Thirty-nine members comprised the council that organized the Affinity Missionary Baptist Church on December 25, 1966. They called the Reverend James Edward McJunkin, Sr., as pastor, and held their first worship service at the home of Willie and Barbara Youngblood, 4180 East 178th Street, Cleveland, Ohio, where sixty people joined.
Affinity’s second worship service was held on January 1, 1967, at the Broadway YMCA, East 113th Street and Miles Avenue, where twenty more people united with the church. Subsequent services were held at the Southeast YMCA on Northfield Road in Bedford Heights, Ohio until Sunday, January 19, 1969, where services were held in the renovated property purchased at 4411 East 175th Street on December 3, 1968.
In April 1973, ground was broken for the first sanctuary, and the congregation worshipped at St. Henry’s on Harvard Avenue until the sanctuary was completed on September 2, 1973.
In August of 1975, the Church organized the Jim McJunkin Missionary Society. To this day, the mission of the society remains to promote the gospel within the Church, to spread the gospel outside the Church, and to minister to those in need.
In 1979, under the direction of Brother Paul Banks and Pastor McJunkin, the Church began a Four-Year Systematic Bible Study Program. The Bible Study has graduated 223 persons, and continues to have a very excellent enrollment, which includes 12 classes. The church had now acquired six acres of land, the sanctuary and two houses. Affinity also became members of the American Baptist Convention.
Using Pastor McJunkin’s senior paper from Ashland Theological Seminary, we began a project—Liberating the Laity—where each member identified their ministry and spiritual gifts. This project was conducted in conjunction with the Fairview Community Church, in 1990. We have continued our joint worship service with Fairview to this day.
In 1994, blessed with continued growth, the church became aware of the need to expand the present facilities and initiated a Building Fund Campaign. An additional 1.5 acres of land was purchased east of the existing property. Groundbreaking ceremonies for the new facility were held Easter Sunday, 1996, and construction of the new building began in October of that year.
On Sunday, May 4, 1997, Reverend James E. McJunkin, Sr., was called from labor to reward. In the midst of a building project, the church body lost their first and, at the time, only pastor. Pastor McJunkin served the Affinity Family faithfully for 31 years, leading Affinity from a gathering of persons meeting in a private home to a congregation of over 500 persons in 1997, the congregation elected Reverend Wesley Toles as Acting Pastor. On January 25, 1998, the cornerstone of the new edifice was laid and the new structure was dedicated on February 15 of that year.
On October 27, 1998, the Church Body extended a call to Reverend Ronald E. Maxwell to serve as pastor. Pastor Maxwell accepted the call and preached his first sermon on December 31, 1999, during Watch Night Service. He was installed as the Pastor of Affinity on Sunday, April 18, 1999.
Under Pastor Maxwell’s leadership, the old sanctuary and Horton Hall were renovated. We currently have four classrooms and a Junior Church Sanctuary on the upper level, and an expanded fellowship hall on the lower level.
Pastor Maxwell has worked hard to help continue the vision that we started with our founding pastor. He has done this through Stewardship Emphasis Training, Officers Training Sessions and Small Group Ministries. Through his leadership, our worship services have been expanded to include service for our teens and young children. Our membership has grown to over 900.
Through missions, in 2002, Pastor Maxwell traveled to the Kinama Baptist Church in Burundi, Africa. After traveling to Burundi, Pastor Maxwell worked to further develop not only our relationship with this Church, but to work to get the other 36 churches in CBA to have a one-on-one relationship with the 36 churches in Burundi. Through his vision, we have evolved our community to a global level. Over the past four years, we have joined with the Kinama Baptist Church in a Sister Church Relationship. A total of two teams have gone to Burundi. The current teams left on October 12, 2006 while our pastor was in Guiana, South America, where he was part of a group of pastors within the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention.
These highlights of the past forty years only serve to show that Affinity has been blessed by God. As we go forward toward the next forty years, let us remember what our mission statement says: We are the body of Christ, called to proclaim the Good News that Jesus is the Christ – loving God through Worship, Fellowship, and Stewardship, sharing God’s love through Discipleship, Ministry and Missions.