History of St. John’s Baptist Church
In the year 1878, a hundred and thirty-seven years ago, a determined group of Black men and women gathered in unity and deemed the necessity to assemble in a common place to give thanks, praise and worship to our Lord and Savior.
St. John’s Baptist Church was organized as a ministry, and recognized in 1878. Services were held in an old blacksmith’s shop located at the corner of Wahsatch and Cimarron Streets. In 1887, ten years later, St. John’s was incorporated and a seal was procured.
The church and a parsonage were erected at 227 Pueblo Avenue with rocks brought on the back of wagons and by hand to set the foundation. So determined were they that under the direction of Rev. Clifford Gladden, the dream through hard work and faith in God, became a living reality. The construction lasted through the year of 1907. A coal stove and modern gaslights were symbols of success.
As people moved west, the church membership increased and so did segregation. St. John’s Baptist Church became the home of Black worshippers. In an effort to bury their dead, members purchased five lots in the Evergreen cemetery.
Seven pastors later, a tragedy came upon them when one Sunday night in August, 1952, at the close of service the church was partially destroyed by fire. Services were temporarily held in the Colorado Community Center. Eleven more pastors accepted the calling to lead the flock of St. John’s Baptist Church, lengths of pastoral service ranged from three weeks to forty-seven years. St. John’s remained at the Pueblo Avenue location until moving to its present location.
In the year 1958, Rev. Milton E. Proby became the pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church. Within two years, after a careful study for a new location, this property at Prospect and Fountain was purchased. In September 1969, the doors opened for services at 902 South Prospect Street and since that time, many people and ministries have passed through this church.
St. John’s Baptist Church has been active with the Colorado Baptist Southern District Association, the Western States Baptist Convention, and National Baptist Convention USA Incorporated. Also under the leadership of Pastor Proby, the food ministry was established in the community which led to an addition to the building in 2000.
On May 21, 2005, the Lord called our beloved Pastor, Reverend M. E. Proby home after serving St. John’s members and families for forty seven years. During the years since his passing, the Lord continues to bless us in many ways. In October 2014, the congregation under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Calvin Johnson burned the Mortgage on the building at 902 South Prospect Street.
As the members of St. John’s continue to “faith” forward in steadfast prayer, we wait with expected hope for the pastor God has chosen for us. We are forever grateful and thankful that the LORD has kept St. John’s Baptist Church for 137 years in His service.
Pastors that have served at St. John’s Baptist Church