First Missionary Baptist Church

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The Church at 7th and Gaines Streets in downtown Little Rock is the historic First Missionary Baptist Church, home of one of the oldest Black congregations in the State of Arkansas. This impressive red brick church with distinctly Gothic influences was constructed in 1882.

It is the third Spiritual home to serve a group of parishioners who were first organized in 1845 by Reverend Wilson Brown. Reverend Brown was a slave who had attended the community’s Missionary Baptist Church in Little Rock. With the help of some of the white members of that church, Brown was able to start his own congregation serving a large segment of the Black community of Little Rock.

Brown’s congregation had outgrown two successive frame buildings by the 1880s. The present church’s was constructed with all the amenities of the day, steam heat, lights, and mechanical fans. In 1915, the church received a pipe organ. Many of the present stained-glass windows were added in 1919, and many of these serve as memorials, over the years others have been added.

The early 1960’s brought change and revelation to the church as the original slate roof was replaced by asbestos shingling and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., preached in the sanctuary just four months before his "I have a dream" speech, the pulpit and podium still remain today. This outstanding church building is beautifully maintained and continues to house the congregation for whom it was built over 159 years ago.

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