Friendship Missionary Baptist Church is the two-story church with the tall steps located at Palm Avenue and Kerney Street, just south of Doctor Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. The church is named Friendship Missionary Baptist Church for a reason! It is a welcoming friend to the surrounding community, as well as to its missionary fields! Church members and guests are greeted with warm hugs, friendly smiles, encouraging messages, and an enjoyable atmosphere of genuine worship.
Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was organized in 1912. The congregation initially met on Orange Street in two three-room houses that were joined together. The first pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was Reverend Frank Anthony. Reverend Anthony served three years. In the more than 100 years since then, six more pastors have led the church.
Beginning in 1930, a Building Fund Program to purchase the land and build the current sanctuary began under the leadership of Reverend Eli Hamilton. Church members struggled for two decades to raise funds— holding rallies, making pledges, and asking for donations. Some members even bought life insurance policies in various amounts to help with fundraising! Several lots owned by the late Doctor Velasco were purchased for $1,900. The first service in the new building was celebrated on Sunday, November 12, 1950. Five years later, the mortgage on the final phase of the building project was paid off.
The church was without a pastor from 1959 to 1962, when Reverend Isadore Edwards Jr. became Friendship’s new pastor. In the 1960s and 1970s, Reverend Edwards’ strong spiritual leadership brought unprecedented growth to the church. The congregation continued to improve both their sanctuary and grounds, and welcomed many new members. Although Reverend Edwards served as a strong, capable pastor and preacher of the Gospel, he was also recognized as a spokesman for racial equality and Civil Rights. He served as president of the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the N-A-A-C-P. Reverend Edwards’ influence reached beyond the church boundaries to teenagers and adults throughout the community to make the case for Civil Rights.
The present pastor, Reverend James A. Bing, was elected pastor in November 1973. Under Pastor Bing’s leadership and ministry, the church continues to focus on five areas. These are: love, forgiveness, faithfulness to biblical teaching, evangelism, and freedom from debt. Through his efforts, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church has become the primary land owner for the entire block between Palm Avenue, Kerney Street and Cranford Avenue. Here it continues to be a welcoming friend to the surrounding community as well as to the world through its missionaries.