History of Second Baptist Church

Our history honors the work of Second Baptist Church whose history goes back to 1827 according to the University Park Baptist Church.  This church was officially recognized with Licentiate Henry H. Butler as acting pastor, on Sunday Evening, November 12, 1848, after a council of existing churches that had been convened on October 24, 1848, had given approval.  After the minutes of the council proceedings were read. Brother Adam Samson gave the Right Hand of Fellowship to William Bush, Lucinda Bush, Susan Bush, Samuel Watts, Eliza Stanford, William Rhone, and Lewis Patton.  Reverend Adam Clayton of Baltimore, Maryland, preached from Verses 7 and 8 of Psalm 122, “Peace Be Within Thy Walls and Prosperity Within Thy Palaces”.

Since the beginning in 1848 with Licentiate Jacob H. Butler, Second Baptist Church has had fourteen pastors with one having served in two periods.  The pastors are listed below along with the year each was called to serve.

Licentiate Henry H. Butler          1848

Reverend Jeremiah Asher            1849

Reverend Gustavus Brown          1850

Reverend Henry H. Butler            1853

Reverend Sandy Alexander         1856

Reverend Caleb Woodward         1861

Reverend John Mays (Maze)         1864

Reverend Sandy Alexander          1865

Reverend Dr. Chauncey Leonard  1868

Reverend John Gains                      1870

Reverend Madison Gaskins            1871

Reverend Dr. W. Bishop Johnson  1883

Reverend Dr. J.L.S. Holloman         1917

Reverend Smalls Bartley, Sr.          1971

Reverend Dr. James E. Terrell         1997

In September 2023, Dr. Terrell celebrated his twenty-sixth year as pastor with ten additional years more as assistant pastor before his election as pastor.  We recognize the service of our beloved pastor. 

Before coming to its present location, Second Baptist Church existed in several locations.   The Church history states that the congregation was located at K Street between Seventh and Eighth Streets, N.W. in a home on Capitol Hill under Reverend Asher in the 600 block of B Street, S.W. in a broom factory at the corner of Ninth and D Streets, N.W. over Ryan’s grocery store in 1853 and finally in a permanent location in the 800 block of Third Street, N.W.

The Church home on Third Street was described as a “large red brick building”.  Reverend Sandy Alexander was recalled in 1856 to assist in paying for the structure.  During this period, Church history indicates that this structure was used as a station for the Underground Railroad.

Second Baptist Church has been officially designated a historical site and enjoys the protection of the local and national registries. In the summer of 2008, the Church was named a part of the National Heritage Trail. 

The Church has had challenges during the last few years including a seven year displacement when the congregation worshipped at Howard University and now continues to meet the needs of a new urban neighborhood and spread-out congregation. 

We press forward to the mark of a high calling in Jesus Christ our Savior. 


175th Anniversary Highlight Video

Thank you everyone who made this day so special!

Questions & Answers

Here are some answers to common questions.

This is the answer to the question. Give enough detail to adequately answer the question, but consider using multiple questions so that each answer is concise.

Your generosity is changing lives
Simple and secure giving. Give one-time or schedule recurring giving using the options below.
Give $10

Making an impact in our community, city, nation and the world.

Give $20

Making an impact in our community, city, nation and the world.

Give $50

Making an impact in our community, city, nation and the world.


Click to enter a custom amount

Historical photos