In 1943, the area where St. Paul Church now stands was known as Parkview. Douglas Fleming, a Duke Divinity School student, was assigned to make a religious survey of the area. As a result of the survey, permission was secured to use a vacant lot on the corner of Farthing and Lavender Streets as the site for open-air vespers services. On Sunday afternoon August 3, 1943, the first sermon was preached “under the trees” by the secretary of the Durham Methodist Society, Leon Couch.
On October 28, 1943, the Executive Committee of the Society requested at the Annual Conference that Reverend Douglas Fleming be appointed as student pastor of Parkview. As the cold weather came, the Lavender Street vespers services moved indoors and were held a various homes in the neighborhood. On Sunday, March 5, 1944, the group met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. C.O. Braswell on 2712 Roxboro Road. Under the leadership of the District Supervisor, Dr. F.S. Love, and the Reverend Douglas Fleming, the new church was officially organized. The name chosen was St. Paul Methodist Church. There were 23 charter members of this new church.
During the winter months, services were held in the nearby Bird Park Museum Building. A Lot was purchased at 2700 N. Roxboro Rd. In a short time, the Little Chapel was built on the northeast corner of the lot and first occupied on January 21, 1945. On August 11, 1948, ground was broken for a new sanctuary and Fellowship Hall. With very little money available, but a lot of help from members and friends as well as a loan from Security Life Insurance Company, the shell was completed. Ike Clark was the Building Committee Chairman.
In April 1956, a Building Fund Crusade was begun to clear the church of its $50,000 debt. During the service of Reverend W. D. Caviness, the church was no longer in Debt.
Due to rapid growth and the need for Sunday School rooms, ground was broken for the construction of an educational building adjoining the Sanctuary on March 8, 1960.
Under the leadership of Reverend W. A. Tew during 1966-1970, stained glass windows depicting the life of Christ were installed in the Sanctuary and Vestibule. A memorial stained glass rose window was also installed over the altar. By action of the Uniting Conference, all Methodist churches underwent a name change – St. Paul was now officially called St. Paul United Methodist Church.
During 1986-1989, two special gifts were given to the church by Mrs. Ruth Carver. The adjoining West property on Hammond Street and the Braswell property on Roxboro Road as well as two lots on Hugo Street became apart of St. Paul’s property. This gave St. Paul a complete block to Banner Street. With the closing of Banner Street, an additional 25 feet was added to the property.
A church, however, is not made up simply of bricks, pews, and an altar. The people who worship within the walls are the mainstay of the church community. Over the years, there have been numerous special events and projects and the formation of many programs and service groups that have enriched the lives of these people and have allowed St. Paul to grow spiritually. We truly have been blessed.
St. Paul has been served by the following ministers: Rev. Douglas Fleming; Rev. Leon Couch; Rev. B.B. Slaughter, Rev. W. K. Babington; Rev. W. D. Caviness; Rev. Christian WHite; Rev. John Poe; Rev. W. A. Tew; Rev. Billy Carden; Dr. Sam Dodson; Rev. William Talyor; Rev. Berry Barbour; Rev. Lawrence Lugar; Rev. Everett France; Rev. William C. Townsend, Jr.; Rev. Clinton Spence; Rev. Patrice Cheasty-Miller; Rev. Mark Dee Stephens along with co-pastor Rev. Steve Murphy, Rev. Kori Robins and Rev. Casey Mursten