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First Baptist Church, Georgetown Celebrates 150th Anniversary

Special to Informer | , Valerie J. Thomas | 10/17/2012, 6:39 p.m.

On October 5, the First Baptist Church, Georgetown celebrated a century and a half of spiritual growth and renewal. The evening, at Fort Myer Officer's Club, was filled with many special memories. A visual/musical video was produced by Stacie Walker which illustrated the rich church history. The attendees enjoyed spiritual musical entertainment by pianist James Glover, the FBCG Hand Bell Choir under the direction of Deaconess Louella Bailey, and the Flowers Family Singers headed by Elder James N. Flowers.

The distinguished dais included: Rev. I. Bennie Singleton, past Interim Pastor, Trustee Lorraine Smith, Chairperson, Rev. C.J. and Mrs. Malloy, 10th FBCG Pastor, Deacon and Deaconess Frank and Louella Bailey, Trustee Sherry Smith, Rev. Dr. Gwendolyn E. Boyd, Ebenezer AME Church, Rev. and Mrs. Robert K. Pines and Rev. Dr. and Mrs. L.B. West, Mount Airy Baptist Church. A special acknowledgment from the D.C. Baptist Convention and the Baptist Historical Society was presented by Reverend Dr. Robert Cochran.

In 1856, the Reverend Sandy Alexander, a former slave, had a dream to start a Baptist Church in Georgetown. From the beginning Reverend Alexander faced many obstacles. For example, he initially found only two Baptists in the community. He persevered and soon was able to find many converts and build up a large congregation. The membership was greatly expanded by the arrival of a group from the Shiloh Church of Fredericksburg. Reverend Alexander also had to find a location, obtain funding and build a structure. On October 5, 1862, the First Baptist Church, Georgetown was officially founded.

Prior to the formal organization of the Church, Collins Williams, a licensed preacher from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and his wife Betsey donated a small piece of land at 29th and O Streets to be used for a church. The new congregation erected a small frame structure known as the "Ark" on the land. The building was soon found to be too small and a committee of brothers, Henry Lucas, William Wormley and William T. Brown selected the present site at 27th and Dumbarton Streets, N.W. Washington, D.C., for the new building.

The male members of the Church dug foundations at night while the women cooked hot suppers. The cornerstone for the Church was laid in 1882. The cost of the stone foundations was $800.00 which exhausted the building fund so that for a time the building stood incomplete. Finally, Rev. Alexander himself took over the responsibility of seeing that the building was completed by obtaining a mortgage loan.

When the trustees went to make their first payment on the note, the bank issued the receipt in the name of the First African Baptist Church. Trustee William T. Brown, refused to accept this receipt insisting that he represented the First Baptist Church. The receipt was torn up and another one, correctly worded, was written. Brother Brown had objected to the congregation being robbed of the honor of being the first church of the Baptist denomination in Georgetown.

To date there have only been twelve ministers at First Baptist Church, Georgetown: Rev. Sandy Alexander (37 years), Rev. James H. Hill, Rev. Edgar E. Ricks, Rev. J.R. Diggs, Rev. James L. Pinn, Rev. Marcellus N. Newsome, Rev. T. Ewell Hopkins, Rev. Fulton O. Bradley, Rev. Wellington D. Abrams, of Rev. C.J. Malloy, Jr., Rev. John Curtis McLean and, Rev. Robert K. Pines (2006 to the present).

Under the direction of these great leaders there has been significant growth and many accomplishments. In the December 21, 1986 edition of the Washington Post Magazine First Baptist was recognized as one of the oldest and most prominent Black Churches in the Washington, D.C. area.

With the faith of God and the perseverance of the congregation the church has survived with a strong foundation where blessings abound and fellowship continues to thrive today.

150 Years & Growing - "United to Serve in the Kingdom of God" 1Corinthians 12: 20-28