Our Story


The New Sardis Primitive Baptist Church was organized in 1919, by the late Elder Abraham Griskel who migrated from the northern section of the state of Alabama, commonly called the Tennessee Valley.

Elder Griskel served with the New Sardis Primitive Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee, which at that time was the largest Primitive Baptist Church in that city and in east Tennessee. He took the initiative to organize a church in Cleveland, which he named New Sardis, after the church in Chattanooga.

Elder Griskel labored with the church for 15 years. He led this church to affiliate with the Mallard Creek Association, which was composed of churches in Northern Alabama and Eastern Tennessee.

The church was then located on East 27th street at the intersection of Scovill Avenue. Some members during Elder Griskel's tenure were Deacons Charles Buchannan, Pendleton, Pippins, Cohen; Sisters Mattie Buchanan, Julia Jones, Lucille Luster, Hattie Mendenhall, Pinky Huntes, Ruth Jones, Mary E. Rice (Mary Koontz), Maggie Davis Rice, Elder T. J. Rice and Elder Betts. 
Elder Griskel was succeeded by Elder T. J. Rice of Florence, Alabama. His tenure was short. The exact length of his service is unknown. Elder Van T. Hunt, of whom little is known, followed Elder Rice as Pastor. During this period, Primitive Baptists did not believe in musical instruments. The church by this time was affiliated with the Lynn Creek Association. Elder Hunt had drums, so that left him out. The church moved from the East 27th Street location in a wheelbarrow and through his efforts and faith, he is credited with keeping New Sardis going. The combined tenures of Elders Hunt and Rice were approximately seven (7) years.
No doubt the church became a very discouraged group, as it seemed difficult to keep a leader. A church always finds it disheartening when it becomes a problem to keep a leader. But we must bear in mind that the Lord has always prepared somebody for His work. 
According to record, Elder Griskel left the church in 1933. Around this time Elder Arthur J. W. Warren felt the call to the ministry and answered the call of the Master. He was a member of Hartsfield Tabernacle P.B. Church, where Elder M. H. Hartsfield was then pastoring. Through-Deacon Buchanan's efforts and with the blessings of the members, Elder Warren was called to the pastorate of New Sardis sometime in 1940. He served until April 1967; a period of twenty-seven (27) years. He served untiringly over this period for the advancement of the church. He was greatly blessed in his work. He seemed to be inspired by the words from Isaiah 54:2, 3: "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thy stakes: for thou shall break forth on the right and on the left; and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited. " 

Elder Warren was forever striving for advancement. He started with a little storefront on Scovill Avenue which finally turned out to be too small to accommodate the congregation; so he led the church to move to larger quarters at 10525 Hudson Avenue. From Hudson, they moved to 9014 Cedar Avenue, which was somewhat larger. The Lord continued to add to the church as was saved and again the quarters became inadequate. From here he led the church to its present location, 3474 East 147th Street. This move took place in 1959. The church continued to progress under the marching orders of God. The struggle has been great, but the efforts have been productive. Under the pastorate of Elder Warren the church was led to a place of prominence among Primitive Baptist Churches of the nation. 

During his pastorate Elder Warren organized a school of Christian Education. This school was designed to train New Sardis Christian workers, but inevitably reached every Christian desiring to study the word of God. In memory of the conscientiousness of Elder Warren as an educator and his persistent labors here and throughout the Midwestern area, the school was named in his honor. It is now known as the Warren Bible Institute, Incorporated under the laws of the State of Ohio.

Elder Warren served as moderator of the Chicago River Association, Vice President of the National Primitive Baptist Convention of America and was also a member of the Board of Directors of the same body. He also served on the National Board of Evangelism. He received a degree from Baptist Seminary of The Bible.

Under Elder Warren, the following ministries were organized: The Baptist Training Union, The Sunday School, the Mothers’ Board, The Senior Usher board, The Junior Usher Board, The Matron’s Society, The Women’s Auxiliaries, The Senior Choir, The A.J.W. Chorus, The Inspirational Choir, and Dr. Watts Chorus. Elder Warren served until his demise in April, 1967. Elder Homer C. Chambers served as interim pastor for 90 days.

In June 1968, the church invited Elder Terry M. Batts of Mobile, Alabama to conduct a revival, and a request was extended for him to return in September. The church extended a call to Elder Batts to become the pastor. Homecoming Day, Sunday, November 10, 1968, Elder Batts occupied the pulpit for the first time as pastor.

Elders Batts and Warren shared the same zeal for education and exhibited strong leadership qualities beyond the scope of their pastorates. Pastor Batts served as the Dean and an instructor in the Warren Bible Institute; Clerk of the Chicago River Association and Midwest Regional Vice President.

New Sardis experienced tremendous growth in its educational ministries. The Sunday School established itself as one of the most vibrant in Northeast Ohio. The Primitive Baptist Training Union was re-established and Vacation Bible School was formed. The first Youth Council was also formed, which planned the activities of the youth of the church.

The Missionary auxiliaries were diversified. A Brotherhood organization was begun (for men), The Royal Ambassadors (for boys) and The Red Circle (for girls). The Women's Auxiliary was set up in groups to reach out to members and make an impact. These groups were named societies, after Biblical women (Lydia, Ruth, Naomi, Dorcas and Esther) and met in members’ homes.

Among the most notable accomplishments during Pastor Batts’ Pastorate was the liquidation and burning of the mortgage.

Our church has great concern for the welfare of those in need. Pastor Batts proposed an agency to aid the needy and aged members of our congregation as well as the Mount Pleasant Community. A monthly donation for Elder Warren’s widow, Mother Rose Warren, was established. He beseeched the congregation to purchase a mini bus for those who had no means of transportation.
Through his position and with New Sardis’ support, Rev. Batts, with various Pastors of our denomination in this locale, established the Midwestern States Primitive Convention in 1972. He served as its first president until called home (6/1973 – 7/1986).

On July 25, 1986, our hearts were again saddened by the death of another dear friend and leader. After serving this congregation and the Midwestern area of his denomination, Terry M. Batts went home to be with the Lord.

Elder Jimmy Warren, an Associate Minister at New Sardis for many years, agreed to serve as Interim Pastor. Elder Warren was always dedicated to New Sardis and served well during his tenure. The Lord continued to add to the church. Elder Warren was placed in this position by the Lord who knew our needs. He stressed the importance of Church love and unity.

The Church, again through its officers, extended the call to Elder Larry D. Tatum of Danville, Virginia to become our Pastor. After much prayer and by Divine direction, Elder Tatum accepted. On the first Sunday in March, 1988, Elder Tatum ascended the pulpit as the sixth Pastor of this church. Under Elder Tatum's leadership, New Sardis has grown deeper in our Christian love relationship with God and our sisters and brothers.

There is an atmosphere of increased love, hope and willingness to work. Significant progress has been made through massive planning of committees and through greater commitment to the stewardship of finances.

New Sardis, under Pastor Tatum's guidance, has witnessed a continued determination to involve the youth in the work and activities of this church. This has been accomplished through the efforts of a revised youth council. This council strives diligently to show our youth that being in a Christian atmosphere can be fun and rewarding. With the various activities and trips, such as yearly overnight retreats which involve adults and youth, as well as Friday nights at the gym, visitation of the sick and shut-in, fellowship and love have increased among the youth and the adults. We are all reminded each third Sunday that the future of New Sardis' worship is bright as our youth take leading roles in morning worship.

God is still continuously adding to the church through baptism, Christian experience and reinstatements. New members were added to the Deacons, Trustees and Mothers Board. In November 1990, the Lord’s kitchen was born. This outreach into the community made it possible for those without adequate food to receive one hot meal Monday thru Friday daily. In keeping with our previous history of a food bank, a Food Distribution Program was organized, where bags of food are distributed to the needy on the 2nd & 4th Tuesdays by caring members of the church.

Other revised outreach activities are as follows: The Clothing Bank, Male Chorus and Vacation Bible School.

Other blessings and accomplishments have been the purchase of a new parsonage in August 1990, air conditioning and a new furnace for the church and more importantly, an Evangelism Director was appointed. The church supports Local and Foreign Missionaries, the first of which was Marian Pledger.

By following the direction of God, by the vision that was placed on him, we completed a 1.2-million-dollar worshipping and educational edifice, which was dedicated in 1999.
In addition to these blessings and accomplishments, other visionary ministries were established such as: 
(1993) Youth Church
(1995) Wednesday Noonday Senior’s Bible Study (July)
(1996) Awana Club (Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed, March)
Hired a full time secretary Naomi Miles (September)
Men’s Ministry established (July)
(1997) 8:00 a.m. Sunday Morning Service (May)
Hired a Youth Minister (September)
AA Established
Singles Ministry
(1998) Re-established the Church Newsletter (February 26)
Groundbreaking Ceremony (March 14)
Narcotics Anonymous (June 2)
Auxiliary Missions Project (June 20)
All Ministries Fair (June 30)
(1999) Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for New Sanctuary (June 12)
(2004) Genesis Christian Academy

New ministries have been added to the church: The New Sardis Praise Dancers (Primary, Junior and Adult), Food and Clothing Bank, Shoes & Clothes for Kids, Discipleship Committee, Evangelistic Team, Greeting Ministry, Genesis Child Development Center as a Community Outreach Ministry, and a Summer Sports Camp. Several literary projects have been conducted: OhioReads, Cleveland City Schools Administration, and the Cleveland Foundation. Most recently we have a revised Prison Ministry, a Multi-Media Ministry and Junior Bible Study has grown into three age groups.

Pastor Tatum’s vision has also produced many changes in the church (physically and spiritually: new lighting, revamped exterior of the church including an iron fence and new landscaping, a revised church bulletin and a web address.

On March 12, 2023, after 35 committed years of service to Christ, to Church, and to community, Elder Dr. Larry D. Tatum retired from the pastorate of the New Sardis Church. 

On March 13, 2023, a son of the church and assistant to Pastor Tatum, Elder Dr. Vincent E. Stokes, II became the seventh pastor of the New Sardis Primitive Baptist Church. As a 25-year member of New Sardis before assuming the pastorate, Dr. Stokes continues his role in the pastorate as youth advocate, community organizer, and encourager of God’s children.
We, the members of New Sardis, sincerely believe that God has blessed us greatly in sending us Pastors, all of whom have been extremely morally fortified and dedicated to serving the people of God as they proclaim the gospel.

Pastor Stokes and the congregation of New Sardis solicit your prayers for continued prosperity in kingdom building.

We realize that our successes have not been made by our feeble powers, but by the power of God, who is able to make things possible.

We shall close here with those immortal words from the pen of Jude which follow: "Now unto Him that is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. "