"O come let us sing unto the Lord: Let us make a joyful noise unto the rock of our salvation." Psalms 95:5
Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church originated from Christ Missionary Baptist Church after the home going of Rev. Walter Edwards. The original members who left Christ Missionary were Sister Luella Gurnell, Brother Bob and Sister Etta Mae Stone, and several Deacons. This group moved on to the founding of Pleasant Union Baptist Church, Greater Shepherd Baptist Church, and Pathway Baptist Church. Finally, in 1967, Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church was organized in the home of the late Rev. and Sister Edward Gurnell. The original nine members were:
Rev. and Sister Walter B. Legge
Rev and Sister Edward Gurnell,
Brother James and Sister Peggy Casey
Brother Charles Greer
Sister Donna Bevins
Sister Etta Mae Stone
Sister Stone remained at Pathway a while longer and joined Nazarene little later. After the organization of the church, they worshipped only two Sundays in the Gurnell home. The Lord blessed the church with its first building located at the corner of 27th and Northwestern Ave. After worshipping there two months, they rented Campbell Chapel. Later, they moved to the old Tabernacle Baptist Church located on North Street. A few more members later joined them. Deacon Joseph Jones, Sister Dorothy McCain, Deacon Edgar Turner and the late Sister Mary McClain.
In 1969 the first pastoral anniversary was given to Pastor Legge which raised a sum of $500. These monies were then used as a down payment on the house at 2730 N. Sutherland Ave. In July, Nazarene began services at the new address. The pews were purchased from Stuarts Storage by Brother Stone and Brother Casey. Always having been a worker and the glue that seemed to hold Nazarene together, Sister Gurnell served as the building fund treasurer in addition to actually raising funds with afternoon programs and selling dinners to purchase a lectern for the pulpit. The original lectern resides at Nazarene today.
In 1980, Rev. Legge invited Rev. J.C. Williamson to come and preach at Nazarene. In a conversation between Pastor Legge and Rev. Williamson, Pastor Legge stated that he felt certain stagnation there. He seemingly felt the church had died on him. Rev. Williamson was called to pastor the church.
With no money and approximately 16 members, Pastor Williamson began to work along with his daughter Barbara Williamson who launched candy sales, fashion shows and made contact with many vendors who helped with donations. Nazarene began to grow from a handful of members and two Deacons: Edgar Turner and Joseph Jones. Pastor Williamson’s original salary was $35.00 per week. With very little church monies, Pastor arranged for Rev. Legge to be re-imbursed his initial $500 down payment on the building. Shortly after, the building itself was paid off. In addition, a new roof was put on, the inside was paneled, an office for the pastor was constructed and a restroom was provided in the basement. Those who aided Pastor Williamson were: Deacon Bronson McGee, Deacon Conral Donaldson and Deacon Demmer Cannon.
Nazarene fellowshipped with only one other church during this time, Greater Shepherd Baptist Church. There were only two auxiliaries, the choir and ushers. Sister Luella Gurnell, Sister Ludie Anderson, Sister Davis and Sister Coates comprised the original choir.
In 1981, the Nurses Guild was formed. Its original members were:
Sister Bernice Walton, Organizer and President Sister Minnie Daniels
Sister Mary McClain, Secretary Sister Louise Norris
Sister Dorothy McCain, Treasurer Sister Hazel Arnold
Sister Ocell Newton Sister Beatrice Gilliam
Sister Maggie Thomas Sister Letha Averitte
The choir began to grow but there was not a permanent musician for the Choir. Many congregational hymns were sung then without the pleasure of music. Although Nazarene did not have a dedicated musician, several musicians would come and play for the Choir. Often times, Pastor Williamson would compensate these musicians out of his pocket as the church’s funds would not allow for their payment.
In 1983, the Usher Board had grown and a Youth Usher Board was formed. Among the first adult ushers were: Deacon and Sister Bristine Webb, Sister Minnie Daniels, Sister Margie Dawn, Sister Debra Dill. In the beginning, the usher board included both juniors and seniors. The latter part of 1983, the usher board begin to grow and Sis Dawn formed a youth usher board. The usher board’s first formal uniforms were purchased from L.S. Ayers at a substantial discount through Sis Star Blackmon. The Youth collected and sold newspapers and conducted other fund raisers to raise enough money to buy black skirts and white blouses for all youth ushers. Uniforms for youth who could not afford them were provided by Deacon & Sister Dawn.
With a God given vision, Pastor Williamson held the first building fund revival preached by the Baptist Minister’s Foresight Alliance. As the Lord continued to bless, added to the church was a Brotherhood, Missionary Society, and Male Chorus. The Male Chorus was organized by Deacon Demmer Cannon along with a handful of Deacons.
One day while driving down east 38th Street, God spoke to Pastor Williamson concerning four vacant lots and a house. The Lord told him to go back to that place. He parked and walked into the weeds and knelt to pray. After praying, he looked and there was a “For Sale” sign lying in the weeds. He got the number and called the Realtor who said the owner was dying from cancer. The asking price was $35,000. Pastor Williamson offered them $25,000 and it was accepted. He then took his personal $25,000 certificate to the bank as collateral for the ground. Nazarene’s payments were $500 per month.
After the purchasing of the ground, he asked all the members who could and would to sacrifice $1,000 each. There were several families who did make the sacrifice, including Pastor Williamson' mother , the late Mary J. Williamson who resided in New Albany, Mississippi. We truly thank God for the following families:
Deacon Joseph Jones, Brother Lawrence and Sister Gladys Chaney, Deacon Thomas Williamson, Sister Barbara Williamson and Pastor J.C. Williamson.
Approximately $30,000 was raised and we sold the building at 2730 N. Sutherland Ave for $35,000. On April 23, 1989, God blessed us to move into our present edifice at 3505 East 38th Street. Our official dedication services were held on June 4, 1989. We now have a beautiful sanctuary to worship in. On the lower level, we have been able to have the use of our kitchen facility, make use of our six classrooms and seven restrooms. We have been blessed to lay our cornerstone and also pave a parking lot. What a mighty God we serve!
God has blessed us to continue to grow. Nazarene’s ministerial staff associate ministers included: Rev. Roger Ward, Rev. Reginald Hooks, Rev. Kimbrough and Rev. Carlton Lewis. The Deacon Board consisted of approximately fourteen Deacons with some of them being the original Deacons.
Under the leadership of Pastor J.C. Williamson, Nazarene Missionary Baptist Church has representation on the District, State and National levels. He represented us in the Kentucky State Pastor’s Conferences. He faithfully stands in the long lines at the National Baptist Congress of Christian Education to register our church.
Nazarene’s Minister of Music is Lady Helen Williamson. Past directors of the choir has included Sister Vera Toles, Rev. Roger Ward, and Sister Shanika Lewis, Sister Michelle Lewis, Sister Toni Dixon and Deacon Maurice Frazier. The choir approximately 75 members and we now under the direction of Rev. Maurice Frazier and Sister Cheryl Wellington. New Auxiliaries are continuing to form: Mothers Board, Junior Ushers, Junior Choir, Missionaries along with Deaconess and Ministers’ Wives.
The Sunday School Department expanded under the leadership of the late Rev. Linnie Neal from one class to five classes. It has continued to grow under the leadership of Deacon Oliver Webb until his sickness and death. Now the baton has been passed on Rev. Maurice Frazier and Deacon Charles Jackson.
With the help of God, those who started and the many new committed members, we have purchased additional pieces of property. We now have land from Olney to Station Street. Praise God for the Day Care located on the Lower Level of the Church. A new outdoor sign has been erected and we have a new Baby Grand Piano. Praise the Lord for our Feed Program and our Food Pantry.
We praise God for the help of Sister Luella Gurnell who faithfully raised money with her penny collection. We also thank God for those who have given outstanding financial donations.
Nazarene has several families who have been with Nazarene 30 years or more. Out of those families, we have young adults who have grown up in Nazarene and are still a part of the Nazarene Family.
2003 – Nazarene has been fortunate enough to purchase the entire block where Nazarene is erected. We now own the entire property from Olney to Gale.
2006 – Improvements: A new roof was replaced on the property at 3523 E. 38th St.
2007 - On December 29 2006; we lost from our ranks: Mother Luella Gurnell, the last Nazarene charter member. Nurses Guild went from 5 members to 20. April 11, 2007, a new Pastor’s Aide Society was formed alongside the old Committee. Pastor Williamson had two hip surgeries; at this writing is doing fine. As life would have it, sadly, some Nazarene’s members, (several that were beginning members), have gone home to be with the Lord. They may not be physically with us any longer, but we will always keep them near and dear to our hearts.
2008 - Our Annex was torn down and parking lot built.
2011 – Tribe of Reuben fundraiser to remodel the Women’s Restroom in the lower level.
2012 – From this anniversary forward, the 2nd Sunday in August has been named “LuElla Gurnell Day” instead of Nazarene’s Church anniversary. A Plaque was awarded to Bristine Webb on Sunday, August 12, 2012 in honor of her hard work and dedication to our Church’s Anniversary after her Mother, Luella Gurnell passed on to Glory in December, 2006. Sister Webb has continually worked hard on organizing the anniversary and carried on what her Mother started in 1967. Additionally, her brother Edward Gurnell sets out a “penny” tray” each year directly after the anniversary for miscellaneous pennys in honor of Sister Luella Gurnell as well. This tradition was started shortly after her death to support the anniversary. To this point, each year this penny tray yields approximately $1000.
On Sunday September 9, 2012 the LORD BLESSED us with burning our Mortgage and oh what a blessing it was. When you keep the faith and build upon a SOLID ROCK it will be done.