Saturday, September 15, 9 - 11am, at NSBC | Led by Pastors Julie Pennington-Russell and Darryl Roberts
A Shared History
Thomas Jefferson was President when, in March of 1802, six laypersons and four ministers established the First Baptist Church of Washington City. From its earliest days, First Baptist Church included African American members both slave and free. By 1810, black members comprised twenty-nine percent of the congregation and by 1822, forty percent. In 1839 First Baptist Church decided to leave their location at the corner of Nineteenth and Eye Streets, NW, and move closer to the city’s center, subsequently purchasing property north of E Street along Tenth Street. First Baptist continued to meet for a while in its two locations while preparing to transfer the property to the mostly black congregation remaining at Nineteenth Street.
Relationships between the two congregations became strained, in part because of arguments over the transfer of the property (which took more than 30 years) but also likely because of the painful realities of racial injustice. Even so, our two congregations worked together during and after the Civil War, with support from the Freedman’s Bureau, to offer health care, shelter and education to the more than ten thousand freed and fugitive slaves living in camps throughout Washington City.
Nearly 80 years later, in the early 1940s, Dr. Walter H. Brooks, esteemed pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church, preached in worship at First Baptist Church at the invitation of First Baptist’s pastor, Dr. Edward Pruden.
It has been more than 200 years since our shared history began. Today, in a season in our nation’s life when racial tensions are once again flaring, the pastors of FBC and NSBC, Pastor Julie and Rev. Dr. Darryl Roberts, along with Hannah McMahan from the New Baptist Covenant, have begun meeting for the purpose of knowing each other and talking about how our congregations might shine a light together in Washington. These conversations led to our churches meeting on August 12 at the MLK Memorial for a prayer walk and communion.
A New Chapter
If you sense God’s Spirit leading you to help plant fresh seeds of understanding, love and shared mission between our two churches, join us on Saturday, September 15, from 9-11am for a light breakfast and conversation at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church (located at 4606 16th Street, NW,) led by Pastor Julie and Pastor Darryl. Please RSVP by September 12 to Zena Aldridge at firstname.lastname@example.org.