In 1917, in the home of Dea. and Sis. S. C. Carter, a Sunday School Mission was organized and Rev. Jarrel was called to give leadership to it. Rev. C. W. Williams served from 1917 to 1923, and he led the mission into becoming a permanent church – Southern Baptist Church – and relocated from 514 George Street to 562 George Street (at a cost of $6,000). The name “Southern” grew out of the initial members being from southern states like Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. Rev. J. S. Tate served from 1924 to 1929, and he led the church from 562 George Street into the edifice at 701 Richmond Street. Rev. H. P. James served from 1929 to 1930. Rev. J. W. Heywood served from 1930 to 1931. Rev. Marshall Moore served from 1931 to 1943, and he led the church in significant debt liquidation and hiring of staff. Rev. P. L. Harvey served from 1943 to 1944, and led the church in burning its mortgage. Rev. L. W. Veal served from 1946 to 1953.
Rev. Jessie Watson served from 1953 to 1969, he was a son of Southern who led us to our current location at 3556 Reading Road (at a cost of $238,000). Rev. Samuel Cruthfield served as a tremendous help until the next Pastor was called. Rev. James E. Milton served from 1970 to 1996. He led us into burning the church’s mortgage, constructing an addition to the church building (1987) and paying it off, implemented a charter school and the Southern Day Care Center (1987), purchased a number of rental houses, and a number of Deacons and Ministers were licensed and ordained. He was also a noted advocate for the Avondale community. Rev. Richard Smith (i.e., Rev. Milton’s Assistant Pastor) served as the Interim Pastor between Pas. Milton and Pas. Edwards. Rev. C. Dennis Edwards I served from 1997 to 2007, and he led us in building the James E. Milton Educational Complex and other physical improvements to the building. Rev. Walter E. Bledsoe (i.e., a faithful son of Southern) served as the Interim Pastor between Pas. Edwards and Pas. Baines, Jr. Rev. Dr. Robert E. Baines, Jr. was called to serve from January 2009 until 2019. He has led us in developing disciples and ministries (e.g., Community and Follow-Up Evangelism, Growth Groups, Training Union, and Community Involvement), giving over 16,070 hours and $101,576 dollars in community involvement (as of Oct. 2017), making physical improvements to the church building (i.e., over $1,031,316 as of Sept. 2017), and burning a $1 million mortgage on the James E. Milton Building in less than six years (paid September 26, 2014, in spite of less than projected revenue and attendance).
As you can see, God has blessed Southern with a rich history, and the best is yet to come.