History 150 Years......
The Mount Joy Baptist Church was founded in 1869, after several Christian ex-slaves began conducting church services in one of their homes. This closely knit group selected s committee to be responsible for locating a church site and spearheading fund drivers. Those members were Brothers Daniel Spiller, Dan Fountain, Felix Green, Warren Green, Joe Gambol, and Dan Wolford. This dedicated group coordinated the selling of barbecue, chicken dinners, and box lunches. During the winter, they and other church members hunted wild game and offered their meat for sale of dinners. Finally, in 1871, land was purchased from the Wolf family and the deed was signed by Burd Dandridge, Mark Jones, Joseph White, and Nathan Dozier. After many days of working tirelessly and unselfishly, the members realized their dream and Mt. Joy was erected and Dedication service was held.
The building was a log cabin, standing, majestically near the middle of the block. It had only one isle, two rows and three windows on each side which allowed ample rays of light to filter into the building. It had no basement, vestibule, alcove, or tower bell.
Elected as the first Officers were: Deacons Edward Jason, Joe Gambol, Dan Wolford, and Dan Fountain. Deacons and Trustees were: Daniel Spiller, Felix Green, and Warren Green. Sister Rachel Ann Spiller was a Deaconess and Sister Felix Green was a Deaconess and Missionary. Rev. George Kimball was the first Pastor. The church membership consisted of sixty-eight people.
On January 4, 1908, the customary Revival (“Protracted meeting”), began after a week of prayer service. Sinners were asked to sit on the front bench, or we called it “the mourners” bench. Six members professed their love for Christ and were later baptized. During the summer, four more men were ordained as Deacons, namely, Brothers Alfred Williams, Daniel Wolford, William Moss, and Thomas L. Scott.
In 1909, Mount Joy church suffered grief and heartache, a test to see if the members could keep the faith during the storms of life. On Wednesday, after Easter, the building was destroyed by fire! As the building was burning, Brother William Scott crawled through a window and saved some of the church records.
Thereafter, church services were held in an empty building at 100 East Vandalia (Yonaka Jewelry Store). Later, services were held at Lincoln School, next to the True Reformers hall, (the Cochran Building) on North Main Street, where the parking lot of Rusty’s Restaurant is presently located.
In spite of the moves and inconveniences caused by the fire, the church still grew and held baptism at Wolf’s Pond, which was located behind Kienstra Concrete Co.
During the time, the church was being rebuilt by James Waters Contractors, with the help of the Odd Fellows Lodge of East Saint Louis, IL. laying the cornerstone. Inside the cornerstone are a five-cent piece and the names of the Pastor: J.A. Duncan, the Deacons: Joseph Gambol, Edward Jason, Alfred Williams, William Moss, Daniel Wolford, and Thomas L. Scott. Trustees: Robert Finney, Brant Moore, George Parker, Phalanderous Oldham, and the member’s names. Aided by Wesley Chapel AME and others in the community, work on the building continued. In September, the task was completed and a Dedication Service was held. Mt. Joy Church was now in the Wood River Baptist District Association.
The new building had a basement, vestibule, alcove, and belfry. It also had three rows of pews and a lectern, engineered by Thomas L. Scott. The church also had a bell, which tolled for all services; Sunday school, morning worship, funerals, BYPU etc. for many years.
Baptisms of candidates were held at LeClaire Lake until 1935. The three ways to unite with the church were; candidate for baptism, Christian experience, and by letter. For years, offering for Sunday school was one cent, up to five cents. Morning worship offering was five cents up to twenty-five cents.
The Parent Body of Mt. Joy, the New Salem Baptist District Association was organized at Mt. Joy on August 25th, 1920. The late Mary A. Hunter was elected as President of the Women’s Auxiliary and the late Bettie Dean was elected second Vice President. Both were members of Mt. Joy.
In 1989, our first pictorial directory of the membership was compiled. The second was completed in 1995. The Men’s Fellowship was also organized this year. In 1992, Mt. Joy acquired two houses in the surrounding area and razed them for parking areas. The last service in the 1909 building was July 31, 1994.
On August 7th, 1994 the church began sharing a building at the Cottonwood Mall Banquet Center with the First Presbyterian Church; groundbreaking and construction of the present building also began. On November 25th, 1994, the Mt. Joy time capsule was created. Within the time capsule are, contents of the old cornerstone, a 1994 ten-cent coin and the names of the Pastor, Steve Jackson, Deacons: Joseph Smith, Anderson Jumper, Udell Jason, all Trustees of Mt. Joy since 1908 and the “in-Fellowship” roster.
Service began in the lower level of the new building February 19, 1995, and Dedication service was held, March 26, 1995. In 1995, Larry Beard, Anthony Davis, and Cleveland Sebree were ordained as Deacons. In 1996, John Cunningham and Paul Pitts were ordained. Previous Deacons since 1908 were: William Dean, Thomas Hornberger, William Scott, Will Johnson, George Spiller, Dewey Lewis, James White, Cleveland Kelly, George Green, Taylor Vaughn, Hollis Carpenter, Orin Spiller, Herlie Harper, Herbert Stone, John Fifer, and James Williams.
The Sunday School began sponsoring yearly cultural trips in 1996. The year of 1999 was the year for new ministries starting in Mt. Joy. Three new social ministries were started, Elders Birthday Celebration of Long Life, Couples, and Singles Ministries (created in 2000). We now have a Media Ministry, Newsletter ministry (created in 2000), and have purchased a van for the Bus ministry.
The Lord blessed us to burn the mortgage on the present building on July 10, 1999. During the celebration of our 130th Anniversary, Mayor G.D. Niebur proclaimed July 10th as a day to officially celebrate. He further proclaimed, July 25, 1999, Fern Jason Stone Day. Several Mt. Joy members have been honored for services rendered. The Lord continues to “Bless us”.