St. James Missionary Baptist Church, once a small house formerly known as St. Mark Baptist Church, Was founded in the 1930’s by Rev. Charles Williams who pastored until 1937. Under the leadership of Rev. Hass, the church moved to Meadows Street and the name changed to St. James Missionary Baptist Church. Rev. Hass pastored the church until 1941.
After that appointed time, Rev. Felix Jarmon was called to pastor the church. With only a few members, the blessings of the Lord and faith in the Almighty, a new church was constructed. Along with the member, the first deacons of were Brothers George Smith, Mack White, Sr. and Neal Hicks. The first mothers were Sisters Kittie Holdgen, Cora Woods, Bell Nash, Annie Wilborn, and Luella Hardges. Rev. Jarmon pastored from approximately 1941-59.
In 1959, the church divided, bringing about Rev. E.L. Govan, who pastored from 1959, until his death in January 1971. After his death, the associate minister, Rev. John Harden, served until June 1971 with the arrival of Rev. Homer Gatlin, Jr.
Rev. Homer Gatlin, Jr., pastored at the Meadows Street location until February of 1974. In that year, the church relocated to its present location at 278 Preston Street. The congregation was blessed to have three of the oldest deacons who had been the congregation since 1941 to make the move with them. One of the deacons, who had been with the congregation from 1937 since its name was St. Mark, was able to see the move as well. His name was Mark White, Sr. Until 1998, the St. James Missionary Baptist Church was under the leadership of Rev. Homer Gatlin, Jr. In December of 1998, Rev. Gatlin announced his retirement and recommended that Rev. Ernest Polk be elected ti serve as his successor. In January, 1999, Rev. Polk was elected to lead the flock of disciples into the twenty-first century.
Under Rev. Polk’s present day leadership, many changes have occurred and a tremendous amount of growth has taken place. The church’s edifice has been totally remodeled into a contemporary facility that displays some of the most advanced technology. The church has approximately seventeen different ministries centered on spiritual growth of the congregation and community as a whole. Under Rev. Polk’s leadership and wholesome family example, he and his wife, First lady Jewel Polk, have worked untiringly to set-forth great expectations for the church to grow physically, financially, and spiritually. The church is an intricate part of the Brown’s Creek District Association and currently collaboration with two sister churches outside the state of Tennessee: Lane Chapel CME of St. Louis, Missouri and Deliverance Baptist Church of Jamaica Queens, New York.
As of today, St. James has acquired a great deal of love, new deacons, mothers and members along this journey. We pray that God will continue to bless this congregation abundantly as we continue to strive for more excellent service in God’s Kingdom.