On June 13, 1858, arrangements were made for 13 Black men and women members (slaves) of the white First Baptist Church Atlanta to allow those members to have their own church; however, they were to be supervised by some of its white members. In 1860, plans were made for the ordination of Father Frank Quarles to be the first pastor of this new church; the other members were to be deacons. This newly formed church was initially called Walton Springs Baptist Church, and from it, Friendship Baptist Church was established in 1862 in the days of the Civil War. It was formally organized in 1866 with 25 charter members under the leadership of Father Frank Quarles. Our church was the first, independent, Black Baptist congregation in Atlanta. Being unable to buy property, our congregation worshipped in a discarded, railroad box car, donated by the Ninth Street Baptist Church of Cincinnati, Ohio, and sent to Atlanta from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to house what became known as Atlanta University. A contractual agreement was made with school organizers and Friendship leaders to share this boxcar for church services and educational purposes.
The membership grew rapidly, so the congregation moved to a larger building on the corner of Haynes and Markham Streets, and later to the corner of Mitchell Street and Northside Drive, where we worshipped until May 25, 2014. After thirty-eight months of worshipping in the Shirley A. Massey Conference Center on the Morehouse Campus, Friendship joyfully returned to a brand-new sanctuary at 80 Walnut Street on July 30, 2017.
Friendship’s role in Black education has been unique in that Morehouse College, upon moving to Atlanta from Augusta, Georgia, in 1879, set up classes in Friendship Baptist Church, and Spelman College had its beginning in the basement of our church in 1881. Close ties between these institutions continue to this day.
It is worthy to note that Friendship has had only seven pastors and three interim pastors in its existence to serve as follows:
- The Founding Pastor, the Reverend Frank Quarles (1862-1881)
- The Reverend Dr. Edward Randolph Carter (1882-1944)
- The Reverend Dr. Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Sr. (1945-1953)
- The Reverend Dr. Samuel Woodrow Williams (1954-1970)
- The Reverend Dr. William Vincent Guy (1971-2007)
- The Reverend Dr. John W Waters (November 13, 2007-June 2008)
- The Reverend Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie (2008-2012)
- The Reverend Dr. Emmanuel L. McCall (February 2013-October 2015)
- The Reverend Dr. Richard W. Wills, Sr. (2015-2021)
- The Reverend Dr. Joseph N. Evans (Interim Pastor) (January 2022-Present)
Throughout its history, Friendship has contributed outstanding leaders in the fields of education, business, and politics, including former Mayor Maynard H. Jackson, Jr., son of our third pastor, and who served three terms as Mayor of Atlanta.
Friendship’s affiliations include the American Baptist Churches, USA, the Progressive National Baptist Convention, the World Baptist Alliance, and their respective regional and local units.
Ecumenically, Friendship is affiliated with the Christian Council of Metropolitan Atlanta, the National Council of Churches, and the World Council of Churches.
Friendship is known as the “Mother Church” among Baptists in Atlanta because of its role in harmoniously forming several other congregations throughout the city, including:
Mount Zion Second Baptist Church (1868), Providence Missionary Baptist Church (1870), Wheat Street Baptist Church (1871), Paradise Baptist Church (1871), Zion Hill Baptist Church (1872), Antioch Baptist Church (1877), Providence Baptist Church (1883), Little Friendship Baptist Church (1909), and Union Baptist Church (1917).
The Friendship congregation, as part of its concern to provide spiritual and social uplift within the community, and through the leadership of its ministers, has provided an extensive housing ministry: The Samuel W. Williams/Friendship Center Apartments, the William V. Guy high-rise for the elderly and handicapped, and the R. Carter Old Folks Home, now demolished.
JOIN THE CELEBRATION OF FRIENDSHIP BAPTIST CHURCH’S 160TH ANNIVERSARY
APRIL 24, 2022
The Honorable Reverend Raphael Warnock, Ph.D. (and U. S. Senator for Georgia)
Friendship Baptist Church
80 Walnut Street SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30314
Last updated on April 15, 2022