If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
From humble beginnings great edifices of times develop. Such was the beginning of First Baptist Church. They realized that before the harvest can come, a storm of rain must batter the field. Before a tree takes root, the kernel must drop to liberate the seed. They knew that “faith works that which it expects” and “Faith without works is dead.”
In 1905 First Baptist Church evolved out of the community Sunday school and out of the prayer meetings started by two missionary sisters, Sisters Bertha Holmes, and Rena Smith. In 1910 they called the first Pastor, Rev. Henderson. The membership was about fifteen to forty people.
In 1924 The Reverend Thomas Johnson was called to Pastor. Other ministers who have Pastored First Baptist are Rev. Sam Adams, Rev. Elijah Smith, Rev. Carpenter, Rev. Edwards, Rev. William King, and Rev. Ollie E. Harden.
One important event that First Baptist did in the 1930’s was to build its own house of worship. After the death of Rev. Elisha Smith the cornerstone was laid. Activity suggestions included a dedication ceremony, which included congregational responses.
During the 1940’s First Baptist Church had several pastors including Rev.Edwards and Rev. William King. Under the leadership of Rev. William King a new church was built and incorporated in 1946. This church became a member of the Minister’s and Deacon’s Union of Baltimore, Harford and Cecil County, and a part of the United Baptist Missionary Convention of Maryland. The fellowship with other churches in those areas is a rewarding religious experience.
Rev. King preached his farewell sermon on December 30, 1958 to become Pastor of Simmons Memorial Baptist Church, Baltimore, Maryland. Rev.Ollie E. Harden was elected in December 1958, taking full charge on January 1, 1959. He served this branch of Zion for three years. Some musical selections popular during that time included, “Standing in the Safety Zone”, “The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow”, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” Suggested soloists were Elizabeth Cornish and Hattie Jones.Rev. Isaiah Hill was called to Pastor in the spring of 1962 and was officially installed in July 1962. The membership became very active starting new ministries as well as reviving old ones. Hopewell Christian Day Care was started in 1985 in the Fellowship Hall with just one student. The Directors were Sis.Sharron Preston and Sis. Juanita Hill. In1992 the parsonage was torn down and Hopewell Day Care received a grant for $250,000.00 from Baltimore County and a new center was built and Hopewell moved to its present location.
Under Bishop Hill’s tutelage Sister Florence Cornish was ordained and later served as the Associate Minister, and Assistant Sunday School Superintendent. Minister Cornish in coordination with Mrs. Ernestine Hill, Pastor Hill’s wife, formalized The Women’s Ministry and began specialized Bible classes designed especially for the women of First Baptist. To our great surprise and sorrow Minister Florence Cornish passed away February 1999.
In August 1999 Bishop Isaiah D. Hill the Lord in all his infinite wisdom called Pastor Hill home. Minister Terry M. Forbes stood prayerfully and dutifully in the seat of leadership for approximately18 months until a new Pastor was selected. On February 5, 2001 Pastor James Modlin was voted in as the Spiritual Leader and Servant of First Baptist Church. Pastor Modlin was the former Assistant Pastor at Grace Memorial Baptist Church. He preached his first sermon as Pastor –Elect of First Baptist Church on Sunday, February 11, 2001. The title was “Hold On Help Is On The Way”. The text was from Genesis 37:24. On April 1, 2001 Rev. James E. Modlin was installed as the 11th known Pastor of The First Baptist Church. Under Pastor Modlin’s leadership the Mass Choir was reborn in January 2003 and had grown to 60 or more members also other ministries including the Singles Ministry and the Outreach Ministry was organized. Pastor Modlin accepted the leadership in building a new church and on November 19, 2006, the congregation proudly marched across the street to 1616-A Hopewell Avenue for their first worship service in the new sanctuary.