In 1919 a small church was organized as Palmer Grove Baptist and after several name changes and locations, in 1978 moved to 1824 Prospect Street, Jacksonville. Lining up with its new address, the church became prospective, changed its name to New Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church and relished in its growth in membership while continuing its achievements. Under the leadership of its deacons, officers and members, the church paid off the mortgage in 1983.
With no debt, in 1984, the Reverend Joe Calhoun became their pastor and the church was able to purchase all of the land surrounding their existing church. With this acquisition, a decision was made to construct a new building to accommodate the growth in membership. In 1997, the present building went under construction and on May 17, 1998 they were able to move into their new sanctuary. The Rev. Landon Williams of The Greater Macedonia Baptist Church was the guest speaker.
The challenge was again met and on March 18, 2012 the last mortgage check was written and the church was again, mortgage free. A pre-mortgage burning service was held on May 17, with Rev. E. L. Griffin of Shalom Missionary Baptist Church presiding and on Friday, May 18, their Service of Thanksgiving was held with a theme, “To God Be the Glory,” with Rev. Johnny L. Johnson of Philadelphia Baptist Church delivering the word.
On Sunday morning, May 20, Pastor Emeritus Joe Calhoun delivered the sermon with Rev. W. L. Phillips presiding. The congregation and guest returned that afternoon at 4:00 p.m. The Rev. Landon Williams again gave the sermon, and Pastor Emeritus Calhoun stood between chairman of the Deacon Board Robert Jackson and Brother Lawrence Starling, chairman of Finance & Trustee to light the fire, and burn the mortgage. And the church joyfully said: “Amen!”...Subscribe to our Print Edition!