The Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, now known as “Holy Ghost Headquarters” was organized on May 7, 1925 in Champaign, IL as a prayer band by Rev. R. H. Hayden after his departure from the Salem Baptist Church in Champaign. Rev. R. H. Hayden was the first Pastor. Tisdale Hall, 411 E. Grove Street, was the church’s first location, and the first day of worship was Christmas Day 1925.
Pilgrim’s first permanent site was purchased for seven hundred dollars ($700.00). Records indicate that the late Sis. Nellie Shawcraft and Mother Beulah Townsend were among Pilgrim’s first members.
Excavation for the next structure located at 609 North Ash Street, began October 10, 1930. The late Bro. Jack Butts participated in the actual labor of laying the bricks. On November 29, 1932 worship was conducted in the sanctuary.
Our next Pastor, Rev. C. Charity, spearheaded a very aggressive, involved spiritual program destined to advance the cause of Christ through this local body. The next Pastor, Rev. Fred Newbill, served until March 22, 1954.
In 1955, Rev. Robert Whitehead became the Pastor of Pilgrim. Under his leadership, renovation of the church building was completed and Pilgrim’s first parsonage was purchased. This was accomplished through the combined efforts of members such as Sis. Clara Stewart, Sis.Virginia Bomer, Bro. Lonnie Johnson, and Bro. Nathaniel Butts. Rev. Whitehead tendered his resignation in August, 1962.
Pilgrim’s progress continued under the leadership of Rev. A. G. Gregory, who started the next building fund. The fruitions of his efforts and the membership of Pilgrim came to pass under the leadership of Rev. W. B. Keaton, who became Pastor of Pilgrim in January 1969.
Under Rev. Keaton’s leadership the following organizations were added: the Pastor’s Ensemble, the Angelic and I.Y.C. Choirs, Junior Usher Board, Male Chorus, Nurse’s Aide, Pastor’s Aide, and a Broadcast Club. In addition, we were blessed to pay off and burn the mortgage of the parsonage located at 1407 Summit Ridge, Champaign, IL, purchase three 15-passenger vans, and add a ladies’ lounge.
In 1973, the church history recorded these words “that Pilgrim had reached its finest hour” with the completion of a new edifice located at 1310 North Sixth Street, Champaign, IL for a total construction cost of $125,000. But with the vision of some, the heartfelt “go ahead of others”, and the “we can’t do it” of still others, the church stepped out on the word of Him who died for us and prepared to retire the Mortgage on this structure. That truly was one of Pilgrim’s finest hours. In 1996, another expansion project began with new classrooms, men and women’s restrooms, and a new Pastor’s office. The new expansion was dedicated in the memory of Deacon Eddie “Pepper” Johnson, who was one of Pilgrim’s most dedicated deacons.
In January 1998, the clarion call was given to Rev. Willie Williams, Jr. to become our new leader. Under Rev. Williams’ leadership new membership classes were established along with Marriage, Divorce, and Single life ministries. In addition, Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts ministries were instituted. To encourage more male participation, active Brotherhood and Youth Layman ministries were developed. In 1999, the Deaconess and Deacon-in-Training ministries were developed. And, in 2000, two new vans were purchased and the parking lot was extended.
In January 2008, God blessed Pilgrim with one of his best, Rev. Rickey E. Parks. Pastor Parks is excited and passionate about teaching and preaching God’s Word. Since his time with us, we have increased with more knowledge and understanding of the precepts of God. Our souls have been renewed. During our first year together, the Laymen’s ministry and Praise Dancers have been reinstated. In February 2009, Pilgrim completed its first kitchen remodeling project in over 30 years.
Other new ministries established under Pastor Parks’ leadership include the Girl Scouts Troop, Getting Fit for Christ, “Close the Back Door”, Kingdom Builders, Children’s Church and Married Couples Ministry. Furthermore, we have launched a new website, Facebook page and our own newsletter, the Christian Current.
On October 12, 2012, a ground breaking ceremony was held for our new church. In February 2014, the new edifice was completed, which includes a 365 – seat sanctuary along with eight classrooms and new men and women restrooms. On February 15, 2014, was the ribbon cutting ceremony and we held our first service.
First Service and Dedication
To date, most importantly over 540 disciples have joined us under Pastor Parks’ leadership. We give God the praise for answered prayers. We pray that we continue to be a church devoted in brotherly love, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.