History of the Antioch Missionary
1957 – Reverend James A. Rudolph
The church’s humble beginnings started in 1957, with a group of concerned Christians who having been led by the Holy Spirit began holding services in a little house on 213th Street and 34 Avenue. At that time, the Lord appointed Reverend James A. Rudolph, Reverend Askew and Reverend Hillman, as the overseers of the flock. They in turn appointed William Lee, Horace Morrison, Elijah Sims and Henry Jones to serve as Deacons and Kate Dillard as church secretary.The uniqueness of this band of Antioch believers was in their denominational diversity: some were Baptist, while others were Methodists. Despite their denominational differences they worshipped and grew together spiritually. However, on February 28, 1958, a special meeting was held and the motion was set forth and ratified to hold separate services to further accommodate the varied needs and traditions of both denominations. They continue sharing the facilities and agreed that Antioch Missionary Baptist Church of Carol City would hold its services on the 1st and 3rd Sunday’s and St. Stephens A.M.E. on the 2nd and 4th Sundays. The spirit of collaboration continued as they combined their efforts and formed joint programs that aided each other in building their separate churches.
Committed to achieving the vision given to them, they were enterprising and diligent in their fundraising efforts. Martha Holston joined the fellowship and became the choir’s first musician. Along with Ms. Holston, her brother Morris Read, their mother Elizabeth Dusen from Virginia, and Sister Thelma Lee joined the church. The numerous drives they spearheaded raised enough money to purchase the first blocks and start the construction of new building. Reverend Rudolph, an experienced cement finisher by trade, labored along with the membership, laying the blocks to help build the building. Many of the members labored tirelessly together, giving whatever time that they could to the building effort. Their diligence and progress attracted others who immediately joined the building effort and ultimately joined the church increasing the membership.
In 1961, under the pastorate of Reverend Rudolph, the members celebrated the completion of their new church home. Many were added to the roll, including Deacon and Sister Johnny Melton, Brother Lewis Harris, Sister Gibson, Brother Richard Gibson, Brother Samuel Atchison and family.
1963 – Reverend Albert Essex
In 1963, Reverend Rudolph was called to a new field of labor and Reverend Albert Essex was called to Pastor at Antioch. Pastor Essex as well as members of the Deacon board labored amongst the flock, to finalize and enhance the building. Following the tremendous external construction, Reverend Essex was lead by God to fortify, nourish and invigorate the spiritual fabric of the congregation. During this period the church experienced both strong numeric and spiritual growth. The growing spiritual climate lead Reverend Essex to select and ordain several new Deacons, which included James Reynolds, Herbert Armstrong, Rufus Bradley and Morris Reid. Reverend Essex firmly established the spiritual culture of the church that would be evidenced in the years to come.
1968 – Reverend John C. Cherry
In 1968, Reverend John C. Cherry was call to Pastor at Antioch and for the next 17 years, the church saw a complete reformation. As the flock grew, the need for additional Deacons grew as well, and Johnny Cunningham, Marshall Banks, Ralph Coley, and Edwin Stinson, Johnny Banks, Emanual Mitchell, Morris Reid, Elizah Williams were ordained to serve.The following year, the Male Chorus was added, and as the membership grew, the Cherry Specials, a singing group was formed. Usher Board #2 was added and Sister Bell Jackson was elected as their first President. The Young Adult Choir, Mission Society, and Pastor’s Aid Club was added. Revered Cherry also ordained two Ministers, Reverend Tom Curry and Gerald Jones. As the church began to take on tremendous growth, Reverend Cherry saw that the membership was outgrowing the existing space and requested the Deacons to investigate the possibility of acquiring the adjoining properties. Shortly, thereafter, the two adjoining lots were purchased and the membership decided to rebuild and remodel.
In 1973, construction begun on the new building and from that point the membership grew from 100 to more than 250 active members. Reverend Cherry baptized more than 200 in the membership and, by the close of Reverend Cherry’s pastorate, the present building was more than three quarters of the way to completion with no outstanding bills or mortgages.
The church was without a pastor for several months after Reverend Cherry. The congregation worked together and they were able to continue, complete and move into the new building began by Rev. Cherry. During this period, in April of 1985, six Deacons were ordained: Russell Wriggins, Thomas J. Brown, Johnson Pringle, Jerry Jones, Kenneth Tookes and Alexander Hills. The ordination services were conducted and overseen by the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Brownsville, Reverend L. I. James.
1985 – Reverend Floyd Larkin
In October 1985, Reverend Floyd Larkin was called to head the flock. Reverend Larkin’s tenure was akin to the work of Jeremiah in the Old Testament and John the Baptist in the New Testament. During this critical period in the history of the church, Reverend Larkin was predominately responsible for reviewing and restructuring the ministry’s infrastructure to prepare it for the explosive growth that he believed would happen in the nineties and beyond. During his tenure, the signs of the growth to come were seen as the congregation experienced continual and steady increase from 1985 through 1990. Additionally, five Deacons and two ministers were ordained during this period. They were: Deacons Eddie Milton, Alonzo Simmons, Joe Lucas, James Hudson and John Osborne and Ministers Cliff Sanders and Eddie Dudley. His conviction of the future growth of the church, lead the congregation to purchase three additional lots, upon which the current sanctuary is built. His ability to cast vision and remain steadfast and resolute during a period of transition set a solid foundation upon which Antioch would evolve.
1991 – Pastor Arthur Jackson, III
In March 1991, Pastor Arthur Jackson, III was called to head the flock. He was ordained in 1991 by his father, Arthur Jackson, Jr., Senior Pastor of New Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church.During Pastor Jackson’s tenure at Antioch, Antioch has gone through a complete spiritual, financial, and structural metamorphosis. Spiritually, God has gifted and anointed him to preach the gospel to the wounded, lost, and broken. These very people in turn have correspondingly helped to minister to the needs of the people in the community as we continuously labor in fulfilling the mandate of God, taking over the community for God, God’s use, and His Glory.
Financially, contributions and receipts have more than quadrupled since 1992. It is greatly due to the leadership and teachings of Pastor Jackson about reaping and sowing, and the blessings attached to the tithe. The Antioch body has learned to trust and depend on God, while giving their tithes and offerings. Antioch’s financial stability and soundness continues to grow, with the grace of God. The congregation’s financial stewardship and spiritual faithfulness helped achieve and fulfill God’s plan for yet another structure. The same process was begun again – fasting, praying, and moving on God’s order. The church purchased additional lots surrounding the existing facility and broke ground in December of 1996 on the construction of the new facility.
The $2 million dollar sanctuary and administrative building was constructed in 1998. The membership moved into the new building and the inaugural service was conducted in August 1998. Seven years later, the continued faithfulness and under the keen stewardship of Pastor Jackson the mortgage was paid in full.
Since the inauguration, the Antioch body has continued to experience a steady stream of growth, still due to the drawing of the Holy Spirit and the anointed preaching and teaching. Today the membership numbers 7,500 strong and growing. It is a membership that continues the traditional of diversity and unity in God. There are over twenty different cultures that form the Antioch body today.
Over 75 vibrant ministries have been developed to meet the growing spiritual, emotional and practical needs of the membership and the community served by the church.
The Antioch family continues to pursue the heart of God and continues the tradition of diligent unified effort in the fulfillment of the vision given by God for this body. Consequently, we stand in awe of what God has already done and humbled in anticipation of what God will do.