In the year 1909 Walltown was a very small community with one road—Wall Street, plenty of woods and a few scattered families in need of a Baptist Church. Concerned residents among whom was Mr. Nick Bass, Mr. Pap Yancy and Rev. J. R. Brandon began a Sunday school which was a great success and after giving the matter some thought, they began to think about building a church in Walltown.
In 1910 the group had house to house prayer meetings with the aim to establish a church in the Walltown community. Mr. Yancy and Rev. Brandon were so inspired that they decided to enlist the help of Rev. W. H. Stanfield who had established West Durham Church. A revival was held and the church was organized following the revival. The first Baptism was held in a branch off of (now) Lancaster Street. Later that year, a store building on the corner of Wall (now Onslow) and B (now Green) Streets was rented and named Wall Street Baptist Church. Rev. J.R. Brandon served as the first Pastor.
Through the next two decades, the church experienced ups and downs. The downs were the Depression era, which created financial hardships on families in our church and the community. During the Depression era, the church experienced financial hardships. Sister Mary Hopkins decided to share her means with the church. She made the interest payments to ensure that the Church was not foreclosed by the bank. As the church began to recover, there was tremendous spiritual growth and the church was remodeled to accommodate this increase in membership. The church’s name was changed to Olivet Baptist Church and later to St. John’s Baptist Church.
During the early forties, the Church was without a pastor and a committee was formed to search for a new pastor. Rev. Lerman M. Gooch answered the call and became the Pastor in October of 1943. Under the leadership of Rev. Gooch a new building was constructed and dedicated in 1952. To our sorrow, the church building was destroyed by fire on April 3, 1957. The rebuilding of the church created great joy, tremendous faith, and a greater closeness to God. On May 9, 1958 the Church was dedicated and worship began in the new facility.
Saint John’s was very active in the Civil Rights Movement. Four of its members were the first students to attend predominately white schools. Those students were chosen because of their academic abilities and leadership capabilities. Anita Lorine Brame (Hill) and Lucy Jones (Flagler) attended the all-white Brogden Junior High School. Claudette Carolyn Brame (Bridgeford) and Larry Scurlock attended the all-white Durham High School. These four students were active in the Church’s Sunday School, Youth Choir, Missionary Group and Junior Usher Board. The parents of these students were Deacon and Sister Lawrence Brame, Sister Alice Jones Williams and Sister Thelma Scurlock.
Rev. Gooch served as our Pastor for thirty-six years before God called him home on March 31, 1980. Rev. John L. Caldwell served as Pastor November 30, 1980, until April 1, 1984. On July 7, 1985, our current pastor, Rev. Robert L. Daniels, was installed. With his teaching and guidance, a greater spiritual awareness has filled St. John’s. Under his leadership new ministries, new members training and the construction and completion of the Educational Wing have been accomplished. St. John’s continues to thrive with his teaching and preaching of the Good News of the Gospel.