Our Story

Hardy Street Baptist Church History
1907 – 2020

Hardy Street History in Pictures– Image 1 of 8



In the late summer of 1907, a group of Baptist, feeling the need to provide a Sunday School for their children nearer their homes, met in a small servant’s house owned by Butler McClanahan. About 15 people were present and, at first, meetings were held on Sunday afternoons. Soon a larger place became necessary, and the group began meeting in the home of Mr. and Mrs. H. R. Riley on Fourth Avenue. Later it was in this home that the church was organized. The Rev. L.E. Hall assisted in the organization and became pastor of the 13 charter members.

It was a hard beginning in many ways. The financial problems were great, but the members put their minds, hearts, and hands together and gladly gave their time, energy and prayers to the building of the church. Most of the labor was free, being done by members and friends of other denominations who also saw the need for a church nearer their homes. The building site, a triangular lot at the end of Fifth Avenue on the corner of Mamie and Concart Streets, was donated by H. A. Camp, who was not a Baptist. Because of the location, the name chosen was Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, the first Baptist church in the western part of the city. For many years, friends of different faiths attended the services regularly. The Women’s Missionary Society was organized with 11 members. In the spring of 1908, only six weeks from the date of the organization of the church, the first church building consisting of only one room was completed and was free of debt.

From this meager beginning, the church grew spiritually, financially and in church membership. Sunday School rooms were added at various times to meet the need and the first addition to the church was begun and completed during 1912 through 1914. In 1925, an addition and renovation program was done by the church. During this time 35 Sunday School rooms and other modern equipment were added, including a completely renovated auditorium.

During Dr. I. E. Rouse’s pastorate, adult Sunday School and nursery buildings were added, and members began looking forward to the time when a completely new and more adequate building could be erected. In the early 1940’s, during World War II, Mrs. I. E. Rouse, wife of the pastor, organized an all-girl choir. Following Dr. Rouse was Dr. J. C. Murphy, and it was during his pastorate the new Sunday School classes were formed and a new building site was purchased on the corner of Hardy Street and Sixteenth Avenue, the present location of Hardy Street Baptist Church.

On March 26, 1950, ground was broken for the education unit of the new building. The first shovel of earth was turned by Mrs. J. W. Oden, the only remaining charter member of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church.

In December 1951, Rev. I. M. Prince became pastor. Because of the change in location of the new church building and the education unit nearing completion, it was decided that another name would be more suitable, and on Sunday Evening, June 3, 1951, Fifth Avenue Baptist Church became Temple Baptist Church. On July 15, 1951, services were held in the education unit for the first time. An extended service program was instituted in the nursery during 1952. The Brotherhood was organized in 1953 and the
Library was begun in 1954.

In October 1957, Rev. Paul H. Cranford became pastor and remained until September, 1959. It was during this time that construction began for completion of the church plant including the worship center, chapel, office, media center, and other facilities. The first full-time minister of music was L. V. Martin, who was with the church from June 1955 to April, 1958. Choirs for members of all ages were organized. The church building was completed in May, 1960, and Dr. V. L. Stanfield served as interim pastor.

Since the organization of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church, a number of young men of the church have become ministers. Others, both men and women, have served in full-time Christian service at home and abroad. One of our very own (M.T.) has been faithfully serving in an East Asian country since 1992 with the Southern Baptist Convention's  International Mission Board. Ralph and Cora Joyce Davis served in West Africa, in the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, and Togo, for 35 years. They are retired and are currently members of the new Hardy Street Baptist Church. Dr. Steve Smith, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Waynesboro, MS, served with his wife in the country of Argentina for a number of years as a Sports Evangelist. Dr. James M. Stewart, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church of Gulfport, MS, formerly Senior Pastor of FBC Olive Branch, MS, and the first Pastor of the East Campus of Temple Baptist Church, has come out of the ranks of the membership of Temple Baptist Church.

Mary Crawford was the first full-time minister of education serving from 1958 to 1960. At the same time, her husband George Crawford was the minister of music.

Dr. Harry L. Lucenay became pastor on June 25, 1979, and served in that capacity until October 1988. He was succeeded on May 1, 1989, by Dr. Gary G. Berry, who resigned June 1, 1992. Temple Baptist Church has always been a mission minded congregation, in part a reflection of the missions commitment of its professional and volunteer leaders. For example, Dr. Harry Lucenay and his wife have served in Hong Kong for over 10 years. Dr. Lucenay is the Pastor of the International Baptist Church of Kowloon, Hong Kong.

The period of the 1980’s, moving into the 1990’s, saw Temple Baptist Church continue to “build in faith” in many ways to better serve the Lord and meet the spiritual needs of all who came its way. Multi-faceted ministry programs have more than kept pace with the physical growth.

In June 1985, construction of a major expansion project was begun. This $1.5 million project was completed in a little less than a year, providing a significant increase in classroom space for preschoolers through adults, greatly improved music facilities, and other new features. Formal dedication was held on June 1, 1986. When the membership walked into the new facilities that day, more and $1 million had already been given toward the total cost and by the end of the year the special “build in faith” offerings to pay for the project has reached $1, 317.00.

In August 1986, a second morning worship service was added, and in October, 1990, with an average Sunday School attendance nearing the 1,000 mark and climbing, the church began providing two morning Sunday School sessions, at 8:15 and 9:30 A.M.

During 1990 further remodeling, improvement of educational space, and the creation of attractive and expanded new parking facilities occurred. Physical expansion was necessary to accommodate growth in church membership and missions. The greatest membership increases came under the tenures of Lucenay, Berry, and Register. However, it could be argued that the corner leading Temple to move from being a large church to a megachurch came under the leadership of Dr. Kermit McGregor in the mid to upper l970(s).

In the fall of l991, the staff offices were renovated and enlarged due to the addition of staff and support personnel. Also, an office suite was added on the second floor in space that was formerly Sunday School rooms to house three ministers and their secretaries.

In 1992 Dr. M. Dean Register became senior pastor. In the late 1990(s) in an effort to serve both Forrest and Lamar Counties, Temple Baptist Church voted for another new beginning and in August 2000 opened its West Campus in Oak Grove on Old Highway 11 with Dr. Register as senior pastor and Dr. James M. Stewart as East Campus pastor.

Dr. John Thomas became East Campus pastor in 2009. His tenure lasted until December of 2010. it was in the closing weeks of that year that Dr. Thomas was instrumental in persuading the church staff and lay leadership at Temple East and West to recommend to the church on both campuses the separation that would result in a NEW BEGINNING for the East Campus. It was on January 1, 2011, Temple Baptist Church East Campus embraced another new beginning, becoming autonomous and adopting the name Hardy Street Baptist Church with Dr. Don Stewart as its interim pastor.

By vote of over 90% of both campuses, the East Campus began operating as a stand-alone autonomous congregation of Southern Baptist believers to be known as Hardy Street Baptist church following its incorporation under the laws of the State of Mississippi. The official date for its new beginning was Friday, April 1, 2011. The service of celebration is scheduled for Sunday, May 1, 2011. By the calling of the congregation in late December, 2010, it became autonomous and adopted the name Hardy Street Baptist Church, extending a Call to Dr. Don Stewart to serve as its Transitional Pastor. It began to function as a separate church on January 1, 2011.

Now in 2011, as of May 1, 2011, Temple Baptist Church East Campus, in its second hundred years, under its new name Hardy Street Baptist Church, will continue its original mission of sharing Christ’s love with the whole world, from Hattiesburg to the ends of the earth. Its total membership as of April 1, 2011, the legal date for its new beginning, was 333. Its giving record since the first of the fiscal year of 2011 is in excess of two times its projected budget for the year. Interestingly, for one or two Sundays during the first three months of its stand-alone existence, the attendance in Sunday Worship has been equal to its total membership. A new Constitution and By-Laws have been written and officially adopted. In addition, the Church’s incorporation with the Office of the Secretary of State in Mississippi has been accomplished.

A Transition Committee under the leadership of Mike Davis has effectively led the church to organize into a Deacon body, a slate of duly elected Officers, Teachers, and leaders, a full complement of standing committees, and programs including Bible Study for all ages on Sunday mornings. Life Groups for all ages have been set up for Wednesdays, including a highly successful Senior Adult Prayer Meeting and lunch. A professional staff of Transitional Senior Pastor, Worship Leader, Senior Adult Pastor, and part-time minister to Children, Youth and College Students have been approved. Support for the Hispanic Church, the Chinese Fellowship, and Youth Programs for Community College, Junior High and Senior High students has been continued and improved.

With the help of Reid Stringer, Associate Pastor in 2010 and early 2011, Hardy Street Baptist Church has implemented an interactive computer system for membership records, church financial operations, building systems control, programs and office support, has established an internet website, and has adopted an image/logo to be used on a new sign, on letterhead and on business cards for the professional staff, and for program promotions.

This new beginning for an old church has been accomplished smoothly. Hardy Street Baptist Church is amazingly strong and committed to its future as an extension of its long history as Fifth Avenue Baptist Church and Temple Baptist Church. It remains committed to its sound theological roots as a cooperating Southern Baptist, Lebanon Baptist Association, and Mississippi Baptist church. It is an expression of the Body of Christ, desirous of becoming the Church at its best, focused on evangelism, discipleship, missions, ministry, worship, and the fellowship of the People of God.


Rev. L. E. Hall 1907-1911
Rev. A. L. O’Briant 1911-1912
Rev. Homer H. Webb 1912-1915
Rev. J. N. McMillan 1915-1917
Rev. Emmette E. Dudley, Interim 1918-1919
Rev. J. V. Tinnin, Interim 1919-1920
Rev. W. M. Jones, Interim 1920-1921
Rev. M. J. Derrick 1921-1924
Rev. D. A. Youngblood 1924-1929
Rev. B. Locke Davis, Interim 1929-1930
Rev. C. E. Almond 1930-1932
Rev. A. S. Johnston 1932-1938
Rev. D. Wade Smith 1938-1940
Dr. I. E. Rouse 1940-1947
Dr. Joel C. Murphy 1947-1951
Rev. Cecil W. Jones, Interim 1951
Dr. I. M. Prince 1951-1956
Rev. J. W. Bartlett, Interim 1956-1957
Rev. Paul H. Cranford 1957-1959
Dr. V. L. Stanfield 1959-1961
(Interim) 1964
Dr. D. Lewis White 1961-1964
Rev. J. Harold Stephens 1964-1970
Rev. Kermit D. McGregor 1971-1978
Dr. Henry L. Lucenay, Senior Pastor 1979-1988
Dr. Gary Berry, Senior Pastor 1989-1992
Dr. M. Dean Register, Senior Pastor 1992-2007
Dr. James M. Stewart, East Campus 2001-2007
Dr. Jimmy Porter, Interim East Campus 2007-2008
Dr. John Thomas, East Campus Pastor 2009-2010
Dr. Don Stewart, Transitional Pastor 2011

MAY 1, 2011

Dr. David O'Dell 2011-2015
Dr. Don Stewart, Interim Pastor 2015
Dr. Scott Hanberry October, 2015-