Under the leadership of Reverend Ernest Council, a small group of thirteen (13) people had begun what is now known as the Truth Memorial Baptist Church. The group consisted of: Ms Blackshear, Mr. & Mrs. Bonds, Mr. & Mrs. Solomon, Mr. & Mrs. Strickland, Mr. & Mrs. Schuler, Mr. & Mrs. Williams and Mr. & Mrs. Woodson. The church had its beginnings in the year of 1959. The group met for worship and fellowship in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Roosevelt Woodson at 5431 Merion Avenue. Reverend Council would canvas the neighborhood for new members as well as share the gospel to whomever he met. His occupation as an insurance agent allowed him access into many homes where he would impart his zeal concerning the new church.
As the group grew in size, it was necessary to make the church official. In November 1959, Reverend Gayton of the Metropolitan Baptist Church chartered the group.
In February of 1960, the church moved its location to the home of Pastor & Mrs. Ernest Council at 5406 Jefferson Street. The first floor of the home was converted into a church sanctuary and the basement served as a dining area. The group paid rent until 1969 when they purchased a building to provide more room for the growing congregation. This building was once an Acme Supermarket here at 1540-52 North 56th Street. Renovations began immediately to convert the building into a church edifice. In 1970, the major renovations were completed and the church moved in to occupy the facility. Sunday services began as well as midweek Bible Study and Prayer Meeting.
Several groups were started such as a Deacon Board, where Arthur Council became chairman and Isaiah Williams served as co-chairman. A Deaconess Board, a Trustee Board, Pastor’s Aide, Mother’s Board and Sunday school. A church clerk was appointed and a host of choirs, one was named after Pastor Council; The Council Specials. Reverend Council was the pastor for 24 years. He was called home to be with the Lord on September 11, 1983.
Reverend Claude Mason was elected as Pastor of Truth Memorial Baptist Church in 1984. His Main focus was to build the church both physically and spiritually. His vision continued as he kept the church doors open for worship, Bible Study and Prayer Meeting. During this period, Henry Holloway and Jeffrey Tate were ordained as Deacons. Later on, Jeffrey Tate and Sharon Layne, were both licensed to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. His endeavors also included a personal fight against multiple sclerosis which confined him to a wheelchair. Nevertheless, Pastor Mason maneuvered to bring sound biblical teaching to his congregation. Many souls were won through his efforts and determination and with the help of his assistance, Reverend Oscar Doc Daniels, who went home to be with the Lord on March 8, 1993.
In 1989, Pastor Mason reached out to the late Reverend Timothy E. Ruffin, the pastor of the Beulah Baptist Church for assistance with his ministry. Pastor Ruffin sent one of his associate ministers, Reverend William F. Smith. Reverend Smith, after hearing the heart of Pastor Mason, became the legs and arms needed to fulfill the vision. With his help, the church was able to have systematic Bible Study on Wednesday nights, organized seminars and workshops and additional structure in the Sunday school Department.
On July 14, 1991, Reverend William F. Smith was ordained at the Beulah Baptist Church. In July 1996, Pastor Claude Mason resigned and passed the baton to Reverend Smith who became pastor of the Truth Memorial Baptist Church on October 13, 1996. Reverend Smith will always respect and honor Reverend Mason for trusting him and having confidence in him to take over where he left off. Pastor Claude Mason went home to be with the Lord in 1998.
Many transformations occurred during the first year of Reverend Smith pastorate. Leaders were trained via two classes under the direction of Reverend Gregory Johnson of Bibleway Baptist Church. New fellowships were initiated. Members attended and presented special conferences to enrich their spiritual growth and a 14-week new member’s class was established.
In 1998, our place of worship also took on new renovations. Classrooms were constructed. The Pastor’s study was completed, a new church ceiling finished and a new heating and cooling system installed. The kitchen was painted and a new 8-burner stove was purchased. New phone lines were installed. Monthly classes were instituted to provide training for the ministers as well as the Deacons. A Men’s fellowship was instituted and C.O.R.E. (Creating Opportunities, Reinforcing Edification) group consisting of ministry heads implemented.
In 1999, an Administrative and Trustee Offices were built housing the latest equipment. Two baptismal rooms were added along with the church’s first baptismal pool in 40 years. The first church baptism occurred on December 3, 1999. A sound room was added and a facelift to our foyer was completed. New doors grace our edifice and our main sanctuary. In the year 2000, new pew chairs and carpet were purchased and installed, which completed the renovations of our sanctuary.
Truth Memorial provides ministries to meet every need. Our ministries include: Women’s Ministry, Men’s Ministry, Men’s Fellowship, Single Ministry and Youth Ministries.
Not only adults find freedom to enhance themselves, but our young people exhibit their talents through the Truth Youth Ministry. Our youth meet every Friday night for “Friday Night Fire” under the guidance of Youth Pastor Jeffrey Tate and Youth Director Lois Tate. Their goals were to provide spiritual leadership and programming for the youth of the church. In March of 2003, “Basic Training” was incorporated. Every Monday the youth, of all ages, would come together and learn the Word of God. The young people would learn the basic principles of how to apply the Word of God in their daily lives.
As our faith continues, so our doors remain open to carry out the vision God has given us to reach our families, our communities, our nation and ultimately—the world.