Friendship Baptist Church, established in 1862 and independently organized in 1866, can lay claim to being Atlanta’s first Black Baptist autonomous congregation.
Commemorating 151 years on Sunday, April 28, members of the congregation will hold “Anniversary Sunday Celebration” at 10 a.m. in the sanctuary, located at 437 Mitchell Street, S.W., Atlanta, GA 30313. The guest speaker for the memorial service, themed “Moving Forward in the Spirit of Christian Unity,” will be the Rev. Dr. Charles G. Adams Sr., pastor of Hartford Memorial Baptist Church in Detroit, Mich. The combined choirs at Friendship, under the direction of Dr. Sharon J. Willis and Dr. James Abbington, will provide music for the day.
Known throughout Atlanta and beyond, Friendship Baptist Church is often referred to as the “mother church” among Baptists in Atlanta because of its role in harmoniously forming several other congregations throughout the city. These churches include: Mount Zion Second Baptist, Providence Missionary Baptist, Wheat Street Baptist, Paradise Baptist, Zion Hill Baptist, Antioch Baptist, Little Friendship Baptist, and Union Baptist Church.
This church and its foresighted membership has always been a part of Atlanta’s religious, educational, and political leadership.
In 1862, the congregation, being unable to buy property, worshipped in a boxcar, which was also the first classroom of Atlanta University. As the congregation grew and moved to a larger location, it was the site chosen for Morehouse College when it relocated from Augusta in 1879 and began classes in the basement of Friendship. Spelman College was also born in the basement of Friendship in 1881.
The former pastors of Friendship include the Rev. Frank Quarles (1862-1881); the Rev. Dr. Edward Randolph Carter (1882 – 1944); the Rev. Dr. Maynard Holbrook Jackson (1945 – 1953); the Rev. Dr. Samuel Woodrow Williams (1954 – 1970); the Rev. Dr. William Vincent Guy (1971 – 2007); and the Rev. Dr. Timothy Boddie (2008 – 2012). Friendship’s affiliations include the American Baptist Churches USA; the Progressive National Baptist Convention; the World Baptist Alliance; and their respective regional and local units. Ecumenically, Friendship Baptist Church is affiliated with the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, the National Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.
Friendship’s pastors have spearheaded an extensive housing ministry, including the E. R. Carter Old Folks Home (now demolished), the Samuel W. Williams/Friendship Center Apartments and the William V. Guy Tower High-rise for the Elderly and Handicapped.
Throughout its history, Friendship has contributed outstanding leaders including Mayor Maynard Jackson, son of a former pastor, who was a member of Friendship Baptist Church, and Dr. Samuel Williams, a former pastor, who was president of the Atlanta NAACP and who took the lead in integrating Atlanta’s transportation system.
For further information about the program activities, please contact the church at 404-688-0206.