The Early Years
St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church was organized March 12, 1925 by the late Pastor, Ben F. Floyd, Sr., when a group of individuals assembled together in a five room house located on 25th street and Compton Avenue. Subsequently he was chosen as pastor. Reverend Floyd was a devout man of God, who believed in the admonition of Jesus, "…all things whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them…"
In 1926, the church assembled and worshipped at three different locations, 29th street and Compton Avenue, 48th street and Hooper Avenue and 46th street and Compton Avenue, before establishing a permanent location at 5020 Compton Avenue.
The church purchased property at 5020 Compton Avenue, with two storefront businesses on the lot, at a cost of $800.00 with a monthly mortgage of $25.00. One of the buildings was converted into a sanctuary and the other was used for fellowship and classrooms. As the church grew, the two storefront businesses were remodeled and combined which provided more space for the convenience and comfort of all.
Continued Growth and Change
During the 30's, 40's and 50's, the church grew rapidly, adding such families as the Crosbys, O'Connors, Taylors, Warrens, Pages, Bonners, Clintons, Freeneys, Smiths, Harnges and the Johnsons. In addition to the families mentioned, Johnnie Green, Nancy Frierson, Rosa Houston, Lee James, Liller Walker and family and Olymphia Spencer were also among the original members of St. Mark. Two members remain with us from the list of families, Dollie O'Connor-Rogers and Odessa Johnson-Walker
The Reverend Willie Jordan was also one of the early pioneers of St. Mark and added to the growth and development of the church. He served faithfully under the leadership of Reverend Floyd as Associate Pastor until his health failed, followed by his death. The first deacons appointed were: Alex Gilchrist, Homer Mack, Charlie Bennett, O. B. Page, Herman Crosby, Clifton Crosby, and Stevens and Smalley.
On December 17, 1945, the papers of incorporation were signed by Deacons Alex Gilchrist, Homer Mack and Herman Crosby, and filed in Sacramento.
The foundation for the first church building, to be built by the congregation, was poured in 1948. The building was completed and the certificate of occupancy was issued on May 3, 1951. That building stood as a beacon light of hope in the community, until it was demolished in September, 1994. In 1953, Reverend Ben Floyd, Sr. became ill and his son, Reverend Ben Floyd, Jr., who was a pastor at a church in San Bernardino, resigned from that church and came to assist his father. He was a great asset to both, the church and his father. His preaching, teaching and singing was superb. Any members were added during the six years he was with us. In 1959, Reverend Ben Floyd Jr. died.
After the death of Reverend Ben Floyd Jr., Reverend Ben Floyd Sr.'s, health continued to deteriorate. The church recognized the need to call a minister who would serve as co-pastor. The Reverend T. M. Durr of Shreveport, Louisiana was called to assist Pastor Ben Floyd, Sr., in 1959. Reverend Ben Floyd, Sr., died in 1962.
After the death of Reverend Ben Floyd, Sr., Reverend T. M. Durr became pastor. He was a God-fearing man with a photogenic memory, his teaching and preaching abilities were respected by all. His favorite biblical text was: "the Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary; he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned" (Isaiah 50:4).
Pastor Durr led the congregation in purchasing the property at 5017 Compton Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, which is a testimony to his legacy. He served faithfully as co-pastor and pastor for twenty (20) years. He died on February 2, 1980.
On July 9, 1980, after five (5) months of prayer, faith and hope, Reverend Lovely Haynes, a son of St. Mark was duly elected as pastor. Reverend Haynes has been a member of St. Mark since 1960. He sang in the young adult choir and held the position of treasurer.
Building for the Future
On July 28, 1985, groundbreaking ceremonies were held in preparation for erecting a new church building.
On August 24, 1985, our first achievement awards and St. Mark T. M. Durr Memorial Scholarship Banquet were held at Praises of Zion Baptist Church in their fellowship hall. Ms. Anjanette L. Matthews was the first recipient to receive a T. M. Durr Memorial Scholarship of $500.00. She was pursuing a career in Aeronautical Engineering
On August 31, 1986 Ms. Temi Bass became the second recipient of the T. M. Durr Memorial Scholarship of $500.00. She was pursuing a career in Accounting.
After much prayer, hard work and financial support from devoted members, St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church moved into phase one (1) of a new church plant on November 20, 1985, located at 5017 Compton Avenue and the workers began digging the trenches.
As St. Mark pressed its way into 1986, we had much to be thankful for. The Lord was blessing us more each day.
On May 1986, the cement was poured for the foundation of the new sanctuary. On June 30, 1986, members were rejoicing as the framework went up. God has not failed us therefore we can testify that He is able.
The church was granted temporary occupancy, by the city of Los Angeles in November 1993. The temporary occupancy gave the church the right to hold its entrance and dedication services.
November 7, 1993 at 3:30 P.M. what a glorious time we had after eight years of faith, prayer and work. We walked eighty feet from the old building to the new singing every step of the way. Oh! What a Mighty God We Serve. On June 27, 1995, after complying with occupancy requirements the city of Los Angeles, granted full occupancy to the church. What a Joy!
"So built we the wall..."
"So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work" (Nehemiah 4:6).
This House that we pray and sing praises to God in is a testament of the faithfulness of people that had a mind to work. This house where the Word of God is taught and preached is a testament to the faithfulness of God. This house is the result of people with little to no resources, who trusted God and the leadership to accomplish a seemingly insurmountable endeavor. Through it all we made it.
We liquidated the mortgage in 2003 ahead of schedule and on January 11, 2004 we held a Mortgage Burning Celebration with the St. Stephen Baptist Church of La Puente, California, Dr. E.W. McCall, Pastor as our guest. What a glorious celebration as we praised and thanked the Almighty God for the accomplishment.
Two Cornerstones are encased in the building as a witness of people that had a mind to work.
To God be the Glory!