The Paradise Baptist Church had its beginning in February 1960. Rev. C. William Johnson was the Assistant Pastor at the First Baptist Parchester Church of Richmond, CA. when the Lord called him to begin a church in the Columbian Gardens Community of Oakland, CA. He, along with four volunteers, went door to door sharing Christ and expressing the vision God had placed in his heart. By the end of May 1960, sixteen people agreed that a place of worship was needed in the area. A meeting was called and the Paradise Baptist Church mission was organized. In August of the same year, Paradise was officially founded and established as the Paradise Baptist Church with Rev. C. William Johnson as Pastor.
In order to have a place of worship, Pastor Johnson used his Veterans Administration Certificate to purchase a home at 215 Sextus Road, which was converted into a small church. Worship services were held there until a house at 9670 Empire Road was purchased and the church moved to this location in November 1963.
By 1968 the membership had grown and a larger facility was needed. God blessed the members and friends to construct a church (formerly known as the PBC Educational Building) adjacent to the house in which they had been worshiping. This building became their new place of worship, but by 1970 even that building was too small. Again, with the help of many dedicated members and friends, the work of a new sanctuary began.
Faithful members, who were filled with an enthusiasm to build their own church, financed the building project. Many took second loans of trust on their own properties, borrowed up to 1,000 and gave it unconditionally. All the faithfulness and hard work paid off. On the third Sunday in August 1972, the new sanctuary was complete and the members marched in.
Pastor Johnson began telling the membership how God was going to use Paradise to make a difference not only in Columbian Gardens, but also Paradise would be the “salvation of Oakland!”
Over the next 10 years, with significant growth, Paradise was blessed tor have a full-time Pastor, administrative assistant, part-time personnel, maintenance personnel, and numerous volunteers.
In 1988 Pastor Johnson expanded the evangelism ministry and hired Rev. Leon McDaniels, Sr. as the full-time Evangelism Coordinator. The spark and enthusiasm found in Rev. McDaniels spread throughout the entire church body.
In addition to church growth, Pastor Johnson established Wistar Redemption and Recovery Program, which started as an 18-month residential substance abuse facility for men and has now been extended to women. This program helped to emphasize that Paradise would indeed be the light in its community and the “salvation of Oakland!”
Growth in Current Leadership
On September 17, 1993 Pastor Johnson’s life here on Earth came to an end, leaving the Paradise family with heavy hearts. However, his works continued because one month later Rev. Leon McDaniels, Sr. was called as the new Pastor. Pastor McDaniels, being committed to the same principles as Pastor Johnson, resolved to make a significant difference not only in the Columbian Gardens Community, but also to all of Oakland.
Tremendous growth has transpired under Pastor McDaniels’ direction, especially in the areas of membership, worship, discipleship, stewardship, relationships, and leadership.
New Worship Center
It became increasingly difficult to seat the large number of people God was adding to the church weekly. Pastor Mc Daniels realized a larger facility was sorely needed. After much laboring in prayer concerning a new church, he was led to build a structure that would more accurately reflect how great God is.
In 1996 God challenged the Paradise Baptist Church ministry to rebuild Him a “State-of-the-Art Worship Center.” He led us to the book of Nehemiah for the biblical instructions on how to accomplish this task. We enjoyed this great work for the Lord. We believed that if God could build a Tabernacle in the wilderness with Israel, surely God could build a church in the city of Oakland with Paradise.
By faith, the groundbreaking ceremony was held on August 17, 1997. As a result, Paradise began a multi-million dollar building project. Despite the few obstacles and increased costs in building this magnificent State-of-the-Art Worship Center, the membership, once again, stepped in by faith. They made significant contributions and personal sacrifices in their commitment to further the ministry.
Ministry, Recreation & Business Center
The Lord has blessed this body of believers to complete the New Paradise Baptist Church Worship Center located at 9704 Empire Road in Oakland, CA. And, again in 2007, the Lord took us back to Nehemiah and challenged the PBC ministry to begin the second phase of the vision: to build a new Ministry Recreation and Business Center to meet the spiritual, social, educational, domestic, recreational and business needs of our community. After tireless months of building, we will complete the construction of the $4 million dollar, 13,500 square foot facility which features a full kitchen, snack bar, arcade, gym with men and women’s showers, bookstore, fellowship hall, conference room, youth room, classrooms, computer lab, and administrative offices.
Creating this space for the Lord to do His work would not be possible without a dedicated and skilled team working towards the same goal. Members of the Project Team include, Pastor Leon McDaniels, Deacon Christopher Robinson, Sis. Imani Haygood, Sis. Joanne Baker, Rev. Craig Gentry, Bro. Clarence Chambers, MWM Architects, Canyon Construction, Christian Community Credit Union, and a host of others. The Ministry Rec, and Business Center is designed to further expand the stewardship of the Paradise Baptist Church from its members to the surrounding community, and to nurture and develop the next generation of disciples. The Paradise Baptist Church is laying the ground work for supernatural church growth just as Jesus instructed His disciples in Luke 5:4-6.
Have Faith Mortgage
In addition to contructing a new worship center and a Ministry Recreation and Busincess Center, PBC also completed the construction of a 2,100 sq. ft., single-family residence located at 225 Tunis Road, complete with a granite kitchen, hardwood floors, central air and heating. Construction was completed in December 2007, and the home currently serves as the office of Have Faith Mortgage, a ministry of the Paradise Baptist Church, which has closed more than $5 million in business since opening. Have Faith Mortgage is owned and operated by Joanne Baker, a licensed real estate agency, whose goal is to see that everyone who desires to be a homeowner can reach the “American Dream” of homeownership.
The Paradise Baptist Church family has come a long way since its humble beginning in 1960. Rev. C. William Johnson knew 50 years ago that Paradise would make a difference in the city of Oakland. This vision has come to fruition under the leadership of Pastor Leon McDaniels, Sr. with a congregation of more than 500 members and numerous ministries that reach out to the community. God took the spark that was evident in Rev. McDaniels as Evangelism Coordinator and transformed it into a flame as Pastor.