In 1859, here in Wyandotte County , prior to Kansas becoming a state, First Baptist Church along with First AME Church came into existence. In the beginning, several families and two ministers–a Baptist, Rev. Joe Strater, and a Methodist, Rev. Buchanan–began worshiping together in the homes of these families. The ministers took turns conducting the worship services. When the “door of the Church” was opened for new members, both ministers extended the invitation, giving each person full opportunity to join the group of his or her choice. When the group became too large to worship in homes, the Wyandotte Indians, who founded Wyandotte Town , allowed the group to worship in the Indian Council House at Fourth Street and State Avenue. By 1864, after the Emancipation Proclamation and the exodus from the South, the two denominations had increased in number and were ready for separate existences.
The Baptists moved to a storefront at Fifth Street and Washington Boulevard; it was the first Baptist church of any kind in the community. They erected a small frame building in the 600 block of Nebraska where they worshipped for fifteen years. Around 1879, the present site was purchased, and one of the first brick buildings in the city was erected. The Methodist constructed a church building and eventually became known as the First African Methodist Episcopal church–First AME–now located at Ninth Street and Nebraska Avenue . First Baptist Church built the current building in 1921, and the Education and Activities building was erected in 1963.
Over these one hundred, fifty–plus years, seventeen ministers have served in the pastorate position. The succession of pastors led the church in building its ministries, and in its impact in the local community and among the national Baptist bodies. Two pastors, Rev. W. A. Bowren, and Dr. Edward A. Freeman served a total of 77 years–twenty–seven, and fifty, respectively. Through their leadership efforts, First Baptist Church became a significant human and civil rights institution in the local community, and a center for nurturing growth in Christian leadership in the national Baptist community. Under the leadership of our current pastor since 2009, Rev. Cedric Rowan, the church is energized by his efforts to create a variety of ministries to serve the diverse needs of those who live in the center city. He believes that men should serve as a Christian role model within their own families and has started a men”s fellowship to support the men on their journey to becoming a “Kingdom Man”.