On January 28, 1951, the first worship service was held at the home of the late Deacon Lee Williams, at 2403 N. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA. The message was delivered by the late Reverend Jack Kelly. In the midst of looking for a permanent facility to worship, the Lord opened the doors of the 2nd Pilgrim Baptist Church, where the late Reverend R.L. Thomas presided. Delivering the ‘Word’ each Sunday, was the late Reverend J.H. Marshall of Harrisburg, PA.
On October 7, 1952, various members cashed in personal savings bonds to purchase a vacant building, located at 1828-33 W. Norris Street for $20,000.00.
The first pastor called by God to shepherd this small flock, was the late Reverend John A. White of New York. Reverend White was actively presiding over a church named, ‘Berean’– Thus, the birth of the name, ‘Berean Baptist Church’ was officially adopted. Shortly thereafter, officers and auxiliaries were formed. Pastor White, who was encouraged to move on, resigned in November, 1955.
In March, of 1955, the late Reverend J.E. Cunningham was the 2nd Pastor called to the pulpit to lead the faithful few of Berean. All members who cashed in savings bonds to purchase the building on Norris Street, were fully reimbursed. Reverend Cunningham faithfully served out his pastoral tenure that had come to a close in September, 1961.
On March 3, 1962, the late Reverend Christopher C. Sharpe was summoned to be the 3rd Pastor of the Berean Baptist Church. The church paid off its mortgage on the Norris Street property and renovated the building.
March 13, 1966- Giving all the glory and honor to God, the church humbly held its ‘Mortgage Burning Service Celebration,’ for the Norris street property.
On July 12, 1967, while still under the leadership of Pastor Sharpe, Berean purchased the present 2425-33 W. Indiana Avenue site for the amount of $55,000.00. As a result, on the 3rd Sunday of September, 1967, the congregation marched from the Norris Street building to the newly purchased property on Indiana Avenue.
Pastor Sharpe resigned on November 13, 1967. Again, we were without a shepherd, but we held on to God’s unchanging hand. Filling the leadership void was Deacon John Williams, Deacon Oliver Chapman and Reverend Michael Dawkins. What an example of humanity touched by divinity!
On June 2, 1968, the late Reverend James Henry Milteer became the 4th Pastor of the Berean Baptist Church. As membership increased, the church purchased and paid for a parsonage. In addition, three vans were purchased and a day care nursery was in operation 5 days a week.
Reverend Milteer served faithfully for 13 years before the Lord called him from labor to await his reward on April 7, 1981.
June 22, 1982, the Reverend E. McKinley Taylor took the reins as the 5th Pastor of Berean. Pastor Taylor was responsible for changing the course of history at Berean, as he recognized the need to place women in leadership roles. At a church business meeting on January 9, 1984, Pastor Taylor resigned.
On September 10, 1984, the 6th Pastor of the Berean Baptist Church was installed. The late Reverend, Dr. Albert Wilson Dock was handed the anointed ‘Staff’ to lead and protect the spiritual body of Berean.
A vision was planted for the congregation. That vision was: “Bringing, Blessing and Building.” The mission was: “Seeking, Saving and Serving.” The commitment was: “Evangelizing, Educating and Equipping.” The goal was: “Making People Better From Life’s Beginning to End.”
Under the Pastoral leadership of Reverend Albert Wilson Dock, 26 ministries were instituted and membership increased by 2,041.
On August 25, 2008, Pastor A.W. Dock, who shepherded this congregation for 24 years, was awarded a seat in the Kingdom for his labor. Deacon Cleveland Way, Jr. led the Berean congregation while a search took place for a new leader.
On April 5, 2010, Reverend James Henry Buck, Jr. was elected as our seventh Pastor. Pastor Buck’s Installation Service was held on October 3, 2010 at the Hilton Hotel, 4700 City Avenue in Philadelphia, PA 19131.
Habakkuk 2:2 states: Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.”
On Saturday, January 22, 2011, Pastor Buck presented the Mission, Vision & Value statements to the congregation. Mission: “Evangelize, Edify and Empower,” Vision: “Community, Commune and Christ,” Values: “Faith, Hope & Love,” ~ “Where Traditions & Innovations Commune.”
Under Pastor Buck’s leadership, we celebrate our Heritage in February; Berean celebrated our 1st Juneteenth Day (commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States dating back to 1865) with fun, food and games after worship service. 1st Convocation Service was instituted by ushering out our old Communion elements and bringing in the new. Berean’s Welcome Song was adopted and sung; penned by our very own, Sister Jessica Shearin. We began broadcasting on radio station 1110 AM-WNAP Gospel Highway Eleven every Thursday. 1st Foot Washing was held at Berean Baptist Church with Pastor Buck and the Diaconate Ministry performing a foot washing service.
On 2012, Pastor Buck traveled to Seoul, Korea on a Mission Trip called the 2012 Friendship Tour. Sunday, August 5, 2012 was dedicated as “Rachel Irick Day” in recognition of a young member of Berean who was involved in a tragic motorcycle accident.
The Deacons & Deaconess Ministries were changed to Diaconate Ministry, consisting of Men & Women. A Website for Berean Baptist Church was created. Berean’s Educational Enhancement Scholarship fund was instituted.
The Wee Worshipers participate in Holy Communion Service by drinking juice and eating crackers (along with the other congregants) which represent Jesus’ body and blood to teach them, at an early age, the meaning of the commandment.
On December 29, 2012, the Lydia M. Edwards Community Development Center was opened with a ribbon cutting dedication service. The Miriam Medical Clinic has its ribbon cutting/grand opening on August 30, 2014, with an all-day Block Party. On May 2, 2015, Berean’s Infant & Toddler Early Learning Center has its ribbon cutting/grand opening ceremony.
Since 2010, Berean’s membership continues to increase. After faithfully serving the Christadelphians of the Church of Berea, sadly, Pastor Buck resigned on January 8, 2017, after worship service.
Deacon Anthony Gamble and the Diaconate Ministry led the Berean congregation for 2½ years as the membership continued to move forward. On Saturday, May 11, 2019, Reverend Dr. Michael W. Couch was elected to serve as our eighth Pastor. Pastor’s Couch’s Pre-Installation & Installation Service were held on Sunday, October 4, 2019 at Berean Baptist Church.
We honor the Faithful Christian Soldiers who started this journey and who are still with us. The Pioneer member for which we Praise God is Elder Grace C. Weston-Allen.