by Sonjia L. Upshaw / Marketing Director
Educational Programs & Service Learning Coordinator
Southside Baptist Christian School
The year was 1987 and Dr. Lonnie S. Stinson, then Pastor and Founder of Emmaus Road Baptist Church in Garysburg, North Carolina was ready to depart to the land that God had shown to him – Richmond, Virginia. So he departed, along with his wife Terry, their three children, Reginald, Trenton and Kimberly as well as a handful of faithful souls that chose to follow him. It was a step of faith, a sincere belief in a God who promised that wherever He would lead, He would feed and where He would guide, He would provide.
Dr. Stinson’s first place of worship was on the third floor of the La Quinta Hotel on Midlothian Turnpike. In less than a month, this small congregation moved to a conference room at the Midlothian Turnpike Comfort Inn. He soon gained the attention of the motel employees and was graciously asked by the manager to leave before the expiration of his lease. After all, he was paying them to work, not listen to the preaching.
“Upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it…” (Matthew 16:18)
Dr. Stinson found a store front make-shift church on Cowardin Avenue. It wasn’t much to look at, but Mrs. Stinson gladly took on the challenge of making the building presentable for the worship service. Now that they were in a bigger building, that meant space for more people. It was not long after this that Dr. Stinson announced to his congregation that Southside had received outstanding busses along with the children who rode them – and so started the Bus Ministry.
In 1989, the faithful congregation was in need of a bigger facility. They did not have much, but they had an unshakable faith in a God whose hand of provision could be clearly seen. Dr. Stinson set out to find a new location for Southside Baptist Temple. A trip to South Richmond one afternoon led him across a “For Sale” sign posted on the property of 5515 Bryce Lane. “Could this be it Lord?” Dr. Stinson wondered as he drove into the parking lot of the ex-fire station, current community meeting place, Friday night card games, and Ruritan Club House.
Dr. Stinson felt a surge of peace within his very soul as he handed the owner his card, informing him that his congregation would be purchasing the property. And at midnight, Lonnie Stinson along with his wife and two other members prayed and sang praises unto God as they wrote a proposal which included a specific, detailed request in support of their $250 down payment for the property.
“Making the journey from success to significance . . . proud and humbled.”
In 1990, Southside Baptist conducted its first mission’s conference and its first wedding in the newly acquired building. The once-upon-a-time fire station was beautifully arrayed with pews and floral arrangements. It was not long before God began to shower the ministry with blessings.
In 1992, Dr. and Mrs. Stinson started the Community Action Program of Southside or CAPS Program as it came to be called. This was only one example of the ministries implemented by Dr. and Mrs. Stinson to meet the needs of the families and communities served by Southside Baptist Temple. It was also during that very busy period that Dr. Stinson implemented Evangelizing Black Americans and The School of the Prophets – ministries designed to teach fundamental, independent Baptist preachers to reach Black Americans with the gospel.
In August 1999, Dr. & Mrs. Stinson were led of God to open a school that would uphold the testimony of Christ while providing quality, Christian education. So with another leap of faith, Southside Baptist Christian School opened its doors to welcome 110 students ranging from K4 through 12th grade! Soon more space was needed and in the spring of 2000, the construction of a new building was completed. One half served as a sanctuary and the other as the school’s gymnasium. By 2001, SBT had grown so much as a church, with more than 20 ministries, that the name was changed from Southside Baptist Temple to Southside Baptist Ministries.
Dr. Stinson followed the Lord’s leading to break ground on the expansion of the new building and soon the walls separating the gym from the sanctuary came tumbling down. Only the Lord knew where the money would come from to “Grow Southside” but there was no hesitation in the heart of Dr. Stinson because he knew that the same God that fed the five thousand would meet this need in His own miraculous way.
As SBM prepares to celebrate its 25th anniversary on October 7, 2012, there is much for the church family to be thankful for. The man, the ministry, and the mission are that three-fold cord that has withstood the test of time. Making the journey from success to significance is an accomplishment for which Dr. Lonnie S. Stinson is both proud and humbled. It is the very definition of legacy that Southside Baptist Ministry pledges to uphold for many years to come.