The History of Antioch Baptist Church
“A Journey of Faith”
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
Antioch has a prolific history that began when it was organized April 10, 1878, by its first five members: Brothers Abram Williams, John Bryant, Mark Bennett and Sisters Lena Bennett and Ira Green. The organization was effected by the Reverend Henry Roundtree, May Cartridge, G. R. Gibson and Deacon Samuel Ketch.
Antioch has had five buildings in three locations (two structures destroyed by fire) and ten pastors between 1878-2008. The first structure was located on Gwinnett Street (now known as Laney-Walker Boulevard), between Irwin Towers and the railroad. The first pastor was the Reverend John O’Bryant, who served for one year. He was known as a hard worker and an aggressive leader.
The second pastor, the Reverend W. H. Dunn, was called in 1879. His efforts resulted in the edification of all departments of the church. After serving for one year, he and some members left and organized the Mount Calvary Baptist Church.
Antioch saw considerable growth under the leadership of its third pastor, the Reverend Daniel McHorton, who served from 1880-1885. A two story wood-frame church was erected at the corner of Brown and Holley Streets. The membership increased to seventy-five, including the pastor and ten deacons. The church grew in number and spiritually, but differences between the membership and the pastor resulted in his termination.
The Reverend Thomas Jefferson Hornsby became the pastor on November 8, 1886. The church was in debt; however, the members united, retired the debt and added to the building. A ceiling, seats, lights, a vestibule, a library, a clock and an organ were added. Before long the church was free of all indebtedness and became devoted to religious growth, ministering to the needy and cooperating with district and state programs of the Baptist denomination.
The Walker Baptist Institute began at Antioch, and many members attended the school with pride. In 1888, Antioch was admitted to the Walker Baptist Association.
On February 25, 1895, the church edifice was destroyed by fire while the church was in the midst of revival, and the congregation was invited to worship at Walker Baptist.
By July 8, 1895, the congregation had purchased the site at the corner of Augusta Avenue and Florence Street for $225 and erected a building for $1800. By this time the membership had grown to two hundred and thirty. Five ministers were ordained, three were licensed to preach, and eight deacons were added.
On November 10, 1901, Reverend Hornsby died, after serving Antioch for fifteen years; and the membership chose one of its own to become the pastor.
Reverend John W. Whitehead became the fifth pastor of Antioch in 1902 and served for thirty years. Membership increased to more than 600. Antioch entertained the Association and the Conventions. Under his leadership, the Missionary Society was organized.
The church edifice was remolded and painted. An adjacent lot was purchased; the east wing was added; electric lights were installed; chairs were bought; three ministers were ordained; five deacons were added; the Senior Usher Board was organized and the church could now pay the minister for two Sundays each month. Much attention was given to the spiritual growth of the members and community. Reverend Whitehead, feeling that his days of usefulness had ended, resigned in 1932.
In 1934, the edifice was destroyed by fire, and services were held at Haines Norman Institute. In 1935, there was dissension over calling a pastor, and one group left and started Olivet Baptist Church, and the other group called Reverend J. B. Reid. After the debt was paid, and plans were made to build a new church, Reverend Reid left and went to Ebenezer Baptist Church in Athens, Georgia.
Reverend I. J. Yancey was elected pastor in 1935 and served for twenty-five years. The membership marched into their new, well built, brick veneered, well lit, beautifully finished church the first Sunday in November and had it paid for before the close of the year. The church was involved in mission, youth activities, auxiliaries, choirs (A. B. Jennings was organized), anniversaries, revivals, and Men’s Day and Women’s Day. Many deacons were ordained, and trustees began to serve. On September 11, 1960, Reverend Yancey died.
Reverend Charles L. Stokes became the pastor in 1962 and served for nine years. Membership and participation increased greatly. The Fellowship Circle, the Deaconess Board, the Brotherhood, the Courtesy Guild, and the Flower Guild were organized. The Educational Building was added, new choirs started, and early service was held during the summer. Antioch became incorporated in 1965. Spiritual growth was evident, and income more than doubled. On July 8, 1970, Rev. Stokes gave his farewell speech.
Reverend Robert E. Donaldson, of Anderson, South Carolina, became the pastor in March 1971, and served until April 1985. Antioch adopted the philosophy, “Total Involvement” and the theme, “The Church That Reaches Out.” A parsonage was purchased. Children’s Church, the Wiley Drayton Day Care, the George Thomas Ensemble, the M. H. Donaldson Singers, and the Birthday Club were organized. Many purchases were made, including a van. Five ladies were added to the Trustee Board. Bible study was on Tuesday nights.
Reverend Kenneth B. Martin became the pastor in April 1986 and has shown excellent leadership in a holistic ministry, bringing forth changes and growth religiously, economically, educationally, politically, socially, and in the family. Under his visionary leadership: Antioch Ministries, Inc. (AMI) has been organized; more than 40 properties have been purchased; 35 housing units have been restored and renovated in the community surrounding Antioch; 16 new residences have been completed and the owners qualified to take possession; and a full time housing executive director and staff is now required. To God Be The Glory!
To date, under Rev. Martin’s pastoral leadership, we have grown numerically. More than 860 new members have joined the membership, 19 deacons have been ordained, 7 trustees have been installed, and 7 ministers have been licensed. Over 30 ministries have been organized or reorganized, including:
ASK (Antioch Senior Kare)
AWIC (Antioch Women In Christ)
CLIC (Children Living In Christ)
ETF (Evangelistic Task Force)
FLY (Faith-Led Youth)
Food Pantry (Angel Food distribution)
Habitat (with Habitat For Humanity)
MAC (Men of Antioch Church)
New Member Orientation
Antioch has grown spiritually with worship services that are powerful and praise-filled. We have increased attendance at Church School and Bible Study, and have established a separate session for youth and another for children. Discipleship classes are a part of our new member orientation, and we offer Christian development retreats that are open to all members. We are extensively involved in local, state, national, and international activities, and we attend and sponsor outreach and training workshops and conferences at all levels. We offer two Sunday worship services, at 7:45 a.m. and 10:45 a.m., the 7:45 service is broadcast on WKZK Gospel Radio at 11 a.m. every Sunday.
Antioch has grown structurally-- church signs have been added, handicap ramps have been installed, parking lots have been acquired, and two vans have been purchased. Extensive renovations were made to the Educational Building and the Sanctuary from October 2002 to April 2003.
Antioch has grown financially, with tithing members and consistent givers, and finances have increased substantially.
Antioch has truly been blessed these 130 years. Great lines have been written, but greater ones are waiting to be written, and we are the writers. Our obedience and dedication to the Will and the Way of our God is our subject, and Jesus Christ is our focus.