REV. J. W. GODWIN - The original seeds for this church were planted in a schoolhouse on Chestnut Street, and later, when financially blessed, a lot was purchased and a structure was built on the corner of Green and Clifford Streets. Rev. Godwin and the seven or eight women who made up the core of this church were rooted in the Word. The names of six of the women are known. They are Sisters Holland Butler, Lydia Knight, Priscilla Evans, Holland Griggs, Amelia Gary, and Grady Gary.
Rev. Godwin passed, and the church for sometime was without a leader. With faith and hope the church continued to grow and struggle to keep the vision alive. We are grateful to Rev. Godwin and the seven or eight women who knew that people without a vision perish.
REV. JAMES GARRIS - In 1891 Rev. James Garris became the second pastor. His leadership under God’s divine guidance helped Rev. Garris to fulfill God’s plan. He and his faithful congregation aspired to keep the vision alive, and he was a fruitful pastor anchoring the fellowship deeper into the knowledge of our Lord and Savior.
REV. HAROLD ANTHONY – Rev. Harrell Anthony served for four years as pastor. During his tenure, the church moved to the corner of Queen and Godwin Streets, the present site of Third Baptist Church. Pastor and people rented this small gray church formerly owned by Methodists, and worship services continued. This site was located in the country at that time, and later, the city limits were extended to embrace the church again.
REV. FRANK CAMPBELL – In 1897 a stalwart soldier for Christ, Rev. Frank C. Campbell, became the fourth pastor. Rev. Campbell was confronted with some opposition because of the rugged lifestyle in the area surrounding the church. There were many open saloons and other places that were undesirable. In spite of the surroundings and the opposition it offered, the church was able to meet many challenges. Pastor and people, dedicated and spiritually motivated, began to combat the evils and the forces of sin which threatened the growth of the church. Great revivals were held, and many souls were converted. Baptismal services at that time were conducted in the nearby section of Scott’s Creek where the Portsmouth Municipal Stadium was standing, and later the baptismal services were held at Mosby’s Landing.
With a determination to keep the vision alive, a parcel of land was purchased which included the frame church and an additional building. In 1911 the church had grown, and there was a need for a new edifice. The present sanctuary was built at that time. The men and women who were members of the congregation made many sacrifices in order to meet their obligations to build the new church. Many projects and programs were held to supplement the weekly contributions. Rev. Campbell had the desire to liquidate the indebtedness; however, he died in 1918, after completing twenty-one years of faithful service.
DR. B. W. DANCE – After an interim of approximately fifteen months, Dr. B. W. Dance became the fifth minister of this church in June 1919. A year after Dr. Dance became the under shepherd, a $10,000 mortgage on the church was burned. Praise be to God!
During his pastorate many clubs were organized. Hundreds of souls were won for Christ, and the members of the church continued to work with vigor and with faith. A pipe organ was installed, alteration of the pillars supporting the balcony was completed, and the interior of the church was redecorated.
During the years of the Depression, many members were unable to meet their financial obligations to the church. The pastor, organist, sexton, and clerk fulfilled their commitments without receiving a salary. Later, when the financial situation was improved, one-half of the salary was paid until the church was strong enough to restore full salaries. These members were “rooted in the Word,” and they loved the Lord and His church. Dr Dance, a stalwart Christian minister, died in 1937. Once again, this congregation was without a leader; however, God was still in control.
REV. C. J. WASHINGTON – Two years passed before Rev. C. J. Washington accepted the pastorate in August of 1939. He freed the church of its indebtedness. The clubs and other organizations gave and enabled the church to purchase property on the southeast corner of Elm Avenue and Glasgow Street. A church parsonage was erected on the land and remained the parsonage until the property was taken for urban renewal. Rev. Washington made the following improvements: installation of hardwood flooring, new lights and carpet in the main edifice of the sanctuary, redecoration of the interior and the institution of the building fund. He served until April 1946.
DR. C. H. JORDAN – Our seventh pastor, (1947 – 1978) Dr. Clayton Howard Jordan, a charismatic and an anointed Christian, was steeped in the Word of God. He was committed and prepared to be the pastor of the flock. With his zeal and love for God’s people and his dynamic preaching ability, there was an increase in church attendance, prayer services, Christian commitment, missionary zeal, and Christian stewardship.
Advancements in education could be seen with the establishment of a dynamic kindergarten and adult education program. The kindergarten was one of the best in the city, and it attracted children from all over the area. An educational building was built in 1951 that replaced the little gray church that was the original church. Numerous repairs, purchases of equipment, and remodeling of the edifice were made periodically to maintain the physical beauty of the church. A building across the street from the church on the Queen Street side was purchased and renovated as a Fellowship Hall and now serves as a center for religious education and fellowship. The kindergarten that was equipped with every modern convenience to facilitate the learning process of the young was housed in this structure. The adult education classes were also held in this building that was expanded in 1974 to provide more space for teaching and training.
The completely air-conditioned facility was dedicated in 1974. The chapel was remodeled along with many other improvements such as the installation of sanctuary lights, installation of a mural, repair of the exterior of the building and painting of the interior. The total cost of the building and equipment including a piano was $45,667.56. Other improvements included erection of a choir loft at the cost of $16,270.80 and the purchasing of property on the northeast corner of Queen and Godwin Streets and the adjoining lot at the cost of $6,800.00. Dr. Jordan was a great leader with superior power. He loved, trusted, and served God until he passed in 1978. “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Matthew 25:21