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 Our church was built by Frank Heyling Furness (November 12, 1839 - June 27, 1912) was an American architect of the Victorian era. He designed more than 600 buildings, most in the Philadelphia area, and is remembered for his eclectic, muscular, often idiosyncratically scaled buildings, and for his influence on the Chicago architect Louis Sullivan. Furness was also a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during the Civil War.

        

Rev Frank B. Summerville


In 1904 Rev. Frank B. Summerville under the guidance of the Holy Spirit was led to form a church in his home, which he called Aaron Baptist. His congregation was his immediate family. Within a few weeks the church had grown in numbers. Among its first group of new members was Sister Mattie Parker.

Because of the increase in the membership it became necessary to seek a larger building for worship. They agreed to move to the Northeast corner of Colorado and Reed Streets. Sister Mattie Parker held the rail posts as Rev. Summerville drove the nails at this building.

Soon another move was needed as the congregation multiplied. The second sanctuary was located about one block from the first building on the Southwest corner of Dickinson and Colorado. The first years of preaching, teaching and ill health made it necessary for Rev. Summerville to relinquish his duties as pastor. By a majority vote the pastorate was passed on to his son-in-law, Rev. Madison A. Bowe.

Aaron under the direction of Rev. Bowe progressed spiritually and financially. Aaron now had a larger senior choir, a junior choir, an organist and a pianist. Attendance increase in Sunday School and in the Baptist Young People's Union.

 

 

Rev Madison A. Bowe


Aaron Baptist under direction of Rev. Bowe progressed spiritually and financially. Aaron now had a larger senior choir, a junior choir, an organist and pianist. Attendance increased in Sunday School and in the Baptist Young People's Union.

In 1921 when Aaron was again in need of more space, Rev. Bowe placed as security his home located at 1811 Wharton Street for the sum of $20,000. Some thought this amount was too much. As evidence of their disapproval, there was a decrease in giving and the discouraging of those who would have been supportive. There were times when there were only two people on the senior choir, namely Sister Helen Taylor, soprano and Sister Ella Walls, alto. There were months when Rev. Bowe did not receive a salary and when he was paid he would return the money to the church saying, "The church needs the money more than I do". The attitude of the people did not stop Rev. Bowe from preaching the gospel. His faithfulness was rewarded as souls continued to be added to the church. New members were baptized at the church at 18th and Wharton Streets until Rev. Bowe built a baptismal pool.

It was during this time of struggle that the church became chartered and was rename Nineteenth Street Baptist Church. In 1933 after fourteen years, seven months and seven days, Rev. Bowe preached his farewell sermon at Nineteenth Street. He accept the call to pastor the St. Paul Baptist Church in Riverton, NJ. One of the sons of the church, Rev. L.D. Johnson served well as interim pastor when Rev. Bowe left.

Without the leadership of an under-shepherd, some became discouraged and left to join other congregations. The attendance at prayer meeting increased. God answered the prayers of the members and Rev William Brew became the third pastor of Nineteenth Street. The membership grew but after only eighteen months, Rev Brew left to form another church, taking with him some of the members of Nineteenth Street.

The fourth pastor was Rev R. Henry Bailey for Johnstown, Pa. His stay was brief. He was asked to resign; he refused. At the regular monthly church meeting the pulpit was declared vacant and Rev Bailey was paid three months salary. More than fifty persons left and joined Rev Bailey when he organized a new church. Rev J. E. Guy, the fifth pastor, was only at Nineteenth Street less than six months.

Rev Edward Lloyd Satchell


In 1939, Nineteenth Street again had an empty pulpit. With the staying of members, a committee was formed to visit members homes begging them to stay together, confident that God had a leader for Nineteenth Street. Again God answered the prayer of the saints and on the first day of July 1940, Rev Edward Lloyd Satchell became the spiritual leader. Rev Satchell pastored for six years in New Jersey before coming to the Nineteenth Street Baptist with his family, a wife and five children.

Much was successfully accomplished in the eighteen years of Rev Satchell pastorate. In 1944 they moved into the present edifice at a cost of $30,000. This structure was built in 1874 by the architect, Frank Furness. The design filled with beautiful stained glass windows in the main sanctuary continues to be admired by visitors who come to study one of the buildings associated with Frank Furness. This is the same person who designed the Library on the Parkway, Einstein Medical Center and other famous buildings in Philadelphia.

Some of the repairs and changes made over a period of time, were a new choir loft with pure white marble steps leading thereto; a nurses' aid room, pastor's office, new roof installed, new water piping, unusual light fixtures in main sanctuary, steeple repaired and painted, heating change from coal to oil heat, the outside stones of the building were scrapped, rebuilt and refaced. The kitchen, dinning room and Sunday School rooms were repainted by the members who not only worked, but brought the paint.

Souls were being saved and the church grew spiritually and financially under the leadership of the energetic and dynamic preacher. Between November 1950 and November 1951, 65 persons were united with the church. Sister Mattie Parker, who was one of the members almost at its commencement, gave $40 at the 40th Church Anniversary celebration. In 1952 the church was still growing and Sister Alice Mayes was added to the music ministry as junior pianist.

Early in 1953, Rev Satchell included in his program for the year a plan for the liquidation of the church mortgage. The plan was fourteen captains building fourteen churches which at the end of the year would gross $1,4000. The stain glass windows were repaired at a cost of $1,200. Paint was donated by the clubs for the beautifying of the main sanctuary with the members doing the painting.

Rev Clarence Jefferson Davis


It was in May, 1961, that Rev Madison A. Bowe moderated the church meeting which elected Rev Clarence Jefferson Davis Jr as pastor. Rev Davis was converted and baptized at the Monumental Baptist Church pastored by Dr. M. M. Peace. Rev. Davis accepted his call to preach in March 1950 and was licensed in April of the same year. He was ordained February 15, 1952 and became the pastor of St. John Baptist Church, Camden NJ, March 1952. He left St. John Baptist Church on September 19, 1961. He had studied at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He earned a Degree of Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education from Cheyney State College and he graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton NJ, in June 1969.

The word of God was going forth with power and the harvest was plenteous. The people had a mind to serve and to beautify the physical building. The Senior Ushers purchased new microphones, and loud speakers were placed in the main sanctuary and fellowship center. They also bought a communion table, two deacon chairs, a collection table and chancel set. The Progressive Circle was responsible for the new ceiling placed in the dinning area, painting walls and tiling the floor. A new pulpit set was purchased by the Flower Club. Improvements in the exterior of the building included a cinder block fence installed in the yard area at the rear of the church and iron rails at the two entrances on Nineteenth Street.

In keeping with the directive if Malachi 3:9 the congregation was asked to become tithers. To encourage participation , a tithing box was placed in the main sanctuary. All members did not participate, so the various money raising endeavors were continued. At the April 17, 1961 monthly church meeting, the church voted to support the proposal from the Ministers Conference to boycott the Evening Bulletin Newspaper until the demands for Negro job opportunities were met.

The constitution was amended to include the formation of a Broad of Christian Education and a Nominating Committee. The first Board of Christian Education members were Brother Ralph Holmes, Chairman, Sister Selina Shepherd, Sister Novella Harrison, Sister Eunice Eades, Sister Helen Jenkins, Deacon Cornelius Stephens, Sister Clementine McGee, Sister Verdelle Wrone and Brother Charles Quann. The first Nominating Committee members were Deacon Cornelius Stephens, Chairman, Sister Lillian Monroe, Secretary, Sister Novella V. Harrison, Sister Evelyn Simms and Deacon Hezekiah Meniqault.

In 1963 the first women elected to the Trustee Board were Sister Lillian Monroe and Sister Eunice Eades. Church meetings were changed from once a month to every other month, the Tuesday after the third Lord's Day because of poor attendance. The service of the Lord's Supper was changed to the fourth Sunday afternoon following Sunday Worship and baptism was done on Wednesday evening prior to Prayer Meeting

The climax of the Sixty-fourth Church Anniversary was a banquet at J and A Caterers, on Broad Street below Federal, on Monday November 18, 1968 at 7:30pm. It was free and well attended as folks fellowshipped and praised God for another year of ministry at Nineteenth Street Baptist Church. Hearts were saddened when Rev Davis accepted the call to the pastorate of the Calvary Baptist Church, Santa Monica, CA. A farewell banquet was held at the Officers Club at Quartermasters, 20th and Johnson Streets.

Rev Charles Walker Jr


Before Rev. Davis left, the Rev Robert Sistrunk was ordained on September 14, 1969, at a 3:30pm service. He was willing to serve as temporary pastor. God certainly orchestrated the circumstances that would lead to the Rev Charles Walker becoming one of the candidates to fill the pastorate vacancy. Rev Dr. Henry Mitchell, one of Rev Walker's teachers at Colgate Rochester Divinity School, knowing there was a need for an undersheperd at Nineteenth Street, suggested we consider a young man with a family graduating from Colgate-Rochester Divinity School On June 30, 1970 by an unanimous vote, Rev Charles Walker became the spiritual leader for the church.

 

Rev Walker's resume indicated that not only was he an ordained minister but also an established pianist/composer. He began his studies at eleven in Chicago and continued on a scholarship at De Paul University in Chicago where he earned both Bachelor and Masters Degree in Music. He studied at De Paul University with the famous Russian composer- pianist Alexander Tcherepnin and his wife Mone Ming Tcherepnin. He continued studying in Paris, France at L'ecole Magda Fagliaferro. Upon his return home he did extensive coaching with Rudolph Ganz.

He represented the United States in international competitions in Paris and Montreal and in the Liszt-Bartok International Competition in Budapest, Hungry. He served as Artist-in Residence at South University, Baton Rouge, LA where he performed with the New Orleans Symphony Orchestra. He performed with numerous symphony orchestras both here and abroad. While serving as Artist-in Residence at Southern University, Rev Walker accepted the call to ministry. He composed a "Jazz Mass" which had its' premiere celebration at the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Chicago and a "Requiem for Brother Martin" in memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He was working on "Jazz Mass No. 2" and "Malcolm X Suite. He completed "Dr. Watts", commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and "Liberia Symphony" which he presented to the president of Liberia.

Rev Walker was licensed to preach in 1966 by Rev N. C. Lunford and Dr. Clay Evens at Providence Baptist Church in Chicago, IL. He was ordained at the same church 1969. Rev Walker began his pastorate of Nineteenth, in August 1, 1970. His program which was presented to the Joint Board on July 7, 8, 1970, included 6:00am Sunday Prayer Service and Bible Study; at least one revival per year; a tithing program would be the only means for church financial support; baptism and communion changed to first Sunday; a deacon would accompany pastor in the pool; classes for mew members; annual church tea; appoint a director for Department of Christian Education; scholarship cotillion; Men's Day and Women's Day (no financial goal); Family Day the first Sunday in January; Christian Education Seminar; leadership retreats for deacons, their wives and trustees; youth retreats; Vacation Bible School; pastor's anniversary; church anniversary; Mission Sunday; support National Baptist Convention USA, Inc.; preparation for marriage; purchasing of parsonage and pastor's vacation one month per year.

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