Image by Timothy Eberly

And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

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- Matt. 16:18 - 

Boston Baptist Church has a long and illustrious past. Boston Baptist Church was founded in the year of 1919 at the home of Brother and Sister Marshall Johnson. Its origin began with Bible Study and preparation for Sunday School as its main goal, and it grew from that humble beginning to the church it is today.

The church moved from the Johnson's home to a bush arbor called Douglas Smith Grove. It grew from the bush arbor to Newsum School, which was still on the Smith property. Later the church moved to the Jackson property, and the congregation had the church built at 519 Buntyn Street. This church was built under the leadership of Reverend Paul Jones.

The pastors who served before the tenure of Reverend Jones were Reverend Finner, Reverend Frank Ingram, Reverend T.J. Sellers, Reverend Anderson Gray, Reverend John Henry Jamison and Reverend Henry Nelms. Mother Batts, Mother Smith, Mother Lola Jackson and Mother Vincent led the Mother Board during those times. The first deacons were Brother Miles Batts, Brother Walter and Ruben Jackson, Brother Hezekiah Jackson and Brother Artie Lee Miller.

In 1959, Reverend Oris Lee Mays became pastor. At that time the church membership had reduced to fifteen members. The Lord blessed Boston Baptist Church through the leadership of Reverend Mays, and the church grew from the fifteen members to over three hundred members.

The congregation outgrew the church on Buntyn Street and moved to 508 Boston Street, where the name was changed to Boston Baptist Church. The congregation continued to grow, and they moved a few years later to a new location at 758 Goodwyn Street.

Extensive renovations were made to the church on Goodwyn so that it could accommodate the growing membership of Boston Baptist Church. The choir stand was enlarged, a baptismal pool was added, additional men's and ladies' restrooms were built and a music room and Pastor's Study were added. The congregation continued to grow, and finally in September of 1978, the church moved to its present home at 4226 Jackson Avenue. The church is still growing to its full potential with approximately 800 members and five hundred family units.

Reverend Oris Mays

(1935-April 21, 1996)

One of the most significant gospel music composers in Memphis history, founder and Pastor of Boston Baptist Church from 1959 – 1996. Husband, Father, Pastor and Musical Icon.

Pastoral / Servant Leaders

Reverend Ydell Ishmon, Sr. 

(Dec. 26, 1952 – Sep.2, 2020).

A servant leader par excellence. Pastored the Boston Baptist Church from 1996 – 2020. Dr. Ishmon was the Master of Ceremonies, a preacher’s preacher, and a giant of his time. Father, Entrepreneur, Pastor, and friend to all. 

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Reverend Oris Mays 

1935 - Apr. 21, 1996

One of the most significant gospel music composers in Memphis history, founder and Pastor of Boston Baptist Church from 1959 – 1996. Husband, Father, Pastor and Musical Icon.

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Reverend Ydell Ishmon, Sr. 

Dec. 26, 1952 - Sep. 2, 2020

A servant leader par excellence. Pastored the Boston Baptist Church from 1996 – 2020. Dr. Ishmon was the Master of Ceremonies, a preacher’s preacher, and a giant of his time. Father, Entrepreneur, Pastor, and friend to all.