The first black church in Mount Clemens was named Second Baptist Church. It was organized in 1921 by Rev. W. M. Ferrell Sr. Worship services were held at homes until the purchase of a church site at 79 Robertson Street. The founding members present at the historical meeting were: Homer Reed, Neal Woods, Mamie Reed, Elizabeth Benton, Dubbie McFee, Alberta Johnson and Rockie Woods. Second Baptist was renamed Morning Star Baptist in 1930. Pastors that were called after Rev. Ferrell: Rev. M. H. Hill, Rev. G W. Knox, Rev. W. B. Mozone, Rev. O. E. Kelly, Rev. W. H. Brown, Rev. Paris, Rev. Cannon, Rev. Hughes, and Rev. Phillip Woods. These pastors served a combined total of twenty-one years.
On May 17th, 1942, Morning Star Baptist Church called the Rev. Jesse Charles Clayborn to be its Pastor/Shepherd. This strong, yet humble man of God served faithfully for 37 years. On October 26, 1952 under leadership of Rev. Jesse Charles Clayborn, the Morning Star Baptist Church became Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. Under Pastor Clayborn, through the goodness of God and much prayer, sacrifice and hard work, the church grew mightily. Many organizations were added, and membership grew. Two new edifices were built. The first building was built on the newly purchased lot at Meadle and Robertson. The dedication was held on the second Sunday in May 1953.
Instrumental in the completion of this work were: Chairman of the Deacon Board, Deacon Lewis Steward, Chairman of the Building Fund Committee, Cleveland Dozier, Willing Workers Auxiliary President, Peggy Fleming, and Gospel Chorus Director, Mary Herring. All auxiliaries worked together. Many great improvements and additions were made. The church grew enormously during the following years. Sunday services were soon at capacity with chairs placed in the aisles and foyers. Pastor Clayborn, at nearly eighty years of age, had a vision to build the second edifice. Building Chairman, the late Deacon Jimmie Shack, Sr., and Trustee James Martin led the project. After many tribulations, setbacks and litigation, a dedication service was held on Sunday, June 11th, 1972. Our special guest was Dr. Robert and the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Mount Clemens. It was at this time we changed the name to what we now hold so dear: The Greater Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church. In 1979, at almost 87 years of age and with failing health, Rev. Clayborn retired as Pastor Emeritus.
Reverend Nathaniel Calhoun was called to pastor Greater Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in the fall of 1979 only to serve a few months in the pastorate capacity.
1980 was a very difficult year in the life of the church. Dr. J. Douglas Wiley from the New Jerusalem Baptist Church in Flint, Michigan became the pastor of The Greater Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church in 1981. Pastor Wiley was a man of great vision. His theme was “A church with a diversified ministry, powerful pulpit, involved laity, where we are committed to Christ and one another.”
Under Pastor Wiley’s administration, the church was mightily blessed. Accomplishments included the burning of the mortgage of the church building, the renovation of the main sanctuary and the J.C. Clayborn Educational Building, the renovation of the lower level with the addition of a choir room and nursery. The parking lots were enlarged to accommodate increased attendance and the church purchased a bus and a van. Through Pastor Wiley’s foresightedness additional property was purchased in 1990 to allow for future expansion.
As the church matured, several new ministries were added: The Mother’s Board, The Department of Christian Education, The Progressive (Seasoned) Saints, The Soul Winners Evangelistic Team, The Junior Deacons Program, The New Members Orientation Class, The Children Church (where our children worship and are taught on their level), The Radio and Tape Ministry, The Greeters, The Male Ushers Ministry, The Publicity Committee and the Culinary Department. To meet the needs of the community, the church established a free Food and Clothes Distribution Center.
To enhance our continual growth and inspiration, Mid-week Praise and Teaching Service were introduced. To reach out to the unsaved in our community, an Annual Tent Crusade was started. 1991 ushered in a new attitude that was felt throughout the various ministries of the church. The Sunday School Department changed the curriculum to include elective classes and led the church in the re-enactment of the Jewish Passover in the light of the Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection. The Progressive (Seasoned) Saints observed a special day for those valued members of the congregation over 55 years of age with special recognition given to those above 70 years of age.
Through Pastor Wiley’s vision, the church began to “Go, Glow, and Grow.” In August 1963, Dr J. Douglas Wiley announced his resignation as pastor. Being steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the Lord, and with the help and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the saints of GMS were able to stand without a pastor for a year, from October 1, 1993 to October 16, 1994. With oversight and direction from Dr. Robert Bailey, Pastor of the Trinity Missionary Baptist Church of Pontiac, a pulpit committee was charged with selecting a new pastor. After much prayer, fasting and seeking guidance from the Holy Ghost, the Lord sent Rev. Kevin E. Stafford, M Div., of the Mt. Tabor Missionary Baptist Church, Los Angeles, California. He accepted the call to GMS on October 1994 and began his Pastorate the first Sunday in January 1995.
Under Pastor Stafford there were many activities, several out of state trips and some major changes, physically and fundamentally. These changes have led to some church losses and some church additions. One great addition was the opening of the Ministry of Caring. Through the Ministry of Caring, the church is reaching out to the whole community and providing the following services: The Food Pantry Ministry, The Clothes Closet Ministry, and The Health & Educational Ministry.
Also, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost, Pastor Stafford started a new Radio Ministry that aired every Sunday afternoon from 3:00 p. m. to 4:00 p.m. on radio station 11340 WMUZ AM Gospel Stereo. Greater Morning Star was dedicated to being a MIND-RENEWING, MINISTRY-GIVING, and MIRACLES -RECEVING beacon of light in the tri-county area. This was truly manifested on Resurrection Sunday 1999, when more than forty souls came down the aisle as the Invitation to Discipleship was offered.
In March 2000, Pastor Stafford gave his resignation to the Greater Morning Star Missionary Baptist Church.
After an 18 Month fasting, praying, and seeking God’s will, The Greater Morning Star Church Family called the Rev. Dr. Tyrone Burgess Martin of Washington, DC on October 26, 2001 to become Pastor/Teacher. Coming from a pastorate at Now Faith Community Baptist Church in Knightdale, NC, he brought with him his lovely wife Saketha and daughter Angelia. He was officially installed on Sunday, March 3, 2002.
Pastor Martin introduced his God-given vision of CHURCH REFORMATION: building extensions; community outreach and educational programs. In obedience to this vision, Pastor Martin instituted training classes for Leaders and Sunday School Teachers, reinstated the church membership with National Baptist Convention USA Inc. Renovations were made within the church sanctuary and this year for the first time our doors opened to accommodate the Homeless for a week. Another parcel of land was purchased on Robertson Street directly across from the church.
On January 16, 2005, Pastor Martin’s architectural vision was unveiled. The vision includes an addition of a formal church nursery and an expansion of the food and clothing pantry to provide a full range of social service functions including job training and help with job searches. The vision is going forth with much enthusiasm and zeal. We have expanded our housing of the homeless to not only include the winter months but during the warm season as well. The services of the Ministry of Caring have expanded to include the supply of food to those referred by United Way and the Macomb County Food Bank. With abundant overflow as provided by generous donors, the doors of the Ministry of Caring extend to the corners to empty our shelves and refrigerators to all who may come for “Free Food Friday”. Our Ministry of Caring continued to go beyond the walls of the church and utilize the land that we own to plant the GMS Victory Garden, which allowed access to anyone in the community.
Being a mission-oriented church, we aligned ourselves with the Lott Carey Foreign Missions . Knowing that charity starts at home and spreads abroad, GMS was able to help send some of our youth to Europe, Australia, and several to China. The housing crisis of 2009 – 2010 positioned the Greater Morning Star Ministry of Caring to begin aiding those who needed assistance with home preservation. The Ministry of Caring also houses the Interfaith Center for Racial Justice. Indeed, God blessed us to continue forward in the mission statement our Pastor set before us, “Meeting the Mandates of God by Meeting the Needs of His People”.
In 2010, “The Star” completed the vestibule and sanctuary renovations which included new pews with the church logo imprinted, new flooring, and lighting. We were so blessed to be able to worship in the sanctuary after months of renovations. As we continued to grow spiritually and having the desire to continue to go forth and spread the gospel, the Lord opened an avenue through our television broadcast. “The Beacon of Light” broadcast was launched and shown in the Metro Detroit. Through God’s almighty favor, our Livestream broadcast is now shown all over the United States and in Africa!
In 2013, GMS was able to purchase another parcel of land on the corner of Robertson and Gratiot. This additional parcel of land positioned us to the ownership of 12 parcels of land in the city of Mount Clemens!
Greater Morning Star remains bold and courageous in the Lord. Under Pastor Martin’s leadership, we are learning that adversity and storms only make you strong if you stand for the Lord. Doing all to stand, we will continue to stand, for: “Ain’t no stopping us now”!