Upon this Rock I Will Build My Church and the Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail Against it.
Under the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Lord gave The Late Reverend Joseph W. King specific direction as to a time and place to start a church. The revelation was a vision of rocks in front of a church. This inspired Reverend King to name the church, “First Rock Baptist Church.” The first church was located at 4322 Chaplin Street, S.E., Washington, DC. Before the doors were opened, Reverend King did a door-to-door canvass of witnessing to persons living on Alabama Avenue and E Street, S.E. After two weeks of witnessing, Reverend King was inspired to call a meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 1957, in the home of Brother and Sister Edward Daniels. Those present were Brothers Harold Simms, R. Archer and David L. Howard, Sisters Hattie S. Daniels and Lula Manor, and Reverend King. At this meeting, Brother Howard was chosen to serve as Superintendent of the Sunday School, Sister Lula Manor, Treasurer, and Sister Hattie S. Daniels, Secretary. The first service of the church was held on Sunday, May 5, 1957. Brother Coachman became the first member to unite by Christian experience.
The church membership was organized into three tribes, Judah, Reuben and Benjamin. On February 27, 1958, Sister Frona Howard was elected Church Treasurer. She also served as the first usher. On March 23, 1958, the church became an organized body with Reverend Andrew Fowler, Pastor of Capital View Baptist Church, officiating. Six members who had obtained letters from their home churches became chartered members. They were Sisters Gwendolyn Keith, Hattie S. Daniels, Cordia Hollis and Frances Kennedy, and Masters Joseph W. King, Jr. and Jerome Keith. Reverend King was voted pastor and the name “First Rock Baptist Church” was retained. Sister Hattie S. Daniels became the first Church Clerk. The first trustees were appointed on August 29, 1958. They were Sisters Lillian Payne, Chairman, Frona D. Howard and Verline Berry, Deacon Joseph Boyce and Reverend King. First Rock Baptist Church was recognized as a regular Baptist church at a Recognition Council, held on June 27, 1959. Reverend Augustus Lewis served as Moderator of the Council which consisted of 18 delegates representing 16 Baptist churches. On November 8, 1959, the first deacons were ordained: Brothers Albert Burgess and Joseph Boyce, and four deaconesses were set apart: Sisters Emma McCleod, Edith Burgess, Annie Alston and Beatrice Boyce. Reverend Andrew Fowler officiated at that service. Reverend David L. Howard was licensed to preach the gospel on March 30, 1960 and Deacon Albert Burgess was voted Chairman of the Deacon Board.
In September 1959, the vision and dream of Reverend King began to materialize when the church purchased a lot in the 4300 block of “G” Street, S.E. for its new edifice. On March 18, 1962, the church held a Ground Breaking service for the new edifice, and on Sunday, March 24, 1963, the church marched triumphantly from 4322 Chaplin Street, S.E., into the new sanctuary.
Reverend King realized that in order to fulfill the plan that God had given him, he would need to erect a new and larger edifice that would service the entire Benning Heights and surrounding communities. As a result, on Sunday January 8, 1980 the church again marched triumphantly from 4373 G Street, S.E. to the present edifice located at 4630 Alabama Avenue, S.E. The church burned the mortgage of the new edifice on May 1, 1988.
On February 20, 1994, under the direction of Pastor King, the church voted to make Minister Richard C. Corbin, Sr. the Assistant Pastor. As the Lord would have it, on February 28, 1995, not a moment before fulfilling God’s purpose for his life — to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to be an organizer and builder, to be a faithful servant and steward of God — the beloved Pastor and Organizer of the First Rock Baptist Church, Reverend Joseph W. King, Sr. quietly departed this life and went to be with the Lord.
On April 28, 1995, the church voted to make Minister Corbin the Interim Pastor. He served faithfully in this capacity for approximately five months. The church elected Minister Corbin to serve as First Rock’s second Pastor on September 8, 1995, and his wife Sister Antoinette Corbin became First Lady. On September 10, 1995, by an act of executive privilege together with mutual consent of the church, Pastor Corbin declared that Sister Pearl H. King be recognized as the “Founding First Lady” of the First Rock Baptist Church.
On April 1, 1999, under the direction of Pastor Corbin, Minister Anthony L. Minter became the Assistant Pastor.
On January 8, 2004, the entire church body was sadden to learn that Pastor Corbin’s illness would not allow him to continue his pastoral responsibilities.
On January 14, 2004, Pastor Corbin announced his retirement as Pastor effective January 31, 2004.
On February 6, 2004, the entire church body bestowed upon Pastor Corbin the honorary title of “Pastor Emeritus.” At the same time, Assistant Pastor Anthony L. Minter was selected to serve as “Interim Pastor.”
On Saturday, October 23, 2004, Anthony L. Minter celebrated his Installation as Pastor of First Rock Baptist Church, and his wife Wanda J. Minter became First Lady.
On May 6, 2006, the First Rock Baptist Church Foundation, in partnership with Mission First Development, opened the doors of the new 74 unit Joseph W. King Seniors’ Center to the public for a joyous and glorious dedication ceremony in honor of our Founding Pastor, the late Reverend Joseph W. King, Sr.
God has brought us from a humble beginning, so let us remain forever humble and never cease to thank and give God the praise. As we look at our history it is obvious that the mighty hand of God is with us. With grateful appreciation, we acknowledge that all glory and honor go to him. First Rock Baptist Church stands as a beacon to all who come within its portals; may she continue to carry on in the name the Lord Jesus Christ.