In 1870, a group of baptized believers in the Lord Jesus Christ came together to organize a Church. The first worship services were held in the Old Quaker Building (17th & N Streets, NW). That first Church was named 7th Baptist Church and its first pastor was The Reverend Samuel Washington of Richmond, Virginia. The Reverends Sandy Alexander, Noah Dillard and Howard also served the spiritual needs of the fledgling congregation.
The parishioners of the 7th Baptist Church worshiped in several locations in the Northwest quadrant of the Capitol City, including the 1700 Block of 19th Street, the 2500 Block of M Street and 26th Street & East Place (Old Samaritan Hall).
On August 21, 1906, The Reverend George H. Harris purchased the property at the corner of 26th & P Streets, NW from Isaac and Minna Sacks at a cost of $10. Some 12 years later, Rev. Harris transferred ownership of the property to the Trustee Board of Jerusalem Baptist Church, “a religious corporation duly created and existing under the laws of the District of Columbia.” Rev. Harris was a visionary, pastor and preacher. Under his leadership, the first building for the 7th Baptist Church was erected on the corner of 26th & P Streets and the name of the Church was subsequently changed to “Jerusalem Baptist Church.”
In 1929, The Reverend Augustus Lewis, a well-known evangelist, was called to serve as Pastor of the Jerusalem Baptist Church. The church thrived under Rev. Lewis’ inspired leadership. After forty years of dedicated service, Rev. Lewis retired from active service as Pastor and became Pastor Emeritus.
In 1969, The Reverend R. Clinton Washington, who had served as Assistant to the Pastor during Rev. Lewis’ tenure, was called (unanimously) to serve the Jerusalem Baptist Church. His innovative leadership led to increased membership, the development of youth-targeted activities, and the burgeoning of outreach ministries. Rev. Washington’s ministry also led the congregation to several firsts, such as the appointment of the first Christian Education Director, Sis. Ella D. Lindsay (for whom our library is named) and the ordination of our first female minister, Rev. Rosa Clark (October 11, 2003). Rev.Washington’s passion for the people of Jerusalem also led to the purchase of an elevator, formation and formalization of a Youth Ministry, and the development of the P.R.A.I.S.E. Liturgical Dance Ministry. After more than forty years of service, Rev. Washington retired in January 2008.
In August 2008, The Reverend Doctor Reginald Green was called to serve the Jerusalem Baptist Church as Interim Pastor. Under Rev. Green’s tenure several initiatives designed to shepherd the flock into a new era of pastoral leadership were begun, including the establishing of the Pastoral Search Committee and the Constitution & By-Laws Committee. In addition, Rev. Green was careful to lead the church in maintaining and improving the physical plant of the Church.
The Reverend Rodney A. Teal was called to serve as Pastor of the Jerusalem Baptist Church in May 2012, and he was officially installed on July 22 of that year. His tenure has been one of holistic pastoral care, marked by impassioned preaching, inspired teaching, and innovative administration. Under his leadership, the Jerusalem Baptist Church continues to serve God and humanity.
In all things, our corporate testimony remains: This was the Lord’s doing. It is marvelous in our eyes. (Psalm118:23)
Jerusalem Baptist Church