WASHINGTON – It was a birthday celebration at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church in Northwest D.C. Sunday morning.
Not for anyone in the congregation, but for the church’s 100th anniversary.
The church began in July 1912, when 23 members of The Vermont Avenue Baptist Church ended their memberships to start their own place of worship.
The leaders bought out the space where the Gurley Memorial Presbyterian Church stood, and held their first service on the fourth Sunday in December 1912.
Viola Bowen is the matriarch of five generations, all of whom have been members of the church.
“Little did I know when I joined this branch of zion as a young woman in 1945 that I would be a part of a congregation that would continue to build a church, community, and family that would see me through 67 years of worship,” says Bowen, who’s worshiped under three of the church’s four pastors in its history.
Her granddaughter Kori McCoy, the latest in the Bowman family lineage to worship at FABC, has started a new legacy.
“I’m proud to say that in the 11 years that I have been attending Florida Avenue Baptist Church, I have only known one (pastor),” Kori McCoy says.
The Reverend Dr. Earl D. Trent Jr. has presided as pastor of the church since March 1995.
He hails stewardship, education, and social justice among the focuses of his ministry.
High-profile Reverend Dr. Jeremiah Wright served as the guest preacher Sunday.
Wright has had a long-standing relationship with the church. He also served as a guest speaker at FABC in 1997.
Wright has kept a low profile since becoming the focus of a firestorm about race during the 2008 presidential campaign. In 36 years as senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Ill., Wright’s church adopted the motto of being “unashamedly Black, and unapologetically Christian.”
During Sunday’s service, Wright spoke for 53 minutes.
“This season of celebration, centennial celebration is a time to remember,” Wright says.
The message of Sunday’s service was “Celebrating the Foundation of our Future.”