The early and humble beginnings of Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church began in 1920 by the late Reverend A. Reed, Deacon W. W. Page, and other interested persons. Our founding fathers and mothers originally named the church Hillside Baptist, a storefront building, located at 1106 Pine Street. In 1937 Gethsemane moved from the storefront to a church building located at 102 W. Enterprise Street under the leadership of the late Reverend James Stewart.
Reverend A. Trice became the pastor in 1940 and served for approximately 21 years. In 1958, Gethsemane relocated to 906 S. Pine (Roxboro) Street which at that time was only a basement upon which the main church was eventually built. The Enterprise Street facility was sold approximately a year later.
The Gethsemane Baptist Church called to its pastorate, Reverend Vernon E. Brown on January 30, 1962. He was officially installed on February 4, 1962 and became a great spiritual leader and teacher, guiding the church through many years of Christian development, community involvement, and served as the worship leader through the preached Word. According to Reverend V. E. Brown in his 1964 publication, The Voice of Gethsemane, “Gethsemane was able to weather the storms of changes in leadership.”
Gethsemane thrived under the leadership of Reverend Brown. The church was able to move from a small basement to a new sanctuary in October of 1962; installed new pews and built a new kitchen by Thanksgiving of the same year. District offerings were set in place to cover maintenance supplies, miscellaneous expenses and other general repairs.
In 1990 an annex was added to the church building which included; pastor’s office (equipped with restroom and shower), male and female restrooms, a lounge upstairs and a fellowship hall downstairs. The church continued to grow spiritually, physically and financially with a blessed Bible Study, a working and progressive church body, and with continued and consistent stewardship of its officers and members.
The former pastor, Rev. Dr. V. E. Brown (deceased), had great foresight in his leadership of the church. He led by example through his support of all projects both spiritually and financially. Rev. Brown was a forerunner for the Blacks in our community to run for public office, as he ran for Sheriff to set the stage for others. He supported human rights, women’s rights, and was a great supporter of education and an advocate for the youth and the aged. Reverend Brown passed on December 21, 2008, at the age of 100.
On July 11, 2010, Reverend Anthony E. Cozart, Sr. was called as the next pastor for Gethsemane Missionary Baptist Church. The church has sustained its spiritual and financial stability and is ready to move forward by the grace of God with a progressive and positive spirit-filled leader.