The Early Years
The Carolina Missionary Baptist Church (CMBC) was organized on April 26, 1940 at the home of Carl and Julia Benjamin in Washington, D.C. Mr. John Benjamin was the initiator of starting a Baptist church. Thirteen former South Carolinians met and the following names were recorded as the CMBC founders:
|John and Rachel Benjamin||Bessie L. Osborne|
|Carl and Julia Benjamin||Queen Osborne|
|Isaac and Jessie Pollard||Robert and Asilee H. Lee|
|Thomas Williams||William and Ellaree H. Lee|
The second meeting was held on May 2, 1940 where several officers were elected, two committees, church worship and pastor, were formed. In discussing the church name, Isaac Pollard stated that the name contain their native state. Bessie Osborne also stated that the name contain their objective to be missionaries for God. Thus, they voted and agreed to name the church, “Carolina Missionary Baptist Church.”
After two subsequent meetings, the first worship service was held at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 19 at Bessie’s home, 428 H Street, NW. The second worship service was held on June 6 at 3rd & L Street, NW which became their place of worship for almost 2 years. The church organized the Senior Choir, Sunday School, Prayer Band, Missionary Society and Usher Board, and became a member of the Mt. Bethel Baptist Association. On June 26, 1940, the church elected Thomas M. Boykins as temporary pastor and the church was also recognized by the Washington Baptist Ministers’ Conference. There were 33 members on the church roster.
Reverend Boykins was also pastoring at the Greater Zion Baptist Church in Ashburn, Virginia and divided his time between CMBC and Greater Zion. In December 1940, the members desired a pastor to serve CMBC solely, and elected John W. Sligh, originally from Greenville, South Carolina, as pastor on February 16, 1941. That year, the Senior Choir became a member of the Washington Singing Convention. After Pastor Boykins left, James Lewis preached for the church until Pastor Sligh was elected.
The First Edifices
The church needed to move its worship site in January 1942 due to Government intervention. The Reverend Stephen Lampkins from the Kimble Baptist Church offered his church building to CMBC for worship and Carolina held services there from January through March 1942. In April, they began worshipping at 214 H Street, N.W; and on December 7, 1942, moved to 608 P Street, N.W. Carolina was blessed with tremendous growth in members and ministries during the next ten years which required a larger worship site. Deacon Henry Pogue informed the members of a vacant church building at 777 Morton Street, N.W. Ada Blue encouraged the church to consider purchasing this building, to which they agreed. Deacon Pogue, Deacon Johnnie Pringle, Sr., and Pastor Sligh made the purchase and the church moved there in January 1952.
Strong Pastoral Lineage
In the early 1960s, the Nurses’ Unit became affiliated with the Nurses First Aid Union of Nurses of Churches Organization. The Senior Ushers joined the Interdenominational Church Ushers Association. The church also became affiliated with the Progressive National Baptist Convention, where members attended as delegates and worked in the Registration area then and now. While the church was being remodeled in 1966, the temporary worship site from May through November that year was at the Odd Fellows Hall on 9th & S Streets, N.W., Washington, D.C.
Pastor Sligh’s tenure as pastor ended in March 1969 and John H. Butler, assistant pastor, served as acting pastor until February 1970. Pastor Sligh later organized the Exodus Missionary Baptist Church in D.C. The church elected Love J. James as pastor on February 24, 1970. He reorganized and established several ministries and the church began to flourish again with a new shepherd. Two significant highlights during this period were the fellowship with the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church of Sumter, South Carolina and paying off the church mortgage. With the help of the Women’s Auxiliary, $9,167.29 was raised towards this effort and the mortgage burning ceremony was held on December 5, 1976. Love James served as pastor until February 1977.
George C. Gilbert, Sr., originally from Gretna, Virginia and serving as a minister at the Central Baptist Church in D.C., was elected pastor on May 31, 1977. He developed the Board of Christian Education, training programs and reestablished the Baptist Training Union, and the church became affiliated with the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Baptist Convention. In December 1979, the church purchased eight lots on Sherman Avenue for $127,000, making the final payment in September 1981. After demolition of the houses on these lots, this area was used for parking. For many years, a banner hung in the sanctuary which read “Nothing Could Be Finer Than a Day in Carolina.” Pastor Gilbert served at Carolina until October 1985; he later founded the Holy Trinity Baptist Church in Washington, D.C.
H. Wesley Wiley, pastor emeritus of the Covenant Baptist Church, served as interim pastor from May 1986 through March 1987. Anthony E. Moore from Baltimore, Maryland was elected the fifth pastor of Carolina in March 1987. In line with his call to win others to Christ, he quickly embarked upon the mission to build lives as we build ministries and facilities.
To extend our borders, the church voted to put the church building on the market in 1991 to obtain a larger edifice or to build a new church. The search began for prospective churches or properties for sale in the DC Metropolitan area. Pastor Moore and the officers looked at several places of interest. Then in 1994, they looked at 18.34 acres of land at 9901 Allentown Road in Fort Washington, MD for sale at $375,000. After surveying this site, they declared this the ‘Promised Land.’ During this process of looking at vacant churches and properties, Pastor Moore laid before the ministry the 4-Phase vision that the Lord placed upon him for the Carolina Church: to build a sanctuary, cafeteria, youth center and housing for seniors and mothers who are HIV positive.
It is now December 1994. In order to purchase the Fort Washington property, the church had to raise $50,000. God’s divine favor and intervention again was there for us, in that, shortly thereafter, the banking officials stated the church was solvent enough to make the purchase without the $50,000 down payment!
In December 1998, the church entered into a contract with the Iglesia Ni Cristo Church of Christ who offered to purchase the church for $505,000. Pastor Moore and the Official Board accepted their offer and plans began for moving out within 90 days. Final services at the Morton Street location were held on Sunday, March 28, 1999 through Tuesday, March 30, 1999 for Stewardship, Missionary, and Outreach Emphasis Month.
Groundbreaking ceremonies on the Fort Washington property were held on Saturday, April 3, 1999. Special guests included representatives from Prince George’s (PG) County, the church’s construction team and pastors from Washington and Maryland. Five members participated in the official ceremony, each using golden shovels to turn the soil: Pastor Moore, Deacon Chairman Leroy Mack, Trustee Chairman Clarence J. Pringle, Daisy Robinson and Samuel Brown, Jr. Following the ceremony, the R.O.C.K.S. (Reshaping Our Community For Kingdom Services) Festival was held on the grounds. Along with the CMBC choir and dance ministry, other singers, choirs and dance ministries throughout the Washington metropolitan area ministered under the ‘big tent.’ The festival also included children’s activities, various vendors, and a food court. The following day, Sunday, April 4, services were held at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m., again under the big tent.
On Sunday, April 11, 1999, the church began holding services at 4590 Beech Road in Temple Hills, MD and the administrative office was located at 4518 Beech Road.
The Beech Road complex was CMBC’s worship site for about one year. In the August 2000 issue of The Gazette, Maryland’s community newspaper, its cover story was entitled, “Board approves plans for new 500-member church.” This article stated that the Prince George’s County Planning Board had approved the preliminary plans for the new Carolina Missionary Baptist Church facility on the west side of Allentown Road. Also, the article cited Pastor Moore’s vision for the site.
After leaving the Beech Road complex, the church worshipped at Suitland High School in Suitland, MD for three years. During this time, the administrative office moved to 4516 Beech Road. Also, building plans shifted to first erect a Family Life Center and after its completion, build the church sanctuary. In June 2003, the church began worshipping at Friendly High School in Fort Washington, located directly across the street from the church property on Allentown Road.
During the Family Life Center construction, the church surveyed the building progress at several points. A second groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 25, 2004 where members gathered to consecrate the ground and unveil the church’s Time Capsule. Persons from the construction team and officials from PG County were present. In keeping with the church motto, ‘Bible-based and Purpose Driven,” the church witnessed the laying of the original church bible in the center of the building’s foundation in the early fall of 2005. Pastor Moore and members also gathered there in November 2005 to pray for God’s direction and favor in its completion.
On March 5, 2006, church members wrote their favorite scriptures on the floors of the Center prior to carpet installation. With the church bible in the foundation and surrounded by written scriptures, those who enter the Center will literally ‘stand’ on the Word of God.
Impacting Our Community
Since our transition from Morton Street to Prince George’s County, over 900 persons have responded to the Call to Discipleship. We continued to have weekly Bible Studies, meeting for prayer, observe annual celebratory events, such as the church and pastor anniversaries, hold periodic leadership workshops, and the men and women’s ministries each conducted in-house and outside activities. The Youth Ministry began separate worship services from the adults in 2001 and established several supplemental youth programs. The church developed the Harambee Learning Center which encompasses a GED Program, Computer Lab, and future plans are for a day care and educational center. We saw the beginnings of the Spiritual Care Ministry which works closely with the pastor and pastoral care.
We also have sponsored a number of health fairs and AIDS testing for the members and community, shared Christ via witnessing in the Suitland, Maryland area, sponsored our first local conference, “Armorbearers Leadership Conference,” with noted author and lecturer, Bro. Terry Nance in March 2005 and follow-up conference with Bro. Nance, “Vision of the House” in March 2006. In addition, new ministries birthed since our coming to Friendly include: Children’s Church for infants and toddlers, (G.I.F.T.S.) Singles Ministry, Karars of Judah Dance Ministry, Share Food Program, and Seniors (Young at Heart).
The time of transition has been challenging in the midst of construction changes, acquiring of temporary and permanent building permits, and raising funds needed to meet various building and other expenses. Pastor Moore, the Official Board and the administrative staff have been instrumental in getting the church to our new facility. We cannot forget the CMBC members who have maintained their support and the many friends who supported and encouraged us along the way.
The future holds great expectations for us as we look to be a light in the church, community and beyond. We cannot forget to give God all the glory, honor and praise for allowing us the opportunity to build the Family Life Center and for His grace, His mercy, and His keeping power. We have come this far by faith.