by Danny Wade
A local church has seen its share of hard times. Over the decades, St. James Missionary Baptist Church has lost church buildings due to being old, outgrown by the membership, and the third church was lost to fire.
A tragic fire in December of 2017 was the disheartening fate of St. James’ last building. But this dark cloud has a silver lining.
This Sunday, October 27 at 2 p.m., the newly constructed church will open its doors for the first time. Rev. James Baltimore has invited everyone to attend the celebration of the new church with a dedication and homecoming worship service.
The celebration will actually begin at the Humboldt Senior Citizen Center a little before 2 p.m. The congregation has held services there since the fire. People will march down the street to the new church building, located on the very site the previous building once sat.
“We will sing our way to the church,” Rev. Baltimore said. “We’ll sing happy songs along the way.”
Rev. Baltimore said the fourth Sunday in October holds a special meaning for St. James. In 1966, Rev. J.T. Freeman opened the new church (at that time) with a dedication and homecoming service. Now, a second dedication and homecoming will be hosted by Rev. Baltimore and the congregation for their brand new church building.
As part of the celebration, the Humboldt Chamber of Commerce will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Dr. Greg Madden, pastor of The Church at Sugar Creek (formerly First Baptist Church), will be the guest preacher. Rev. Baltimore will also lead a short service, which will include more singing and reading of scriptures. Baltimore expects the entire program to last approximately an hour and a half.
The relationship between First Baptist Church and St. James Baptist has a long history. In 1889, First Baptist donated the property on Main St. to help St. James get started. Over the years, that bond has continued and now over 100 years later, the two pastors will share the dedication service, which Rev. Baltimore said was very fitting.
“There is no jealousy in Humboldt,” Rev. Baltimore said. “The people in our community come together. If you are looking for a place to move, come to Humboldt.”
Humboldt Mayor Marvin Sikes has also been a friend of the church, allowing them to use the Senior Citizen Center to hold their Sunday services.
“The mayor has been so good to us,” said the preacher. “He’s been so much help.”
Julia Porter, a faithful, dedicated St. James member for many years, offered the history of the church. In 1889, Rev. Elijah Holmes was the first pastor. In 1914, after the church had been in use, a new church was erected. Rev. C.C. Adams was pastor when the second church building opened. Rev. Freeman was the builder of the church’s third sanctuary in 1966—the church that burned in 2017. Rev. Baltimore came to lead the church in 1988 and continues as pastor today.
Rev. Baltimore noted there were three corner stones on the church that burned, representing the three previous structures. The new building will have four.
Sunday, October 27 will be a new page in Humboldt’s deep history. Come out and celebrate with St. James as they open their new church building.