Our Story

On February 24, 1954, a group of dedicated Believers met in St. George Hall located at 24th and Grove Streets (now Martin Luther King Jr. Way) in Oakland, California and organized Greater St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church.  At that first Worship Service, 137 people became members of the Church.  Reverend Joseph E. Reed was elected Pastor, and under his leadership the Church continued holding Worship Services at St. George Hall, then moved to 8th and Myrtle Streets in Oakland.  In October 1954, the Church purchased the property located at 721 Filbert Street in Oakland where it remained until August 1961.  In October 1957, Pastor Reed returned to his home in Kansas City, Missouri. Reverend V. M. Bailey served as Pastor until April 1958.  From April to June 1958, the Deacons provided the pulpit with visiting Ministers until Reverend Reed returned.  When Reverend Reed became ill, Reverend Milton Wise carried on the pulpit, working with the Deacons for five months.  In August 1961, Greater St. Paul Church purchased the property located at 916 Brush Street in Oakland and began holding Worship Services there.  On September 2, 1967, Reverend Reed, Greater St. Paul Church’s first Pastor, went to his eternal reward, leaving the Church he had pastored through its infancy a living, breathing community of faith.

For 10 months, the Deacons provided the pulpit with visiting Ministers until July 1968, when Reverend Samuel L. Scott became Pastor.  Under Reverend Scott’s leadership, the Church purchased the property located at 1827 Martin Luther King Jr. Way in Oakland.  In January 1981, Reverend Scott resigned after 12 and one-half years of service leaving a burgeoning congregation without leadership.  In his absence, Reverends G. E. Carter, W. H. Sanders, and Gordon Porter carried on the pulpit until Reverend Scott returned as Pastor in September 1982.  In October 1992, Reverend Scott was called to his heavenly home.  From November 1992 to April 1993, the Deacons provided the pulpit with Sons of the House.  From that group, Reverend J. R. Staten was elected Pastor.  Reverend Staten served as Pastor from April 1993 until his death in January 1994. 

In October 1994, Dr. Joseph E. Simmons was elected Pastor.  As the first Pastor with a seminary education and significant work experience in corporate America, Dr. Simmons brought a parishioner-focused, results-oriented approach to ministry that brought with it sweeping changes to Greater St. Paul Church.  Significant infrastructure and operational changes were implemented, including the acquisition of two additional properties located at 1807 and 1918 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.  Church staff increased to 34 full-time and part-time employees.  Recognizing the need to become more involved in the surrounding community, Dr. Simmons created the St. Paul Economic Empowerment Development Corporation (SPEEDCO), a non-profit organization focused on outreach efforts to West Oakland and other underserved communities in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.  

Under Pastor Simmons’ leadership, Greater St. Paul Church membership grew to 4,000, and its role as a small community of dedicated Believers with limited impact on its surroundings has changed into a brilliant hub of life in Oakland – a center of hope, healing, deliverance, and faith where all segments of the communities in the Greater San Francisco Bay Area can experience the love of Jesus Christ.  And the best is yet to come!