1890 : Messiah Missionary Baptist Church, City’s Oldest Continuing African American Church, Started

September 16, 2023 all-day

Messiah Missionary Baptist Church in Grand Rapids was the realization of one pioneering woman’s dream.

In the 1880s, Catherine Carter moved to Grand Rapids with her husband, Newton, a barber.

In a city with fewer than 1,000 African-Americans at the time, Carter worshiped with an African Methodist Episcopal congregation. Missing her own Baptist tradition, Carter began organizing like-minded people to launch a church of their own in Grand Rapids.

On Sept. 16, 1890, Messiah Missionary Baptist Church came to be with assistance from the Rev. Jacob Holt, a Baptist minister from Amherstburg, Ontario.

The oldest, continuing black Baptist congregation in Grand Rapids celebrated its 125th anniversary with a banquet last week and a worship service Sunday morning.

Today, some 800 people are members of the church that has flourished because of “God’s grace, good leadership and strong membership,” according to the Rev. Eric Williams, associate pastor.

For the full article, see Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk, “Grand Rapids’ oldest Black Baptist church turns 125”, Grand Rapids Press, November 27, 2015.

Leave a Reply