On January 2, 1959, Palestine Missionary Baptist Church of Jesus Christ was organized under the leadership of Reverend Earl Abel. The first service of eleven Christian men and women, full of the faith and the Holy Spirit, uniting themselves into a body of Christian believers, was held in the home of the pastor at 3317 Askew. The next Sunday, the Linwood YMCA located at 3416 East Linwood was secured as a place of worship, where services were held for four years.
On August 22, 1959, four lots of ground were purchased, on which our first sanctuary was built. It is now our Wedding Chapel. This purchase was a mere four months following the organization of the church.
On September 17, 1961, Palestine held its first ground breaking service. The members totaled 165 at that time, and believed, “With God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27). The members decided to build a church without backing except individual pledges by the members. They were encouraged even with the setbacks to walk forward with renewed strength and faith. On April 10, 1970, a dedication service was held for the completed educational building. The first of many soul winning noon revivals was held on March 5, 1976.
On April 3, 1980, the third ground breaking service was held for a new and larger house to worship and praise our Lord. On August 9, 1981, a SABBATH in which the members could sing, “ Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” The church gratefully and prayerfully held its first worship service in the current sanctuary. It seats 1,600 people, and has an elevator servicing all four floors, a Prayer Room, Pastor’s study, church staff offices, classrooms, and a well-organized library. On March 9, 1988, a fourth ground breaking was held for the Palestine Senior Citizens Complex, Palestine Gardens.
On September 24, 1989, the dedication of Palestine Gardens commenced. The complex has 58 units and is located at 33rd & Montgall. In March 1991, Palestine held a ground breaking ceremony for the Senior Citizens Activity Center. In 1992, the church mortgage was paid off five years ahead of schedule. On December 1, 1992, the dedication service of Palestine Senior Citizens Activity Center was held. The Activity Center is dedicated to serving senior residents of the Kansas City community.
On September 15, 1993, the church voted to seek pledges for the building of Camp Palestine in Chilhowee, Missouri located near Warrensburg, Missouri. The camp was dedicated on November 19, 1995. The 150-acre camp includes an olympic-size pool, a 64-room lodge, cafeteria with commercial kitchen, 16 cabins, a chapel, and a well-stocked seven- acre lake. The latest additions to the camp grounds include a basketball court, walking track, walking trail, and baseball fields. In 1996, during the week of July 29 through August 2, our children and teenagers assembled for a week of religious training and fun for the first time at Camp Palestine.
On April 6, 1997, a ground breaking ceremony was held for Palestine Estates, another Senior Citizens Complex located at 33rd & Prospect. Palestine Estates was scheduled for completion by May 1998, and its grand opening was Saturday, July 18, 1998. On March 30, 2003, ground was broken for expansion to the sanctuary, which included a balcony, two-tier parking, a handicapped lift to the choir stand, and other updates, such as relocating the sound room, which shared its area with the media ministry. This building phase was dedicated November 23, 2003. Our founder and first pastor, Pastor Earl Abel, was the author of a book titled, “If A Church is to grow… Keys to Nurturing Church Growth in the 21st Century.” His book was published in September 1998. Dr. C.A.W. Clark, pastor of the Goodstreet Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas and former revival evangelist at Palestine, wrote the foreword.
We thank God for our founder and first Pastor, Reverend Earl Abel, who under the protective wings of God, led us until his homegoing on May 17, 2005. We continued to be blessed by the presence and sweet spirit of his wife, Sister Hazel Abel until her homegoing on September 24, 2007. We are grateful to God for the increase in our membership from 11 to over 3,000. WE HUMBLY SAY, “…. GOD GAVE THE INCREASE” I CORINTHIANS 3:6. We shall continue to be ambassadors for CHRIST, moved by FAITH, and be a beacon of light in the community and a temple that is pleasing in the sight of GOD.
Before serving as senior pastor at Palestine Missionary Baptist Church, Reverend Leonard P. Butler was the former pastor of the Genesis Baptist Church, where he served for five years. He returned to Palestine at the request of the Pastor Earl Abel in 1989 to be the assistant to the pastor. In January 1999 he became the Co-pastor of Palestine. On September 24, 2005, Co-Pastor, Leonard P. Butler was installed as Pastor of Palestine Missionary Baptist Church.
On December 9, 2007, the church witnessed the dedication of Prospect to Cleveland on 35th Street as"Honorary Earl Abel Way." On May 27, 2009, a post office in Kansas City, Missouri was renamed in honor of Reverend Earl Abel. Palestine Commons groundbreaking was May 17, 2010 and the grand opening was held September 19, 2011.
August 2016 was established as Palestine Missionary Baptist Church's first Mission Application Sunday.
On December 9, 2018, Pastor James D. Watkins, Sr. was installed as Pastor of Palestine Missionary Baptist Church where he continues to serve faithfully.