CHRIST CENTERED|COMMUNITY FOCUSED
SAINT JAMES MISSIONARY BAPTIST CHURCH
come. Faith has brought us safe thus far, and faith shall lead us on.”“Through many dangers, toils, and snares, we have already
Saint James Missionary Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas
founded in collaboration with a group of a devote Christians, Reverend Joe Gray, Reverend J.A.Harrisand Reverend James Mitchell, with Reverend Joe Gray serving as Pastor. Due to the absence of pertinent documented records – June 1893 was accepted as the Church’s official birth month and year!
This small but faithful group desired to engage in a covenant
relationship with one another and God; therefore, Saint James was
established at South 4th and I Streets in Fort Smith,
Arkansas. Reverend Gray served as Pastor for nine years.
In 1902, those faithful members rebuilt the church on South 4thandI
Streets with Reverend A.J. Jones serving as Pastor. Upon the passing of Rev. A.J. Jones, several ministers served as Pastor of Saint James from 1902 to 1933: Reverend Bush, Reverend Jamison, Reverend Shelton, Reverend J.C. Price, and Reverend R.V. Simpson.
The second location of Saint James was 701 South 6th Street in Fort
Smith, Arkansas. The City of Fort Smith donated bricks, once used
to pave the city streets, for the building of the church. It was through
the dedication of the women of Saint James (cleaning and
refurbishing the bricks) and the men of Saint James (hauling the
bricks and building the structure) that the new place of worship was built.
From 1934 to1960, God sent several other ministers to serve as
Pastor: Reverend R.V. Madison and Reverend A. J. Hawkins, along
with three Lay Ministers that served the church: Reverend Neal
Henderson, Reverend J.D. Buckley, and Reverend T.J Whitfield.
Rev. Whitfield was elected Pastor. Under his leadership, along with
the loyalty and the support of members and the 100 Member’s Club
(established under his Pastorate), the church was cleared of all debts.
In 1936, Reverend C.A. Perry was called as Pastor of Saint James; he served until he moved to Muskogee, Oklahoma. Deacons that served were: H. Madison, W.L. Selvage, M.D. Burse, W.M. Coleman, W. Moore, M. Cravens, and A.L. Hinkle.
In 1960, the church called a gentle, yet powerful servant of The Lord
in the person of Reverend J.M. Oliver. Reverend Oliver served
God’s People for 22 years until his resignation in 1982. Upon his
resignation, God sent us a true servant leader by the name of Pastor Gary L. Hinkle, Sr.
Under Pastor Hinkle, Sr.’s leadership, another group of devout
Christians initiated the search for a new home site for Saint James in
September 1982. With Christ having their lead, Brothers Sam Smith,
Kevin Moore, Chester Hinkle, Sr., Paul Gatlin, David Keaton, and
Alton Wright set out on the mission in search of a new place of
worship for the growing Saint James.
On December 31, 1982, a contract was signed for the purchase of the
new building. On February 20, 1983, Saint James again started out
on her divine mission and marked another beginning of the first of
many services praising and thanking God for His many blessings.
The worship began with a "Walk of Faith” by Saint James members
from the old location at 701 South 6th Street to our new location at
4225 High Street. They vowed with each step to carry out their
Christian duties, and to rejoice and praise God in His new sanctuary,
as brothers and sisters in Christ. Deacons were: Chester Hinkle, Sr.,
Paul Gatlin, SamSmithand Kevin Moore.
The church joyfully celebrated the first anniversary of Pastor G. L.
Hinkle, Sr, and First Lady Virginia Hinkle on August 14, 1983.
God blessed the occasion.
On August 21, 1983, the Cornerstone Laying Service for Saint James
new location was held with the Widow’s Son Lodge #3 and Grand
Worshipful Master of the State of Arkansas Rev. Howard Woods presiding.
The Lord continued to bless Saint James abundantly. Due to the
growth of the church, more parking and classroom space were
needed. After a period of eleven years, Pastor G. L. Hinkle, Sr. and
another group of devout Christian members consisting of Deacon and
Trustees set out to secure another place of worship
Deacons/Ministers: Edward James, Sam Smith, Kevin Moore,
Anthony Sauls, Sr., Larry Vann, Michael Hinkle, Robert Booker,
Billy Smith, Michael Corbin, Sr., Joel Simms, Reverend Rodney
Corbin, and Kim Burns; Trustees: Nicole McGinister, Valeria
Robinson, and Reverend Sam Walton.
Listening to the voice of the Lord telling them to “move on up a little
higher”, the search for a new location started. On March 14, 2004
Saint James relocated to 4916 High Street, with this becoming the
fourth and present location for Saint James Missionary Baptist Church.
Once again, Pastor G. L. Hinkle, Sr., officers, and members marched
from 4225 High Street to 4916 High Street while praying, singing
and thanking God for another journey!
During Reverend G. L. Hinkle, Sr.’s Pastorate, Saint James continued
to grow in wisdom and knowledge – studying God’s Word. God
continued to show great favor to Saint James and its congregation.
With a passion for people and the love of God’s Word in carrying out
The Great Commission – many souls were saved and baptized. To
God Be the Glory; What A Blessing! Pastor Hinkle strongly
believed, “to Love the Lord was to Serve His People”. He adopted
and lived the motto(s) of “We Are Family” and “We Treasure the Word”.
Many ministries initiatives were conceived and implemented
under Pastor Hinkle:
• POW (People Out Witnessing)
• New Members Class
• Lessons on Assurance Class
• Single’s Ministry
• Marriage Ministry
• M.O.C. (Mercy Outreach Center)
• Tutoring Program
• I.D.M (Inspirational Dance Ministries)
• 6:13 Youth Program
• IGNITE Ministry
• Wednesday Night Bible Study
• Noon Day Bible Study
• Food Ministry
• And several others.
Approximately 22 ministers were either licensed or ordained during
Pastor G.L. Hinkle’s tenure with many of them now servings as
Senior Pastor of their own congregation. God is faithful to those who
are faithful to His cause.
Pastor Hinkle was truly “A Man after God’s Own Heart”. His
mission of defending the Faith and sharing the life of Jesus Christ is
well recognized throughout the community among all denominations,
ethnic groups, public and private sectors. After nearly 34 years of
service, the Lord suddenly called Pastor Hinkle Home from his labors
to rest! Saint James Missionary Baptist Church was shocked and
saddened at this loss.
During the period of mourning, Assistant Pastor Reverend Sam L.
Walton served as interim Pastor. Reverend Walton, along with other
Lay Ministers of the House, continued to preach the Word of God
until the search began for a pastor. Lay Ministers of the House were:
Reverend Dee Smith, Reverend Kenneth Spears, Reverend Ronald
Forte, Jr., Minister Isabella Poole, Minister Bobbie Jones, Minister
Valeria Robinson, and Minister Gregory A. Carthon.
After much fasting and praying, a search committee was formed for a
new pastor. The committee included: Deacon Sam Smith, Deacon
Billy Smith, Deacon Darrell Maxberry, Nicole McGinister, Martha
Williamson, Virginia Hinkle, Louise Robinson, Taivonne LeBlanc,
Fannie Booker, AlexSylvesterand Lewis Eady; Felecia May served
as Secretary. Saint James fasted and prayed, fasted and prayed, fasted and prayed; both individual and collectively that God would continue to sustain us through this difficult period, as He had done in the past, in our search. Saint James sailed through turbulent waters but kept the faith that God would provide.
On Sunday, January 14, 2018, Saint James voted to call The
Reverend Paul Edward Davis as Pastor of Saint James Missionary
Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
Installation Services was held for Pastor Davis on Sunday, March 11,
2018, with a reception in the fellowship hall following the evening
service. Pastor Thaddeus K. Shore, Next Level Christian Church in
Greensboro, North Carolina, brought the morning message and Pastor Curtiss P. Smith, The Historical St. James Baptist Church in
Fayetteville, Arkansas, brought the message for the 3 p.m.
Installation Service. A reception was also held on Saturday, March
10, 2018, in honor of First Lady Cora Janice Davis. First Lady
Jacinda Smith of The Historical St. James Baptist Church in
Fayetteville, Arkansas, was the Speaker.
Under the divine Leadership of God and our Pastor, The Reverend
Paul E. Davis, who truly has the heart of a Shepherd, Saint James
continues to be an instrument in the hand of God, as we adopt our
vision as the Church that is “Christ Centered | Community Focused”.
Pastor Davis is passionate about the effectiveness of the church and
believes that “Strong Pastoral Leadership” is the key to a healthy and
thriving community. We are excited about what the future holds.