Jones Memorial Baptist Church was established on October 6, 1936 by a group of 13 former officers of Miller Memorial Baptist Church consisting of 8 Deacons and 5 Trustees. They were Richard R. Roane, John E. White, Peter Stern, Ephraim Garland, Jesse Barlow, Charles Taylor, Leslie Cook, William Wynn, William Gaines, Charles C. Carrington, Samuel F. Bell, Henry Thornton and Thomas Stewart.
With the death of their former Pastor, Wilkins E. Jones, in 1935, they left Miller Memorial to form their own church and named it in his honor. The first worship service was held on Sunday, October 11, 1936 on the 2nd floor of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.) Hall at 2109 West Columbia Avenue.
The Rev. Charles Sumner Lee became the 1st Pastor on December 28, 1936. Under his leadership, the church membership and finances grew steadily and in a short time it became necessary to move to a larger building. A site was purchased at 21st and Berks. A church building in West Philadelphia was purchased to salvage building materials for the 21st Street site. Construction on the site progressed to the completion of the foundation walls but was soon stopped due to lack of funding. After two years of service, Pastor Charles Lee resigned in May of 1939 to become Pastor of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church of Camden, NJ. Half of the membership became disheartened and moved their membership.
On July 10, 1939, a call was extended to Rev Joseph E. W. Dyches, then Pastor of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Holmesburg, PA. In October 1939, he became our Pastor. His immediate charge was to resume the 21st Street building project but, despite Pastor Dyches’ strong leadership, the project was abandoned due to its impracticality and the sentiments of the congregation. The site and materials were eventually disposed of. The search for a larger place of worship continued and a storefront property with ground floor facilities for church use and nine apartments on the upper floors was found in July of 1940 at 2426-28 Ridge Avenue.
The membership grew to over 300 and once again outgrew their place of worship. In 1946, an agreement of sale was reached with Jones Tabernacle A.M.E. to purchase their property at the N.W. corner of 20th & Dauphin Streets for $45,000.00. On December 6, 1946, the congregation moved to its present location. On March 10, 1955, a disastrous fire destroyed 70 percent of the building.
Many neighboring churches responded to our immediate need for a place of worship. During the reconstruction period, worship services were held at Bethel Presbyterian Church at 19th and York St. on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. On Easter Sunday, April 1, 1956, the church marched back to 20th and Dauphin Streets. Pastor Dyches remained pastor for 18 years until his death on January 26, 1958. Again, membership decreased during the wait for a new Pastor to be called to service
In 1959, Rev. Samuel Amos Brackeen of Shiloh Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, PA became Pastor. Under his pastorate, the membership grew abundantly. His affluent usage of the English language coupled with his dynamic delivery of the gospel uplifted all. Rev. Brackeen’s meticulous nature was apparent by his personal appearance as well as his concern for our House of Worship. In May of 1964, his pastorate ended. Once again members were lost while Jones Memorial was without a Pastor. In 1966, Rev. Brackeen became Founder and Pastor of Phillippian Baptist Church in Philadelphia, PA. In June of 2000, God called Rev. Brackeen from service to Glory.
In April of 1966, Rev. Frank D. Tucker of St. Augustine, Florida was called as Pastor. Under his leadership, the church’s community involvement was expressed in the development of the Jones Memorial Mother’s Health Center, Community Development Corporation, Human Services (group homes for mentally handicapped teenagers and adults) and the Jones Memorial Nursing Home now known as The Tucker House. On Sunday, October 9, 1966, the Mortgage Burning Service and 30th Church Anniversary took place. In January of 1976, Pastor Tucker resigned to accept his call to First Baptist Church of Washington, DC, formerly pastored by his uncle. Soon after his departure, Jones Memorial gave up its direct involvement in the various community service programs and facilities.
In September of 1976, Rev. Ronald W. Johnson became pastor. Prior to this time, he was serving as Director of the Board of Christian Education in our church. During his pastorate, the membership doubled; a weekly radio broadcast program and an audio-tape ministry was started. Many renovations were made to the church such as padded pews, central air conditioning and other interior modifications. In January of 1985, Pastor Johnson was called to pastor Union Baptist Church in Passaic, NJ.
In November of 1987, our present Pastor, Rev. Paul R. Lee was called to Jones Memorial. The establishment of systematic biblical teaching and an aggressive evangelism program characterizes his leadership. His commitment to winning the lost and making disciples led us to become the host church for the 14th Annual National Evangelism Workshop in July of 1995. Classes developed under his pastorate include: New Members Orientation, Christian Bible Training, Advanced Christian Bible Training, Knowing Your Bible, Evangelism Series 101 through 106, Spiritual Disciplines, and Leadership Training. A large number of outreach ministries have been established under his pastorate which include: Dance and Drama Ministry and Comfort and Grief Ministry. Pastor Lee is an extraordinary preacher-teacher who travels extensively throughout this nation sharing his passion for evangelism and the equipping the saints for ministry.