Our History

Friendship Baptist Church was established in 1862 and independently organized in 1866, in the days after the Civil War, becoming Atlanta’s first black Baptist autonomous congregation. Through the generosity of the Ninth Street Baptist Church of Cincinnati, Ohio, a discarded railroad boxcar was purchased in Chattanooga, Tennessee and sent to the Friendship congregation in Atlanta, Georgia. This boxcar served as both a worship site on Sundays and as a classroom on weekdays for early classes at burgeoning Atlanta University in 1865. The membership grew rapidly so the congregation moved to a larger building on the corner of Haynes and Markham Streets, and later to its previous site at Northside Drive.


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.  Spelman College had its beginning in the basement of the previous church site in 1881. Close ties between these institutions continue to this day. It is worthy to note that Friendship has had only seven pastors in its existence to serve in years as follows:

    • The Founding Pastor, the Rev Frank Quarles (1862 – 1881)​​
    • The Rev. Dr. Edward Randolph Carter (1882 – 1944)​​
    • The Rev. Dr. Maynard Holbrook Jackson (1945 – 1953)
    • The Rev. Dr. Samuel Woodrow Williams (1954 – 1970)​
    • The Rev. Dr. William Vincent Guy (1971 – 2007), Pastor Emeritus
    • The Rev. Dr. Timothy T. Boddie (2008 – 2012 )
    • The Rev. Dr. Richard W. Wills, Sr. (2015 – 2021)​
    • The Rev. Dr. Kelly Miller Smith, Jr. (2024-present)