Services return to St. John-White Chapel


The oldest church in Montgomery County was back in business on Oct. 15.

St. John-White Chapel Baptist Church in Montgomery City held its first service in over three years as it celebrated its 141st anniversary. The church was closed in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the last time we were in this church, it was my anniversary,” Pastor Rev. Demetrice Bell said. “Then, COVID hit. When COVID hit, we had to shut down. But God gave us the glory to open it up on the church anniversary. When sometimes God does things, sometimes God does things to see where our faith is. The church is not in the pool hall. The church is in our hearts.”

The anniversary celebration started with a morning service at St. John-White Chapel Baptist Church. Later that afternoon, a special event was held at Oak Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Guthrie, just north of Jefferson City. Deacon Kenny Briscoe was the emcee and Rev. Clyde Griffin was the guest speaker.

“It’s good to see everybody here to be back in God’s church praising his name,” Rev. Bell said. “141 years and it’s still going.”

The church was founded in October 1882 at the western part of Montgomery City in what was known as Africa Hill, where most of the African Americans lived at the time. It was called St. John’s Baptist Church because it reminded then-pastor Rev. M.S. Cole of a little church in Tennessee he worked at. It was later torn down after church officials decided that it needed to be remodeled. The project was never completed.

In the early 1930s, services were held at an art hall until they were later moved to the present site, which is 399 Pickering in Montgomery City. Land was purchased by Walter Clay on Oct. 20, 1935 in order for the new church to be built.

During the 1960s, the church went through a remodeling project and a name change. On Nov. 8, 1962, White Baptist Church in McKittrick was united with St. John Baptist Church and the church became St. John-White Chapel Baptist Church. Services were held twice a month until 1971, when they were held every Sunday.

Two years ago, the church started raising funds for repairs. Now that the church has reopened, services will be held on the first and third Sunday of each month. The next service is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Nov. 5.

“In these three years, we’ve been through some things, but God put us back on the right track,” Rev. Bell said.


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