Life gives us many golden opportunities of happiness and gratitude as people glance backward and look forward. This document reveals the ongoing growth and development of the Saint James Missionary Baptist Church.
Most people have the habit of only seeing the finished product, giving little thought to the struggle of its beginning. An oak tree starts as an acorn, and the seed from that acorn is planted in the ground. From the seed, roots begin to grow deeper into the ground. As the roots grow downward, a tiny tree begins to break through the earth. This is called a sapling tree. We see the beauty and strength of the mighty oak tree with no thought of the tiny acorn from which it grew.
On September 25, 1925, an acorn was planted at 934 Cedar Street in a store front. A church, to be named Saint James Missionary Baptist Church by Reverend T. T. Radford, was organized with seven members present; namely: Deacon Ervin Mayfield, the first deacon, who was later appointed as Chairman of Deacons, Brother Milton Petty, Sister Myrtle Mayfield, Brother Abe Brown, Sister Josie Brown, Sister Lucy Brown, and Mother Lucy Benford. The Reverend Mayes, Moderator of the East Fork Association, helped organize this small group of worshipers.
From the acorn that was planted, the sapling tree continued to grow slender young branches which began to form and sprout new leaves. On July 10, 1926, Reverend Henry Wesley Turner was called as the church’s first pastor. In October of the same year, the church held a Fall Revival and took in more members. Two of the first members to join were the late Sister Fannie Mary Johnson and Sister Thelma (Cartmel) Murray. Also, in the same year, the church moved to Eleventh Avenue North. Just as the sapling tree continues to grow taller each year, the trunk of the tree thickens and becomes stronger. Soon the church outgrew this location and was later moved to a new building at 1128 Pearl Street in 1929. The tree continues to grow new branches and the old leaves fall off to make room for new leaves to grow.
In later years, as more members joined, auxiliaries were organized. With these auxiliaries, the church as a whole was able to meet some of its needs. The church renovated the building so that the needs of a fast growing membership would be better served. There was added a baptistry, an annex, as well as additional bricks to the outside of the building, which made it a beautiful place to worship.
The sapling, though still a young tree in the life of an oak, is still of considerable greatness because it has matured to the stage where people become aware of its sturdy and long‑lasting quality. It stands on a strong foundation.
Reverend H. W. Turner and the entire congregation joined the Nashville City Missionary Baptist District Association. Pastor Turner was later appointed vice‑moderator. It was decided by the pastor and members to purchase a larger building because of the steady increase in membership. On November 6, 1949, the church moved to 600 28th Avenue North. Officers who served during Reverend Turner’s pastorate were as follows: