5 years, 11 months ago 1
Looking back on Maryland’s church history

According to February 5, 1964 edition of Baptist Press, “the Baptist Convention of Maryland adopted a resolution at its annual session [last] November ‘strongly’ urging member churches ‘to open their services of worship and instruction to men of all races, treating them without discrimination because
of color in regard to fellowship and membership.’”

At the time, two Baltimore-area churches (Gregory Memorial Baptist Church, Valley Baptist Church) and First Baptist Church of Cambridge, Md., among others, voted that race would not be a factor in considering applicants for church membership.

Read the entire news story here:

February 5, 1964
2 Baltimore Churches
To Welcome Negroes

BALTIMORE (BP)–Two Baltimore area Southern Baptist churches have voted that race will not be a factor in considering applicants for church membership, following the lead of several area churches which had already taken such a step.

They are the l200-member Gregory Memorial Baptist Church in Baltimore and the 300-member Valley Baptist Church at Lutherville.

A similar stand was taken by the First Baptist Church of Cambridge, Md., in the midst of racial difficulties in that city last October. The members voted to welcome “all persons” for attendance and to recognize as new Christians “all
individuals coming forward on profession of faith.”

These churches, like all others affiliated with the Baptist Convention of Maryland, have no constitutional restrictions against accepting persons of other races. At the same time, like most of their sister churches, their memberships are all
White.

The Baptist Convention of Maryland adopted a resolution at its annual session last November “strongly” urging member churches “to open their services of worship and instruction to men of all races, treating them without discrimination because of color in regard to fellowship and membership.”

A Baptist congregation retains the right to decide on each application for church membership by majority vote, usually based on a profession of faith in Jesus Christ or on transfer of letter from another Baptist church.

Prior to the state convention request, one affiliated church, Edgewood Baptist of Edgewood, Md., had accepted a Negro member, Mrs. Alter Cook. She was received by vote of the congregation, without dissent, in the summer of 1962. She presented herself for membership by letter from a Pittsburgh, Pa., Negro Baptist church.

Mrs. Cook came to the city with her son, an Army captain assigned to the Edgewood Arsenal. She has been one of the church’S “most faithful members,” Pastor Wendall Gross reported. “She sings in the choir and attends all of the services of the church,” he stated.

In addition, the 13 Southern Baptist churches in Metropolitan New York City, affiliated with the Maryland Convention, all are open to persons of all races. One of these, First Baptist of Brooklyn, N. Y., is predominantly Negro. This means
that Southern Baptist denominational meetings in this area have been integrated for some time.

Gregory Memorial, Baltimore, revised its constitution early in January to specify racially open membership. It is now spelled out in the church constitution that persons will be received for membership, “regardless of race, ancestry or national origin,” Pastor G. W. Bullard said.

Bullard said Negroes have visited the church and have been seated without discrimination.

In an action which Bullard said was separate and unrelated, the church voted to delay reception of new members until they have been visited by a church membership committee. The usual policy in Southern Baptist churches is to vote on
candidates for membership immediately.

The purpose of this policy, he stated, is to acquaint those applying for membership with the church constitution and to help them assume their responsibilities as church members.

Valley Baptist Church, Lutherville, voted last October to interpret the constitution as offering membership to all persons “without regard to race or color.” There were two dissenting votes. Richard O. Satchell is pastor.

The deacons of University Baptist Church, Baltimore, and Calvary Baptist Church, Towson, Md., have voted that church membership should be without regard to race. However, the full congregation has not felt that any action was needed at either church, and neither church has had a Negro applicant for membership.

Most Baptist Convention of Maryland churches occasionally have Negro visitors. There have been no reports of any persons being denied the privilege of worship.

One Response

Leave a Reply to Joy