Metropolitan Baptist Church History
In The Beginning
Unlike most churches, The Metropolitan Baptist Church began with the merger of two churches. Zion Baptist Church worshipped on Fifth Avenue between 131st and 132ndStreets, pastured by the Reverend P.C. James. Zion Baptist Church desired a merger with Mercy Seat Baptist Church, pastured by Reverend N.S. Epps. The officers of both churches met at the home of Reverend N.S. Epps, 51 West 134th Street. At the meeting, it was decided that both names be dropped. Trustee Robert L. Hill of the Mercy Seat Baptist Church suggested the name of Metropolitan Baptist Church. A motion was made, carried and recorded, and that day, March 12, 1912, The Metropolitan Baptist Church was started. Its first location was the Subway Church, 45-47 West 134th Street.
The new church was under the leadership of Dr. Epps, it’s first pastor until 1914, at which time the church felt that a new leader was needed. A meeting was convened which resulted in the summoning of Dr. W.W. Brown of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The church sent Reverend Epps to Pittsburgh to inform Dr. Brown of the call. Dr. Brown accepted the call on one condition. The church was had to pay all outstanding debts previously incurred by both churches forming the merger. The debt, which totaled $3,750.00, was paid within the first year of Dr. Brown’s Pastorate.
THE REV. DR. W. W. BROWN YEARS
Dr. Brown came to the Subway Church, the building that had housed the Mercy Seat Baptist Church, and not The Metropolitan Baptist Church. The building had been lost to foreclosure under Mercy Seat Baptist Church, and bought by the New York City Baptist Mission. The Mission rented the space for a dollar ($1.00) per year, probably on the basis that The Metropolitan Baptist Church would pay all debts incurred by Mercy Seat and Zion Baptist churches.
“In the name of the Lord, we lift up our banner in Harlem”
The above words were the text of the first sermon delivered by Dr. W.W. Brown, the charismatic visionary leader, and former slave, delivered the first Sunday of December 1914.
Dr. W.W. Brown was considered the most unique, powerful, and distinctive preacher of his time. So great was the demand to hear, and worship with this great preacher, that larger quarters were needed. On behalf of the church, Dr. Brown secured the Palace Casino, located on the corner of 135th Street and Madison Avenue, at a cost of $125.00 per month for Sunday morning, and Sunday evening services. The Subway Church was retained for weekly services.
Dr. W.W. Brown’s tenure awoke new interest, not only in the religious community, but also in the Harlem Business Community. He was a beacon of light, and people sought his able advice and foresight.
The church worshipped in the Palace Casino for fifteen (15) months, during which time we secured five (5) lots on 138thStreet, between Lenox and Seventh Avenues, for $31,000.00. These avenues are now known as Malcolm X Boulevard, and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard. The Tabernacle built at that sight cost over $15,000.00. The site later became Abyssinian Baptist Church.
Metropolitan worshipped at the Tabernacle for four (4) years and three (3) months, during which time our church, under the tireless leadership of Dr. W.W. Brown, secured our present beautiful edifice at a cost of $87,000.00.Dr. W.W. Brown was a founder of the Baptist Negro Educational Center, a cooperative between white and black Baptists. He was also responsible for bringing the Baptist Ministers Conference of Greater New York and Vicinity to The Metropolitan Baptist Church.
Mortgage Burning Ceremony
Fourteen years, three months after his call, and four buildings later, the Reverend W.W. Brown led the church in its mortgage burning ceremony on Tuesday, March 12, 1929, on its 17th Anniversary. Debt free, a tradition whose torch has been passed down to other great pastors of Metropolitan.
THE REV. DR. ABNER BROWN YEARS
The mantle of leadership was passed to his son, Abner Brown. Dr. Abner Brown was a man of great dignity and leadership ability, as demonstrated by the continual church growth. He was quite prepared to accept the call to pastor Metropolitan.
The church continued to perform services to the community, hosting Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Girls Clubs, Youth School, Vocation Day Schools, Baptist Young People Union (BYPU), among other activities.
The REV. DR. CONNIE S. STAMPS YEARS
Reverend Dr. Connie S. Stamps was called an elected pastor in 1951. Reverend Stamps was a dynamic preacher, great radio evangelist, and excellent singer. The radio ministry gave Metropolitan Baptist Church a much greater audience to preach and sing the gospel unto.
Reverend Stamps played a substantial role in the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. The great social revolution, led by the beloved Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was sustained and bolsteded by the support of the Black Baptist Ministers and their congregations.
Reverend Stamps served The Metropolitan Baptist Church until 1979. This was the longest reign in our history.
THE REV. DR. JOHN A. SMITH YEARS
From 1979 through 1998 the Reverend John A. Smith pastored Metropolitan Baptist Church. Metropolitan Baptist Church, under his tutelage, became a Triple Landmark, having earned federal, state, and local landmark status. The replacement value of our church exceeds $20,000,000.00. Reverend Smith established a building fund, and raised large sums of money to maintain and repair this beautiful church, continue rebuilding projects and continue our debt free legacy.
Reverend John A. Smith was a dynamic preacher and soloist. He developed an international ministry, serving tourists from Europe and Asia who came to hear our great choirs and soloists sing the Gospel.
Rev. John A. Smith was called home to rest on November 29, 1998.
REV. DR. BOBBIE MCDANIEL YEARS
On April 1, 2000, The Metropolitan Baptist Church voted to elect our 5th pastor. We were proud to welcome the Reverend Bobbie McDaniel, of Union Baptist Church, into The Metropolitan Baptist Church Family. We looked forward, with great anticipation, to the challenges of this new Millennium, secure in the knowledge that Christ has sent us a truly anointed man to serve as under-shepherd.
‘Pastor and peoples – New Creatures Facing a New Day, With New Faith, New Hope and New Love’
2nd Corinthians 5:17
Under Rev. McDaniel’s guidance many wonderful ministries have begun a Metropolitan Baptist Church. Within the span of a meager 7 years we are home to a food ministry, a clothing ministry, a soup kitchen ministry, a New York City operated Senior Center and various referral services. Structural improvements include our sanctuary being air conditioned, installation of a motorized chair lift, the exterior of the church being sand blasted to restore it’s natural beauty, our sanctuary has been completely painted and virtual replacement of our aging roofs. We have been blessed to acquire two church vans to transport our membership as needed.
The well being of the community is one of our pastor’s great concerns. Coupled with the generosity of City Harvest, food is distributed several times a week to the community. We have truly become a 7 day a week church!
A BRIEF BIOGRAPHY OF REV. DR. BOBBIE MCDANIEL
Reverend Bobbie McDaniel is a native of Monetta, South Carolina. He is one of nine children born to Wilbilt and Hattie McDaniel. When he was nine years old, he accepted Christ as his Savior, and joined the Monetta Baptist Church. He received his primary and secondary education in the Monetta public school system. He has attended New York Theological Seminary, and completed courses in Christian Education, and Ministerial Studies.
In 1957, Reverend McDaniel migrated to New York City, and immediately joined the Union Baptist Church. He became actively involved in the church family immediately. His willingness to serve, and his leadership skills quickly propelled him into leadership positions.
In 1984, Reverend McDaniel ended his successful moving business to answer the call to the gospel ministry. In 1987, he was ordained to the gospel ministry by the Union Baptist Baptist Church. He has served in a variety of ministerial roles. He served as Minister of Visitation, providing services to the elderly and sick members of the congregation. He initiated and served as the director of the church’s Homeless and Destitute Ministry, which provides clothing, food, legal, and social services to the homeless, destitute, and others in need.
Reverend McDaniel served as the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Union Baptist Church for twenty-five years. In that position, he played a key role in the successful completion of the church’s three million dollar renovation project. In June 2000, Reverend McDaniel accepted the call to the pastorate of the Metropolitan Baptist Church.
Reverend McDaniel is married to the former Miss Peggy Roach. Reverend and Mrs. McDaniel have four sons, Michael, John, Steven, and Christopher, One daughter, Anita, and seven grandchildren.
Reverend McDaniel loves the Lord, His Word, and His people. He loves to teach, preach, and give pastoral care. He recognizes that it is because of God’s goodness that he has been called to the gospel ministry, and he begins each day determined to “Press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”