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Sun, 10.05.1862

The First Baptist Church of Georgetown is Founded

The First Baptist Church of Georgetown was founded on this date in 1862.

Preacher Collins Williams donated land at 29th and O streets, NW, to build a small church known as “The Ark.” Williams and his wife Betsey had led religious meetings in Georgetown in private residences.

Reverend Sandy Alexander, a former slave, had moved to Georgetown in 1856, intent on establishing a Baptist church. Alexander built up a large congregation with arrivals of people from the Shiloh Church of Fredericksburg, VA.

The building was soon too small, and a committee of Brothers Henry Lucas, William Wormley, and William T. Brown selected the present site at 27th and Dumbarton Streets for the new building. The cornerstone for the church was laid in 1882. The male members of the church dug foundations at night while the women cooked hot suppers. When the trustees went to make their first payment on the note, the receipt was made out to 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.

The Reverend Alexander served as pastor for 37 years. Two of the largest church clubs existed during Alexander's pastorate, which consisted of nearly the entire membership, namely the Sisters and Brothers, Friends of Benevolence, and the Union Moonlight Club. In 1902, Reverend Alexander died, and his assistant, Rev. James Hill, became pastor.

In December 1986, First Baptist was recognized in the Washington Post Magazine as one of the oldest and most prominent Black Churches in the Washington, D. C. area. The church sanctuary and lower auditorium, which included the kitchen and bathrooms, were modernized, and central air conditioning installed.

Reverend Abrams retired in 1988 and was named Pastor Emeritus. Reverend James E. Terrell served as interim Reverend C.J. Malloy, Jr., as its 10th pastor. Since the pastorate of Rev. Malloy began, the church has purchased the attached building, naming it the Abrams Annex. Some other additions during this time have been the establishment of an Investment Committee, a Handbell Choir and Dance Ministry, a Church Newsletter, and participation in the SHARE Food Bank program. After serving the church for eleven years, Reverend Malloy retired on December 31, 2001.

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