Eighth Avenue Missionary Baptist Church, 1200 W. Eighth Ave., will celebrate its 121st anniversary at 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27. The pastor is the Rev. Kirby L. Gulley and the guest minister will be the Rev. Kelly Allen Green, pastor of Greater St. Mark AME Church at Thornton.
The church was founded more than 121 years ago and has been located at its current location since 1898, according to Eighth Avenue’s history by member, Sandra Williams. Details were based on available data, previously recorded history and information from members, according to a news release.
Eighth Avenue was one of 19 churches formed as a result of the growth of First Missionary Baptist Church that was then located at Olive and Pullen streets. The congregation at that time was made up of both black and white members, according to release.
“On October 7, 1897, a small group of Christians led by Rev. George Robinson began to worship together and organized the seventh Black Missionary Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Arkansas,” according to release. “The first service was held in the Old Friendship Hall on West Barraque Street at the site of the former Dunlap Monument Company.”
The church moved from Barraque Street to Seventh Avenue and Ash Street until the current site was acquired at 1200 W. Eighth Ave. In 1898, a cornerstone was laid an the Rev. J.C. Rogers was the pastor, according to the release.
“The Eighth Avenue Church Family has reached out into the community through projects such as sponsoring a food pantry, contributing to different assistance programs, sponsoring youth activities and mission outreach activities. The church building was destroyed by fire after a lighting strike. Rev. L.K. Solomon was pastor during that period. Under his guidance, a new structure was completed in 1974,” according to the release.
“Since the founding of Eighth Avenue, the church has been led by the following pastors: Rev. J. C. Rodgers, Rev. W. M. Rideout, Rev. Williams, Rev. O. D. Thomas, Rev. W. E. Pruitt, J. W. McCray, Rev. H. J. Savage, Rev. Harris, Rev. W. E. Pruitt, Rev. J. W. McCray, Rev. H. J. Savage, Rev. Harris, Rev. Dixon, Rev. Dumphrey, Rev. Willard Wiley, Rev. T. M. Garrison, Rev. A. L. Garrison, Rev. A. L. Carpenter, Rev. S. C. Crenshaw, Rev. M. L. Brantley, Rev. H. J. Cook, Rev.D. L. O’Neal, Rev. L. K. Solomon, Rev. James Seawood, Rev. Dolas Jackson, Rev. Edward Thomas, Rev. Arnold Robertson, and is now under the leadership of Rev. Kirby L. Gulley,” according to the release.
“Currently, under the leadership of Pastor Gulley, an expansion project is underway to enhance the worship, study and fellowship experiences the church offers. A ground-breaking ceremony was held on Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019. Among those in attendance for this celebration were Mayor Shirley Washington, Alderwoman Joni Alexander, Alderman Lloyd Holcomb Jr., Pastor Kirby Gulley, deacons, trustees and members of Eighth Avenue,” according to the release.