McGregor Baptist Church opened its doors in 1958 as Southside Baptist Chapel “in the boonies” just outside the city limits of Fort Myers on McGregor Boulevard. Originally an independent mission church pastored by evangelist Dan Perkins, 51 individuals attended the first Sunday service on June 23, 1958. This first service was held in an old two-story farmhouse, the sales office for a subdivision known as McGregor Groves. Following approval by the Royal Palm Baptist Association of a petition for recognition as a Southern Baptist Church, Southside officially became McGregor Baptist Church on July 7, 1958 with 55 faithful charter members.
A rich legacy of godly men have led McGregor Baptist Church through significant growth. Rev. J.R. Walker became pastor in July 1959, and a sanctuary for 325 was built. In 1961, Rev. Robert Liner took over leadership and again, a new 450 seat worship center was built.
On Easter Sunday, 1968, Rev. James O. Holbrook began his ministry with McGregor. Under his leadership, the buildings on McGregor were enlarged three times to accommodate more classrooms and increase the capacity of the worship center to 750. After adding morning services and Sunday School sessions, the church property had reached its capacity, and a move was necessary. Plans were presented to move the church to its current location, referred to as the “swamp.” With skepticism on the part of some, approval was granted, and on December 18, 1983, under police escort, the move to Colonial Boulevard was made official. The first Sunday service was held in the new sanctuary that seats 3000.
Following Pastor Jim’s retirement in April 1998, a search committee set out to find the man that God would have to continue the leadership of this church through continued growth. On September 12, 1999, Dr. Richard Powell began his ministry at McGregor. Growth and expansion continued to be part of the McGregor tradition, measured only by hearts changed by its ministries and the cross of Jesus Christ. On April 12, 2015, Dr. Powell resigned as Senior Pastor and began a new chapter in his life and ministry. It was also a new chapter for McGregor Baptist Church.
On April 19, 2015, our Chairman of the Deacons along with our Personnel Committee Chairman shared an important update with the church family. The lay leaders of McGregor affirmed that Executive Pastor at that time, Russell Howard, would temporarily fill the leadership position of Senior Pastor for the foreseeable future. In the months that followed, our church body would come together for scheduled Transition Update meetings on Sunday evenings.
As we entered 2016 and while in the midst of our continued transition, the Deacon Body recommended a review of our church constitution, and a subsequent Constitution Committee was formed to make recommendations of changes. After months and months of prayer and deliberate work, our church body adopted a newly amended constitution at a Member Meeting on August 14, 2016. Our new constitution ushered in a new governing structure from a single Senior Pastor-led church to an Elder-led Congregationalism church. With prayer and consideration, an initial slate of Elders was presented to the church body in October of that same year. In a historic step on November 6, 2016, the congregation of McGregor Baptist Church casted votes to affirm Elders to lead and shepherd our church.
On January 1, 2017 our newly adopted constitution went into effect. Just a few weeks later at our January 15 Member Meeting, our initial Elder Body was ordained. At the February 12, 2017 Member Meeting the Elder Body presented their unanimous recommendation for Russell Howard to be considered by the congregation for the Lead Pastor position. On February 26, the church body cast ballots to affirm and install Russell Howard as our Lead Pastor.