On the second Sunday of June 1915, eighteen members of Second Baptist Church of Riverside, California, asked the church p/Pastor, Rev, White, for letters of dismissal. This small band of God fearing, God-Loving Christians formed the church . . now widely known as the Park Avenue Missionary Baptist Church of Riverside.
These men and women were the founders of the church:
Rev. William G. Goodwin, Rev. W.G. Deactur, S.S Hopkins, Sisters Eva Allen, Josephine Gordon, Mary B. Alves, Candace Louie, Anna V.E. Beverly, Sis. S.S. Hopkins, LaGulia G. Shaw, Alice Toppin, Lousie B. Key, Mylie Taylor, Mary Boswell, Emma Jordan.
The Organization meeting of the Park Avenue Baptist Church was held in the home of Sis. Eva Allen, on the 11th Street. The small band of determined Christians, driven by their dedicated commitment and sustained by unalterable faith in the Lord raised enough money in only one month to make the initial payment on the purchase of the church property. On the first Sunday of August, 1915, the congregation moved into its new place of worship Park Avenue, was duly recognized and consecrated for the service of God on December 9, 1915, by council from the Western Baptist Association, Dr. J. W. Gordon of Los Angeles, Rev. F.W. Cooper of Riverside, the Reverends W. I I, Rozier and Charles Wade also member form the Pleasant Hill Baptist Church of Los Angeles, Rev. G. P. Littles was the first Pastor, followed by Rev. Evans, and Rev. W.H. Rozier. Through his spiritual teachings that the church onto even greater heights. It was during Rev. Goodwin’s pastorate that the church building at 12th and Park was erected. The groundbreaking took place on November 30, 1925, the approximate cost was $32,000. The building was furnished and occupied on May 9 1926, Rev. A.T. Hines followed Rev. Goodwin as Pastor.
On October 1, 1929, Rev. Leander Bonaparte Moss, accepted the pastorate at the Park Avenue Baptist Church.
Rev. Moss’s tenure covered a span of fifty-seven years. During his tenure ( as you might imagine ) he was noted for numerous contributions and wide range of accomplishments. In the early years of his tenure he was faced with the challenge of directing and guiding the church to financial stability. He led the church through years of growth and development and on January 28, 1945, the church celebrated the mortgage burning of its 12th street edifice that was constructed and furnished under the pastorate of Rev. William G. Goodwin.
In 1958, he guided the church through the building phase of the Education wing.
In addition, the corner lot between 11th Street and Park Avenue was also acquired in the 1960’s, in the late 1970’s the church purchased the 4 ½ acres of property on Pennsylvania Avenue. . . (M.L.K, Blvd) where we currently worship.
April 20, 1990, the official groundbreaking ceremony was held. Rev. E.V. Hill of The Mt. Zion Baptist Church, of Los Angeles, California. Also during this time, the church getting a building permit, and other contractual agreements with the city. Brother Odell Young was appointed the chief overseer and building Superintendent of the work project.
In 1982, due to a lack of financial resources, we experienced a “no work” period. Even though in this “no work” period, it did not hamper the “spirits” of Pastor Moss and the faithful praying members of the church. Pastor Moss set out to explore other avenues to acquire moneys. As a result of these efforts, the church was introduced to the Church Financial Plan by Mr. Cile Dean from Fresno, California the idea of a Bond Drive Campaign was thoroughly discussed and the church gave the approval. In January 1984, Rev. Moss Appointed Deacon Paul Blalock as chairman of this project. And Clarice Coffins as secretary, The capital bond financial campaign generated a cash flow of $160,000. As a result of its successfulness plus the work Entire Membership, the church was able to victoriously celebrate its move from the 12th Street edifice to its new location 1910 Martin Luther King Blvd (formerly known as Pennsylvania Avenue) on July 8, 1984. God had truly smiled on us.
Rev. Moss’s dream was to enter the pulpit before being called was not a reality. For on May 6, 1986 Pastor Moss was called on home to meet his Lord and Savior… Face to Face and to hear those words of welcome, “WELL DONE, WELL DONE MY GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT” .
We would remiss if we failed to mention Rev. Moss’ significant contributions to the California State Baptist Convention, Inc. First as a founding father and second, the historical importance of him serving two terms as President. Thus bringing our church to a significant and formidable posture that we still maintain today. We also cannot forget his role as organizer of several churches and undaunting involvement in the community.