Church History

In 1945, Reverend Hurley L. Long and Deacon Floyd Price met to organize a spiritual headquarters for God. After this initial meeting, they met with Sisters Thomies Lawrence, Georgia Long, Dora Marshall, Julia Murray and Elnora Thomas and established the Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (SFMBC).

Under Pastor Long’s leadership the Deacon and Deaconess Boards, Pastor’s Aide, Senior Choir, Senior Usher Board, Sunday School Department and Trustee Board were organized.

In 1952, Pastor Long relocated to Baltimore, Maryland where he served as pastor of the Mt. Hebrew Baptist Church until his death. Soon after Pastor Long’s departure, Reverend Lewis J. McIlwain was chosen as acting pastor of SFMBC. The church was incorporated in 1954.

 

Reverend Lewis J. McIlwain was ordained in 1953 and became the second pastor of the SFMBC. In 1954 the congregation agreed to buy the property at 935 5th Street, NE. Under Reverend McIlwain, the The Building Fund, Missionary Society and Nurses Unit were established. Deacons who served under Pastor McIlwain were Joe Butler, Ernest Crawford, Pheo Gaither, John Jamison, Floyd Price and Gus Walton. The trustees were David Cato, Noneva Hall, Sam Jones and Zadie (Seawright) Pledger. Sister Thomies Lawrence became the first mother of the Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.

In 1963, while on vacation, Pastor McIlwain was called home to be with the Lord. At the time of his passing, Pastor McIlwain had placed Minister Colon Johnson in charge.

 

Reverend Colon Johnson was acting pastor of the Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church until the church ordained him in March 1964. Under Pastor Johnson’s leadership the membership grew to approximately 300. Pastor Johnson organized the following groups: The Male Chorus, Willing Workers, the Beautification Committee, Flower Club, Hospitality Committee, Intermediate Usher Board, Junior Deacon Board, Junior Usher Board and Pee Wee Usher Board.

In 1969, Pastor Johnson initiated a program that was approved by the membership to burn the $27,500 mortgage at the 1512 K Street location. In October 1971, the church moved to 2600 Minnesota Avenue, S.E. Eight years later in October 1979, God blessed SFMBC to burn the $80,088.47 mortgage. On January 27, 1986, Pastor Johnson was called home to be with the Lord.

In 1986, when the church was without a pastor, Willie L. Mungo, the Chairman of the Deacon Board assumed the leadership of the church. The church continued to prosper under the leadership of Deacon Mungo and the Deacon Board; the Trustee Board and its chairman, Samuel Mingo, Jr. with the assistance of Reverends Jasper Chamberlain and Braxton Williams.

In January 1988 the church elected Reverend Welton Fields, Jr., as the fourth pastor of the SFMBC.

 

Reverend Doctor Welton Fields, Jr.

In January 1988, Reverend Fields accepted the position as Pastor of the Southern Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.  In 1994, Pastor Fields placed his faith and fate, totally, in the Hands of the Lord.  He resigned his career to devote his full attention to pastoral ministry.

Continuously yielding to God’s purpose for him, Doctor Fields remains an obedient Under Shepherd – a highly anointed Preacher and Teacher of the Gospel.  As he follows God on this journey, the world has seen many parishioners mature spiritually and many new disciples surrender their lives to the Lord.  Trusting in The Lord with all his heart and encouraging evangelism, the flock increased; and new and expanded outreach programs were born.  The congregation soon outgrew the walls of the land-locked Minnesota Avenue edifice.  So, the Church purchased an approximate 7-acre site, across from the Suitland Metro, where a new edifice was to be constructed.  But, God had a different plan for this dynamic Church.  God, and only God, made it possible for this small, but growing Congregation, to purchase its current Temple Hills edifice, which consists of a 94,000 square foot building and 13 acres.

Continuing to pursue the vision from God, under the leadership of Dr. Fields, Southern Friendship has become a “beacon” to those seeking the Lord; and through its nearly thirty ministries, there is a place to serve and many opportunities to be of service, within the greater community.

Pastor Fields has served as a former President of the National Capital Baptist Convention of Washington DC & Vicinity (NCBC); as an Instructor for the National Capital Baptist Congress of Christian Education; a former Faculty Member of Faith Bible College and Seminary; former Member, Board of Directors, National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc.; and is a member of The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Washington, DC & Vicinity.

Internationally, Pastor Fields has served as the President of Four Corners International Mission, Inc.; he, along with Pastor Charles Cato and Pastor Eric Barksdale, led the effort to collect over 60,000 pairs of shoes to fund the drilling of two fresh water wells in Kenya.  He visited Kenya in 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, including Uganda in 2012, 2014 and 2015.  Accomplishments include the building of two new dormitories; two complete bath rooms; new kitchen; facilitated workshops for local pastors in Uganda; retrofitted the medical clinic; and brought the Word to over 2000 souls in Kenya on several occasions.

In 2013, Pastor Fields visited Israel, as part of a twenty-two-member delegation, representing the National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc., hosted by the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

At home, Pastor Fields actively supports various community events, Prince George’s County Council and the Maryland State Legislature; and he and Lady Fields attended President Obama’s Second Inaugural Prayer Service at the Washington Cathedral.

Dr. Fields has preached The Word for fifty years; pastored a total of forty-eight years.  

On September 28, 2019, Pastor Fields publicly announced his decision to retire, soon, after 32 years of faithful and dedicated service at THIS branch of Zion.  Dr. Fields holds the title of the longest serving Pastor in the current History of SFMBC.
 
In December of 2019, at a Church Conference, the membership voted to acknowledge the voice of God, through our Pastor, to name his successor in the person of Rev. Frankey Grayton.
 
Rev. Grayton assumed the Pastorate on May 1, 2020 as the fifth pastor of the SFMBC. 

Reverend Frankey Grayton

On May 1, 2020, Rev. Frankey Grayton assumed the position of Pastor as it was decided by the membership in a December 2019 Church  Conference.  We sit in anticipation with great excitement for this leadership to move forward.   It is our prayer that as we continue in the path ordained by God in alignment of the Moses and Joshua example, Pastor Grayton will embrace the torch that has passed to him.  Pastor Grayton has taken the reigns in a most effective and efficient manner in spite of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.  His thrust for interactive Prayer, Bible Study, Church School and the Worship experience has been WELL received, encouraging and life changing.  We continue to trust God and believe that the Holy Spirit will lead, guide and direct Him in the path that God has designed for progress and growth in “Kingdom Building” for this congregation.