Our History

First African Baptist Church

The historic First African Baptist Church, which stands today on the corner of Clifton and Laurel Avenue in Darby Township, was birthed into existence as a result of a vision of two committed saints, Sister Louisa Spain and Sister Eliza Taylor. The two met and formulated plans to establish a Township Mission in 1902. The first service was held in the kitchen of Sister Spain’s home. Along with nine other souls, they organized a Baptist Fellowship and in 1903 they moved into the first building at Hermesprota Creek, where the Reverend J. B. Brandon served as the first Pastor. In July of 1904, the church was given the name First African Baptist Church. 
 

And the Lord blessed the House:

The dream continued and in 1909, Rev. C. T. Wilcher was the leading spirit and under his pastorate First African Baptist Church was incorporated as required by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Its stated purpose was to provide for the public worship of Almighty God according to Baptist doctrine and the principles as set forth by God’s Holy Word. Reverend Allen, Reverend W. E. Scott and Reverend J. Lincoln succeeded Reverend Wilcher. 
 

And the Lord blessed His House:

After a few years of being without a Pastor, the church called Reverend Booker W. Watkins to be the undershepherd. He began his tenure in April, 1936 and he served faithfully and tirelessly for forty years. During this period, the church grew and continued to be a spiritual refuge in the community. The mortgage was burned and a parsonage was constructed. As a testament to the growing congregation many organizations were formed. Included were the Willing Workers, the Nurses Unit, The Rose of Sharon Missionary Circle, the Heart in Hand, the Flower Club, the Hospitality Club, the Senior Usher's, the Pastor’s Aide, the Choir #2, the Young Adult Choir, the Junior Choir, the Church School and Vacation Bible School. In 1971, a new edifice was completed. Pastor Watkins and the congregation worshiped for the first time, in the new church on April 25, 1971. After years of loving and committed service, Pastor Watkins went home to be with the Lord in March of 1976. 
 

And the Lord blessed His House:

After the death of Reverend Watkins, Reverend Charles Cunningham served as interim Pastor. Reverend Jerry William Dailey assumed the pastorate in October 1977. During this time, many innovative changes were implemented. Members were led to begin tithing. A Federal Credit Union was established. The B.W Watkins Memorial Scholarship Fund for high school graduates was initiated and the transportation ministry began. Reverend Dailey was called to another pastorate in 1982. Reverend Fredrick Randolph served as interim pastor from 1982 – 1985. 
 

And the Lord blessed His House:

In 1985, Reverend Dr. Richard A. Dent was called to lead the church. Following the vision given to him, Reverend Dent was able to bring about a spiritual and physical renaissance. Church membership and attendance increased dramatically, church facilities were renovated, and the mortgage was burned. The ordination of deacons, trustees and our first female minister the Reverend Margaret Quarcoo took place. A full service transportation ministry was implemented consisting of three vans, one of which is equipped to service the physically challenged and a forty-passenger bus. In obedience to the mandates of the Lord, Pastor Dent began to change the clubs and auxiliaries into ministries. This transformation enabled the church to reach into the community and provide much needed services. Out of these efforts, the Neighbor to Neighbor Community Development Corporation came into existence. The services presently in place are the Emergency Food Cupboard, After-School Tutoring, the After-School Care Program, and Camp Joy summer day camp.

The renewal of God’s people continues through the formation of additional active ministries, both in-reach and outreach. Some of which are the Men’s Ministry, the Women’s Ministry, the Prison Ministry, the Chosen 300 (help for the homeless), the Caring Ministry, visitation to the Juvenile Detention Center and to a Women’s Shelter and several youth programs are in place to minister to our large number of young people.

Continuing with the vision, the Nehemiah Project was launched for the building of a new edifice to accommodate the continued growth of the Lord’s house. On the tenth day of January 2004 Pastor Dent and the officers joyfully led the congregation into its new sanctuary where we continue to worship and praise a living Savior.
 

The Vision Continued:

Reverend Melvin McAllister, Associate Minister and Assistant to the Pastor (Ordained)
Reverend Anthony Hanna, Youth Minister (Ordained)
Reverend Margaret Quarcoo, Associate Minister (1st Female Ordained)
Reverend Gregory Horton, Youth Minister (Ordained)
Reverend Ralph Benjamin, Associate Minister and Assistant to the Pastor (Ordained)
Reverend Tracie Gatewood, Associate Minister (Ordained)
Reverend Beverly S. Hudson, Associate Minister (Ordained)
Additional Deacons Ordained
Additional Trustees Appointed

The Vision Continues 

Leadership
Reverend Dr. Richard A. Dent, Pastor

Associate Ministers
Reverend Beverly S. Hudson
Minister Wendell Jones
Reverend Gary Williams

Administration
Secretary
Clerical Staff

Officiary
Deacons
Trustees

Christian Education
Church School and Children’s Church
Family Bible Study

Music Ministries
Angelic Choir
Sanctuary Choir
Men’s Choir
Youth Choir
Voices of Joy

Youth Ministries
B.R.O.T.H.E.R.S. (Brothers Realizing Our True Heritage Relationship and Spirituality) Mentoring
C.H.E.R.I.S.H. Teen Girls Book Club (Christians Holding Every Reading In
Sacred Hope)
Children’s Church
Friday Night Youth Fellowship
G.U.E.S.S (Girls Understanding Education and Success in Society) Mentoring
Nursery Ministry
Nursing Home Visitation
Vacation Bible School
Youth Workers

Praise Ministries
Youth Praise Dancers / Lil & Teen
Praise Dancers
Praise & Worship Team – Adults & Youth
Women of Praise Dance Ministry
Word to Life Drama Ministry

Ministries of Service
Audio, Video & Tape Ministry
B.W. Watkins Memorial Scholarship Ministry
Deaconess
Emergency Food Cupboard (Heart & Hand)
Flower Guild
Healthcare Ministry
Hospitality Ministry
Marriage Enrichment Ministry
Men's Ministry
Rose of Sharon Missionary
Security & Parking Ministry
Ushers (Senior, Junior & Youth)
Women’s Ministry
Beautification Ministry
Transportation Ministry
Word of Life Bookstore

Outreach Ministries
Thanksgiving Caring and Sharing
Chosen 300 (Feeding of the Homeless)
Comfort Ministry (Bereavement Support)
Legal Ministry (Legal Resource)
My Sister's Place (Women’s Shelter)
P.H.I.T. (Exercise Program)
Youth Evangelism & Outreach
Women of Faith Support Ministry

LEST WE FORGET

FORMER PASTORS

1903 – 1904 Rev. J.B. Burton
1904 – 1909 Rev. Richard Raine
1909 – 1918 Rev. C.T. Wilcher
1909 – 1909 Rev. McAllen
1909 - 1909 Rev. W.E. Scott
1918 – 1936 Rev. J. Lincoln Lewis
1936 – 1977 Rev. Booker W. Watkins
1976 – 1977 Rev. Charles Cunningham, Interim Pastor
1977 – 1982 Rev. Jerry William Dailey
1982 – 1985 Rev. Frederick Randolph, Interim Pastor

FORMER ASSOCIATE MINISTERS

Rev. Henry Ausbury
Rev. Ralph Benjamin
Rev. Jerome Burton
Rev. Tariq Craig
Rev. Robert Cunningham
Rev. Tracie Gatewood
Rev. Anthony C. Hanna
Rev. Tommie Hightower
Rev. Gregory Horton, Sr.
Rev. Rodney King
Rev. Herbert H. Lusk
Rev. Melvin McAllister
Rev. Margaret Quarcoo
Rev. Edward Richardson
Rev. Allen Roberts
Rev. Reginald Stevens
Rev. Alexander Thompson