Greater St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church was organized on January 6, 1937 in a rented hall on South Liberty Street in New Orleans, Louisiana. The late Reverend Arthur Armstead Gundy was the founding pastor of the original 69 member congregation. Reverend Gundy was an energetic leader and pastor whose dynamic preaching and proclaiming of the Word called many to membership. He also sang, directed music and was powerful in prayer. After two short years, the church site was moved twice. First in 1938 to Ladies Providence Hall at Philip and South Liberty Streets and then, in 1939, to a two-story building at our present New Orleans location, 2308 South Liberty.
Because of overwhelming growth, more room was needed and in 1954, the old sanctuary was demolished and construction of the new edifice began. Reverend Gundy served faithfully and was a skillful and gifted leader. It was also in 1954 that Reverend Gundy went home to be with the Lord. The Assistant Pastor, Reverend Percy Simpson, Jr. was immediately appointed Pastor-in-Charge and continued the work started by Reverend Gundy. The membership marched into the new edifice in the spring of 1955 and Reverend Simpson, a talented, preaching and singing minister, was elected pastor of the Church.
Reverend Simpson was a man of vision and organized many new auxiliaries and programs in the church, along with acquiring additional properties. He also began a weekly radio broadcast, the adoption of the church motto: “The Place Where God Blesses His People” and formulated a Christian Education Department. With the presence of God, evangelism and emphasis on training, our church began to expand and, again, we saw the need for a larger edifice.
In 1969, the church commenced an extensive renovation and expansion program with a 12-year plan of the Greater St. Stephen Plaza that would include an educational center, nursery, rent-free senior citizens home and youth recreational center. However, this vision would never come to pass for Reverend Simpson. On November 27th, 1974, the untimely death of Reverend Simpson shocked the city of New Orleans and stunned the Greater St. Stephen Family. History repeated itself as the Assistant Pastor, Reverend Paul S. Morton, was appointed Pastor-in-Charge and was elected pastor on December 27, 1974.
Under the visionary leadership of Pastor Morton, Greater St. Stephen experienced phenomenal growth and progress. His untiring labor has resulted in a 2,000 seat sanctuary that was completed in 1980, a 4,000 seat sanctuary acquired in 1988 in New Orleans East, a 1,500 seat sanctuary on the Westbank, a Corporate Headquarters for all business operations and management of over 100 employees, and St. Stephen City, which provided affordable housing for families. We opened St. Stephen Manor, which provided Senior Citizen Housing and GSS Academy for the educational development of our youth. We adopted the motto: “One Church in Two Locations” and in 1991, the church changed the name to reflect a newly acquired level of spiritual growth. We became Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church. Later, the School and College of Ministry and over 60 ministries were added, and membership increased to more than 20,000.
In February 1993, Elder Debra B. Morton, the wife of Pastor Morton and a daughter of Greater St. Stephen Ministry, was appointed Co-Pastor serving diligently beside her husband. With Elder Morton serving in the capacity of Co-Pastor, we were able to expand to seven weekly services as “One Church in Three Locations”. Also under her leadership, the Women’s Ministry founded Elajenette White Parent/Child Computer Center and Spanobia Spa/Salon. In March of 1993, Elder Paul S. Morton heeded the voice of God and was obedient to the appointment of God as he accepted the office of Bishop. He was consecrated on the 19th day of March and became the first Presiding Bishop of the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship International. Greater St. Stephen is the “Mother Church” of the movement. Under the leadership of Visionary Bishop Morton, thousands have been blessed, encouraged, delivered and inspired by the Ministry. We have been afforded the opportunity to plant several ministries and send sons of the ministry to pastor in surrounding areas.
In August 2005, Katrina devastated the New Orleans area. God said to Bishop Morton, “I may be down-sizing New Orleans but I won’t down-size your ministry.” In October 2005, Greater St. Stephen Atlanta began having services at New Beginning Full Gospel Baptist Church at 3:00 p.m. and in January 2006, we marched into our newly renovated edifice at 4185 Snapfinger Woods Drive where the Lord is adding to the church daily. After the waters receded in New Orleans, renovations were underway to REBUILD. Greater St. Stephen was not only blessed by the compassion and contributions from the Body of Christ, they were able to be a blessing to thousands who came to receive assistance (food, clothing, personal necessities, etc.) after Katrina. The Westbank and Uptown locations were restored and the services have been standing-room-only ever since. We are now “One Church in Two States”. Recently, Bishop Morton installed Bishop Tommie L. Triplett as Pastor of the Westbank Location.
We have already experienced phenomenal growth, abundance in both states and a new motto: “Changing the Way We Do Church”. In Atlanta, in two years over twenty active ministries have been developed with a determination to Change A Generation; we have acquired and blessed our Greenbriar Campus Property and the expansion and completion phase is underway. God bless the Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church!