Greater Christ Baptist Church began as a vision in the heart of one man and 204committed 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 Churchof Detroit, and organized Greater Christ Baptist Church on November 25, 1956, at theBurns Avenue Seventh Day Adventist Church. Pastor and people decided in itsinception that Jesus Christ would be the foundation of this church; that the peoplewould serve humanity; and that the ministry would be financed through tithes andofferings.
The church chose the name “Christ Baptist Church”, but because a Michigancongregation was already chartered in that name, the name “Greater Christ BaptistChurch” was chosen and our charter was granted from Lansing, Michigan, March 4,1957.
On Sunday, January 27, 1957, Installation and Recognition Services for the churchwere conducted jointly by members of the Detroit Council of Churches and theWolverine Missionary Baptist State Convention. The installation message wasdelivered by The Reverend Dr. William R. Haney, President of the Wolverine BaptistState Convention. The first Officers of the church were: Chairman of Deacon Board –Bro. Henderson Johnson, Chairman of Trustee Board – Bro. Robert Lewis, ChurchSecretary – Sis. Olivette Holden, Church Clerk – Sis. Gertrude Allison.For the first twenty-six months of our existence, we held services at The Burns AvenueSeventh Day Adventist Church each Sunday and prayer meeting each Thursday.Recognizing the need to assist its members financially, the Greater Christ BaptistCredit Union was organized July 31, 1957.
On February 1, 1959, we agreed to pay The Bethel Baptist Church, 3544 Iroquois atMack Avenue, $50,000.00 toward the down payment of $75,000.00 on the edifice thatis 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 MorningWorship Services were held from 2:00 pm to 3:30 pm. Tuesday and Friday eveningswere available for prayer and auxiliary meetings.Three years and three months after the organization of the church, we obtained fulloccupancy 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. Oglesbyasked each member to give a sacrificial offering of one week’s salary. It was a day ofPraise and Thanksgiving. TO GOD BE THE GLORY, HIS WONDERS TO BEHOLD.On Sunday, June 27, 1965, Mortgage Burning Ceremonies were held. Our guestspeaker for this GLORIOUS OCCASION was Dr. Chester A. Kirkendal, President ofLane College, Jackson, Tennessee. God has continued to BLESS US, GUIDE US,and PROVIDE FOR 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 LillianWalker were sent to Liberia to visit the mission and meet Mother Slocum who foundedthe mission in 1958. Later Haiti was added to our foreign mission projects.Through the years, we have faithfully given financial support to these missionobjectives. We have assisted in educating several Liberian students, some who areloyal 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 NationalBaptist Convention voted to become affiliated with the Progressive National BaptistConvention in October 1967.
On April 13, 1970, Greater Christ Baptist Church held its first ordination service forthree of our members who had been called by God to preach his Word: Bros. JamesMcCaslin, William Tolson III, and Jerome Zack Boikai III. These three men were setapart for the work of ministry. It was a great day of rejoicing. God had borne fruitthrough our efforts.
In 1970, the church purchased its current parsonage at 3510 Iroquois Street for thesum of $18,000.00.
In 1970, Dr. Oglesby, being led by God and believing that his contribution to the visionhad been completed, decided to pursue a full time teaching career and accepted aprofessorship at the Payne Theological Seminary in Zenia, Ohio.
Upon the recommendation of Dr. Oglesby, The Reverend Stanley Scott II, who hadbeen the Assistant Minister since December 1, 1974, was elected Senior Minister ofGreater Christ Baptist Church on January 2, 1977. His initial sermon was entitled,“Through God We Can”. Installation services were held September 4, 1977. TheInstallation Sermon was delivered by Dr. Louis Johnson, Pastor Friendship BaptistChurch. The Charge to the Pastor was delivered by Reverend Charles Adams, Pastor,Hartford Memorial Baptist Church. And The Charge to the Church was give byReverend John W. Peoples, Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church.
Under the leadership of Reverend Scott the Voices of Praise, Project-In-Reach and aTutorial 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 committeeprayerfully searched the country for a shepherd. On October 14, 1980 under God’sguidance, The Reverend James C. Perkins of St. Albans, West Virginia, was electedPastor 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 churchforward.
The Reverend Perkins assumed his pastoral responsibilities on Sunday, January 4,1981. His message was “Some Rules for Running”. The Scripture text was Hebrews12:1-2.
Installation services were held on April 5, 1981. Guest preacher for this occasion wasthe 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 CalvaryBaptist Church. The Charge to the Church was given by the Reverend CharlesAdams, Pastor, the Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.
Under the dynamic leadership of Pastor Perkins, the vision had been extended and wehave embarked on a spiritual odyssey with God guiding and providing.With realization of the importance of our history and the dedicated sacrificial leadershipof our Founder and pastor for twenty years (1956-1976), Dr. Jacob C. Oglesby, PastorPerkins 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. Themembership was encouraged to give love gifts to Dr. Oglesby. Former members andfriends were invited in to share in this special day of celebration. Jacob C. OglesbyDay 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 beenrealized. In the short space of five years, our witness was extended into thecommunity in a marvelous way. Property was purchased on Mack Avenue, and a newBurger King Restaurant was established. This ministry provided additional income tothe church; jobs for unemployed young people within the community; and it changedthe appearance of the surrounding area to the glory of God.
Pastor Perkins had a desire to develop a relevant ministry that would involve everymember of the church. After much prayer, a planning session was held in September1985 with the assistance of Sis. Catherine Lewis and Sis. Louise Eagan. Thecongregation was re-organized around ten (10) Ministry Commissions that utilize thegifts of the membership in pursuing specific goals in various areas of ministry.Through these ministry commissions, God began to move. A New MembersHandbook was written for the training of new members through the New MembersClass held each Sunday morning at 9:00 am. A 24 hour Dial-A-Prayer/Crisis Line hasbeen implemented. A Summer Youth Employment Program was in place. GED andan 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 expandedMusic Department to include a full time Minister of Music, Mr. Henry L. Parker, musiclessons were given for our youth and adults, Choral workshops, and vocal training washeld. Through these ministry commissions, the church had begun to develop anexciting ministry.
Because of our expanding ministry, the property formerly belonging to the Shrine of theBlack Madonna at 8521 Mack Avenue was purchased in 1986 and dedicated asGreater 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 thechurch. 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. Heprovided the knowledge, resources, facility, staff, and students required to open theBenjamin E. Mays Male Academy on August 30th, 1993, for grades K-3 with anenrollment 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 andMusic Instructor; Mrs. Jeanette Cheeseboro, Kindergarten teacher, Ms. SherryAndrews grade 1 teacher, Ms. Tawana Mercer, grades 2 and 3 teacher, and Mr. ArnoldRosser, 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 onOctober 16, 1993 under the umbrella of the Deaconess Board with Deaconess LyndaBerry and sister Beverly Tolliver as coordinators.
A computer network system with names and addresses of the communitiessurrounding the church on the east, west, north, and south (our redemptive turf) wasdeveloped. Our goal was to be a church for the community and not just theneighborhood. Health on Wheels, a free medical clinic serviced by the Detroit andWayne County Medical Societies for persons lacking health insurance was provided formembers and the community.
As God’s vision for Greater Christ Baptist Church continues to unfold. We thank Godfor 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 thehousing needs of our surrounding community.For the 94-95 school year God blessed our efforts by adding the fourth grade and anew teacher Mr. Robert Rogers to the Benjamin Mays Academy and 78 studentsenrolled.GOD’S BLESSINGS ARE CONTINOUS.
In 1995 Greater Christ Baptist was honored to be selected as the Host church for theEmpowerment Zone Town Meeting and the presentation of the Federal EmpowermentCertificate presented by Vice President Al Gore to Mayor Dennis Archer.Approximately 600 people, GCBC members and the surrounding community were onhand to witness this event.In June of 1995, Pastor Perkins was the convener of the Symposium on EconomicDevelopment 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 andrepairing 200 homes in the community in August of 1995. That was truly a day ofPraise 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 weresuperb and narration by Sister Curtrina Smith and Rev. William Tolson helped makethe event a huge success. PRAISE BE TO GOD FOR THE GREAT THINGS HE HASDONE.
On April 3, 1996 God called home to glory one of His faithful servants, Rev. WilliamTolson III, during our spiritual celebration of the death and RESURRECTION of ourLORD and SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.
Rev. Nathan L. Hendrix our beloved assistant minister made his transition on January13, 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 at9:00 am. It was well attended and has enhanced our worship experience.
Our hearts were truly saddened when we learned of the passing of our belovedFounder and Pastor Emeritus on April 4, 1999, but our hearts rejoiced when wethought of his dedication to preaching and teaching God’s word and the lasting andprofound effect that he and his wife “Miss Anne” (who preceded him in death onSeptember 18, 1990) made on all he met especially the members of Greater ChristBaptist Church. Our church motto: Where God Guides He Always Provides is whatDr. Oglesby truly believed.
Our Spring Institute held June 15-17, 1999, Theme “Breaking Through to be New” wasa spiritual blessing to our members and visitors who took advantage of this God filledevent. Our worship leaders were Dr. Gregory Ingram, Dr. Jessica Ingram, Mrs. HelenSpruiel, and Mrs. Clintina Simms. We were taken to the mountain top by Rev. FloydFlake, Dr. Jeremiah Wright, Bishop Andrew Merritt and Rev. E. L. Branch. On June18, 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 usto “Break through to be New”.God chose to add three additional disciples to proclaim His word, so on SundayOctober 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 ameans to send a message to future members and the community about who we areand what we want people to know about us and our times at the dawn of the “NewMillennium”.
The year 2001 was the beginning of our 45th year of our existence as the peoplecalled GCBC. Our walk with God has been a blessed affair; greater is He that is withinus than he that is in the world.
An oil portrait of the late Reverend Dr. Jacob C. and the late Mrs. Anne Oglesby waspainted by the renowned artist Mr. John Wesley Simms Jr., and was unveiled on April22, during a reception filled with those who knew and loved them. We thanked ourPastor, Dr. James C. Perkins for his expression of love to the Oglesby’s for their yearsof dedicated service and love for Greater Christ Baptist Church.
On November 4, 2001, Greater Christ ordained their first women deacons, Sister IdaSmith and Sister Gloriane Hymon.
As we move closer to the fulfillment of God’s vision for us, we discover that Hispromises always come true. God has revealed to us that we have sufficient land forour needs.
In 2002 Greater Christ joined with Bethel East Baptist Church, Christian TempleBaptist Church, Samaritan Missionary Baptist Church, Nativity of Our Lord CatholicChurch, and the 4-H Community Center to organize CONNECT (ChurchesOrganizations and Neighborhoods Networking to Enrich Children Together). Thepurpose is to provide quality programs during non-school hours.Plans for the renovation of our current edifice were presented to the members onSunday, July 18, 2004 at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.Greater Christ launched our Building the Vision Capital Stewardship Campaign at thisevent.
Ordination Services were held on Sunday, September 18, 2005 for ReverendsJabulani and Nikita McCalister. What a wonderful God we serve.On December 14, 2005, Fellowship Non-Profit Housing Corporation heldgroundbreaking ceremonies for Providence Place, a $10 million housing developmentof 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 25years 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 GlorianeHymon-Wiley preached their trial sermons and were licensed to preach.On March 11, 2006 we had a marvelous affair at the Seldom Blues Restaurant tocelebrate Pastor Perkins’ 25th Anniversary as our pastor and his 55th birthday.April 2006, Fellowship Non-Profit Housing Corporation began construction ofProvidence Place. All 50 homes were completed and occupied in December 2006.Fellowship Non-Profit Housing Corporation is now working on Providence Plaza, acommercial 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 28,2006.
On August 10, 2006, Pastor Perkins was elected 2nd Vice President of the ProgressiveNational Baptist Convention at its 45th Annual Session held in Cincinnati, Ohio. Godhas blessed Greater Christ with an opportunity to serve and to have a broader impactthan just our local witness. Thanks be to God.In this 10-year period of time, Greater Christ focused even more on City andcommunity outreach. The Eastside PraiseFest was birthed and drew hundreds of cityresidents to the church property to receive free medical and dental care, enjoy carnivalrides and musical/gospel concerts, meet with ministers, prayer and mental and healthcounselors, eat delicious food and participate in worship experiences for the glory ofGod. Many accepted Christ through this experience and this proved to be a gatewayto membership growth, as we termed the phrase “getting beyond the church walls”.It was during this period that Providence Place, a moderate-income housingdevelopment community was fully erected and many church members were able torealize their dream of homeownership through this Greater Christ non-profit housinginitiative.
In 2017, our 61st year in existence, Greater Christ demonstrated its Godly faith andpersevered during an unforeseen medical emergency experienced by Pastor James C.Perkins. During his nine-month recovery, our associate ministers and ministerial leadsensured 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 resourcefor many in our immediate community experiencing food insecurity. The churchmembership responded with critical donations, along with our partners/sponsors, toensure its ongoing reliability. Greater Christ became a prominent drive-up fooddistribution site for the City of Detroit.
Associate ministers rotated leadership assignments and ensured the Word of Godwould go forth. Glory be to God that Dr. Perkins would eventually return in betterhealth, having an added focus on ministerial contingency planning.The Technology ministry began to expand as screens, monitors and othertechnological advancements were added to the main sanctuary to enhance theworship experience and produce quality reproductions of service. Online access toGreater Christ became more intentional, but nothing would shape the importance andrelevance of our technology ministry than the global pandemic of Covid, whichoccurred 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 a15-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 soimportant for the Blood of God to keep us connected, and our evolving technology tokeep us plugged in.
After nearly 18 months of closure, Greater Christ resumed full in-person servicesSeptember 5, 2021. Regrettably, another outbreak hit the U.S. and doors closed againJanuary 2022, reopening (and remaining open) on April 3, 2022.Anxious to make up for not celebrating key milestones, the church embarked oncelebrating our 65 th and 66 th church anniversaries concurrently and all year long. Witha special 5 th Sunday emphasis, key historical moments in the life of Greater Christ wereilluminated all year long, beginning with our annual prayer breakfast, held virtually forthe first time, on January 8, 2022.March 2022, Pastor Perkins announced his intent to retire at year’s end, and so apastor search committed, led by Sister Cheri Williams was established and the churchbegin to pray for a new shepherd. On October 29, 2022, the membership of GreaterChrist Baptist Church elected Rev. Dr. Micah R. Gaines, of Lexington, Kentucky astheir 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, havingbeen bestowed the new title of “Pastor Emeritus”.January 1, 2023, Dr. Micah R. Gaines preached his first sermon of his leadership, “ItWas 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, heimmediately began to meet and greet the congregation in which he would steward.Hosting generational meetings, Dr. Gaines quickly began to meet his newcongregation 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, “ItWas Worth the Wait” - Genesis 7:15.
Realizing that God is everywhere, and some church members may never actually stepfoot into the physical building, he quickly enhanced virtual worship services, expandingthe platform to include Facebook Live, YouTube, Instagram, and real-time streamingon the Greater Christ Church website. The media team was expanded.Pastor Gaines reinstituted in-person weekly Bible-Study in April 2023, re-establishedthe Scholarship Club Ministry (to award academic scholars with financial support) andbegin launching ministries designed to meet the mental and financial well-being of themembership.
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 ValerieFulton-Robinson, with a host committee of 23 dedicated members. Psalmist was therenowned Dr. Dorinda Clark-Cole.Deeming the entire weekend “Legacy Week” in celebration, Dr. Perkins returned toGreater 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. MicahR. 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 specialguests, Dr. Danielle L. Brown and Pastor Frank Harris Jr.
We celebrated our first three baptisms under Dr. Gaines’ leadership on ResurrectionSunday, 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 Baptist Church
3544 Iroquois Ave, Detroit, MI 48214