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Jaxson Penny enjoys the 100th Anniversary service at Saint Paul Baptist Church (Photo by Chris Frost)
Thursday, March 14, 2019

By Chris Frost


Oxnard—It was a celebration of faith, devotion, and values at Saint Paul Baptist Church, March 10, as the congregation held a special mass to celebrate 100 years in service of the Lord. 

The event was a sacred occasion, as the celebration included music, cries of joy to the Lord and the readings of Deuteronomy 28:1-6, 9 and 10. 

Saint Paul Church got its start in 1919 and was the first African American Church in Ventura County under the leadership of Pastor J. D. Pettigrew. 
Fast-forward 100 years and the church is stronger than ever and looks forward to the next century. 
The celebration featured a proclamation presentation to the congregation on behalf of Oxnard Mayor Tim Flynn by Council Member Vianey Lopez and Mayor Pro Tem Carmen Ramirez. 
“What makes this possible is the leadership, but also the great numbers who come every week and day to do God’s work,” Lopez said. “Thank you, everyone and congratulations.” 

Ramirez honored the church for 100 years of service to the community.

“We know that faith gets us through the hard times and faith will get us to the blessings that we receive,” she said. “I am honored to be here for this great celebration. Congratulations and may you have another 1,000 years.” 

Reverend Larry Franklin said his grandfather, Reverend Jesse Walker, was introduced to Saint Paul’s when he received the call to be a pastor. 
“Serving under him was my grandmother, Gladys T. Walker,” he said. ”I was the first newborn baby born when the church was on C Street.” 
One of the more emotional moments during the service came from Magaline Penny, who shouted out praise to God because she said His word comes forth. 
“He is letting us know that no matter what it looks like, He’s still God and He is still in control,” she said. “All the different people who are trying to take over the churches, God is the church, and he said upon this rock I would build my church.” 

She was diagnosed with rare blood cancer, she said, and on Feb. 19, God let her get out of her bed and enabled her to be at Saint Paul’s for the 100th-anniversary celebration. 

“I thank God for that,” she said. 
Stephanie Womack comforted her mother during the service. 

“We’re always praying for her, and our whole family is here,” she said. “This is where we all grew up, and we all have our own families and bringing them together is important.” 

Anabel and Terrell Penny love the church, and the service meant a lot to him. 

“I grew up in this church and to have both of my sons here is truly a blessing that we can continue to serve God together,” he said.

Moving forward, he is inspired to keep teaching his children the word of God.

“The blessings are through God,” he said. 

Anabel said the word of God never fails. 
“It’s been here for 100 years, and I am passing it down to my children,” she said. “Hopefully, they’ll pass it down to their children.” 
Jeremiah Penny said the service meant a lot to him. 
“I say (to kids I know) they need God in their lives because God can fix everything,” he said. 

A special treat during the celebration was a celebration of mime, featuring Shaquile Read, who drew lots of enthusiastic response. 

“It’s the words in the psalm which kept me going through everything and those words give me the drive to encourage others:” she said. “You don’t know what you could have been through. God put you in this place you are in right now.” 

Dr. Princeton Allen and his wife Tameous truly loved the service. 

“God is the answer, and he has to be perceived in a way where all people can receive him,” he said. “As a product of the inner city, there was a church just like this, I was 17 years old, and I was a part of this, and I worked in the youth group, and it was the mentorship, the tutoring and having a place that was open every day and you can come in and not be judged.” 

Tameous said the church is a good foundation. 
“It prepared him to be not just a great man, but a husband, father, and grandfather,” she said.