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Having the black church experience!

Updated on June 29, 2012

Enjoying the Experience!

Profiling Friendship Baptist

1. Name and Address of Church- Friendship Baptist Church located at 437 Mitchell Street SW Atlanta, Georgia 30314.

2. Name of Minister- The Reverend Dr. Timothy T. Boddie, Pastor.

3. Date Visited- October 2, 2011

4. Historical Data

Date the church was organized- It was organized in 1866. According to Dr. Timothy T. Boddie Friendship Baptist Church’s current pastor, “Friendship Baptist Church was established in 1862 and organized during the days after the Civil War in 1866, becoming Atlanta’s first black Baptist independent congregation. The congregation, being unable to buy property, worshipped in a boxcar that was sent to Atlanta from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to house the first classroom of what became known as Atlanta University. A contractual agreement was made with school organizers and Friendship leaders to share this boxcar for church services and educational purposes.”

Name changes and dates

- The name never went through any name metamorphosis. However, the location changed. According to Dr. Boddie, “The membership grew rapidly so the congregation moved to a larger building on the corner of Haynes and Markham Streets, and later to its present site at Mitchell and Northside Drive.”

Name of local mother church (if any) from which organized or split.-

The only mention of a mother church says, “Friendship is known as the “Mother Church” among Baptist in Atlanta because of its role in harmoniously forming several other congregations throughout the city. These congregations include: Mount Zion Second Baptist Church 1868, Providence Missionary Baptist Church 1870, Wheat Street Baptist Church 1871, Paradise Baptist Church 1871, Zion Hill Baptist Church 1872, Antioch Baptist Church 1877, Little Friendship Baptist Church 1909, and Union Baptist Church 1917.”

Evidence of any African spiritual/religious retentions, i.e. drumming, architecture, dance, etc

There is plenty of African retention as I will mention about the architecture. Also there was retention in their liturgical dance, there was no drumming. They was quite a bit of evidence that would lead one to suppose that there were African retentions in this church. According to Lois Benjamin, “He noted African retentions in their family and community relations; in their music, folklore, and style of cooking; and in their spirituality. He claimed that Southern hospitality crept through America’s back door by way of slavery from Africa. Even masters who assumed themselves to be superior were taught better manners by contact with their slaves. Politeness was in the Negro’s meek soul like corpuscles in his blood. Not only did Border’s preach about the importance of black culture, but his church sponsored plays and distinguished artists, like Paul Robeson, Mattiwilda Dobbs, and Roland Hayes.

It was his way of spiritually uplifting blacks by enhancing their sense of community, culture, and consciousness.” Benjamin states, “The idea constantly held up to us was of education as a means of living, not of making a living. Get an education and nobody can take it away from you, was the rallying cry for generations of blacks since Emancipation. Education, an avenue of opportunity that had been blocked during slavery, was regarded as a way to empower, uplift, and serve the black community and as a principal path to collective and personal upward mobility.” Friendship Baptist has incorporated this incessant need for education because it was responsible for the first classes being held at Spelman and Morehouse in the basement of the church. Boodie says, “Friendship’s role in black education has been unique in that Morehouse College, set up classses in Friendship Baptist Church, and Spelman College had its beginning in the basement of the present site in 1881. Close ties between these institutions continue to this day.” Also Boodie says, “The Friendship Sunday School is perhaps one of the most enduring units of our church family, having been instituted shortly after the establishment of our church for the training and instruction of youths and adults in the knowledge of the bible and its teachings.”

This shows that the retention of education as being part of that African retention. Also during there worship service the communal aspects such as: the processional hymn, responsive reading, choral response, greeting of worshippers, right hand of fellowship. The invocation being done in unison by all the parishioners shows that African retention again of community and there being strength in the communal way.

Date of present building (style of architecture), material used, windows, bell, alter, pulpit furniture, pews, color, shape theological implications


The date of the present day building is 1866 and it definitely displays African retentions in shape which is very similar to traditional African Aksumite architecture. Some of the overall outside shape is similar to the ruin of the temple at Yeha, Tigray region in Ethopia. Even the oval shapes of the windows is similar to the architecture of Somalia, which was very reminiscent of lighthouses, citadels, tombs, and towers.

Name and dates of tenure of pastors and educational background:

The tenures of the pastors of Friendship Baptist are as follows: “The Founding Pastor, the Reverend Frank Quarles 1866-1887, the Reverend Dr. Edward Randolph Carter D.D., 1882-1944, the Reverend Dr. Maynard Holbrook Jackson DD 1945-1953, the Reverend Dr. Samuel Woodrow Williams, D.D. 1954-1970, the Reverend Dr. William Vincent Guy, DD, Pastor Emerti 1971-2007, The Reverend Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie 2008 to present.”

Church ministers, auxiliaries, choirs, boards, etc.

The Churches ministers were as follows, “Rev. Dr. Timothy Tee Boddle, Pastor, Rev. Dr. Charles W. Washington, Associate Minister for Church Administration, Rev. Dr. Frances Bryant-Lowery, Assisting Minister, and Rev. Gwendolyn Hudgen-Williams, Assisting Minster.” The choirs include: Chancel Choir, Inspirational Choir, Retirees Choir, Hymn Choir, Men’s Ensemble, Voices of Praise, Children’s Choir, Youth Choir, Liturgical Dancers, Friendship Hand-bell Choir, Children & Youth Worship. Boards consists of: Friendship Deacon Board, Friendship Deaconess Board, Trustee Board, and Senior & Youth Usher Boards.

“The Board of Deacons, consisting of dedicated male and female members, assists the pastor in carrying out the religious services of the church. The Deaconess Board has a rich history of Christian service to our church, pastors, deacons, and the community-at-large.” Other service ministries mentioned include Adult Fellowship, Intercessory Prayer, Friendship Nursery and Baptist Junior Christians. Other Clubs and committee’s consist of Art & Garden Club, Cuisine Committee, Hospitality Committee, Marketing Committee, Pastoral Relations Committee, and Land Development Committee.

Describe the social outreach programs, prison ministry, civil rights, economic empowerment.

The social outreach ministries include: Boys Outreach Ministry, The Brotherhood, Friendship Forum, Friendship AIDS Ministry, Friendship League of Youth, French Ministry, Service Guild, Theater Guild, Spanish Ministry, Transportation Ministry, Tutorial Ministry, Uplifters Club, and Friendship Wedding Guild. It states of the social outreach ministries, “The Boys Outreach Ministry provides a mentoring program for neighborhood boys between the ages of six and fourteen from Friendship and surrounding areas. The Brotherhood’s aim is to increase Christian love among all who attend Friendship Church through the active participation of all men in Friendship. The Friendship Forum Ministry provides opportunities for the congregation and the broader community to address and exchange ideas about issues and problems in our society.

Friendship AID Ministry was founded by Friendship member Margie Shannon Telfair when the need for information, education, and awareness of AIDS to our congregation and the surrounding community was quite apparent. Friendship Leagues of Youth provides social and service activities for youth between the ages of thirteen and nineteen. The French Ministry provides French language instruction to both members of the church and nonmembers.” “The Service Guild is an adult ministry of men and women who perform services which help meet specific needs of members of the church.

The actors of Friendship Baptist showcase their talent for our members in Theater Guild. The Spanish Ministry, our goal has been to improve knowledge about the Spanish language and to again experience in conversing in Spanish. The Transportation Ministry is vitally important for providing continuous transportation to and from the church for our handicapped and senior members on Sundays.”

“The Tutorial Ministry provides an outreach program for children from the M. Agnes Jones Elementary School of Atlanta who need individual help in basic math and reading skills. The Uplifters Club contributes to the spiritual welfare of the church and its outreach ministries to senior residents for the William V. Guy Friendship Tower. Friendship Wedding Guild, in the beautiful sanctuary or chapel of Friendship Baptist Church, weddings for church members, their children, and grandchildren are welcome.”

Does the church have a local historian and archives?

Zelda Paine is collecting data for their upcoming Founder’s Day, but at this time there is no historian or archives. They coincidently had a gravesite restoration for the Founding pastor of the Church Frank Quarles Sunday October 2, 2011.

5. A profile of the people who gather for worship

The estimated number of men, women, youth, children and babies in attendance. I would say that the number of men and women was 75 of each, children and babies was maybe 16. This is just a rough estimate on the day of October 2, 2011.

The socio-economic status of the congregation (mass or class).

The Social Economic Status of the congregation definitely ranged from middle, upper middle, and the independently wealthy. It was mentioned in service that they had almost reached their women’s day goal and were currently at 722,000, so far.

Describe the singing during the worship. Was there congregational singing? Did the choir sing hymns, gospel songs, anthems, spirituals or rap? List the musical instruments. Was there a praise service at the beginning of the worship?

There was congregational singing in the form of the processional hymn, hymn of praise, choral response, offertory music, and the organ prelude. The choir strictly sang tradition African Church Hymnals such as, Here, O My Lord, Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty, Glory be to the Father, Love lifted me, I love the Lord, he heard my Cry, and Koinonia. The instrument was the pipe organ. There was no praise service at the beginning of worship.

Describe other features of the service (e.g., lay participation, youth/children involvement, prayer, dancing, hand clapping, shouts, amen).

Was minimal youth participation in the form of a young girl doing the responsive reading. There was no clapping due to the style of worship. There was also no dancing, or shouting. At the end of each song there was a robotic amen from the congregation. During each move of the sermon there would be resounding amen from the congregations. There was prayer four times at the beginning during the invocation which was done in unison, then after the responsive reading, doxology and prayer, and the benedictional prayer.

Describe the African retention in the worship, if any.

In the worship there was African retention in the fellowship time, unison invocation, the hymns sang, and the right hand of fellowship. Everything had a communal or community oriented feel for those present, however, I felt a disconnect from those outside the door and it was even mentioned by the pastor in his sermon to move outside their comfort zones and help the poor, the handicapped, etc. That for me was the presence of the American individualistic society rearing its head.

Describe the unique character and identity of the congregation.

Describe the sermon: What was the sermon topic, text?

The topic of the sermon was the ending on his series on the Fruit of the Spirit is: Love. The pericope was Galatians 5:22-23.

The sermon’s topic was Outline the main points.

The main points or moves where that love is: Love is sacred, Love is selfless, Love is Sacrificial, Love is stubborn, and Love is Supreme. Love is sacred in, he says Love is not God, but love is from God and abides in God. If you don’t have love you are not allowing his nature to abide in you. Love is selfless, in self-less love you count others more significantly than yourself. You experience joy, which he described as Jesus first, others second, and yourself last.

Love as sacrificial, meaning that God’s love is foreign our human nature, but through the Holy Spirit we can achieve is self-less, sacrificial love. You see the need for greater love. Love is stubborn, this illustrates the love of how we should be treating each other in church, not to be read at weddings. Love is for greater, deeply, and abiding truth. Love is supreme, meaning that nothing is more important to God than love. It is the energy of the spiritual gifts. Loving God, your neighbor and yourself.

Did the sermon connect with our African history, heritage liberation and culture in any way? &&What was the response of the congregation to the message? The congregation responded to the sermon with rounding applause. I could literally hear during the pastor’s sermon people throughout the congregation saying, “Hmmmmm?” It definitely gave the impression to a visitor that the pastor’s sermon was causing the congregation to think. There were times during the sermon when the congregates would respond when he would tell them to say something, such as when he emphasized the word humble, he asked them to repeat the word aloud. Not only did it cause them to think, but it compelled them to action.

6. Conclusion

What was your general impression of the worship experience?

My overall impression of the worship that it was not exactly my particular cup of tea in the particular style. It was extremely traditional, while I am a lover for tradition, I think a more contemporary worship experience would have better fit the location, being inner city. However, given the particular congregates within the pews, the worship experience for the most part seemed to satisfy the tastes of 75% of them.

Were there any benefits derived from the services?

The benefits I received from the service was directly from the sermon. The sermon provided for me a nice interpretation of the need for agape love. I thought that he did an ad quaint enough job in making his case for the need for agape love, which he says is not a noun, but a verb. What I most benefited was at the end of the sermon when he challenged his congregates to practice agape love to their enemies, the poor, the sick, etc.

Basically he said there was no challenge in loving someone that is loveable, but to love someone who takes you out of the comforts and confines of your own self-created world. He challenged them to love the way that God intends us to love. A love that displays action first then comes the feelings. He said something that sticks out to me that love starts with action and is followed by feeling, but you can never feel first then love in action.

I love that he also included the Greek translated three meanings for the word love and their definition. He also challenged them to reflect on other scripture, which I felt was very important for their daily or weekly study.

Discuss the benefits and significance of this assignments

This assignment has really taught me just how much African tradition truly was retained in the African American Churches today. From the architectural structure, the order of the worship service, even the African attire which each minister on the pulpit adorned during the entire duration of the service. Needless to say, you can kill the person, but you can’t kill certain things and culture is one of those things that goes beyond mere mortal murder and is embedded not only in our conscience, but in the things we create and hold sacred in our own cosmos.

Role of the African American Church

Be a Chatty Cathy!~

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    • brittvan22 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I would agree and thanks for your input, I will be sure to check out school's website. I attended seminary in Atlanta, GA and did extensive study in traditional African religion, etc. you should check on my hub on Are we all African? Being Africa is the mother of culture, religion, and civilization.

    • profile image 

      5 years ago

      Hi. I am a student of UNN.Here is my school's website( In Africa where church worshipers are mostly blacks, I don't think there would be much difference worshiping with blacks out there.Though I look forward to it. I was actually a member of The new realm baptist church in Lagos, Nigeria.

    • brittvan22 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thanks twopeasinapod123 glad you enjoyed the hub!

    • twopeasinapod123 profile image


      5 years ago from New York

      Growing up as a church brat, and still I love going to church! It is such a comforting feeling going where there is fellowship and like mindedness of faith! This was a good hub! :)

    • brittvan22 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Thats one worship experience I have not had I have been to many worship services, from Islam, Christian, Jewish, Catholic, but not a Buddhist sounds interesting. This summer I wanted my sister and aunt to accompany my daughter and myself in visiting different types of church services.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've never been to a Native American church service, although I've seen some of their festivities, and it's fun. I've also been to a Buddhist and Shinto worship, where things are calm, serene, and also very interesting to see, though, I was a child then, so I'm fuzzy on details.

    • brittvan22 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      I would agree although I have also been to some lively Native American churches, too. They too were a part of the celebration. We must all be set free at some point, we must have a way to express why not church some write, some sing, some dance, some play instruments, some draw, some act, why can't that translate into a worship experience? The arts have always been a great way to express and release.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I've been to a couple church services at different black churches. I like the way they're so free, and the open worship style really intrigues me. Life is a celebration, and even with funerals, black churches acknowledges the loss, but celebrates the life of the person leaving us. It's good to know that even in dark moments, there is still a way to count our blessings.


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