The History of
The Metropolitan Baptist Church
In 1875-76, the current edifice at 3500 Baring Street was erected and has since been
declared an historic site by the Philadelphia Historic Commission.
The building is Victorian Gothic design, originally created by architect Thomas
W. Richards, similar to his other works at the University of Pennsylvania’s
College Hall and St. Mary’s Church in Hamilton Village.
1887, the massive lower corner was completed.
Most notable are the stained glass windows, well-known Christian
symbols, incorporated into the wall decorations; the gray “Chestnut Hill”
exterior stone walls made of small quarry-faced random ashlar blocks,
rimmed in smooth dressed stone; decoration of the wood ceiling; the large
central rosary wheel window and lancet tracery windows under the Gothic
In 1926: interior redecoration was done by D’Ascenzo Studios of
Winter of 1931: 14 men and women joined together in Christ; Mr. & Mrs. John Lakes,
Mr. & Mrs. Charles Carnegie, Mr. & Mrs. Douglas Heard, Mr. & Mrs. John Barber, Mr.
& Mrs. Clerksie Walker, Rev. & Mrs. Hines, Mrs. Mary J. Bolden and Mr. John Lang.
The founding members petitioned Revered J.H. Williams, with Little St. James
Baptist Church in West Philadelphia, allowed the group led by Brother John
Lakes to organize under his church’s name.
Rev. Phillips served as interim pastor until April. Rev. M.R. Goodman, then
pastoring his church at 37th & Haverford Avenue permitted the group to use his
building until they were able to obtain their own.
April 1931: 3 additional members joined the church; Miss Eula Reid, Mrs. Annie
Mae Walker, and Mrs. Keither Williams.
Relocated to the Old Haddington Place at 3711 Warren Street, the group called
Rev. Williams to serve as their pastor. In July, they acquired a larger building at
38th & Hamilton Streets and voted to name their church The Williams Chapel
Baptist Church after its founder.
The membership relocated to Penn Memorial Baptist Church on Powelton
Avenue and Sloan Streets, pastored by Rev. Jones.
December 1942: the first purchase was made at a former laundry building located at 3728-
30 Haverford Avenue and the members were able to burn the mortgage. In 1948, Pastor
Williams offered his resignation to the church.
April 1949: Rev. N.E. Holsey of the Bryant Baptist Church of Savannah, accepted the call as the 2nd pastor of Williams Chapel Baptist Church and his first action was to change the
name of the church to Metropolitan Baptist Church.
In August 1953, MBC petitioned Rev. Miller Lee Gayton, Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist
Church of Pottsville, PA to serve as their 3 rd pastor.
Rev. Gayton presented a multi-year, 15-point program, including:
The primary objective was prayer;
A worker’s council;
New Member’s Club; and
An evangelistic program was started in the Education Department.
Thousands of members were added to the church as candidates for baptism,
Christian experience, and restoration.
In December of 1954, the mortgage of the church was burned.