The liberty hill Baptist Church
On September 22, 1917, a group of baptized believers, headed by Reverend Eugene Sims, met and organized a mission. They first met in the home of Brother Wade Orr, located at 75th and Colfax Avenue. After a short while, the mission moved to 80th Street near Kinsman Road, where they paid $50 per month for one year.
Pastorate of Reverend Eugene Sims
July 10, 1918, a meeting with Reverend Eugene Sims, Reverend Yewell, Reverend Redman, Reverend W.H. Gary, Acting Secretary, and Reverend William Page, Acting Chairman, declared the mission fully organized and carried. The name would be The Liberty Hill Baptist Church.
At a business meeting July 24, 1918, officers were elected; Brother William Wilson, Secretary; Brother Perry Mass, Treasurer; also, in attendance: Deacon R.B. Crowly, Deacon J. W. Howard, Deacon D. Roban, Deacon William Wilson, Deacon Mose Ellington, Brother James Nelson and Malcom.
In 1919, Reverend Sims and his officers planned to purchase the building in which they met and had rented. The employees of Allen and Rhines Foundry Company donated $750, the Baptist City Mission donated $250; and the Northern Ohio General Association donated $25.00. The church was purchased on a land contract for the sum of $12,000, with a down payment of $1,000 from the Kinsman Congregation Church.
During the pastorate of Reverend Sims, the Senior Choir was organized in 1919, the Missionary Society was established with Sister Marilda Johnson as president; the Usher Board was organized in 1919 with Reverend Wilson as First Chairman; and the B.T.U. was organized in June 1919. Reverend Sims served as pastor until he resigned.
Reverend A.D. Williams was called as pastor, December 29, 1919, and resigned March 13, 1920. Reverend W. T. Neel was elected, April 20, 1920 and resigned on June 11, 1920.
Pastorate of Reverend S. M. Robinson
Reverend S. M. Robinson, of Decatur, Alabama, was elected pastor June 20, 1920. The church had 40 members and an indebtedness of $1,100. Through Reverend Robinson’s splendid leadership and spiritual insight the membership grew rapidly, and we were soon out of debt. Reverend Robinson served the church five years, six months, and four days. He died February 4, 1926 leaving the church free of debt with $2,000 in the treasury and a membership of more than 400 people.
Pastorate of Reverend Marion F. Washington
Reverend M. F. Washington, of Birmingham, Alabama, was elected pastor June 9, 1926. He came to the church June 30, 1926. He found the church free of deb with $2,000 in the treasury and a good membership. Through Reverend Washington’s splendid leadership, we were compelled to seek a larger building. In June 1929, we purchased a larger church building at 5713 Kinsman Road from the German Missionary Society for the sum of $70,000. We paid from our church treasury $12,500. We borrowed from the Cleveland Trust Company (a banking institution) $18,000, paying the German Missionary Society $30,500, which left a balance of $39,500, which became our mortgage.
Under Reverend Washington’s excellent leadership, our efforts were blessed, and the second mortgage was cancelled on October 27, 1938. The first mortgage with the Cleveland Trust Company was paid in full and cancelled September 17, 1943.
Reverend M. F. Washington served the church 17 years, five months and three days. He died December 3, 1943, leaving the church with a membership of 2,200 free of debt and with $2,936.50 in its treasury.
The late Reverend C. L. Thompson served the Liberty Hill Baptist Church as interim pastor after the passing of Reverend M. F. Washington. Much credit must be given to Reverend Thompson for his spiritual guidance during the dark days of World War II. Under his leadership, the church continued to grow.
Pastorate of Reverend Dr. Milton E. Wilson
Reverend Milton E. Wilson was called to the Liberty Hill Baptist Church August 9, 1944 and assumed the pastoral duties Sunday, September 3, 1944. A young man with a vision and full of vim, vigor, and vitality and above all, a God-called inspired minister. He stepped into a well-organized church and took over the reins. From that time forth, Liberty Hill, under his spiritual eye, never looked back, but continued to move forward. With the help of God and the cooperation of the church officers and members, our progress gained momentum.
Under Reverend Wilson’s pastorate, the Missionary Society was restructured into one of the most effective missionary units of the Baptist denomination. Much of the success was attributed to the late Sister Evelyn Thurman and Sister Mamie Dunbar.
The church membership continued to grow. Dr. Wilson realized we were rapidly out growing our present building and instituted a building fund drive consisting of non-negotiable bonds to be purchased by the members and organizations of the church. A building committee consisted of the trustees, three laymen; Brothers Memphis Tufts, Will Jackson, and Dr. H. E. Welton, were empowered to explore the possibility of building on Kinsman and Griswold Avenue.
Plans were submitted and resubmitted and after wrangling with the architect for two years the plans to build there were abandoned. Our next effort was an attempt to purchase a lot belonging to The Future Outlook League located on Woodland Avenue near East 55th Street. This deal also failed to materialize. The Trustees, after probing into the cost of a building, suitable to our needs, found the cost of labor and materials prohibitive. Hence, we found our plan to build was at a complete standstill.
God came to our rescue and paved the way for acquisition of the Euclid Avenue Temple, our present location at 8206 Euclid Avenue. The deal was consummated by Reverend Dr. Wilson and trustees of Liberty Hill and the late Rabbi Barnett Brickner and his trustees for a sum of $200,000. With our building drive, we raised $250,000 in six months and paid cash when we moved in.
Sunday, November 4, 1956 was moving day for Liberty Hill from Kinsman Road to our present location at East 82nd Street and Euclid Avenue. This facility has a 1,225-seat sanctuary, a chapel seating 125; a 500-seat dining and recreation hall; a modern equipped kitchen; a 1,200-seat auditorium, a library; 30 classrooms, and an administrative office complex. A renovating period took place and a new choir stand, with an island pulpit, was erected, plus a new baptismal pool. The sanctuary organ was re-built, and heating system changed. There were other renovations needed for the church sanctuary at a cost of $90.000.
The Liberty Hill Credit Union was established in 1957 and is now joined with Antioch Baptist Church Credit Union. The P.M. Malone Achievement Award was instituted in 1957, in which a plaque was awarded to church members for their outstanding community service and contributions to the total church program.
In 1958, Liberty Hill celebrated three major events, namely, The Burning of the Mortgage, The Laying of the Church Cornerstone, and The Dedication of the Building to God.
The Nurses Guild was established in 1962. Sister Jessie Mickens was the first president. The M.E. Wilson Scholarship Foundation was established for the purpose of providing financial assistance to worthy high school graduates.
In 1978, Reverend Dr. Wilson became the victim of a cerebral stroke. After discharge from a Rehabilitation hospital, he returned to the pulpit the first part of 1979. He preached his last sermon on Sunday, December 28, 1979. On August 6, 1980, Pastor Wilson died in his sleep. He had served us well for 36 years.
Reverend Arthur Cornelius served faithfully as interim pastor until illness forced him to resign. Reverend W. George Parker became interim pastor and served with distinction. He later served as Assistant under Reverend Harper until his death in March 1998.
A search committee, consisted of Deacons Gernie West, Clifton Grimes, Leon Bibbs, Sister Eva Berry and Brother Memphis Damon Tufts traveled to Braddock, Pennsylvania to listen to a young Minister. He came to the church once and was invited to return for a second visit.
In January 1981, Liberty Hill Baptist Church was led by the Spirit of God to unanimously extend the call to Reverend Blanton Harper Jr., a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.
Pastorate of Reverend Dr. Blanton Harper, Jr.
Following his arrival in May 1981, Reverend Harper instituted many programs: The Christian Education Department which included the Tuesday and Thursday Bible Study, Family Evening Vacation Bible School, New Member Classes, Arts and Crafts Auxiliary, Golden Age Seniors, Clothing and Food Bank Ministry, and The Scholarship in Escrow Education Program for graduating seniors entering higher education programs, having accrued funds based on grades of A, B, and C during grade school (6th-12th grades).
A Sanctuary Renovation project under Pastor Harper was completed in 1997. The Mortgage Burning Service was held on February 21, 1999, enclosing additional historical documents in the Building Cornerstone.
Reverend Harper expanded the Missionary Society, the Brotherhood, and the Male Chorus. He worked diligently with Neighbors Organized for Action and Housing (N.O.A.H.) in developing and building Church Square Apartments, a facility especially for physically impaired individuals or families, and Church Square Shopping Center, located across the street, two blocks south of the church. Under Reverend Harper the church auditorium was developed into a community facility, now known as the Liberty Hill Performing Arts Center, which has been used by many outstanding organizations, which include the Morehouse College Glee Club, Ohio Chamber Orchestra, National Council of Negro Women (NCNW), Mississippi Mass Choir, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority.
On September 18, 2005, after 24 years of service, Reverend Dr. Harper informed the congregation he was led by the Spirit of God to move on.
Reverend Memphis Damon Tufts and Reverend Ernest Washington faithfully served as interim Co-pastors from October 2005 to May 2009.
Pastorate of Reverend Dr. Mark L. Johnson, Sr.
In May of 2009, Reverend Mark L. Johnson, Sr. of Newark, New Jersey, was called to the pastorate of The Liberty Hill Baptist Church, and was installed, as our sixth pastor, on October 18, 2009. He continued to serve the Lord and His people through a ministry that lifted up God, served the needs of families, and maintained a focus education to ensure that every member of the Body of Christ, and the community had the opportunity to fulfill the call of God on his/her life.
Reverend Johnson in conjunction with the Cleveland Hope Association mobilized hundreds of missionaries who came to show the love of God by serving the Cleveland area. Under his leadership, Liberty Hill became a part of the Southern Baptist Convention and continued to host missionaries. Under Reverend Johnson we began a partnership to give away produce with the Cleveland Food Bank the first Wednesday of the month. He established the Discipleship Bible Series, the Spiritual Welfare Series, and expanded Family Vacation Bible School, provided a safe haven for the youth on Halloween, re-established a Children’s Ministry during worship service, expanded the New Members classes, gave away book-bags and school supplies, and enjoyed partnerships with several neighborhood schools.
Reverend Johnson established a ministry on Sunday afternoons known as the Encouraged Church which ministered to young teens in the neighborhood at East High. Basketball, God’s Word, and Christian love drew many to this ministry. An 8:00 a.m., Sunday service was added with a more relaxed style that drew many to attend.
On August 4, 2018, Reverend Johnson announced his resignation because he was moving to New Orleans to pursue a Ph.D.
Associate Ministers Reverend Cornelius Brown, Reverend Wanda Claytor, Reverend Robert Henry III, Reverend Damon Tufts and Minister Jonathan Henry served faithfully from August 2018 to October 2018, until the members selected Reverend Wanda Claytor and Reverend Dr. E. J. Perdue to serve as co-interim pastors from November 2018 to February 2020.
Pastorate of Reverend Michael L. Brown
On February 23, 2020, Reverend Michael L. Brown., of Cleveland, Ohio, was called to the Pastorate of The Liberty Hill Baptist Church. He was installed, as our seventh pastor, on August 9, 2020. An energetic and dynamic young man, Reverend Brown is a God-called inspired minister, led by God to do God’s work.
Reverend Brown preached his first sermon March 8, 2020, and immediately instituted Friends and Family Day. When churches closed due to the nationwide coronavirus, Reverend Brown immediately set up GoToMeeting for Bible study and Sunday service. During the two months closing Pastor Brown created a new church logo and slogan “Where the Church is Edified, Believers are Purified, and God is Glorified” and presented his vision plan to guide the church focus and work of the ministry.
Through Reverend Brown’s leadership Project 2020 was adopted to raise funds to update the much-needed technology and giving opportunities; and will include a new outdoor electronic marquee to keep the community informed of church services and events….TO BE CONTINUED