On September 15, 1932, a small group of Christians, seven in number, met for prayer and to discuss the possibility of organizing a church that would be a witness for the Lord in the entire world. From that humble beginning, our church has grown into a congregation that has occupied three locations.
On October 2, 1932, a meeting was held in the Upper Room of the hall on the northwest corner of 57th & Vine Streets. Rev. Leonard George Carr, a student at Lincoln University, was elected to be the spiritual advisor for the group. The group chose for its name “Vine Street Baptist Church”.
On November 11, 1932, the church was set apart and fellowshipped as a regular Missionary Baptist Church. Our spiritual advisor, Reverend Leonard George Carr, was unanimously elected Pastor of the Vine Street Baptist Church.
Pastor Carr began his ministry as founder and pastor in the depths of the “Great Depression”. No pay was given to anyone for more than a year, but, as Vine Street Baptist Church grew numerically, from 47 members to 118, and financially; a weekly donation of $5 was given to Pastor Carr, which he cheerfully accepted.
Several organizations were formed or established in 1932 including the Deacon and Trustee Boards, Church School, Senior Missionary Society and Junior Choir.
In January 1933, our first revival was conducted by the Rev. Luke Beard of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Though times were hard and few members made more than $10 per week, this 10 day revival was a great spiritual and economic success. In 1954, the Reverend Caesar A. W. Clark, Pastor of the Good Street Baptist Church, Dallas Texas, became our revivalist and continued as our revivalist for the next thirty five years. Our congregation continued to grow but, because of inadequate space and facilities, the work of the church was hindered. In 1935, we purchased the church on the northeast corner of 56th & Vine Streets and marched into our new church home. In 1940, we burned the mortgage. The church prospered and grew so much during the ten years at 56th & Vine Streets that we needed even more space to carry out our religious, educational, and community programs.
In October 1944, the Palatinate Church at 56th & Girard Avenue was put up for sale. After much negotiating, the church was purchased and renamed “Vine Memorial Baptist Church”. In March 1945, we made settlement and marched to our present church home. The years that followed were years of growth for the Vine Memorial Baptist Church in numbers, ministry and Christian outreach.
Under the direction and leadership of Pastor Carr, Vine Memorial Baptist Church made liberal contributions to foreign missions. In 1950, a Mission Station in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa was founded. The school was named “Vine Memorial Baptist Training School.”
Over the years, Vine Memorial Baptist Church grew and prospered. In 1957, the cornerstone of this building was laid. The Credit Union was established in 1964. In 1971, a Rogers Organ was installed and dedicated. From October 10, 1932 to December 31, 1971, our gifts to benevolence alone totaled $273,893.81.
On June 17, 1976, our beloved Pastor Leonard George Carr was called home to be with the Lord. During the next two years, special prayer meetings were instituted for members to pray for a new leader. This marked the beginning of our Hour of Power which is held every Wednesday at 12 noon.
On April 12, 1978, a special meeting was held and the Vine Memorial Baptist Church voted to call Reverend James Sterling Allen, Sr. as the pastor of the Vine Memorial Baptist Church. The call of Pastor Allen to the pastorate instituted a brand new chapter in our church’s history. Under the direction and leadership of Pastor Allen, Vine Memorial Baptist Church witnessed a physical extension of our church with the purchase of 5614, 5616, 5618 and 5620 Girard Avenue. Vine Memorial was able to add onto its meeting space and later develop much needed off-street parking.
Pastor Allen’s dream of sharing our services over the radio was realized with the development of the Radio Ministry. This concept led to creation of the Media Ministry where tapes/cd’s of our radio broadcasts, services, concerts and special programs are prepared. The purchase of 5546 and 5544 West Girard Avenue created office space for the Media Ministry, as well as additional areas for meetings and classrooms.
In 2007, Vine Memorial celebrated its 75th Anniversary. And in 2007, Pastor Allen’s ambitious plan to renovate our church was realized. The church sanctuary was renovated and the return to our newly renovated and beautiful sanctuary was a time of great rejoicing and a continuation of the progressive agenda of this church and its leader, Pastor Allen.
Pastor Allen continues to lead Vine Memorial with an emphasis upon worship, prayer, evangelism, missions, Christian Education and community outreach. For the past 33 years we have been truly blessed to have this dynamic man of God as our pastor and teacher who encourages us every Sunday to love one another and to be kind to one another because, as Jesus taught “By this shall all men know that that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As we celebrate 82 years of service and accomplishments in the life of our Vine family, we honor our past, embrace our present and look toward our future as we continue on this journey of faith striving to be More Like Jesus!