The Early Years at Third Baptist

Third Baptist Church of San Francisco has a rich history, dating all the way back to 1852.  Take a look at some of the Pastors who have led our great church.

Our History

Third Baptist Church of San Francisco was established in 1852 by a devout group of Christians in the home of Eliza and William Davis, in San Francisco.

1852

James W. Capen

Various pastors, mostly white, conducted services from members homes.

1856

Charles Satchell 

Arrival of the first African American Pastor @ Third Baptist Church of San Francisco.

1898

J.H. Kelly

Pastor @ Third Baptist Church in the years just before, during and after the great SF earthquake.

1920

J.A. Dennis

Organized Usher Board and Morning Choir. 

1924

E. W. Moore

Established the first scholarship at TBC and raised funds for the church's first missionary efforts.

1932

Rev. Frederick Douglass Haynes, Sr.

Served as Pastor during the Depression and  World War II.  Rev. Haynes remained Senior Pastor for 38-years.

1972

Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes, Jr.

In the footsteps of his father, Rev. Haynes, Jr., served as Senior Pastor for 3 years, until his untimely death in 1975.

1976

Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown

After several months of a diligent search, Rev. Dr. Amos C. Brown assumed the pastorate at Third Baptist Church and has continued to serve to the present.

1852 - 1855

Fielding Spotts The First Colored Baptist Church, as Third Baptist was then known, was founded in 1852, by a small group of devout Christians – Abraham Brown, Thomas Bundy, Thomas Davenport, Willie Denton, Harry Fields, George Lewis and Fielding Spotts – in the home of Eliza and William Davis of San Francisco. It is interesting to note that during this time period, Slavery was still in existence, particularly in the South. San Francisco was a roaring frontier town in a state that had recently been admitted to the union and thousands of pioneers from all parts of the world journeyed in the gold fields in search of fortunes. Records reveal that at least one of the founders came here to labor in the gold fields and was able to purchase his freedom and a few others were able purchase the freedom of individual members of their families left behind in the South at $1000-a-head, an (exorbitant price). Some, upon returning from the gold fields, built their homes and established businesses in San Francisco and sought to effect the cultural and spiritual life in the growing city — a city known for its vice, corruption, and lawlessness. Those who did not choose to join in the rush f or gold remained in the city to become part of the work force accepting the racial limitations in employment. It is believed that most of the church founders were in the latter category. 

1856 - 1860

Records show that Rev. James W. Capen, Pastor of the Second Baptist Church, moderated the proceedings at the initial assembling of the group in August, 1852. Rev. Benjamin Brierly of the First Baptist Church preached the recognition sermon and Rev. William Rollinson, Pastor of Second Baptist Church, gave the charge and extended the hand of fellowship in the name of the Council at a meeting convened on October 11th of the same year for official recognition of the First Colored Baptist Church. Because there was no minister available to lead this flock, the source of inspiration and spiritual strength was prayer meetings in the homes, which were fairly well attended. Communion services were conducted by ministers from other Baptist churches who alternated to accommodate the new church. Securing a permanent place for worship — a home for Christians –for the purpose of leading others to Christ and making the church an enduring influence in the community had been a dream of the dedicated members of the church beginning with its founders. To this end, across the years, property was purchased, exchanged, and sold, edifices were built, bought and sold. In 1854, the First Colored Baptist Church of San Francisco bought the old First Baptist Church and moved it to a location on Dupont Street between Greenwich and Filbert Streets. In 1855, the name of the church was changed for two reasons. One was that the racial designation was deemed out of harmony with the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 

1861 - 1898

The other was that no other church in the city included a racial designation in its name. The First Colored Baptist Church became “Third Baptist Church.” This name was chosen because First Baptist and Second Baptist were the names of white congregations in the city. Nevertheless, the legal name of the church, as recorded in the deeds, remained the First Colored Baptist Church until 1908. Therefore, the Articles of Incorporation issued in 1906 by the State of California bore that name. The growth of the church is to a great extend determined by the quality and vision of its leadership. It was unfortunate that for the first four years the new church had no pastor. However, supply ministers (all Caucasians) gave spiritual help to the church until the first Negro minister, Rev. Charles Satchell of Cincinnati, was called in 1856. Satchell’s ministry was not restricted to the pastoral or priestly concerns for internal church growth. Consistent with the prophetic involvement of his ministry Satchell spearheaded antislavery sentiment in San Francisco. Following his departure in 1860, a succession of ministers served the small congregation whose membership fluctuated between 13 and 243 during the first 80 years of the church, according to the annual membership reports. The Rev. Thomas Howell, Arnold Medberry, John Francis, J.B. Knight, O.C. Wheeler, John R. Young, George Duncan, J.H. Kelly, J.M. Riddle, Allen Newman, J.A. Dennis, Elbert Moore, and James D. Wilson, in the order named, preceded Rev. F.D. Haynes, Sr., the minister with the longest pastorate in Third Baptist history. Third Baptist on Powell Street (click to enlarge) In 1866, a down payment of $4500 was made toward purchasing the old Howard Presbyterian Church property. Two years later this property was sold or exchanged for a lot on the corner of Bush and Powell Streets on which was created a building which was dedicated on March 14,1869, at an appraised value of $40,000, under the leadership of the Rev. o.c. Wheeler. The new property included a debt free parsonage in addition to the lot for the new church. By 1899, the final note of the note was paid by the membership of 160. 

1899 - 1931

Also in 1899, The Rev. J.H. Kelly was called as Pastor. His tenure spanned the period beginning seven years before the earthquake and terminating two years after. By 1901, he was Vice President of the General Baptist Convention. For seven years, the ·church, under the leadership of Rev. Kelly, enjoyed the rare experience of community and pride and worship. Then disaster struck! In 1906, the earthquake (along the San Andreas Fault) which destroyed a section of San Francisco, spared the church structure. The fire which accompanied the quake, however, leveled it to the ground. The membership, undaunted by its loss, within two years, bargained for a new church on Hyde and Clay Streets. With the initial amount of $25,000 from the sale of the Bush and Powell Street property, they erected a new $49,000 church edifice. The church membership reached a new all-time high during the building period. During Rev. Kelly’s pastorate a ten-piece orchestra augmented the choir-an evening choir because in the early days most people attended church in the evening. Two other ministers following this period in the church’s early history recorded as having given distinguished service are Rev. J. A. Dennis and Rev. Elbert Moore. Rev. J. A. Dennis, who was described as a sterling leader in the sacrificial paying off of the church debt and remained from 1917 to 1924 giving the church a stability which it had not enjoyed for many years. Under his leadership the Usher Board and a morning choir were organized. Rev. Elbert Moore (1924-1927) assisted in the establishment of better business methods. His most noteworthy influence was in the field of missionary giving and education. A scholarship fund was established and the first recipient became an outstanding Christian lawyer. The church, under his leadership, gave in 1924, and for many years thereafter, $1000 per year to the world missionary efforts of the Northern Baptist Convention which later became the American Baptist Convention. 

Third Baptist Church of San Francisco
Serving the Bay Area since 1852 

1399 McAllister Street • San Francisco, CA  94115 
415-346-4426 x212
Email:  [email protected]