First Missionary Baptist Church
6430 Jefferson Pike
Frederick, MD 21703
First Missionary Baptist Church has an unique history. This uniqueness has much to do with the fact that in 1634 the first African slaves arrived in Maryland to work on plantations. Maryland was considered a divided state on the issue of slavery. Some Marylanders adopted a sort of humanitarian policy and felt a need to convert all slaves to Christianity. Because of the unwritten law, that a Christian could not be held a slave, the exploiting class opposed any such conversion; for, should the slaves be liberated upon converted, their plans for colony development would fail for lack of a labor force. In 1660 African slavery was legalized in Maryland. However, Maryland would prove the saying that it was a war of brother against brother, and neighbor against neighbor. The eastern part of Maryland was pro confederate while the western part of the state was pro Union. Frederick a city in west-central Maryland suffered “the crucifixion of the soul.” It is said that Maryland’s heart was with confederacy and her body bound and shackled to the Union. An invisible line based on slavery separated many communities in the state of Maryland. By 1755 the slave population increased significantly and about one third of Maryland’s population was derived from African slaves.
In war and in peace, the church has played an important part in the building of the community. In the slavery community, the church assumed even greater importance in the life of the slave. The church functioned as a school, a social-service agency, a recreational facility, a meeting place, and a religious institution. The early church would also become the source of hope and dreams for the slave.
When we study church history, we become more and more aware of the power of God and what He has promised his believers. When we tell the stories of what God has done and is doing at First Missionary Baptist Church we give honor to Him. The Psalmist has said, Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them. A written history of the church is necessary so that others can study the work that God has accomplished among His people. As the congregation grows and develops, they will delight in the church’s accomplishments, and in turn they will tell others about the outstanding works done by God’s people.
The Years in the Beginning
1773 to 1875
Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. Proverbs 29:18 (KJ)
In the beginning, First Missionary Baptist Church was called The Baptist Church. The original church was built in 1773 as an all-white church. It was built on the site at 141 West All Saints Street in Frederick Maryland. The land was leased from John Gibhart. On October 5, 1791, Mr. Gibhart deeded the land to the church. At the time of the erection The Baptist Church was surrounded by woods. A central site was located and a space was cleared to build the church. Market Street was mainly marsh land and located ten feet below its present level. The Baptist Church was erected on an elevation of about 18 feet above Market Street or the Old Plank Road. The Baptist Church had a distinctive structure. It was formed from Frederick County own quarry limestone. The removed wood from the site was used to create a six foot paling fence that enclosed the entire church. The fence was later removed but it was built as a necessary form of protection. The inside of the church was four straight walls with a gallery across the front. The gallery housed the pastor, choir, and was later used as a source of overflow seating when needed for worshippers. The entrance was straight and came in from the street. The roof was four square rafter combed. A chandelier in circular form held candle dips was suspended from the center underside roof. The chandelier was later replaced with eight oil lamps. Bracket lamps were posted on both sides of the pulpit and were used to illuminate the back section of church. It was a simple structure that served the people for many years.
In the early years, the people were mostly farmers. They planted such crops as tobacco, corn, and cotton. Some farmers raised and sold turkeys and cattle. The members walked, traveled on horse back, or came by horse driven buggies to worship. In the years between 1773 and 1869 the pastors were:
- Reverend Absalom Bainbridge
- Reverend William Parkinson
- Reverend William Gilmore
- Reverend John Welsh
- Reverend Plummer Waters
- Reverend Joseph H. Jones
The passing of years brings about countless changes in Maryland, and in time many slaves resided in Frederick County. The slaves do not have any designated location of worship. They worshiped in scattered locations throughout Frederick County. Some slaves came together and worshiped in selected families member homes. Despite some integration in the churches, the vast majority of slaves worshiped by themselves. After the American Civil War also known as the War Between the States (1861-1865) the integration of slaves in the churches slowly increased. The Civil War ended on January 31, 1865 abolishing slavery in Maryland.
It is not recorded what year the slaves and Whites started worshiping together at the Baptist Church but, it is recorded that in 1861 the Baptist Church began holding two separated worshiping services, one for the White people and one for the slaves. The White’s worshiping service was mostly likely held in the morning and the slave’s worshiping service was probably held at a later hour in the evening. For 8 years (1861- 1869) the Reverend Jones held two separated churches at one location and at a time when the Colored people were only a few years out of slavery. On paper the slaves were free but in reality not much had changed.
In 1869 the White members left the Baptist Church and started worshiping in a new location. Rev. Jones continued to serve the Colored church until 1875 until he called Reverends W. B. Johnson and J Warren Roan to serve the Colored people. The Reverend J. Warren Roan was voted the first Colored pastor to replace Rev. Jones at the Baptist Church on All Saints Street. The First Colored Baptist Church was officially organized on June 13, 1875 by a small group of Colored people at 141 West All Saints Street. He had about thirty members. He served the people at the Colored Baptist Church until 1879. The church then called Reverend W.B. Johnson who ministered to the people until 1881. Reverend W. R. Burrill was called and he was the pastor until December 1883. On October 4, 1883, the Colored Baptist Church was incorporated and deeded as a gift from the survivors of the former all White church. At the time of its incorporation the church had a membership of 40 members. The church continued to grow. There was a Sunday school in operation for more than 90 children every Sunday morning. They met in an old meeting house that had been built by a white Baptist church group of Frederick.
Other ministers serving the First Colored Baptist Church were:
- Reverend William Fields was pastor from 1883 to 1891.
- Reverend Samuel Crockett served as pastor from 1891 to 1897.
- Reverend L. H. Jackson was called as the pastor from 1897 to 1902.
- Reverend James Boyd was the pastor from 1902 to 1903.
- Reverend J. W. Townes was called as pastor in 1903 and served until 1937.
- Reverend H.L. McLendon was called after the death of Reverend Townes. He served from 1937 to 1938.
These noted men and church members won great respect during the days when the church was young. They did much to help the church grow spiritually, and to focus the members’ attention on their abilities and what they can accomplish when All people are given a chance to get an education and to use it.
Visions are Conceived
In the last days, God says, I will pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Act 2:17 (NIV)
Visions are conceived. Hope and dreams are conceived. The young men have visions the old men dream dreams. During the next 60 plus years, the period between 1875 and 1938 the First Colored Baptist Church of Frederick County continued to undergo many growing pains. The word Colored was dropped from the church’s name. The community started referring to the church as the First Baptist Church on All Saints Street. Many changes took place in the world. These changes affected the people and impacted the church. The deacon board increased, new ministries, and organizational were formed to support the growing church congregation.
Visions are Believed
1938 to 2001
For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
The period of history from 1938 to 2001 can best be described as the Journeys for Change. African Americans had always faced tremendous obstacles to life. These included discrimination and injustice in voting, employment, and housing. Two major acts were signed into law during this period. The Voting Right Act (1965) and the Civil Rights Act (1968) brought about changes that would directly impact the community and the First Baptist Church.
The First Baptist Church undergoes another name change during this period. The word Missionary was added. It is not recorded when but there is church documentation using the name First Missionary Baptist Church in 1944. However the name change was not incorporated until the fall of 1960 by a small group of church members. First Missionary Baptist was a true neighborhood church. West All Saints Street was the center of the African American community in Frederick. The street had a number of shops that catered to the Blacks in the era of segregation. All Saints Street became a focal point with both arranged and unarranged celebrations on summer weekends. African American traveled from all over the county came to All Saints Street to conduct business and enjoy the many celebrations. The people of all ethnic backgrounds enjoy living and celebrating on All Saints Street.
The Voting Right Act (1965) outlawed the discriminatory voting practices adopted in many southern states after the Civil War. As a result, African Americans became registered voters and the political power both locally and nationally begin to shift. The Civil Rights Act (1968) makes discrimination in employment, housing and the judicial process illegal. During the Civil Right Movement period the character of All Saints Street changed. As a result of these two acts, the Black consumers traveled outside their community to patronize the establishments where they were not welcome and had once been blocked from entering. The Black community-based businesses closed their doors. First Missionary Baptist along with other churches in the community became stronger locations of hope and inspiration.
Our church knows and believes in God’s Words through the Worship and Praise that we give Him. We listen to his word and we have a desire to learn more about Him. It is because of faith and dedications that we are blessed by Him. We seek change in an injustice world where men were not judged by the content of their minds but by the color of their skin. Change was in the hearts of the various pastors who have served at First Missionary Baptist Church from 1938-2001. We owe much of our success to those pastors who led us in prayer and effort through these many journeys.
The various pastors during this period were:
Rev. James W. Porter, a local leader served from 1938 to 1939. In 1939 Rev. James W. Davis Sr. came and served until 1943. From 1943 to 1944 Rev. James W Porter was called upon again to serve until his death in 1944. Some of the organizations and units established at this time were: the Emergency Club, the Willing Workers Club, the Men’s Club, Missionary Society, the Deacon Board and the Trustees. From 1944 to 1949 Rev. A.B. Fisher came to serve and the church undergoes its first major renovation. During Rev. Fisher’s pastorate the interior of the church was renovated. In 1949 to 1956 Rev. Thomas J Houston served as pastor. Rev. Houston was a very dynamic speaker and had a strong desire to have a larger and more modern edifice in which to worship. He initiated a financial drive in the early 1950’s and had the church enlarged and remodeled. The church membership grew, many former members returned, as well as new members joining. In 1956 the Rev. Augustus T. Gaskins, was called by the church and he served until 1960. Following him the Rev. Howard R. Queen served from 1960 to1962. The Rev. Ernest T. Houston was called in 1962 and he served until 1965. The Rev. Thomas J. Andrews was called by the church in 1965. He served for 10 years until 1975. Membership increased and many great accomplishments were achieved. Some of these included remodeling of the kitchen and parsonage. After serving for 10 years, the Rev. Thomas J. Andrews resigned and moved to Texas.
Various visiting pastors were assigned to the church between 1975 and 1979. In 1979 Rev. Wallace L. Poole assumed the pastorate. Rev Poole served until 1987 when he died unexpectedly while on vacation.
Visions are Received
And the LORD answered me, and said, write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. Habakkuk 2:2 KJ
Ephesians 3:20 says, God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond all we can imagine.” When you obey God’s word you live a life that honors God. At First Missionary Baptist we are expecting far and beyond favor from Him. The tide of the battle is turning and the wind is shifting. God is doing amazing and wonderful things at our church. Our future is blessed in His name.
First Missionary Baptist Church has been under the pastorate direction of Rev. William H. Graham for almost 25 years. He was elected as interim pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church on April 6, 1987. He was ordained on June 7, 1987. First Missionary Baptist Church held services on October 25, 1987, in which Rev. Graham was installed as pastor. Since his appointment Rev. Graham has been a time-honored and faithful pastor. He has proven to be a visionary leader of the church and community. Under Rev. Graham’s leadership the church membership at the site on All Saints Street increased substantially. In 1990 the church undergoes its third major renovation. The original structure has been totally updated. By 1997 membership exceeded 300. At this point it was necessary to once again hold two worshipping services. For several years, both an 8am and an 11am worshipping services became an established routine at All Saints Street. Many more changes and ideas were realized and the church continued to grow both spiritually and financially. A major building fund was initiated and land was purchased at a new location.
On October 21, 2001, the realization of a long-sought vision was achieved when the Rev. William Graham along with over 500 members and friends drove in a procession from the 228-year-old limestone building at 141 West All Saints to the new $2.5 million building at 6430 Jefferson Pike (old address 899 Swallowtail Drive), Frederick , Maryland. We have been at this location for over 10 years. First Missionary Baptist has a history that includes over 237 years of hope, faith, and dedication. Under Rev. Graham’s leadership the congregation is making great spiritual strides in its work for the Lord.
Many ministries have been established. Today, there are over 25 active ministries and organizations that serve the congregation and the community.
Ministries Concept Overview
There are four primary ministries in the church, all led and guided by Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. A brief overview of the church organizational structure:
- The Pastor is the under shepherd in the church, himself being led by The Shepherd, Jesus Christ and the Word of God. We have only one pastor. Under his direct leadership, there are the church officers (Deacons and Trustees) and Assistant Ministers. In addition to these, the Pastor also directs the work of the Missionary and Finance Ministries due to the nature of their work. Under the Pastor, there are three other groups of ministries – Education, Praise, Service
- The Board of Christian Education has the primary responsibility of facilitating and coordinating all education ministries in the church. These are listed on your org. chart. Leading this board is an executive board consisting of the Pastor, president, vice president and secretary.
- Praise Ministries have the primary responsibility of facilitating and coordinating all praise ministries. These are listed on your org. chart. Leading these ministries is a coordinator who regularly attends and meets with these ministries. This person reports directly to the Pastor in facilitating the work of these ministries.
- Service Ministries have the primary responsibility of facilitating and coordinating all service ministries. These are listed on your org. chart. Leading these ministries is a coordinator who regularly attends and meets with these ministries. This person reports directly to the Pastor in facilitating the work of The membership is growing, many former members are returning, and new members are joining.
Ground broke for an additional to the church in January of this year (2010). The add-on will include an increased in size all-purpose/fellowship-hall, additional classrooms in the basement and at ground level and more storage space.
The Rev. Ronnie Henry was appointed Assistant Pastor in 2011, and resigned in 2014.
Visions are still being realized.
The Legacy Continues
“Vision without action is merely a dream.
Action without vision just passes the time.
Vision with action can change the world.”
Joel Arthur Baker
As people of faith we have unlimited vision and our sight extends above and beyond. God is able to deposit visions within us not yet conceived by us. Our faith guides us to see what God sees in us. When we release our faith, we speak victory over our life. In faith, God opens our minds for conceiving positives thinking. Our faith gives us the will to believe we can do, and our hearts tell us that the promises God has in stored for us are ours. There is a correlation between what we think, believe, and what we receive from God. Hence, we must articulate God’s favor in our life to see the visions before they come to reality. The bible refers to the word vision many times. One of the most memorable verses comes from Proverbs 29:18: Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he. (KJ)
At First Missionary Baptist Church our mission is to become the church where everybody is somebody and nobody is without hopes and dreams. We are people with visions. We have direction and we are blessed. The glory of God is upon His people.
First Missionary Baptist Church has had a spiritual rich and thriving history thanks to the leadership and support of it members and friends that have endured since its:
- origin in 1773 as The Baptist Church
- organized as the First Colored Baptist Church of Frederick Maryland on June 13, 1875
- incorporated as The Baptist Church in 1883
- re-incorporated as First Missionary Baptist Church in1960
- relocated from 141 West All Saints Street to 6430 Jefferson Pike (899 Swallowtail Drive) on October 21, 2001
We owe much of our success, progress and growth to our forefathers who led us in prayer, determination, and effort. All are welcome at our sanctuary (FMBC). Our mission is to continue the Legacy established at the First Colored Baptist Church when FMBC was a simple structure surrounded by woods and formed from Frederick County own quarry limestone.
Where will Our Church be in 50 years?
How will our church impact the Frederick community over the next 100 years?
What opportunities will there be for our children in the future?
How has the historical election of our first black president redefine what it means to be black in America today?
As we move forward and try to reconcile the past with the future, our church, looks forward, to serving you and helping you answer these questions. For you see, First Missionary Baptist is “A God Centered Church, Serving With Joy, and Striving for Oneness” it is the church where everyone is somebody and everybody has hopes and dreams.