings were organized and accomplished: The Laymen Auxiliary, Workers Council, and Bright Star, now known as the Young Matrons Auxiliary (YMA), an active but separate "Building Fund", which raised about $35,00, purchased a new piano, copy machine, typewriter, electronic calculators, new telephone system, additional wiring(inside and outside ), improved the plumbing, adequate parking space with gravel for the parking lots, and refurbishing of the parsonage (carpeting, tile, cabinets and walls, etc.).
In 1984, the interest increased among the members for the need of a new church edifice and a building committee was appointed. After many long hours of planning and meeting, a set of plans were drawn up and accepted. Church members began to dedicate themselves to the financing of the new and much needed church building through pledges and fund raising. Ground breaking for the new church was held on April 29, 1984. The congregation met at the Pascagoula High School Auditorium until their facility was completed.
On January 6, 1985, the church members were escorted by the Jackson County Sheriff Department from the high school to their new church on Denny Avenue. The church is now known as "The Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church" , adjective added in September 1984. Still moving forward, the church acquired its first transportation in 1987.
In October 1987, a special celebration was held for Pastor Davis, for 25 years of service in the ministry. On May 7, 1989, The Greater had its 1st taped radio broadcast, it was aired each Sunday morning on radio dial AM-1130 or FM-96.7. This was initiated to accommodate the sick and shut in. The Nurses Guild was organized in June 1989, with Dr. Cynthia Owens as the advisor. October 19, 1986-1989 Antioch constructed and opened a new fair booth at the Jackson County Fair Grounds. August 1990, Pastor Davis at this time had licensed eight Minsters, ordained four Deacons, and certified 14 Trustees: Rev. Cean McInnis, Rev. Roland Myers, Rev. Silas Smith, Rev. Cortez Keeton, Rev. Samuel Banks, Rev. Ethaniel Hoskins, Rev Dan Stallworth, Jr., and Rev. James O. Keys. Deacons; Bro. P.L. Collins, Bro. Edwin Quave, Bro. Roscoe McDonald & Bro.Johnny Blake. Trustees; Bro. Marcus Pittman, Jr., Bro. Alex Joe, Bro. Ledell Hollings, Bro. A.D. McEwen, Bro. Fred Moore, Bro. Bert Hinton, Bro. Bobby Ward, Bro. Daniel Bush, Sr., Bro. Archie Williams, Bro. William Burts, Bro. Howard Evans, Bro. Cortez Keeton, Bro. Robert Sumlin and Bro. Frank Jones. Under Pastor Davis leadership, several different Drives were held toward the building fund of the church: Ms. Antioch Drive, Little Mr. & Miss Antioch Drive, Debutante Drive, Business and Professional, Men and Women Birthday Drive, Armies of The Lord and Holy Seven in 97. In August 1994, Antioch began televising morning worship for 30 minutes on the local T.V. station Channel 13 and now has increased the time to one hour under the direction of Bro. Wayne Caples and Sis. Carolyn Caples. The church still moves into the 21st century by adding 3 more vehicles to the transportation department: a 1990-29 passenger bus, a 1995 van, and a 47 passenger MCI bus with all the amenities. In 1997, the church added a 75 seating balcony along with a sound room and has initiated a computer lab. In August 1998, Pastor Davis appointed 5 Deacons and 10 Trustees to the official staff, Deacons: Bro. Wendell Casher, Bro. Robert Wroten, Bro. Berling Keeton, Bro. Fred Moore and Bro. Marcus Pittman. Trustees: Bro. Milton Richardson, Bro. Harold Richmond, Bro. J.D. Magee, Bro. Lloyd Carter, Bro. W.D. Davis, Bro. Jimmy O' Banner, Bro. Chris Watford, Bro. Terry McCovey. In June 99, Pastor Davis appointed Trustee Jim McInnis to the Deacon Ministry. On December 29, 1998, The Greater Antioch Church became " Debt Free": Hallelujah Any How! In May 1999, the church purchased and installed a new sound system, totaling more than $15,000, which included new drums for the music department. These items were dedicated during morning worship on May 23, 1999. Yes! God Is Good All The Time, And All The Time God Is Good. On May 23, 1999, the Church celebrated it's mortgage burning, with Rev. Charles E. Polk and the St. Luther Church Family, Jackson, MS. Members were asked to contribute only $15.00 dollars each. This amount represented the number of years it took to pay the mortgage off. On October 31, 1999, the choir members and the church family purchased new robes. They were dedicated, along with the balcony, on this day. In 2001, The Greater gets a new inside look. The Church purchased and installed new lights for the sanctuary, totaling over $18,000.00. The kitchen got a new 10- burner gas stove. The choirstand was adorned with 100 new choir chairs, each choir member donating $40.00 each for the chairs. Sing Children Sing. On January 21, 2001, the church dedicated "God's Food House For The Needy." This new ministry allows the church to help feed the homeless and needy on a continuous basis, not just at Christmas. In 2002, The Greater finishes her previous dream by adding to the rear of the church.
On June 10, 2002, construction began on an almost One Half Million Dollar project which will includes the following: larger fellowship hall upstairs and downstairs. executive board room, extended library, extended dining area for Pastor & Sis. Davis and their guest, media center, additional class rooms, larger kitchen area, 5 additional rest rooms and long overdue extension of the Pastor's study with a conference room downstairs. Total addition to the new facility is about 7000 square feet. November 2, 2002, The Greater makes yet another accomplishment by paying off the MCI Bush debt. Ride Greater Ride. In December 2002, the expansion and refurbishing is completed. In March 2003, the Fellowship Hall was named in honor of our pastor, Dr. John W. Davis, Sr. The official staff, under the leadership of Deacon Marcus Pittman, Jr., and Trustee Jimmy O Banner, refurnished Pastor Davis' new study and conference room. The Church has been equipped with the latest technology in monitoring and alarm system, upgraded the sound equipment for upstairs and downstairs use. The Pastor's Aide Supporters, under the leadership of Sis. Irma McNair and I.L. Lett, furnished the dining area for Pastor and Sis Davis and their guest. Still supporting our own, the Workers Council Ministry, under the leadership of Sis. E. Renee Kennedy and Sis. Jestena Evans, donated projector screens, projectors and the necessities for enhancing and furthering the Greater's educational needs. A special group of ladies gave the Ladies Lounge a face lift with new furniture at a cost of $2000.00. Sunday School Class #4, under the leadership of Sis. Mary Dillon, donated 100 African American and 21st Edition Hymnals to the church. The Parsonage got a new face lift: new flooring, ceramic, carpet, a/c and heat unit, upgraded electrical and plumbing totaling $5200.00. It goes without saying the first person to go the extra mile for our church was Pastor and Sis. Davis who donated more than $2500.00 for new tables for the downstairs fellowship hall. On November 28, 2004, the Executive Staff was added along with the following Trustees : O.D. Alford, Andrew Brandon, Gene McCoy, Melvin Morgan, Kevin Randolph, Tyrone Sanders, Roy Sellers, Willie Sims and Phillip Sutters. In November 2004, the men of the church added an addition to the transportation ministry, a 27 passenger bus. Now, that's LEADERSHIP. December 2004, Pastor Davis asked the church to give 500 turkeys to the needy. On August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katerina hit the Gulf Coast hard. The Greater had damages to thesteeple, roof, sound room, etc. Many of the members lost homes due to surging waters of Hurricane Katerina. But through it all, the Lord has blessed. October 2, 2005, The Men & Women Day, with guest Dr. John F. Payne and The Friendship M.B. Church family, climaxed raising a grand total of better than $60,000.00. Pastor Davis added Bro. Maurice B. Davis to the Trustee Ministry on January 29, 2006. October 1, 2006, our four Associate Ministers were ordained: Rev. Keith Brumfield, Rev. Ron Bush, Rev. Berling Keeton and Rev. Chris Watford. October 31, 2006. It is important to know that Deacon Pertis Watts, Sr. was a Deacon and Treasurer under Rev. L.D. Chapman and still remains as the Church Treasurer to this day. The Greater Antioch Media Center opened its door with help of the Deacons, Trustees, and their wives and other church members. A new look was made to The Greater with the purchase of a new color roof and steeple completed on December 13, 2006 totaling about $80,000.00 plus.
My Lord! May 2007, The Greater's media center added an Easy Worship program, projectors and screens to visual enhance the worship services. The audience can participate in the singing and scripture reading by looking on the screens. Our Easy Worship program staff is Deacon Marcus Pittman, Trustee Phillip Sutter, Bro. Robert Richardson, Bro. Joseph Saxon, Bro. Jahvae Bush & Bro. James Richardson. Keeping up with the times, The Greater has its own website and email address, which members, visitors, etc. can access church related news and events on the internet by visiting thegreaterantioch.com or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The site began in May '07 and is maintained through the church office under the guidance of Sis. Deborah Mosley, one of our retired school teachers. In August '07, the church purchased land at 1312 Lily Street for additional parking. They are doing it again, the men of The Greater took the helm again for the third time in a row during our bi-annual Men and Women Day event held on the second Sunday in October. This effort generated more than $86,000.00 for this special day. The coordinators for the men were Bro. Vaughan Martin, Bro. Willie Blake and Pastor Davis, Sr. The ladies coordinators were Sis. Johnnie Hoskins, Sis. Kathy Walker and Sis. Virgie L. Davis. What can we say ladies except Congratulations Men!! Pastor Davis' wisdom and guidance continues to lead The Greater on the upward journey of being about our Father's business.
The Olan Mills Directory of the church family began August '07. Now you can easily access your directory on line by going to The Greater's website, www.thegreaterantioch.com. The 2007 Directory Staff consisted of Sis. Adeline Bush, Sis. Vanessa Casher, Sis. Kathy Dailey, Sis. Jessica Gordon, and Sis. Lashonda Washington. The church's parking lot at 1317 Lily Street, Pascagoula, MS was paved in August , 2008, and dedicated on 10/12/08. In May 2009, the 2004 Ford van was paid in full. Hallelujah Anyhow!
In October, 2009, the Ministers, Deacons, and Trustee Wives donated 144 pew Bibles to the church. The dining hall was adorned with 200 new plush chairs donated by the church family with members purchasing the chairs at $42.00 each. The music ministry received new robes with Pastor and Sis. Davis paying one-half the cost of $16,000.00.
Bro. Daniel Stallworth and Bro. James Richardson were added to the ministerial staff. The church celebrated its 4th Bi-Annual Men and Women Day on the 2nd Sunday in October with Dr. Isiac Jackson and Liberty Baptist Chruch Family. The winners of this event were the men with a total of $38,292.05. The overall total for the event was $66,522.05. My Lord, What A Mighty God We Serve.
Someone said that getting something done is an accomplishment, getting something done right is an achievement. Yes, God is still blessing us here and we say that the best is yet to come! We pray that God will continue to bless and keep The Greater, along with our Pastor and The Lady. We say to you, Love is what Love does. You have not only said in words and deeds, but you have proven over and over again that you are a good Shepherd. For you have been our light in seeking Jesus. We love you and pray that your Paraclete will forever be by your side, with much LOVE, The Greater!