In the year 1889, a family by the name of Willis Cay started the first African American mission in the city of Painesville, Ohio. They started with prayer service and later turned it into a mission with five or six African American members of different faiths and called it the Union Chapel, which was located at 294 West Washington Street. This continued until 1895, when the Reverend G.W. Randolph, along with Mr. and Mrs. Jonas Green, Mr. and Mrs. William Thompson and Mr. and Mrs. Hancock started the Free Will Baptist Church.
They were assisted by the Free Will Baptist Association and purchased a school building in Madison, Ohio. This building was moved to 225 West Washington Street.
On October 8, 1916, a meeting was held by the small congregation to change the name from the Free Will Baptist Church to the St. John Missionary Baptist Church. During this transaction, the congregation paid off its indebtedness to the Free Will Association and the church became known as the St. John Missionary Baptist Church.
During the late nineteen forties the Painesville City School system acquired our property (the church site) for school expansion. In this process, we were forced to vacate the West Washington Street building and rented the old Lutheran Church building located on East Erie Street. We worshipped in the East Erie building from 1950 to spring of 1952.
We purchased the land for our present site and began the excavation in July of 1951. By December the basement of the building was completed. With this portion of our church completed and all bills paid, we had our first worship service in our new basement the last Sunday in December 1951.
On July 31, 1957, actual work was begun on the auditorium by the contractor by March 15, 1958 our building was complete and ready for worship service. In August of 1964 the final payment was made on monies borrowed to complete the second phase.
April 10. 1967 the church purchased the property at 393 West Jackson Street.
In 1995 the church purchased the property at 353 West Jackson Street.
In 2002 the Duplex next door to the church at 355 West Jackson Street was purchased by the church.
On May 22, 2006 Reverend Jeffrey J. Jemison was called to pastor the church. Under his leadership and vision he worked to improve our Sunday School and weekly Bible Study as well as our outreach
In the past five years we have had some progress in reaching out to our members and the community. We have had two successful Health Fairs, three 3 on 3 basketball tournaments for community youth, sponsored a community services to celebrate Martin Luther King Day and Community Memorial Day services.
Our latest venue is the establishment of a Family Life Education Center. The mission being to measurably improve the life of families in our community. We have a tutoring program in the middle school.
In 2008 we opened a food pantry. In the beginning we served about 60 families per month. At present we are serving between 250 and 300 families per month. We are opened the last two Wednesdays each month from 3:00 to5:00 p.m.
During the past years that St. John Baptist Church has been in existence, many individuals have been led to Christ and many people have been touched and their lives forever changed by its teachings.
We praise God from whom all blessings flow for 125 years and for the many saints who passed this way and were instrumental in helping to bring us to this place in history. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!!!!!