Morning Star Baptist Church came into existence through a split from Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Clairton, PA. Twenty-three members met in the Old Eagles Hall on Reed Street with a council from Pittsburgh, PA, who gave them permission to organize this church. The Council named Reverend A. A. Martin as acting Pastor. On April 9, 1919, the following persons became Charter members of the Morning Star Baptist Church: Brothers-A. C. Glover, J. H Presley, W. A. Coley, A. Wiggins, Ernest Goodwin, Charles Williams, Randolph Campbell, Mel Gunn and J. Ronnie Powell; Sisters-Ida Glover, Emma Presley, Annie Hamilton, Victoria Moore, Manola Bonner, Bendell Goodwin, Ida Harbin, Elizabeth Powell, Della Williams, Mamie Smith, Fannie Taylor and Bettie Whitside. Mrs. Ida Harbin gave the church the name of Morning Star in remembrance of her church in Alabama. She was named the first mother of the church. She held this honor until her death in 1937.
In the fall of 1919, Reverend J. H. Garner, from Selma, AL, was called as Pastor. His wife Ella Garner served as organist and organized the first choir. The edifice on the corner of Shaw and Boundary Ave was completed and the first service was held there December 20, 1919.
Reverend Henry Jones, Associate minister of Ebenezer Baptist Church of Pittsburgh, was called to serve as Pastor. He remained here one year until his death in 1924.
Reverend Charles W. Brown of New York City was elected Pastor. He and his wife Sister Sarah Brown served Morning Star for a period of four and a half years. Many new members were added to the church in such great numbers that it was soon evident that the small frame edifice was inadequate. In May 1925, the church was torn down to start rebuilding. In April 1926 on Easter Sunday, we moved into the basement of the present church. We remained there for 22 years. When Reverend Brown left early in 1928, Reverend John Lee, our associate minister, took over the duties of Pastor.
In 1928, Reverend McLendon was elected Pastor. He was to be called by death one month after his election. Reverend Lee again took over the duties of Pastor.
In October, 1928, Reverend E. W. Lipscomb, of Beaver Falls became our Pastor. His wife, Sister Mamie Lipscomb was instrumental in raising money with her newly organized Excelsior Art Club in 1929. The Willing Workers Club was also organized at that time and together the two organizations worked hard to supply the officers with money to meet the church obligations. In fact, 1930, was the beginning of the Depression years, and if it were not for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the efforts of these two organizations, we might have lost our church.
Reverend Lipscomb re-organized the Junior Choir and the church also became a part of the Sunday School Council. Reverend Lipscomb was the first Negro candidate for public office, running for the school board in 1930. He left for Monessen in 1934 after six years of labor.
Reverend I. H. McElroy and his lovely wife Lola came to us in 1935 from Alabama. He often conducted his own revivals and under his leadership, we raised enough money to pay off the mortgage. The Ladies Gospel Chorus and the Men Gospel Chorus came into being at that time. After three years Reverend McElroy relocated to Detroit.
Reverend S. A. Parker, from Cleveland, OH, took over the duties of the pastor and remained a short period of one year. His first act was to reorganize our Trustee Board and define the duties were defined for both the Deacon and Trustee boards. Shortly after the coming of Reverend Parker, the Christian stewardship of Brother Joseph McCoy was noticed. Brother McCoy’s interest in the Bible and his ability to discuss it at length kindled in him a burning desire to preach God’s word. He attended the National Baptist Convention in Cleveland with the Pastor Parker and came back more inspired than ever to preach. When we were again without a pastor, Brother McCoy was licensed in 1941 and served the church all that year. He was ordained in December, elected pastor shortly after, and was installed in February 1942. Reverend McCoy and his lovely wife Lois were very special people for Morning Star. Reverend McCoy had a vision of completing the church. He waited patiently for five years and in 1947 the vision came to fruition.
On September 12, 1948, we entered the new sanctuary with Sister Annie Hamilton, the oldest living charter member, unlocking the door and leading the procession. Reverend McCoy was blessed beyond most preachers in that he labored for nineteen years, adding to the building many features to make it more enjoyable. The parsonage on Reed Street was purchased and new club organizations came into being under his pastorate such the McCoy Club, Ladies Aid, Starlight Club, Prayer Band and Youth Choir. On December 27, 1960, Reverend McCoy died quietly in his sleep after a brief period of illness.
In December 1961 Reverend Rosamond C. Kay of New Castle, PA accepted the call and pledged himself to the task of pastor. Reverend Kay was a great organizer. Not long after his installation in March 1962, he went about setting apart the Junior Church and organizing the Kay Concert Choir, (later changed to Kay Inspirational), Flower Guild, Married Couples Fellowship, Friendship Circle, Dramatic Guild, Christian Board of Education, Layman’s League, Joint Men and Women’s Day, Music Committee, Leadership Training Institute, annual Lott Carey Day, Tithing Program, Junior Church Choir, Youth Forum, Youth Participation Day and the Ladies Official Board. Reverend Kay’s largest accomplishment was the building of the Religious Education building. In 1967, we broke ground and upon its completion the sanctuary was enlarged to include an elevated Baptism pool, a second level balcony and other classrooms and office space.
After sixteen years, Reverend Kay left in 1978 for Erie and in 1979 Reverend Joseph Martin was called to pastor. Reverend Martin came with his lovely wife, Deborah and their three children. His tenure was four years.
On May 11, 1984, a son of Morning Star was called Reverend William Nathan Simon. A former chairman of the Deacon Board here, he was officially installed as pastor on July 29, 1984. His wife, Sister Louise Simon served as Church Clerk. She was a very loving wife who supported her husband until her transition from Earth to Glory. As stated in Genesis 2:18, “And the Lord said, It is not good that man should be alone,” Reverend Simon met and married Deaconess Julia McKee Johnson, a long standing member of the church on June 15, 1991. Mrs. Simon was very active in working with the youth and senior citizens. She was also a loving wife to Pastor Simon until he was called home by the Lord in 1996. During his tenure Pastor Simon organized the Membership Training Class, Sunbeams, MSBC Male Chorus, Junior Church Usher Board, Daughters of Morning Star, Mime Group, Young Adult Missionary Circle, and the Outreach Program.
On December 5, 1997, Reverend Canard S. Grigsby, Jr., from First Baptist Church of Bridgeville was elected pastor. On April 19, 1998, Reverend Grigsby was officially installed. Reverend Grigsby had a dynamic preaching and teaching ministry. Under Reverend Grigsby’s leadership, the following ministries were organized: Prison Ministry, Computer Training, Tape Ministry, Video Ministry, Grief Support Group, Praise Team, Women’s Ministry and Youth Recreation. Also under his tenure the property next door was acquired and in memory of Reverend Simon, the Fellowship Hall was re-named W. Nathan Simon Fellowship Hall. Lastly, believing in what is written in Psalms 150, musical instruments were added to enhance the worship experience. Reverend Grigsby’s tenure was eight years.
After much prayer, on February 22, 2008, Reverend Jerome Stevenson, from the Morning Star Baptist Church, West Mifflin, PA was called as the Pastor-Elect of Morning Star Baptist Church, Clairton, PA. Installation services for Reverend Stevenson were held on May 25, 2008. Reverend Stevenson had a dynamic preaching and teaching ministry. During his tenure, as our pastor many converts were led to Christ. Reverend Stevenson was truly a blessing to our church and to the Clairton community. Pastor Stevenson, a Man of God was concerned about his sheep! He led by example! Some of the ministries he added or re-organized were Monday Night Bible Study, Wednesday Afternoon Bible Study, Celebration of Life Choir, Van Service to areas outside of Clairton, CD and DVDs to sick and shut-in, Men’s Bible Study, Men of Valor Usher Board, Jerome Stevenson Bible School (formally MSBC Bible School), Pastor’s Aide Ministry, Saved, Single and Satisfied Ministry, Social Service Ministry, Saturday Night Worship Service, Shining Stars Choir, Singers of Victory Choir, Voices of Praise (formally the Mass Choir) Women’s Bible Study, The Amachi Program, and Daughters of the King Liturgical Dance Ministry. During his time with us, Reverend Stevenson earned his doctorate from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
Also under Reverend Dr. Stevenson’s leadership the front of the church took place including a long awaited elevator and an electronic marquee. Reverend Dr. Stevenson was also very active in the community where he was instrumental in raising funds to purchase tennis shoes for the Clairton High School boys and girls basketball team. Reverend Dr. Stevenson was a great organizer and the church made tremendous strides under his leadership. On January 25, 2012 Reverend Dr. Jerome Stevenson was called home to be with the Lord.
On Tuesday, November 20, 2012, Reverend Willie J. Thompson, Jr. was voted in as the 14th Pastor. He was officially installed on Sunday, April 28, 2013. During his tenor at Morning Star, over 200 people have either confessed Christ, restored relationship with Christ and our church or have been called to be a part of this family. Our time together has been revolutionary and impactful. We adopted, released and branded our new logo and website. He prepared over a dozen preachers and made Morning Star history by ordaining three women of the gospel, Reverend Gloria Ruffing, Reverend Gloria Gressem, and Reverend Alice Flood. Pastor Thompson endorsed the formation of the Phyllis Ann Perry Women’s Educational Scholarship. He was monumental in revitalizing Morning Star’s partnership with the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank, thus the Soup Kitchen is now inclusive of a team of certified food handlers. He helped open a second facility named, the “Morning Star Performing Arts Center.” At its dedication, Bertha Murray was consecrated as Church Mother, after a first ever march drum majored from the existing campus to Morning Star’s new addition. He then, relocated back to his home church in South Carolina.
On December 13, 2019, Rev. Richard D. White, Jr. accepted the call to pastor. He was installed on Saturday, July 25, 2020. This took place during an unprecedent and difficult time where the world was hit with the COVID 19 virus. This caused the church as we know it to change, but Rev. White found a way to push forward with the Word of God by implementing Live streaming via Facebook and restructuring worship services to stay compliant with CDC guidelines. His pastoral leadership includes providing spiritual counseling, visiting the sick and bereavement care to the MSBC church family and friends in the Clairton Community at large.