Our History


Greater Christ Baptist Church began as a vision in the heart of one man and 204
committed Christians.

Adopting as their motto, “Where God Guides, He Always Provides”, The Reverend Dr.
Jacob C. Oglesby along with these 204 people, parted with the Calvary Baptist Church
of Detroit, and organized Greater Christ Baptist Church on November 25, 1956, at the
Burns Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church. Pastor and people decided in its
inception that Jesus Christ would be the foundation of this church; that the people
would serve humanity; and that the ministry would be financed through tithes and

The church chose the name “Christ Baptist Church”, but because a Michigan
congregation was already chartered in that name, the name “Greater Christ Baptist
Church” was chosen and our charter was granted from Lansing, Michigan, March 4,

On Sunday, January 27, 1957, Installation and Recognition Services for the church
were conducted jointly by members of the Detroit Council of Churches and the
Wolverine Missionary Baptist State Convention. The installation message was
delivered by The Reverend Dr. William R. Haney, President of the Wolverine Baptist
State Convention. The first Officers of the church were: Chairman of Deacon Board –
Bro. Henderson Johnson, Chairman of Trustee Board – Bro. Robert Lewis, Church
Secretary – Sis. Olivette Holden, Church Clerk – Sis. Gertrude Allison.
For the first twenty-six months of our existence, we held services at The Burns Avenue
Seventh Day Adventist Church each Sunday and prayer meeting each Thursday.
Recognizing the need to assist its members financially, the Greater Christ Baptist
Credit Union was organized July 31, 1957.

On February 1, 1959, we agreed to pay The Bethel Baptist Church, 3544 Iroquois at
Mack Avenue, $50,000.00 toward the down payment of $75,000.00 on the edifice that
is now our church home. The total cost of the building was $200,000.00 plus interest.
We then moved in with Bethel Baptist on a partial occupancy basis for one year.
During this time, Sunday School was held from 12:45 pm to 2:00 pm and Morning
Worship Services were held from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm. Tuesday and Friday evenings
were available for prayer and auxiliary meetings.

Three years and three months after the organization of the church, we obtained full
occupancy of our church home on February 22, 1960 after paying the balance of
$25,000.00 (plus $1,000.00 for insurance). To accomplish this victory, Dr. Oglesby
asked each member to give a sacrificial offering of one week’s salary. It was a day of
On Sunday, June 27, 1965, Mortgage Burning Ceremonies were held. Our guest
speaker for this GLORIOUS OCCASION was Dr. Chester A. Kirkendal, President of
Lane College, Jackson, Tennessee. God has continued to BLESS US, GUIDE US,

October 1, 1965, Greater Christ adopted Slocum Mission Station of Kakata, Liberia,
West Africa as our foreign mission project. In 1967 Dr. Oglesby and Mother Lillian
Walker were sent to Liberia to visit the mission and meet Mother Slocum who founded
the mission in 1958. Later Haiti was added to our foreign mission projects.
Through the years, we have faithfully given financial support to these mission
objectives. We have assisted in educating several Liberian students, some who are
loyal members of the Greater Christ family; and others who live around the world.  


Dedication of the church building facilities and equipment was held Sunday,
September 21, 1969. Greater Christ Baptist Church, initially affiliated with the National
Baptist Convention voted to become affiliated with the Progressive National Baptist
Convention in October 1967.

On April 13, 1970, Greater Christ Baptist Church held its first ordination service for
three of our members who had been called by God to preach his Word: Bros. James
McCaslin, William Tolson III, and Jerome Zack Boikai III. These three men were set
apart for the work of ministry. It was a great day of rejoicing. God had borne fruit
through our efforts.

In 1970, the church purchased its current parsonage at 3510 Iroquois Street for the
sum of $18,000.00.

In 1970, Dr. Oglesby, being led by God and believing that his contribution to the vision
had been completed, decided to pursue a full time teaching career and accepted a
professorship at the Payne Theological Seminary in Zenia, Ohio.  


Upon the recommendation of Dr. Oglesby, The Reverend Stanley Scott II, who had
been the Assistant Minister since December 1, 1974, was elected Senior Minister of
Greater Christ Baptist Church on January 2, 1977. His initial sermon was entitled,

“Through God We Can”. Installation services were held September 4, 1977. The
Installation Sermon was delivered by Dr. Louis Johnson, Pastor Friendship Baptist
Church. The Charge to the Pastor was delivered by Reverend Charles Adams, Pastor,
Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. And The Charge to the Church was give by
Reverend John W. Peoples, Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church.

Under the leadership of Reverend Scott the Voices of Praise, Project-In-Reach and a
Tutorial Reading and Math class for the youth were organized.

In January 1980, Reverend Stanley Scott founded a new ministry, Salvation Temple,
located at 1900 East Grand Boulevard, Detroit, Michigan.

Greater Christ was without a pastor for nine months and the pulpit committee
prayerfully searched the country for a shepherd. On October 14, 1980 under God’s
guidance, The Reverend James C. Perkins of St. Albans, West Virginia, was elected
Pastor of Greater Christ.

Immediately the membership realized God had sent us an extremely qualified, Spirit-
filled shepherd who could not only Preach God’s Word, but who could teach it as well.
Pastor Perkins is a man of vision. His projects and goals have moved the church

The Reverend Perkins assumed his pastoral responsibilities on Sunday, January 4,
1981. His message was “Some Rules for Running”. The Scripture text was Hebrews

Installation services were held on April 5, 1981. Guest preacher for this occasion was
the Reverend Johnny R. Youngblood, Pastor, St. Paul Community Baptist Church,
Brooklyn, New York. The Charge to the Pastor was given by Reverend Charles Butler,
President, Michigan Progressive Baptist Convention, and Pastor of the New Calvary
Baptist Church. The Charge to the Church was given by the Reverend Charles
Adams, Pastor, the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.

Under the dynamic leadership of Pastor Perkins, the vision had been extended and we
have embarked on a spiritual odyssey with God guiding and providing.
With realization of the importance of our history and the dedicated sacrificial leadership
of our Founder and pastor for twenty years (1956-1976), Dr. Jacob C. Oglesby, Pastor
Perkins initiated the election of Dr. Oglesby as Pastor Emeritus of Greater Christ.
Jacob C. Oglesby Day was observed each year on the first Sunday of October. The
membership was encouraged to give love gifts to Dr. Oglesby. Former members and
friends were invited in to share in this special day of celebration. Jacob C. Oglesby
Day was observed each year until the homegoing of Dr. Oglesby on 1999.

Part of the continuing vision that God laid on the heart of Pastor Perkins has been
realized. In the short space of five years, our witness was extended into the
community in a marvelous way. Property was purchased on Mack Avenue, and a new
Burger King Restaurant was established. This ministry provided additional income to
the church; jobs for unemployed young people within the community; and it changed
the appearance of the surrounding area to the glory of God.

Pastor Perkins had a desire to develop a relevant ministry that would involve every
member of the church. After much prayer, a planning session was held in September
1985 with the assistance of Sis. Catherine Lewis and Sis. Louise Eagan. The
congregation was re-organized around ten (10) Ministry Commissions that utilize the
gifts of the membership in pursuing specific goals in various areas of ministry.
Through these ministry commissions, God began to move. A New Members
Handbook was written for the training of new members through the New Members
Class held each Sunday morning at 9:00 am. A 24 hour Dial-A-Prayer/Crisis Line has
been implemented. A Summer Youth Employment Program was in place. GED and
an Adult Basic Education Program met daily; a Resource Center had been established.
The Golden Age Fellowship was organized. A Counseling Center was opened.
Alcoholics Anonymous meetings were conducted weekly. Through an expanded
Music Department to include a full time Minister of Music, Mr. Henry L. Parker, music
lessons were given for our youth and adults, Choral workshops, and vocal training was
held. Through these ministry commissions, the church had begun to develop an
exciting ministry.  


Because of our expanding ministry, the property formerly belonging to the Shrine of the
Black Madonna at 8521 Mack Avenue was purchased in 1986 and dedicated as
Greater Christ Baptist Church Activities Center on November 23, 1986.

The purchase of the Activity Center has proven to be a great asset to the growth of the
church. The following activities are held on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis:
(a) GED classes
(b) Counseling Center
(c) Alcoholics Anonymous
(d) Resource Center
(e) Children’s Church for ages 6 to 12
(f) Men’s Group – that discuss Civic and Community concerns and Bible study.
(g) Women’s Group – that meets the needs of the women of the church,
both young and old and their theme “Sister to Sister”.

During our 37th year of existence God was truly guiding and providing for us. He
provided the knowledge, resources, facility, staff, and students required to open the
Benjamin E. Mays Male Academy on August 30th, 1993, for grades K-3 with an
enrollment of 38 boys.

The faculty was as follows: Pastor James C. Perkins Director and Dean of Students;
Mrs. Linda Perkins, Administrator; Mr. Henry L. Parker, Administrative Assistant and
Music Instructor; Mrs. Jeanette Cheeseboro, Kindergarten teacher, Ms. Sherry
Andrews grade 1 teacher, Ms. Tawana Mercer, grades 2 and 3 teacher, and Mr. Arnold
Rosser, Male Responsibility instructor.

Hallelujah, Praise Be to God for the marvelous things He has done!
Also, this year a Transformation Rights of Passage for females was initiated on
October 16, 1993 under the umbrella of the Deaconess Board with Deaconess Lynda
Berry and sister Beverly Tolliver as coordinators.

A computer network system with names and addresses of the communities
surrounding the church on the east, west, north, and south (our redemptive turf) was
developed. Our goal was to be a church for the community and not just the
neighborhood. Health on Wheels, a free medical clinic serviced by the Detroit and
Wayne County Medical Societies for persons lacking health insurance was provided for
members and the community.

As God’s vision for Greater Christ Baptist Church continues to unfold. We thank God
for funds to install a handicap ramp, fire doors up and downstairs, paved parking lots,
new sidewalks, and a new bus.

In 1994, Fellowship Non-Profit Housing Corporation was established to meet the
housing needs of our surrounding community.
For the 94-95 school year God blessed our efforts by adding the fourth grade and a
new teacher Mr. Robert Rogers to the Benjamin Mays Academy and 78 students


In 1995 Greater Christ Baptist was honored to be selected as the Host church for the
Empowerment Zone Town Meeting and the presentation of the Federal Empowerment
Certificate presented by Vice President Al Gore to Mayor Dennis Archer.
Approximately 600 people, GCBC members and the surrounding community were on
hand to witness this event.

In June of 1995, Pastor Perkins was the convener of the Symposium on Economic
Development Through the Church for the Detroit Black Expo 1995 held at Cobo Hall.
Paint the Town, a project initiated by Fellowship Inc. was successful in painting and
repairing 200 homes in the community in August of 1995. That was truly a day of
Praise and Triumph.  


The Music Department under the direction of our Minister of Music, Mr. Henry Parker,
presented “LET GOD ARISE”, written and directed by Mr. Glen Burleigh on April 1,
1996 at Martin Luther King High School. Our Adult Choir, children, and orchestra were
superb and narration by Sister Curtrina Smith and Rev. William Tolson helped make
the event a huge success. PRAISE BE TO GOD FOR THE GREAT THINGS HE HAS

On April 3, 1996 God called home to glory one of His faithful servants, Rev. William
Tolson III, during our spiritual celebration of the death and RESURRECTION of our

Rev. Nathan L. Hendrix our beloved assistant minister made his transition on January
13, 1998. God looks His garden over and selects the best flowers.

June 7, 1998 was our first early morning service which started at 8:00 am and ended at
9:00 am. It was well attended and has enhanced our worship experience.

Our hearts were truly saddened when we learned of the passing of our beloved
Founder and Pastor Emeritus on April 4, 1999, but our hearts rejoiced when we
thought of his dedication to preaching and teaching God’s word and the lasting and
profound effect that he and his wife “Miss Anne” (who preceded him in death on
September 18, 1990) made on all he met especially the members of Greater Christ
Baptist Church. Our church motto: Where God Guides He Always Provides is what
Dr. Oglesby truly believed.

Our Spring Institute held June 15-17, 1999, Theme “Breaking Through to be New” was
a spiritual blessing to our members and visitors who took advantage of this God filled
event. Our worship leaders were Dr. Gregory Ingram, Dr. Jessica Ingram, Mrs. Helen
Spruiel, and Mrs. Clintina Simms. We were taken to the mountain top by Rev. Floyd
Flake, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Bishop Andrew Merritt and Rev. E. L. Branch. On June
18, 1999 the institute concluded with words of wisdom by the dynamic Bishop T.D.
Jakes at Calihan Hall on the University of Detroit Mercy Campus. God truly blessed us
to “Break through to be New”.

God chose to add three additional disciples to proclaim His word, so on Sunday
October 10, 1999 ordination services were held for Rev. Wallace Adam Gilbert Jr.,
Rev. Henry Lewis Parker Jr. and Rev. V. Lonnie Peek Jr.
GCBC buried a time capsule during our night-watch service on December 31, 1999-
January 1, 2000 to be opened January 1, 2050. The time capsule was used as a
means to send a message to future members and the community about who we are
and what we want people to know about us and our times at the dawn of the “New

The year 2001 was the beginning of our 45th year of our existence as the people
called GCBC. Our walk with God has been a blessed affair; greater is He that is within
us than he that is in the world.

An oil portrait of the late Reverend Dr. Jacob C. and the late Mrs. Anne Oglesby was
painted by the renowned artist Mr. John Wesley Simms Jr., and was unveiled on April
22, during a reception filled with those who knew and loved them. We thanked our
Pastor, Dr. James C. Perkins for his expression of love to the Oglesby’s for their years
of dedicated service and love for Greater Christ Baptist Church.

On November 4, 2001, Greater Christ ordained their first women deacons, Sister Ida
Smith and Sister Gloriane Hymon.

As we move closer to the fulfillment of God’s vision for us, we discover that His
promises always come true. God has revealed to us that we have sufficient land for
our needs.

In 2002 Greater Christ joined with Bethel East Baptist Church, Christian Temple
Baptist Church, Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church, Nativity of Our Lord Catholic
Church, and the 4-H Community Center to organize CONNECT (Churches
Organizations and Neighborhoods Networking to Enrich Children Together). The
purpose is to provide quality programs during non-school hours.
Plans for the renovation of our current edifice were presented to the members on
Sunday, July 18, 2004 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.
Greater Christ launched our Building the Vision Capital Stewardship Campaign at this

Ordination Services were held on Sunday, September 18, 2005 for Reverends
Jabulani and Nikita McCalister. What a wonderful God we serve.
On December 14, 2005, Fellowship Non-Profit Housing Corporation held
groundbreaking ceremonies for Providence Place, a $10 million housing development
of single family homes for low to moderate income families.  


The year 2006 begins our year long celebration of 50 years as a church family and 25
years as pastor and people. Our motto: A Legacy of Faith in God’s Vision.
On March 3, 2006, Bro. Astere Asaka, Bro. Taft Cleveland, and Deacon Gloriane
Hymon-Wiley preached their trial sermons and were licensed to preach.
On March 11, 2006 we had a marvelous affair at the Seldom Blues Restaurant to
celebrate Pastor Perkins’ 25th Anniversary as our pastor and his 55th birthday.
April 2006, Fellowship Non-Profit Housing Corporation began construction of
Providence Place. All 50 homes were completed and occupied in December 2006.
Fellowship Non-Profit Housing Corporation is now working on Providence Plaza, a
commercial strip that will contain a coin laundry, dry cleaners, and sit down café.
God blessed us to have Ordination Services for Reverend Cheryl Swaker on May 28,

On August 10, 2006, Pastor Perkins was elected 2nd Vice President of the Progressive
National Baptist Convention at its 45th Annual Session held in Cincinnati, Ohio. God
has blessed Greater Christ with an opportunity to serve and to have a broader impact
than just our local witness. Thanks be to God.

In this 10-year period of time, Greater Christ focused even more on City and
community outreach. The Eastside PraiseFest was birthed and drew hundreds of city
residents to the church property to receive free medical and dental care, enjoy carnival
rides and musical/gospel concerts, meet with ministers, prayer and mental and health
counselors, eat delicious food and participate in worship experiences for the glory of
God. Many accepted Christ through this experience and this proved to be a gateway
to membership growth, as we termed the phrase “getting beyond the church walls”.
It was during this period that Providence Place, a moderate-income housing
development community was fully erected and many church members were able to
realize their dream of homeownership through this Greater Christ non-profit housing

2016-Current (2023)

In 2017, our 61st year in existence, Greater Christ demonstrated its Godly faith and
persevered during an unforeseen medical emergency experienced by Pastor James C.
Perkins. During his nine-month recovery, our associate ministers and ministerial leads
ensured growth in our ministries by having an increased focus on:

~ Christian Education Ministry and Sunday School
~ Growth of our Music Ministry
~ Weekly Bible Study

With a modest recession in the City of Detroit, our food pantry became a vital resource
for many in our immediate community experiencing food insecurity. The church
membership responded with critical donations, along with our partners/sponsors, to
ensure its ongoing reliability. Greater Christ became a prominent drive-up food
distribution site for the City of Detroit.

Associate ministers rotated leadership assignments and ensured the Word of God
would go forth. Glory be to God that Dr. Perkins would eventually return in better
health, having an added focus on ministerial contingency planning.
The Technology ministry began to expand as screens, monitors and other
technological advancements were added to the main sanctuary to enhance the
worship experience and produce quality reproductions of service. Online access to
Greater Christ became more intentional, but nothing would shape the importance and
relevance of our technology ministry than the global pandemic of Covid, which
occurred in 2020. Relegated to only virtual worship for the safety of the congregation,
our various worship experience(s) moved exclusively to Facebook Live.
Greater Christ mourns the loss of many that were loss due to the Corona Virus (Covid)
outbreak. We loss 50+ members to the virus, or virus-related complications, within a
15-month period. May God bless their memory and contributions to Greater Christ.
The church soldiered through this period with remote services keen on senior ministry,
youth ministry, music ministry, community outreach and political/civil engagement.
With the isolation of the pandemic and political/civil unrest nationally, it was ever so
important for the Blood of God to keep us connected, and our evolving technology to
keep us plugged in.

After nearly 18 months of closure, Greater Christ resumed full in-person services
September 5, 2021. Regrettably, another outbreak hit the U.S. and doors closed again
January 2022, reopening (and remaining open) on April 3, 2022.
Anxious to make up for not celebrating key milestones, the church embarked on
celebrating our 65 th and 66 th church anniversaries concurrently and all year long. With
a special 5 th Sunday emphasis, key historical moments in the life of Greater Christ were
illuminated all year long, beginning with our annual prayer breakfast, held virtually for
the first time, on January 8, 2022.

March 2022, Pastor Perkins announced his intent to retire at year’s end, and so a
pastor search committed, led by Sister Cheri Williams was established and the church
begin to pray for a new shepherd. On October 29, 2022, the membership of Greater
Christ Baptist Church elected Rev. Dr. Micah R. Gaines, of Lexington, Kentucky as
their new Senior Pastor-Elect. Upon Dr. Gaines acceptance, the Rev. Dr. James C.
Perkins preached his final sermon as pastor on Sunday, December 25, 2022, having
been bestowed the new title of “Pastor Emeritus”.
January 1, 2023, Dr. Micah R. Gaines preached his first sermon of his leadership, “It
Was Worth the Wait” - Genesis 7:15.

Pastor-Elect, Gaines, quickly went to work! Officially launching into his new role as Sr.
Pastor and leading watch-night services on Saturday, December 31, 2022, he
immediately began to meet and greet the congregation in which he would steward.
Hosting generational meetings, Dr. Gaines quickly began to meet his new
congregation in early January 2023:
~ Builders (born 1923 - 1943)
~ Boomers (born 1944 - 1962)
~ Busters (born 1963 - 1983)
~ Bridges (born 1984 - 2002)
~ Blossoms (born 2003 - present)

January 1, 2023, Dr. Micah R. Gaines preached his first sermon of his leadership, “It
Was Worth the Wait” - Genesis 7:15.

Realizing that God is everywhere, and some church members may never actually step
foot into the physical building, he quickly enhanced virtual worship services, expanding
the platform to include Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram, and real-time streaming
on the Greater Christ Church website. The media team was expanded.
Pastor Gaines reinstituted in-person weekly Bible-Study in April 2023, re-established
the Scholarship Club Ministry (to award academic scholars with financial support) and
begin launching ministries designed to meet the mental and financial well-being of the

On, March 17, 2023, at the beautiful Detroit Roostertail Special Event Center, Dr.
Gaines led the membership in celebrating the retirement of our Pastor Emeritus, Dr.
James C. Perkins, after 42 years of leadership. The event was chaired by Valerie
Fulton-Robinson, with a host committee of 23 dedicated members. Psalmist was the
renowned Dr. Dorinda Clark-Cole.

Deeming the entire weekend “Legacy Week” in celebration, Dr. Perkins returned to
Greater Christ Church on March 19 th and delivered his first sermon as Pastor Emeritus,
entitled, “Dreams Delayed, but not Denied”, - Genesis 39:20.

On March 23-26, 2023, the official installation services for Pastor-Elect, Rev. Dr. Micah
R. Gaines were held with special guests, Dr. Phillip L. Pointer, Sr., Dr. William H.
Curtis, Rev. Richard Gaines, Ms. Anita Wilson and Dr. Marcus D. Cosby.
Our Holy Week Revival was held shortly thereafter on April 6-7, 2023, with special
guests, Dr. Danielle L. Brown and Pastor Frank Harris Jr.

We celebrated our first three baptisms under Dr. Gaines’ leadership on Resurrection
Sunday, April 9, 2023, completed our first phase of technological upgrades on Friday,
April 21 and hosted a Ministry Fair on Connection Sunday, April 30 as we, likewise,
welcomed our first set of new members.

This is our 66-year legacy: WHERE GOD GUIDES, HE ALWAYS PROVIDES! 

Greater Christ Church Logo

Greater Christ Baptist Church
3544 Iroquois Ave, Detroit, MI 48214