The History of Union Missionary Baptist Church
Written by Ida Jo Nettles
Revised by Minister Judy Mays
The Beginning. As of 1905 A.D., there were no black churches in the Whitely community of Muncie, Indiana. Most of the black residents who attended church either went to Calvary Baptist on East Jackson or Bethel A.M.E. also on East Jackson.
A Meeting Is Called. The first meeting to discuss organizing a church in Whitely was held in the home of Mrs. Neely Franklin. It was decided that a temporary mission be set up on the corner of Sixth and “A” streets (now known as Highland and Penn). This was the location of a small second-hand store which was used as their meeting place each week.
Church is Formed. In a special meeting on December 12, 1905 the church was officially formed with 18 members. These members were: Marcella McClure, Callie Myers, Nancy Smith, Anna Law, Carrie Scott, Albirda Duvall, Neely Franklin, Birdie Neighbors, Lizzie Law, Hayse Duvall, James Law, Joe Allen and Rev. Williams. This congregation decided to name the church First Baptist Church of Whitely.
Lots Purchased – Church Built. In 1906, the lots on the northwest corner of Macedonia and Russey were purchased to build the church. The entire building process was completed in 1909.
Several years later, another Baptist Church was formed in the Whitely community. This church was named Antioch Baptist Church. Soon after this church was formed, the two churches merged and called the combined churches Union Baptist Church. However, this union was short-lived. Just over a year later, Antioch went back to their original name and location, but the original First Baptist Church elected to keep the name Union Baptist Church and go on as before.
Over the years, the church became Union Missionary Baptist Church and increased in membership. There was a succession of pastors who led the church up to this present time.
Leading The Flock. The names of the former pastors are as follows: Reverend James Smith (who took leadership after the split and pastored about 14 years). Reverend Mays was then called after Reverend Smith’s passing and served for one and a half years. Reverend H.L. Buckman was called next in 1927 and served until 1935. He completed the first baptismal pool in 1933. Reverend Virgie Davis became pastor in 1935, a position he held until 1939 when the church called the Reverend E.O. Price. Reverend Price remained pastor until 1940 when Reverend A.W. Wise was called. Reverend Wise pastored until 1945. After Reverend Wise came Reverend J.L. Featherson who pastored until 1949. In 1950, the church elected Reverend I.H. Mason who was pastor until 1952 when Reverend G.P. Mallery was called. He pastored here until 1958.
The Dew Years. In 1958, the Reverend Leo Scaife was elected to be in charge of the church but declined in favor of Reverend John Hutcherson who became the interim pastor until January 1926 when the church called the Reverend A.L. Dew from Chicago, Illinois. Reverend Dew began his duties in February of 1960 and labored in the vineyard of this local assembly for 26 years when health concerns prevented him from giving all he desired to give. On March 23, 1986, Reverend Dew retired and leaves to his credit:
1) Building of a new church which was paid off.
2) Building of a new parsonage which was paid off.
3) Considerable involvement in foreign missions including Haiti where a well for clean water was dug
and a senior citizen home was constructed.
4) Reverend A.L. Dew retired leaving the church debt free.
Through his preaching, many souls were saved and lives touched.
Moses to Joshua. Moving forward as the Holy Spirit gave guidance, on July 13, 1986, the church elected Reverend W.J. Jackson, Sr. from Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church in Marion, Indiana. Pastor Jackson, from that time to this, has vigorously led the church according to God’s mandate.
Under-girded with the wisdom and character of Christ and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Pastor Jackson is an administrator, preacher, teacher, pastor, evangelist, brother, and friend who leads to the church in meeting the challenges of Christianity as a way of life. He encourages holy living by precept and example.
Christian Focus In Ministry. In order to further carry out the initiatives of Christian Living, over 25 ministries have been formed. The cooperative effort of this vision is now known as the Administrative Team (of assistant pastors). Each leader has been taught to position themselves as accountable to God for ministry.
As a result of the vision of Pastor Jackson, the following ministries were added: New Member Orientation, Morning and Evening Prayer Meeting and Bible Study, A Children’s Church Ministry (which includes a Wednesday night Bible Study and the Dr. Judy McConnell-Jackson Literary Club).
There is also the Starlight Band, The Missionary Choir, The Family Ministry, Drama Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Brotherhood, Watch Care – Ball State University Students Ministry. Also, a Student Enrichment Program and tutoring services, as well as a semi-monthly workshop for married couples, which is presented by the pastor. Additionally, there is a Substance Abuse Ministry, Male Discipleship, College Bible Study, Reflecting Lights (ministers and deacons wives), and a Preachers Class for ministers and evangelists.
God, who is faithful and true, has continually added saved souls to the Kingdom and many former members have rededicated their lives to Christian living.
Community Outreach. Due to the growing concern over the loitering on the corner of Highland and Macedonia, the church made an investment in the community by purchasing the pool hall located on that corner. It was renovated and doubled as an educational facility for our Sunday School and Children’s Church, but also served as the site for a city Cop Shop. As an additional blessing, a $10,000 grant was awarded for Whitely Senior Citizens Awareness Services with Pastor Jackson appropriating this funding initially as director of Project Care. Otee Stills was the director. The former pool hall turned educational facility became a hub for community activity and services. Reverend William O’Neal, who served God’s church by community outreach at the time said, “Our purpose is to engage Union Missionary Baptist Church into a formal outreach effort in the Whitely community. We seek to identify and better implement services available to children, youth and the elderly. Our objective is to be a blessing to the church and community at large.”
Honorarium Scholarships. In 1993, the Ida Jo Nettles Scholarship (established in honor of the oldest living member), was expanded to include the late Dr. Judy McConnell-Jackson, the late wife of Pastor Jackson.
Also, awards to high school and college graduates were increased to $500.
(Mrs. Nettles passed away a few months before her 100th birthday, which would have been on June 4th, 1996).
Youth Objectives and Continuing Education. In 1993, Reverend William O’Neal (a former Ball State student in the Watch Care Program), was appointed youth pastor following Reverend Corey Brooks. Additionally, teachers were added to the Sunday School department and the Children’s Church (which includes youth teacher interns), and a joint venture between the community and church in preventing teen pregnancy was started.
In the spring of 1993, a group of male youth toured several black colleges including Morehouse and Alabama State. The trip was made possible by Pastor Jackson and former youth pastor, Reverend Corey Brooks. As a result, one of the males, Cecil LaMont Powell, attended Morehouse College in Atlanta and later successfully graduated. Powell was a part of a mentoring program who met in the home of Pastor Jackson for Bible Study and breakfast before school.
Today, several programs are in place to help develop youth leadership and promote continuing education. All of the youth ministries have joined together to now go by the title "Combined Children & Youth Ministry". They have their own set of goals and objectives and Min. Terrance Bridges is currently the Children & Youth Ministry coordinator. With the help of Min. Bridges, there is a partnership program with Muncie Community Schools to insure academic and social development of the children and youth at Union. There is also an After School Academic Achievers Program to provide tutoring for students.
A Sanctified New Testament Church. Under the leadership of Pastor Jackson, the church has grown and moved higher spiritually in love, Christian maturity and financial blessings.
Many purchases have been made such as adjacent land, (multiple buildings, 2 vans, and a 47-passenger bus. But, more importantly, the number added to those who have accepted salvation has increased almost weekly.
The church now hosts an Annual Christmas Fellowship Banquet in honor of new members.
In 1994, the church focused on evangelism with a particular emphasis on males and the pastor also initiated “We Care Ministries” which involves teaching children, prayer chains, scripture study and memorization, visiting the sick an shut-in and witnessing with a weekly minimum commitment.
Equipped with and built up by the word of God, the Union family is striving to meet the challenges of its Christian mission.
As a result of a visit to Harare Zimbabwe, South Africa with Pastor Denzo McGill, Pastor Jackson ministered and developed an outreach and subsequent fellowship with an African Missions Program.
We have also engaged in cross-cultural services within our local community.
God is continually using Pastor Jackson and the church in expanded ministry throughout the city, nation and world.
The vision for the ministry of Union Missionary Baptist is encompassed in the following:
Seven Dimensions of a 21st Century New Testament Church
1)Essentialty of Scriptures. II Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20, 21; II Timothy 2:15
2)Evangelism of Sinners. (Win souls) Matthew 28:19, 20
3)Enlistment of Seekers. Acts 2:41-44, 47
4)Embraced the Saved. Acts 2:42; John 13:34, 35 (Fellowship); Matthew 22:39
5)Edify and Equip the Saints. Matthew 28:20; Ephesians 4:11-16
6)Exalt the Savior. (Praise, Worship, Holy Living) Acts 5:41, 42; Hebrews 13:15, 16
7)Enhance Society. Matthew 5:13-16
The Church is Growing. God is yet calling the unsaved to salvation evidenced by the number of people receiving Jesus as Savior and Lord and being baptized and those joining the church under Christian Experience, watch care, rededication and restoration.
New ministries are in place such as the Men’s ministry with the annual conference “Adam, Where Art Thou”, Women’s Council, and Care Ministry. There has been an intensive effort in Christian Education in training and classes, special presentation, workshops, leadership enhancement and retreat, community efforts to meet urgent needs frame by the 2007 vision of our pastor to become a great church. Our 14 point prayer agenda sets the focus of this goal.
God is yet adding not only quantitatively, but qualitatively as we have had to bid farewell to many who have relocated due to many life changes. We thank and praise God for His Sovereignty. In 2007, thirteen members were licensed to preach the gospel, three being called to the work of evangelists.
Moving to New Heights. After several years of prayer, hard work from construction crews and some of our own members, and the generous offerings from members and non-members, Union transitioned over to the new building in June of 2008. This was marked by a huge celebration ceremony. Worship in the new building has been tremendous with the spacious seating arrangement allowing more people to attend each service. The chapel building is being used for Children & Youth services and Bible Study. Today, Union continues to press on in its efforts to truly be a 21st Century New Testament church.