It was a very humble beginning that led to the formation and organizing of the Paradise Missionary Baptist Church. In September of 1953 of our Lord Jesus Christ; in the home of Oscar and Sister Susie Wilson at 2945 N Wabash, located in the North end not far from Cudahy Packing House; when 20-30 men and women who were member of another church here in town decided after a business meeting they wanted something different to happen.
With the leadership of Rev. T. L. Kelly these believers organized themselves in the name of Jesus Christ singing songs of Zion and praying for an awesome move of God. Motivated by the move of God and watching His work at hand, they firmly believed in what the Master said when he declared, in in Matthew 16:18, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. From this meeting came the birthing of the Paradise Missionary Baptist Church; the church was named with a heavenly paradise in mind. The individuals who made up the new body called Paradise were Rev. T. L. Kelly, Deacon A.G. & Sis. Hester Jones, Deacon James D. Kelly, Bro. Albert Robinson, Bro. Jesse Lee Robinson, Sis. Helen Fisher, Sis. Shirley Fisher, Sis, Kathryn Roberson, Sis. Maxine Webb, Sis. Bernadine Cato, Sis. Pearlie Frost, Bro. Dan Robinson, Sis. Constance Lassley, Bro. Author & Sis. Rosie, Sis. Corrine Bass, Sis. Alberta Myers, Bro. Henry & Sis. Mildred Poindexter, Bro JP. & Sis. Sarah Dennis, Sis. Helen Kemp, Bro. Wylie & Sis. Vivan Gipson, Bro. Andrew & Sis. Bernice Griffin, Rev. Kelly left some months later telling the congregation he had to move on.
Rev. T. H. Reagans was called as the next pastor after the departure of Rev. Kelly. The Congregation grew under his leadership and within a year, land was purchase at 16th and Madison for Deacon A.G. Jones. It was on this property that a new edifice for worship would be built and so it came to pass. The members came together with this common goal in mind. Sis. Frost hauled bricks in the trunk of her car, assisted by Mother Mary Ross. These bricks would become the foundation for the new building. No one was wealthy, nor did anybody have a professional job, most of the members had migrated to Wichita in search of making a better living. These strong hard, workers taught us to believe in Jesus. In 1955 with a growing congregation and an exciting worship experience progress was at with the real church pews, indoor bathrooms, a pulpit, and a pot-bellied wood stove used for heating. Rev. T.H. Reagans ordained 5 deacons: Jesse Robinson (known as Uncle Jesse Lee), Albert Robinson, Arthur Steward, Thomas Ross, and Samuel McGariety.
Within a few years Rev. Reagans left and Rev. S. K. Wilkerson took his place becoming the Pastor. The church continued to grow and Bro. Joe Moses became an ordained deacon; the building like anything with time needed to be updated, the best thing is that a furnace was installed. A very gifted and articulate minister Rev. Ed. Cooper became the Pastor. Under Rev. Cooper’s leadership, Bro. Chris Hardyway was ordained as a deacon. The Worship Services were lively and powerful, the choir sang with energy and power, people accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, on many Sunday nights the church was filled with groups like the Revelators, Heaven Bound, soloists, duets, choirs and the people who came to hear them. We were bursting at the seams the congregation grew as people migrated to Wichita, Kansas from Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Another leader would leave (Ed Cooper) and in his place was Rev. Grover Level he would serve as interim pastor.
In the late 1960’s Rev. William Bunton a young energetic and talented preacher became our Pastor.
He was a minister who reached out to the people young and old alike. I remember how he would sing before delivering his sermons on Sunday mornings, the anointing would fill the house and members would shout. There was a power and conviction that came through as he preached. Under Rev. Bunton’s leadership
Paradise had a radio broadcast on Sunday morning. While Rev. Bunton was our leader the choir recorded a few songs, “Its Another Days Journey and I’m Glad About It!” We continued to grow, another deacon was ordained, Bro. Leo Peterson. The early seventies are upon us. The city had building codes which Paradise need to meet, and we out grew the Madison building, the congregation chose to move instead of expand. We bought property located at 2345 N. Park Place, there was plenty of room to grow in the new edifice. More young ministers were called and licensed: Rev. Earl Givens and Rev. Ronald Yates. Rev. Yates was later ordained by Rev. William Bunton and now Pastor’s a Church in Georgia.
No one ever knows for sure what God has planned and again things were about to change. Rev. Bunton was lead to go to Little Rock Arkansas. In Rev. Bunton’s place God placed an awesome man of God, Rev. Paul L. Gray, a young lawyer, and family man. Rev. Gray was well verse in the scriptures, not only able to quote them, but delivered the word so that anybody could understand what was being said, and what he didn’t know he’d research to find out. Pastor Gray was a wise and humble spirit and he loved Paradise, each and every one of us. While Pastor, God called several young men into the ministry under his leadership coined as: "The Sons of Thunder": Charles Bunton, Kamau Sentwali (Michael Frost), David E. Chiles, Dearlin Brown, Reginald Mitchell, Robert Holloman, Alonzo Franklin Jr., James Ray Webb-Franklin, Wilkie Berry, Christopher Bullock, William Boyd Sanders, Tommy L. Criner, Bradley Singleton, Eugene Johnson, Roy Hatcher, Charles Jackson, Derrick Carr, DeAndre Morris, Tyrone Porter and Michael Arline, all of whom have been licensed as ministers of the gospel; several have been ordained: Rev. Earl Givens, Rev. Kamau Sentwali, Rev. David E. Chiles, Rev. Christopher Bullock, Rev. William B. Sanders, Rev. Eugene Johnson, Rev. DeAndre Morris and Rev. Charles Jackson. Many of the ministers ordained have become Pastors: Rev. Christopher Bullock, Rev. Ronald Yates, and Rev. Charles Bunton. 4 new deacons were ordained: Bro. Percy Kimbrough, Benjamin Teague, Jerry Mumford, and Otis Normore.
We relocated once again in August of 1997 to our current location 4401 E. 17th Street. There were signs of spiritual growth and health; the mid-week participation increased, the ministerial staff became organized, growth of the youth department, a monthly newsletter, active participation in our state and national associations and various mission outreach projects. Many members went out from Paradise to serve Christ around the city of Wichita as well as out of state and even throughout the U.S. More young men were called to Pastor: Rev. DeAndre Morris, Rev. Charles Jackson, and Rev. William B. Sanders.
In February of 2006 after nearly 30 years of service Rev. Paul L. Gray had resigned. A few months later the Baptist Ministerial League of Wichita held a retirement celebration in honor of him, at the Strangers Rest Baptist Church. The church continue to march on under the leadership of the Assistant Pastor, Rev. Kamau Sentwali During our 53rd Church Anniversary, this same year, 9 years after purchasing our present building we were able to burn our mortgage. We give all glory and honor to our Lord and Savior.
In 2008, 2 years later we had another pastor, Rev. Charles Welch who resigned in June of 2012. In August 2012 the torch was passed on to Rev. David E. Chiles to serve as our Interim Pastor. In August 2013, Rev. David E. Chiles was elected to serve as our Pastor. We Pray for God’s Will to be done and for God to use us for His Glory and Honor.
We’ve had some up’s and some downs; many things have change over the past ten year, yet God has been faithful. Time is not in our hands, we must look to God who holds our future. Although, we’ve lost love ones much sooner than we wanted, we look forward to one day joining them on the other side. We must yield our Will over to God allowing HIM to work as he desires. It hard, but we must Praise /God inspite of for we are created to Worship HIM. The promises in God’s word are ours to stand on Phil. 1:6 states, “Being confident (sure) of this very thing, that HE which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Today there are 2 charters members who remain with us: Sis. Pearly Frost and Sis. Shirley Sanders. It is still on the scripture in Matthew chapter 16: verse 18 that we stand, “Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. Let’s hold to this promise no matter what comes our way
our pastor and ministerS
David E. Chiles
First Lady, Jeanette Chiles