Texas’s First African American Baptist Church
An outgrowth of the Colored Baptist Church formed in 1840 as the slave congrega- tion of the First Missionary Baptist Church, the church moved to the Avenue L site in 1855 with the Reverend Israel S. Campbell serving as the pastor. The 1900 Storm destroyed that building. The Tanner Brothers Contractors and Architects, an African-American firm, constructed the present structure in 1916. Visible on the west side behind the brick church is the wooden church of 1904.
One of over 200 historical markers on the island, this marker is located at one of the oldest black congregations in Texas. The marker was erected in 1981 by the Texas Historical Commission.
“One of the oldest black congregations in Texas, this church grew from the slave membership of the First Baptist Church of Galveston, organized in 1840 by the Rev. James Huckins. By the early 1850’s the blacks were worshiping in a separate building. In 1855 land for use by the fellowship, then known as the African Baptist Church, was purchased from Galveston City Company by First Baptist trustees Gail Borden, Jr., James Huckins, and John S. Sydnor. Following the Civil War, the property was formally deeded to the congregation, reorganized under the leadership of the Rev. I. S. Campbell as the First Regular Missionary Baptist Church. About 1903, during the pastorate of the Rev. P. A. Shelton, the present name was adopted.”
“Prominent pastors here have included the Rev. H. M. Williams, 1904-33, moderator of the Lincoln District Baptist Association; the Rev. g. L. Prince, 1934-56, later president of the National Baptist Convention and of Mary Allen College in Crockett, Texas; and the Rev. R. E. McKeen, 1957-78, who also served as moderator of the Lincoln District Association.”
“Since the 1840’s, members of the Avenue L Missionary Baptist Church have played a significant role in the religious and civic development of Galveston.”