History of First Baptist Institutional Church

 

The First Baptist Institutional Church is distinguished by almost 102 years of outstanding service in the Greater Metropolitan Detroit community. The church was incorporated May 3, 1920, under the provisions of Act Number 54, Public Acts, State of Michigan, 1899 A.D.

 

In September of 1916, a group of Christians who resided in Hamtramck became concerned about their spiritual lives and religious needs of the community. Many persons who had migrated to the greater Detroit area to work in factories and businesses had no church affiliation. Therefore, the following persons met one Sunday in a home on Goodson Street for worship: Mr. and Mrs. Dimes, Mr. and Mrs. Dimple, Mr. and Mrs. Eaton, Mr. and Mrs. Walter Ice, Mr. and Mrs. Martin, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Robinson. The Reverend Alexander was asked to lead and preach to this band of Christians.

 

Eventually, the attendance grew and a home on Trowbridge Street was used for a meeting place. Later, a garage on the corner of McDougall and Caniff Streets was secured for the services of worship. After a while in this location, lots were purchased on Mitchell Street, north of Caniff Street. The Reverend S.R. Richards was called to lead this group of courageous Christians. He dug the first spade of dirt to start the excavation for the first building which was a basement.

 

In 1922, the Reverend S.G. Guinn was called to lead, and the construction of the Mitchell Street site was started. He served until his death on August 18, 1923. The cornerstone was laid by the Prince Hall Lodge the first Sunday of July, 1922.

 

The Reverend H.H. Coleman was called to lead in 1924. It was during his pastorate that a disturbance arose. Some members moved to another location and named the congregation "First Baptist Church". Reverend Coleman suggested that the name of the congregation on Mitchell Street would be the First Baptist Institutional Church, in order to keep down confusion. It was during his tenure as Pastor that the superstructure was erected on Mitchell Street in 1927. Pastor Coleman resigned in April, 1932.

 

The Reverend Benjamin H. Wright, pastor of the Junior Church under Rev. Coleman was called to lead. During the trying years of the Great Depression, under the guidance of the Divine Spirit, Reverend Wright led the church through successful serried of special drives and sacrificial offerings. The mortgage (totaling $60,000 -- including special assessments) was paid in full and on December 5, 1943, the mortgage papers were burned. The entire congregation and church community were saddened with the death of Reverend Wright on August 4, 1945.

 

The Reverend Nathaniel C. Blair succeeded Reverend Wright as Pastor. His tenure as Pastor was three years. The Reverend Samuel J. Williams became Pastor in October, 1948 and served until September 1957. Among the accomplishments at this time were a renewed interest in Christian Education, new carpeting, cooling system for the main sanctuary, new stained glass windows for the sanctuary and a new public address system.

 

The Reverend John Thomas Porter was called on May 23, 1958, to the Pastorate of the congregation. He served until October 14, 1962. This was his first charge, as he was called immediately upon completing his seminary training at the School of Religion at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. During his years of service, the first parsonage was purchased and furnished.

 

The Reverend Joseph H. Williams, Jr. was called on January 19, 1963. Pastor Williams was called after serving as Education Director and Liason Agent between the Wolverine State Baptist Convention and the Detroit Association of American Baptist Churches. Manifold improvements were made under Pastor Williams. The parsonage note was also liquidated under his tenure. Pastor Williams resigned August, 1968.

 

In February of 1969, the Reverend Howard B.M. Fauntroy, Jr. of Washington, D.C. became the 10th Pastor of the First Baptist Institutional Church. He came with a dream and shortly afterwards, the church voted to follow the vision that God had given him to move to greener pastures. The mobilizing of multitudinous Black families to Northwest Detroit made that section of the city ideal for implementation of the spiritual program of the church and its community component. With no more than 200 members in October of 1975, Pastor Fauntroy moved the congregation from Mitchell Street to our current location, 17101 West Seven Mile Road. God blessed the congregation to weather several vehement storms. The church grew in membership to over 1400 souls and in November of 1983, the mortgage was burned.

 

Pastor Fauntroy, Jr. envisioned First Baptist Institutional Church moving into the twenty-first century and beyond by creating a community-wide edifice where one could attend to the needs of the total person: the spirit, mind and body. This vision led to the construction of a new $3.2 million structure that would minister to these important needs. Reverend Fauntroy, Jr. served for twenty-seven (27) years, making him the longest serving pastor in the church's history. The congregation was deeply saddened by his passing on August 22, 1996.

 

Upon his father's passing, the Reverend Howard B.M. Fauntroy, III assumed the mantle as the 11th Pastor of the First Baptist Institutional Church. As the mantle was passed, significant development had begun to take place in the church and community to address the troubling signs of urban decay and programming was developed for the at-risk youth of the community. Rev. Fauntroy, III served until December 10, 2011.

On January 8, 2012, the Reverend Ryan Johnson was called to lead the congregation on an Interim basis and was officially installed as the church's 12th Pastor on January 13, 2013. God blessed him to lead this church to continue to fulfill God's purposes in the Metropolitan Detroit Community and served faithfully until November, 2016.

 

On February 3, 2019, we were blessed to have Reverend Dr. Robyn Diane Moore become the 13th and first female pastor of First Baptist Institutional Church.

To God Be The Glory, for the great things He has done, what He is doing and what He will continue to do in the life of First Baptist Institutional Church!

© 2016 First Baptist Institutional Church of Detroit, Michigan

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