Second Missionary Baptist Church, Chattanooga, TN - Since 1866
Since its humble beginnings, and in spite of two divisions of the church, the membership has steadily increased. The present membership includes over 1,200 persons on roll. There has been good lay leadership among the ranks of the Second Baptist membership. There is a spirit of dedication and cooperation among this body which has largely accounted for its accomplishments.
The pastors and members of this congregation have been and are involved in leadership positions in local, state, and national church activities. There is a deep consciousness within this church of the civic and civil rights concerns of our community. Many of our pastors and members have been and are involved in giving leadership to these areas of concern.
The church is sensitive toward its witness for Christ in the community. One of our most meaningful involvements is that of the Bus Ministry. In this program, we seek to carry the gospel to the community and bring the community to the gospel. Second Baptist supports both home and foreign mission work. Our theme and challenge as a church is “to be and do what God desires us to be and do.”
The History of Second Missionary Baptist Church
Historical Highlights Second Missionary Baptist Church Chattanooga, Tennessee
- The church was organized in October, 1866 in the Wauhatchie area, shortly after the Civil War, near what is now Tiftonia, TN.
- The first home base was near the Tennessee River, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, in an area occupied by the North Carolina and St. Louis Railroad yard
- In the 1870’s, early founders felt compelled to move to Chattanooga to continue their worship in a house on Hill St., to avoid the harassment of neighboring whites
- On land donated by D. P. Montague, an official and joint owner of the Rolling Mill, where many of its’ members worked, the first church was built at Tenth (formerly Leonard) and Elm Streets and was named Pleasant Grove Baptist Church
- Rev. Mason Burt, a charter member of the North Chickamauga and Chattanooga District, was the first pastor
- Under the leadership of Rev. Burt, Second became the second African American Baptist Church in Chattanooga; the church’s growth soon outgrew their current location.
- Rev. J. J. Sales, the second pastor encouraged members to re-build, turning the church around to face 10th St. (formerly Leonard) at the corner of Elm.
- Realizing the church was the second “colored” church of the Baptist faith organized in Chattanooga, the name of the church was changed to Second Baptist Church under the third pastor, the Rev. R. C. Richardson.
- The church was chartered in 1908, under the leadership of Rev. Hiram J. Johnson, the eighth pastor. The church was placed under the governing body of seven charter members: T. W. Adair, Thomas Fowlkes, H. F. Staples, Lee J. Suggs, Jr., William Turner, H. Tyree and J. W. White. It remained under the charter for twelve years. The charter was nullified between 1919 and 1920, when Rev. E. F. Gouch became pastor.
- The first piano was purchased under the ninth pastor, Rev. J. H. Mastin, who left in 1914. This year also marked the time of the Senior Choir being organized.
- The first parsonage was built at Leonard and Elm Streets on property adjacent to the church; Rev. and Mrs. H. K. Kennedy were the first residents.
- During 1919 to 1921, Rev. Gouch initiated efforts to relocate the church to 14th and Grove Streets by making a $100 down payment for the property. Having only $25 in the treasury, Trustee chairman J. D. Moore, loaned the church $75 to fulfill the down payment. Under Gouch’s pastorate, the charter was made null and void, thereby allowing governing authority to rest with the members.
- Rev. F. M. Hutchinson, the thirteenth pastor, built the first baptistery in 1921. During the summer, they worshipped under a tent, but by fall the basement was completed and they began worshipping there.
- In 1923, the sanctuary at 14th & Grove Streets was completed under the pastorate of Rev. H. H. Hubbard, the fourteenth pastor. Rev. G. W. Sandefur, the District Moderator, preached the dedicatory service. Sandefur later became the 16th pastor.
- Second remained at 14th & Grove Streets from 1922 – 1975.
- Rev. Samuel P. Pettagrue, the fifteenth pastor, was an active organizer, under whose leadership from 1932 – 1935 several lay organizations were recognized on the local, district and national levels, including: Missionary Union, Baptist Training Union (B.T.U.), and the Baptist Young People’s Union (B.Y.P.U.).
- From 1935 – 1938, Rev. G. W. Sanderfur served as the sixteenth pastor. His term saw the financial burden of the church lifted. The Intermediate Choir was organized during this period. Rev. Sanderfur served as a mentor to Rev. W. W. Taylor.
- From 1939 – 1945, Rev. Woodrow Wilson (W. W.) Taylor, a protégé of Rev. G. W. Sanderfur, became the seventeenth pastor. A major accomplishment under Rev. Taylor was the 1941 burning of the mortgage. A few years later, Rev. Taylor resigned, leading to the first split.
- On February 28, 1945, a group of Second’s members formed Westside Baptist, in the home of Mrs. Ethel Brimmitt. They moved into a new church on November 18, 1945.
- In 1953, Second Baptist became the first black church in Chattanooga to install air-conditioning, an account of which was featured in the local newspaper, the Chattanooga Times.
- The eighteenth pastor was called in the person of Rev. Martin Henry Ribbins, Sr. Ribbins was considered a great preacher, organizer and civic leader. He introduced the idea of a new church, and began a building fund to that end. He actively served at the district level as Moderator of the Baptist Missionary and Education Congress. On October 15, 1961, members were left in shock at the sudden passing of Rev. Ribbins.
- Rev. Edward N. Bates succeeded Rev. Ribbins in December 1963, as the nineteenth pastor. Rev. Bates was considered a good preacher. Two years later, in 1965, the church underwent a second split when Rev. Bates left Second and established Greater Second Baptist.
- On September 4, 1966, Second Baptist welcomed its twentieth pastor, the Rev. Paul Anderson McDaniel, Sr., of Rahway, New Jersey (originally from Rock Hill, SC). Prior to coming to Chattanooga, Rev. McDaniel was the pastor of Second Baptist, Munford, NY and Second Baptist, Rahway, NJ. Rev. McDaniel was installed on December 11, 1966. Rev. and Mrs. (Edna) McDaniel arrived with their three children, Paul, Jr., Pamela Anita, and Patricia Ann. A history making event occurred when their second son and youngest of four children, Peter Adam, was born. This marked the first time a child had been born into a pastor’s family in the history of the church. After a lengthy illness, Mrs. McDaniel passed on January 27, 1990. Later, McDaniel suffered the loss of his oldest daughter, Pamela. Over time, and with the support of family, members, and faith, Pastor McDaniel continued his ministry and leadership with grace and dedication. Years later, he married the former Linda Isadore, D. Min., of Los Angeles, California, who became the first dean of Second’s School of Evangelism.
In 1973, a motorcade of members led by Rev. McDaniel and church leaders, traveled from the 14th and Grove location on the West side of town to the newly constructed facility across town at the current location of 2305 E. Third Street. In the mid 1980’s, the Third Street facility expanded to include 9 new classrooms, a nursery, chapel, a 350 seat capacity multi-purpose room, conference room, commercial kitchen and administrative offices. With the expansion, Second was launched into the forefront of hosting community events from the annual M. L. King Prayer Breakfast, to Inter-Faith/Interdenominational services, to meetings of the Unity Group (a grassroots civil rights organization founded by Pastor McDaniel to address current community concerns), to a meeting venue for civic groups, fraternities and sororities. Second was blessed to burn the mortgage of the Third Street facility in January 2000.
Rev. McDaniel was the longest tenured pastor, having served for almost five decades until his retirement on June 30, 2014. Pastor McDaniel came as a young, energetic and capable leader, who took the church to new heights by a consistent increase in membership, Bible Study and Christian Education, fellowship, inspirational worship, capital improvement and expansion, church-wide ministries and community involvement. McDaniel’s leadership was characterized by progressive thinking, organization and a genuine interest not only in moving Second forward, but also in impacting the community at large. As a civic minded leader, he became the first member of the clergy allowed to serve as a delegate to the Tennessee 1977 Limited Constitutional Convention. Following a legal battle that declared null and void the Tennessee State Supreme Court’s Article IX prohibiting members of the clergy from serving in the State Legislature, the U. S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in his favor. Locally, he was elected to serve on the Hamilton County Commission in 1978, where he served five four-year terms, while chairing the group for a record five one-year terms. In 2010, the County Commissioners named an administrative building on N. Highland Park, the “Paul A. McDaniel Building.”
On the national level, he was an instructor and subsequently supervisor in the National Baptist Convention, ending his tenure under the presidency of Rev. Dr. Julius Scruggs, First Baptist of Huntsville, Alabama, in 2014.
Several initiatives began under McDaniel’s leadership. Among them are: The Nurses’ Guild, the Deacon Family Ministry, Blood Assurance (a blood donor program), the Bus Ministry, the audio recording ministry, the computer ministry, the archives ministry in 1997, the public relations ministry and the parish nurse (a community health awareness partnership with neighboring Memorial Hospital). McDaniel also ensured that the church’s constitution was updated as needed. In association with the National Evangelism Movement of California, Rev. McDaniel instituted the Evangelism School at Second in 2002. The School offers a curriculum from Bethany Christian Bible College of Los Angeles, CA, where the Executive Director is Dr. Sylvester Washington. The founder is Rev. Rocellia Johnson. Under the theme “Disciples are Made, not Born”, more than seventeen local churches and hundreds of participants have attended and graduated from the two and a half year tuition free curriculum. Graduates and new members attend an ongoing class in Christian Bible Training (CBT), which provides an orientation and foundation to the meaning and responsibilities of becoming a Christian.
- From June 30, 2014 to June 2015, Second was without a spiritual leader. The Official Board Chairman, Deacon Oscar Preston, held the lead in organizational responsibilities, while the chairperson of Trustees, Mrs. Evelyn P. Lovelady, assumed leadership responsibility of administrative affairs and Finance chairperson Bernadine Turner assumed leadership for financial matters.
- A pulpit committee, chaired by the Honorable Judge Curtis L. Collier, was formed in 2013 to lead the process of vetting and recommending a new pastor. Committee members included Francine T. Brown, youth representative Emani Crumsey, Sandra H. Clark, Roslyn V. Hurt, Geraldine W. Parks, Eric Payne, Larry Rowe, and Angela B. Sims, Esq.
- Rev. Ernest Lee Reid, Jr., D. Min., was recommended by the Pulpit Committee to serve as the twenty-first pastor of Second Missionary Baptist Church in May 2015. An Ad Hoc committee was created to make sure the voting process was fair and accurate. Dr. Reid was unanimously approved and came to preach his first sermon on Youth Day 2015 and returned after accepting the call in July 2015. Dr. Reid was installed October 18, 2015.
Dr. Reid, a native of Suffolk, Virginia, previously served as pastor of the Olive Branch Baptist Church, Portsmouth, Virginia for nine years and at Zion Baptist Church, Reading, Pennsylvania for three years. Dr. Reid, his wife, the former Sherelle Harris of Richmond, Virginia and their two sons, Ernest III and Noah, relocated to Chattanooga to begin a new chapter in their lives and in the history of Second Baptist.
Dr. Reid believes that community and civic involvement are vital in the work of “Kingdom Building.” He further believes Second is called to be “Real, Relevant and Rooted for the Cause of Jesus Christ.” As one who has an appreciation for education and technology, he embraces its use in connecting with believers, and non-believers, through social media, an upgraded website and other tools to reach people where they are. His sermons and bible study lectures consistently reflect his commitment to making the Word relevant and the worship experience meaningful. His appeal spans the scope of intergenerational families, from adolescents, to middle age and seniors. Former and inactive members are returning, baptisms are up and new converts are consistently increasing.
The Reid’s arrival has sparked a Renaissance and excitement that has blessed the church with welcomed growth and revitalization. As Second moves forward, Dr. Reid has presented his vision for taking the church to the next level. The Second Agenda 20/20 represents a series of goals and objectives toward which Second strives, from increased membership and stewardship to capital improvement and community outreach. A new pledge initiative has been implemented to help achieve the new vision. Much needed repairs to the facility and parking lot are in progress, as is a comprehensive upgrade to the church’s website and social media interfaces to help facilitate a timelier and effective communication outreach with members and guests.
Rev. Reid realized the importance of Second celebrating her 150 year anniversary as a significant milestone. He selected an efficient committee chairperson in Mrs. Francine Brown, and has given full support to ensure an effective, meaningful and inclusive celebration as we ”Celebrate 150 years as ‘Second’ Looks to the Future”.