Third was organized in 1850 with “the love of Christ constraining and God’s glory as the end in view.”
Third was organized in 1850 with “the love of Christ constraining and God’s glory as the end in view.” The church moved in 1885 to our present location, which before urban sprawl was the busiest street corner in the city. Our building at Grand and Washington, in the heart of Grand Center, stands as an icon in the crowded ways of life.
Long known for its leadership in Baptist missions worldwide, the church was grounded in beliefs that made it a kingdom anchor on its home turf. During the Civil War, when St. Louis was at the center of turmoil in a border state, the pulpit at Third spoke strongly for civil rights and set the course for the church’s continuing inclusive stance on matters of race and gender.
A Brief History of Third
Third Baptist Church was organized on December 29, 1850 and held its first service on January 5, 1851 in a rented second floor room of a building at 13th and Market Streets, with discarded kitchen chairs for pews and a table for a pulpit. The church built its first permanent place of worship at 14th and Clark in 1854 — a chapel on the rear of the lot.
Third has a history of unifying divergent people for the work of Christ. When many churches and families were dividing their loyalties during the Civil War period, Third took its stand for unity under the gospel, as announced by its pastor, the Rev. J. V. Schofield:
“As I stand in the pulpit, I am compelled to announce that God so loved the world, north, south, east, and west, that he gave his Son to redeem all men. This is the important statement which this pulpit has to make at this time and all the time.”
This proved to be a powerfully unifying decision, and the church grew in both members and financial strength, so that it was able to build a new building that was dedicated May 1866.
The late 19th century was a time of continued growth for TBC. In 1885 the church moved to its present location at Grand and Washington debt free and gave the dedication service offering to Lafayette Baptist Church, a mission church at that time.
While it took almost 50 years to build the membership to 1000, Third Church membership exceeded 6000 in the heyday of Midtown. Several fine pastors have contributed to its numerical and spiritual growth. One of these was C. Oscar Johnson who served as pastor for 27 years (1930-1957). During his pastorate TBC soared to prominence as a powerful witness on a strategic corner, “where cross the crowded ways of life.” Later, when midtown St. Louis went into decline, Third Baptist Church set its roots for Christ in place. The determination to remain a beacon for Christ at its present location has made the church a prime mover in the present cultural renewal of midtown St. Louis.
Third Baptist Church continues in its spirit of unity of divergent people through affiliation with American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., the Southern Baptist Convention, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Baptist World Alliance. Through support of missions and sending out well over 100 church members as ministers, missionaries, musicians, and Christian educators the church reaches out to unify the world in the name of Jesus Christ.
Under the leadership of Dr. Warren Hoffman, who came as Senior Pastor in 2005, the church has seen steady growth in worship attendance and in its ministries to families and children in Midtown St. Louis. Many of our newer members have been attracted to Third because of the combination of its unique commitment to its community with its vibrant, powerful, and well planned worship services.
In 2015, Third called a new pastor: Dr. Tommy Simons. With the addition of Dr. Simons, our ministerial staff includes Rev. Travis Adams, associate pastor for students and Missions and Rev. Maria Stinnett, associate pastor for children & communications.