The History of the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church
No one can actually say when church is begun, or where it will be, what the hardships are going to consist of; who is going to join the ones instrumental in the birth, how long a time before it is a smooth running or when and how the increase will be, but God. Divine planning and human endeavor, dedication and the will to work, the ability to get the job done, are only some of the things under consideration at the start of God’s greatest business, and man’s worthiest opportunity, the local church.
Having these things and many others confronting him, Doctor John Thomas Lovell Highbaugh, Jr. decided, through the revelation from the Holy Spirit to accept the order to go ye therefore, through faith, under grace, with love to do those things which are pleasing in the Lord’s sight.
Realizing the need for abundant faith Dr. Highbaugh received the name of the purpose church and it still stands for all to see.
“THE GREATER FAITH MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH”
Planning was immediately begun, and the Lord sent sisters: Sis. Ruth Mitchell, Sis. Oceola Pope, Sis. Elizabeth Pendergrass and Bro. Henry Richard Walker from among their former congregation to helping this great work. God blessed and permitted them to work in His vineyard. With these charter members, Rev. N. S. Brown and some other men of the cloth installed our body and granted us the legal means of a charter on June 11, 1964. Not only were we blessed to move to 8830 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44108, we also sought to purchase it.
Sister Ruth Mitchell, Rev. Henry Walker, Sis. Oceola Pope, and Sis. Elizabeth Pendergrass has since departed this life. Dr. John Thomas Lovell Highbaugh, founder of the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church having served his time on earth was called to his eternal home on March 1969. Rev. Edward C. Slaughter, then the Assistant Pastor was called to serve as Spiritual Leader, which he did to the best of his ability. Rev. Slaughter used this carpentry skill to redesign the church building. In addition he completed the transaction of our church building. In addition he completed the transaction of our church becoming tax exempt, which was executed by Dr. Highbaugh. Rev. Slaughter’s pastorage was terminated on June 10, 1973.
On July 23, 1973, Rev. Nathaniel T Whitt was called to pastor the Greater Faith Missionary Baptist Church. Under the spiritual guidance of Rev. Whitt, and the wonderful support of the First Lady Sis. Nettie Whitt our church came a long ways. New pews were added, the mortgage on the church was completely paid off. Also through the leadership of Pastor Whitt a donation of $5,000.00 was given in the spirit of love to our church by Bro. and Sis. Harrell, parents of Sam Harrell & Pamela Fain. Pastor Whitt was negotiating to remodel the church building, inside and outside, but God said enough done my good and faith servant, and called him home from labor to reward on February 8, 1976. Two flags were purchased by Sister Whitt and placed in the front of the church in memory of Pastor N. T. Whitt.
After passing of Pastor Whitt, the Chairman of the Deacon Board, Deacon Nathaniel Burks and Our First Lady, Sis Whitt, and the support of the congregation carried on the carried on the services and maintained the church until such time as we sought to seek another leader. After being without a pastor for about a year, the whole church went into prayer and fasting, asking the Lord to send us a Pastor after His our heart.
On April 3, 1977 our prayers were answered. God sent Rev. Leon Lawrence, associated minister of the Temple Baptist Church, as our Pastor. Rev. Lawrence was elected with a unanimous vote by the church.
Rev. Lawrence was installed as Pastor of Greater Faith on the First Sunday in June of 1977 at the Temple Baptist Church. Pastor Lawrence was charged by Rev. A. E.
Under the leadership of Pastor Lawrence the church grew by leaps and bounds. With the cooperation of the entire memberships, Pastor Lawrence was able to completely renovate the whole church building. Pastor Lawrence organized various new ministries in the church. The church grew at such a fast rate that our present building soon became too small. Pastor Lawrence then began to look for another location that could house the present membership comfortably. While in constant prayer for the Lord’s help, Pastor Lawrence was able, with the help of entire congregation, secure a new home for the Greater Faith family at 13816 St. Clair Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio.
Under the wise leadership of Pastor Lawrence and the help of his lovely gifted wife Sister Nellie Ruth Lawrence, Greater Faith marched from 8830 St. Clair down to 13816 Sts. Clair in a grand parade with over 500 hundred. This exodus was on Saturday, November 8, 1987. The service of Dedication was held Sunday, November 9, 1987 at 4:00 PM. The Dedication prayer was given by the Chairman of the Deacon Board, Deacon John Golding.
Under the continued leadership of Pastor Lawrence, our church grew to a membership of over one thousand on roll. Ten new ministries were formed to help our members be active in ministry. Through the vision of Pastor Lawrence and a dream of Deacon Eddie Fields, God blessed the Creations Choir to produce a live recording, entitled “JESUS WILL SEE YOU THROUGH.”
Under the leadership of Pastor Lawrence, three churches where born:
Greater Love Missionary Baptist Church, Eugene Ward, Jr., Pastor. The Shiloh Temple of Faith, on January 11, 1992, Elder Steven Gulley, Pastor. The Greater Hope Baptist Church on July 21, 1985, Rev. R. Roary, Pastor.
Through 20 years Pastor and Sis. Lawrence march on in this ministry, as they receive mercy, they faint not, for they preach Christ, and not themselves, but Jesus Christ the Lord and themselves your servants for His sake.
On January 27, 1997, our beloved First Lady, Sister Nellie Lawrence was called home by our Lord. We shall miss her sweet spirit, her words of wisdom and her spirit filled teaching. We grieve that Jesus called her home so soon, but we sorrow not as those who have no hope, for we know we will see her again.
Pastor Lawrence served the church with the best of his ability with the help of the Deacon and Trustee Boards and the assistance of the Church Secretary, Sis. Oneitha Poole. After some time after the passing of Sister Lawrence, Pastor Lawrence decided to retire. Under the advice of Pastor Lawrence and the formation of a Pulpit Committee and Sub-Committee we began a search for another Pastor. Shortly after the election of the new pastor, Pastor Leon Lawrence emeritus, passed away quietly in his hometown of Jackson, Ga. July of 2001. With lasting gratitude for His exemplary life, his tireless and unselfish labor among us, the good he did, the things he taught and the inspiration we received shall always be remembered. Pastor Lawrence sought to help and encourage all who needed such.
On the third Sunday in June, 2001, Pastor K. Selessie Simmons 1, preached his first sermon as pastor. Pastor Simmons was installed as Pastor on Sunday, November 4, 2001. With his wife Kim by his side, his charges were given by Bishop J. Delano Ellis, III, Pastor of the Pentecostal Church of Christ. He and his wife served Greater Faith for 4 years. Under Pastor Simmons leadership, our order of service changed and new ministries were organized..
A Pulpit Committee was formed and the search began for a new pastor. We prayed and fasted for God to again send us a pastor after His own heart. After many months of searching, the church elected a pastor.
On June 15, 2008, newly elected, Pastor Walter Marlon Humphrey preached his first sermon as Pastor. After a week of celebration, 3-day restoration service, followed by a banquet on August 24, 2008. Pastor Humphrey received his charged with his beautiful wife, Elder Tarnisha Humphrey by his side from his Father, Pastor Walter Humphrey, Pastor of the New Joshua Baptist Church.
We pray that we all will grow and accomplish “Greater Works” under the devoted leadership of Pastor and Elder Humphrey. We had our prayers answered. God did send us a pastor after His own heart, a humble, talented man God, one that preach, teach and sing praises to God. We look forward to the Ministry of Elder Tarnisha Humphrey, a gifted woman of God who has a heart and passion for Gods people.