History of The Park Church
1913: The Baptist Congregation
The Baptist Congregation was organized from a successful Prayer Band in the First Ward section of Charlotte in 1913. The Prayer Band met at 38 Brown’s Row. The congregation remained in tact through World War I, the Roaring Twenties and the Depression. Under the leadership of Rev. Winfield S. Scott the church moved to 613-A North Myers Street in 1932. Other ministers included Rev. G.S. Horen, Nelson Green, Pat Bivens, R.H. Howard, L.C. Curen, C.E. Rogers and W.H. Shaw. Ministers who also led the congregation and community in the Myers Street edifice included B.B. Sturdivant, H.D. Hargrove, J. D.Walker and M.L. Davidson.
1953: Mt. Olive Baptist Church
Through the divinely led wisdom and guidance of Rev. M.L. Davidson, the congregation was inspired to move in 1953 to a new location. Mt. Olive Baptist Church became the name of the church at that time. The dreams of Mt. Olivet were shattered on the first Sunday in February 1959 when the church was destroyed by fire. After the fire, the congregation held its services in the cafeteria of the First Ward School.
1961: The Myers Park Baptist Church
Under the leadership of Rev. L.J. Shipman, the officers and congregation began making plans to relocate and build a new church. Again, it was decided to change the name of the church. C.D. Spangler and his son donated land and $2,000. The Myers Park Baptist Church and the minister, Dr. Carlyle Marney, provided invaluable assistance in acquiring and managing the funding for the building. The church was completed and dedicated as University Park Baptist Church (UPBC) on November 13, 1961. Very unusual for the times, Dr. Marney preached the dedicatory service, which was attended by many of his members.
1964: Reverend Talmadge A. Watkins
The Rev. Talmadge A. Watkins was installed as pastor on the first Sunday in March 1964. Under his leadership, the church continued to make progress, and the membership more than doubled.
1971: Reverend James E. Palmer
When Rev. Watkins left, Rev. James E. Palmer was installed as pastor in 1972. Under his leadership, the membership grew and many worthwhile programs were added to the Christian activities of the Church, such as the Bus Ministry, Tape (Audio) Ministry, Daycare Ministry, Evangelism Ministry and the Camp for Youth. It became necessary to build a new edifice, which was dedicated on January 10, 1982 at 2348 Keller Avenue.
1990: Reverend Claude R. Alexander, Jr.
The Rev. Claude R. Alexander, Jr. was installed as pastor of University Park Baptist Church on September 23, 1990. The beginning of his tenure resulted in a renewed focus on missions, especially in our own community. Pastor Alexander instituted additional programs to win the lost to Christ. These programs, just to name a few, include global missions, counseling drug and AIDS victims, and ministering to the youth. The steps toward “The Vision at the Park” began in December of 1995 when the church commissioned a feasibility study to determine the possibility of modifying our current site to meet the present needs. At that time, the congregation’s size had peaked at 1,000.
1997: Growth in the Church
A master plan was developed and presented to the congregation in January of 1997. The plan included the construction of a sanctuary, family life center/gymnasium, residences for senior citizens, and the development of a residential community. A dramatic change was moving from a congregation numbering 1,300 in January of 1997 to one that was reaching 4,000 by September of 1999. The congregation tripled in size in the span of two and a half years and University Park Baptist Church went from offering two morning worship services to four. Ground was broken in September of 1999 for the new facility on 54 acres in North Charlotte.
2001: The Park Church is Born
In April of 2001, the first service in the new church, University Park Baptist Church II, located at 6029 Beatties Ford Road was held. Members entered into the new church on Easter Sunday, following a weekend of celebration that included the unveiling of a cross sculpture by world-renowned artist Richard Hunt. The new location seats a capacity of 2,500. It features a bookstore, Family Life and Wellness Center, audio and television production rooms, nurseries, and many other services to meet the needs of the members and the community. The design of the facility was based upon who “The Park”, as it was fondly called, was as a church and what God called its members to do for the kingdom in their community, throughout Charlotte and beyond.
2004: The Park Church South
Having developed a strong presence in north Charlotte for 90 years, The Park expanded its reach by opening a location in the south Charlotte community. The church expanded with the planting of “The Park South” church in October 2002. After hosting services in the South Mecklenburg High School Auditorium for little more than a year, a new Sanctuary was dedicated on August 22, 2004. This facility rests on 46 acres within the city limits of Pineville, NC. The sanctuary has a seating capacity of 1,100, a bookstore, nursery, and classrooms. The campus also has a Family Life and Wellness Center.
2006: The Park Expo and Convention Center
In 2006, Now The Park Church purchased the Charlotte Merchandise Mart, making it one of the few churches in the nation to fuse enterprise and ministry models. With the addition of The Park Expo and Conference Center (formerly the Charlotte Merchandise Mart), The Park Church offers a multi-faceted destination that includes conference and banquet space, restaurant and retail development as well as exhibition space for trade shows
Totaling 529,000 square-feet across three buildings, The Park Expo and Conference Center is designed to fund ministry expansion through profits generated by trade shows, local and national conferences, concerts and other business endeavors.
2008: Meeting the Needs of the People
In 2008, The Park Church began a full-time program to serve the spiritual and practical needs of people living in Kenya through drilling wells, holding church services, building recreational facilities, and offering medical care. The Park Church stands on the principle that the Church is called to serve all who are in need. In 2012, The Park Church commissioned the deployment of two missionaries and now has a full time presence in Nairobi, Kenya. With more than 90 programs offered, The Park Church intersects with people at every age and stage of life.
2013: Celebrating 100 Years of Faith
As The Park Church enters a new century, a church that has been “Living 100 Years of Life”, remains faithful to its call to extend ourselves beyond ourselves while moving Faith Forward in Action.