In September 1926, two small churches named Gladstone Baptist and Springfield Baptist decided to combine their memberships to form a new church body. This new church had no pastor, no name.
In October of the same year, a committee consisting of the late Mary Matthews, Evelyn Spencer and Jessie Clark gathered to develop a name for the newly organized church and three names were suggested: Shadygrove, Mariah and United.
Under the suggestion of Mrs. Spencer, “why not call it ‘United’ since there were two combined churches.” Thus we were United Baptist Church and the late Rev. R.S. Tatum was called to be our first pastor.
Rev. Tatum served until late 1935 before he resigned and we were without a pastor until August 21, 1935, at which time we called the late Rev. W.S. McGhahee who served for a short time. Then on July 27, 1938 the late Rev. J.H. Hall was called. Under his pastorate the building at 918 Bellows Street was erected and dedicated. Rev. Hall served until his death in September, 1964.
Rev. Billy Robinson was called in March of 1965. Under his leadership we were able to broadcast a weekly radio program every Sunday evening, operated a daycare center and purchased a van. Pastor Robinson presented numerous cultural awareness programs to the membership of United by celebrations, a Bible Study course that featured blacks in the Bible and many other programs. Through his ministry the African-American community of Akron and surrounding areas became more aware and proud of their heritage. In 1981, God showed Rev. Robinson that his work at United was completed and on the fourth Sunday in February of that same year, he resigned as Pastor.
During the years of 1981 and part of 1982, United went through some trying times but with much prayer, biblical study and Christ as our leader, God saw us through and on the April 4, 1982, Rev. Roderick C. Pounds, Sr. preached his first sermon as Pastor. Under Rev. Pounds’ leadership, direction and foresight, we were able to purchase and erect our present edifice at 1007 S. Hawkins Ave. This project represented Phase I of our building plans and spiritual vision.
Exactly one year later in April 1983, our first service was held in the new building on S. Hawkins. In July of 1984, due to both our physical and spiritual growth, we launched Phase II of our building plans and spiritual vision which consisted to the purchase of five additional lots for parking and the conversion of the parsonage into an educational wing now known as “the house”. The beautiful aspect of Phase II was that the men of the church did all of the construction. By October of the same year, it was complete.
Nineteen hundred and eighty six began a legacy here at United with the First Baptist Church of Crestline, Ohio calling one of our ministers, the late Rev. John Isaiah to the pastorate. Many of our Associate Ministers have since been called to pastor various churches throughout the state and country.
In 1993, Rev. Pounds resigned as Pastor and on July 6, 1993, Rev. Kenneth W. Paramore was called as Pastor. Under his leadership we experienced growth in every aspect of the ministry and completed Phase III of our building plans through the erection of the Gus Johnson Community Center (GJCC).
GJCC was completed and opened for business in January, 2000 which allowed United to own and operate its own non-profit community development corporation. GJCC had a full service early childhood development and infant center (Kidz Kollege and Bright Beginnings) and operated an adult day service program (Nu Horizons). We also established Royal Christian Academy, a Christian primary school. These endeavors allowed United to offer quality careers and employment opportunities to its members as well as the community at large.
In April 2006, the sanctuary underwent a complete renovation with the replacement of everything from the carpet and pews to light fixtures and pulpit furniture. Sunday worship services were held at the John S. Knight Center until renovation completion in August of the same year.
On December 31, 2008, Rev. Paramore resigned as the pastor of United Baptist Church.
United again underwent challenging times but through prayer and perseverance under the leadership of Deacon Wise Moore, Jr., United once again withstood the the test of time until Rev. Kevin G. Rushing was called as Pastor on June 3, 2010. Pastor Rushing’s vision of rebuilding, “physically, spiritually, mentally, and collectively,” has allowed us to turn our motto of, “saving Souls and Salvaging Lives,” into our mission taking the church outside of the four walls and into the community to share the love of Christ with the lost and the broken.
The expansion of our Christian Education Department now allows us to offer Sunday School Courses to meet the needs of various age groups within the body of Christ by offering relevant curriculum designed specifically for them. Our Outreach Ministry has also expanded providing more than 150 families each year with gift cards to purchase Thanksgiving dinner. our adoption of and involvement in our community schools Schumacher CLC and Buchtel CLC are other examples of our ministry’s involvement in the community.
We’ve also begun health initiatives that include the West Akron 5k Walk/Run and Minority Health Fair which are both held annually.
Pastor Rushing’s love of the Lord is evident in all that he says and does and we will continue to follow him as he follows Christ knowing that the best is yet to come.