First Baptist Church Minnesota Ave

Church History

On October 19, 1873, Reverend Moses Wilson, Sister Julia Taylor and Brother John Ward met in Sister Taylor’s home. They discussed what was then just a dream in the hearts and minds of these newly freed slaves. The dream was to organize a church where they could practice freedom of religion. At the close of that meeting the dream had become a reality and the First Baptist Church of Rosslyn, Virginia had been founded.

On February 15, 1874, Reverend Wilson was elected as the first pastor of the newly organized church. He served as its Under Shepherd until his passing on January 27, 1883. Under Reverend Wilson’s leadership, Brother Thomas Ford organized the Sunday School in April of 1877.

From 1882 to 1921 the following pastors served First Baptist Church: Reverend J.W. Gaines, Reverend Guy Berkley, Reverend George Cole, Reverend Theodore Williams, Reverend Robert Goff, Reverend Richard Holmes, and Reverend William A. Carter.

In 1920, Reverend Augustus Lewis was called as Pastor and served until 1929. During Reverend Lewis’ pastorate, he established the first building fund and purchased a building site.

In 1921, First Baptist Church called Reverend J. D. Catlett who served for 17 years. During his pastorate, construction of the church was completed and the mortgage burned.

The Church called Reverend Henry Houston as Pastor in 1942 and he served for 13 years. Building improvements were made and new programs were initiated during his pastorate.

In January 1962, First Baptist called Reverend Carl M. Patterson as Pastor. Pastor Patterson soon began to notice a change in the landscape of the area around the church. Rosslyn was changing to become a high-rise business district and was no longer a suitable location for the church. After much prayer and meditation, Pastor Patterson led the congregation to relocate to its present site on Minnesota Avenue in Southeast Washington, DC in November 1965.

The Church paid off the indebtedness of $225,000 and the mortgage burned in 1978. Accomplishments during Reverend Patterson’s 30 year tenure include remodeling of the main sanctuary, the purchase of two apartment buildings, and the establishment of many new church ministries and programs. Reverend Patterson retired in June 1992 and was called from labor to reward September 10, 1992.

From July 1992 to October 1992, Reverend John L. Young who served as Associate Minister to Reverend Patterson, fulfilled the position of Pulpit Supply Minister.

On November 1, 1992, the Church selected Reverend H. Wesley Wiley to serve as Interim Pastor. Reverend Wiley served faithfully and with distinction until June 1994. He provided comfort, spiritual healing and bonding during our time of transition. His kind and concerned mannerism and leadership proved a great source of blessing and spiritual strength to the congregation during the time of pastoral searching.

On Friday, May 13, 1994, Reverend Eldridge Spearman was elected to serve as Pastor of First Baptist Church and began his pastorate on July 1, 1994. Pastor Spearman’s pastorate was one of enthusiasm, motivation, inspiration, spirituality and growth. He served First Baptist consistent with Peter’s exhortation to the elders of the church, “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being an example to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2-3)

Our service to the community shows unparalleled growth under his leadership and propelled this church to become an “open-door – seven-day-a-week” service and support to its membership and community.

The accomplishments under Pastor Spearman’s leadership are many. He enhanced our bible study classes and training to include Spring and Fall Bible Institutes; initiated two (2) Sunday Worship Services; a Diaconate (male and female Deacons); revitalized the Youth Ministry. He ordained three ministers and unselfishly supported the training of all those called into the Gospel Ministry. For the first time in the history of First Baptist, we have an ordained female minister. Eleven men and women were ordained into the Diaconate Ministry.

First Baptist was the first church in Washington, DC, “East of the River” to host the one-day evening session of the Baptist Convention of DC and Vicinity. Another first, the President of the National Baptist Convention, USA Inc., the Reverend William J. Shaw, was the guest speaker for our 2001 Annual Joint Ministry Day.

Several new Outreach Ministries were initiated: RSVP (an anti-addictions ministry); Adopt-a-Neighbor project (Greenway Community), Adopt-a-School project (Kimball Elementary School); Education Outreach which includes computer training, tutoring, education recognition, college tours and an annual Job Fair/Career Day; a Summer Day Camp; an Evangelistic Team to include feeding the hungry, and an annual Tent Crusade; an Angel Tree Ministry partnered with Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia (providing Christmas gifts for children of incarcerated men and women); and began a Prisons Ministry.

Under Pastor Spearman’s leadership, the church’s Home Mission was reinvigorated through the SHARE Ministry, Clothes Closet and Food Pantry; since 1999, our Foreign Missions Ministry has sent up to four missionaries for two-weeks in Uganda and South Africa, to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and provide assistance to orphans and AIDS patients. We were the first black missionaries from America to visit the area of Lira. In addition, we hosted ministries from Denmark, Uganda and South Africa here at First Baptist.

Pastor Spearman led the Church into a renovation and remodeling program that greatly enhanced the beauty of the edifice in both the upper and lower levels. The church is now completely accessible to the disabled through the installation of a ramp, an elevator, and an accessible rest room on the main level.

A 5’10” grand piano, an electric keyboard and a fifteen-passenger van were purchased; full-time administrative and janitorial services were established.

Pastor Spearman’s vision for First Baptist was built on the pillars of SWEEP – Service, Worship, Education, Evangelism, and Pastoral Care.

On October 5, 2002, Pastor Spearman was chosen and called to pastor Mt. Jezreel Baptist Church in Silver Spring, Maryland. A Search Committee was selected as we prayerfully sought another leader to take us to our next level. The Church prayed for a Pastor who loves God, loves God’s Word, and is obedient to God’s Word – “. . .For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV).

On December 11, 2004 the prayers and petitions of both First Baptist and the Rev. Dr. Harold N. Brooks, Jr. were answered when First Baptist Church elected Reverend Brooks as Pastor. He accepted the call, and another chapter in the Church’s rich history began February 6, 2005. Rev. Brooks’ visions for First Baptist are capsulated in the five E’s:

* Education (establishing Biblically based curriculum for all ages),
* Emancipation (breaking the emotional, financial and spiritual bondages of the people),
* Empowerment (implementing programs to address the needs of the members and surrounding community),
* Enhancement (building upon the power and legacy of First Baptist by establishing higher levels of Christian greatness) and
* Evangelism (spreading the Gospel inside and outside the walls of the church).

As we serve God’s people, we acknowledge that without Him “we can do nothing.” Most assuredly God has looked upon us with much favor. We say with much gratitude . . .

“To God Be the Glory for All He Has Done.”

“God’s Way in God’s Time”

A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure. (Proverbs 16:9)