After a century of separatism; four historic churches emerged in the SBC
Jan 28, 2003
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (FBW)-Today, there are about 4,000 African
American congregations in the Southern Baptist Convention,
according to Sid Smith, the director of the African American
Ministries Division at the Florida Baptist Convention.
In all, perhaps 1.1 million people of African descent call
themselves Southern Baptist, but it has only been in the past
several decades that Kingdom growth has caught up after nearly a
century of separatism in the SBC. When the Southern Baptist
Convention was organized in 1845, about one-third of the members
were of African heritage, said Smith. But by 1900 most Black
Southern Baptists had found alternative membership in Black
Baptist bodies. Few churches were integrated between 1865 and
1965. The first four African American congregations to join the
Southern Baptist Convention after nearly a century of separatism
- Greater Friendship Baptist Church, Anchorage, Alaska-Leon
D. May was called in 1997 as the 11th pastor of Greater
Friendship which voted to affiliate with Southern
Baptists in 1951. About 150 people attend Sunday morning
worship. May was elected president of the Alaska Baptist
Convention during its annual meeting in August.
- Community Baptist Church, Santa Rosa, Calif.-They joined
the SBC in 1951. James Coffee has been pastor for 43
years. Approximately 400 people attend Sunday morning
- 19th Street Baptist Church, Austin, Texas-Harold Branch
led the church to the SBC in 1954. He later led St. John
Baptist Church in Corpus Christi to join with the SBC.
Before his 1988 retirement, Branch was vice president of
the Baptist General Convention of Texas and a member of
the SBC's Foreign Mission Board [now the IMB]. 19th St.
Baptist continues as a part of the National Baptist
Convention with about 200 people.
- Ebenezer Third Baptist Church, Austin, Texas was the
third Baptist church started there. The first was First
Baptist; it started First Baptist Church-Colored. A split
perhaps 130 years ago over a piano - resulted in Ebenezer
Baptist Church. Robert Rowe led the congregation in 1954
to affiliate with the SBC. Marvin C. Griffin has been
pastor at Ebenezer Third Austin since 1969. About 350
people attend worship. The church's economic development
center for faith-based ministry has about $1 million in
For related coverage, see Blacks in the SBC Archive
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