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History of

Kensington Baptist Church

"They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
[Acts 2:42]

The Kensington Baptist Church, like the church established by the Apostle Paul at Philippi, was started largely as a result of the efforts of a godly woman. Lydia, a first century business woman, made her home available to the missionary Paul for the beginnings of the Philippian church.

In Kensington, Maryland as a result of the determined and untiring efforts of Mrs. Ida Simms the new Baptist church was constituted, October 11, 1922. Mrs. Simms led in enlisting 27 charter members of the new Baptist church. Two town lots were purchased on Dupont Ave., a tent was erected, and meetings were held under the leadership of Rev. Frank Farley and Rev. H. H. Nicoll. The church called Rev. Nicoll as its first pastor.

The official roster of the first officers of the church was as follows: 1922, Sunday School Superintendent, W.J. Brooks; Clerk, H.M. Flinn; Treasurer, W.M. Matthews; Trustees, H.M. Brooks, Dr. Edward Speider, W.F. Matthews, H.M. Flinn, W.J. Brooks, Smith Putnam. 1923, Deacons, H.M. Brooks, W.J. Brooks, Cyrus Sherman, Edgar Thomas, George Schneider; Deaconess, Mrs. Ida L. Simms.

During the past 90 years 21 pastors and interim pastors have served the church.

The membership of the church during the first year grew from the original 27 to 72. Within five years the number grew to 119 and after 25 years there were over 300 members. By 1955 the membership exceeded 600. The maximum number of resident and non-resident members reached 1,192 in 1968.

In the late 1960's and 1970's something happened that affected businesses, schools and churches in this and similar areas. The Washington, D.C. suburbs rapidly extended farther away and younger families followed to more affordable homes. Businesses adjusted to an older population, many elementary and secondary schools were forced to close, and churches suffered the loss of younger families.

A low mark in membership of the Kensington Baptist Church was reached in the early 1980's. Often it was wondered if the church would survive.

Then, in 1984 something happened to give the church new life. Not only were demographic changes taking place but the church under the leadership of interim pastor James O. Duncan made changes in its building structure, church programming methods and, most of all, a new outlook on Christian ministry. Almost immediately the church began to grow again. It has continued its upward climb under the leadership of Jerry L. Martin, who came to the church in June 1986. Pastor Martin retired in December 1999.

Until about 1950, the 1926 Church sanctuary generally met the congregation's needs. Despite the addition of two substantial annexes in 1947 and 1951, there was a growing need of more space to serve the growing congregation.

On the original property owned by the church in uptown Kensington (now the location of Pizza Hut) the church meeting place grew from a tent to a temporary building in 1922 to a comfortable building in 1926. A parsonage nearby was purchased, part of which was used for Sunday School, an annex was built, and social rooms at the Kensington Fire House were rented for Sunday School. At one time two worship services on Sunday morning were held due to family growth and the influx of young families.


Kensington Baptist Church in 1954


Noel Residence-Parsonage in 1954

Under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Guy Saunders in 1954 the church purchased the present property, then known as the F. Regis Noel estate. New building construction was begun in 1956. The second floor of the educational building was added in 1960.

When the community and church changes affected membership and attendance, much of the new, spacious building space became superfluous. Much of the educational space was not used, and the basement floor was rented to a Korean Baptist Church. By the early 1980's a new low in church membership was reached.

After the remodeling program that took place in 1984 and 1985 and under the progressive leadership of Pastor Martin since 1986, the second floor of the educational annex was refurnished for the anticipated church growth.

Over the years the church has been a Bible believing, evangelistic, missionary, cooperating Baptist church with special love and care for members who have needed help both spiritually and physically. The church has been an active member of the Montgomery Baptist Association, the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and the Southern Baptist Convention. In recent years during the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention the church has been "moderate" in its views, remaining faithful to the historic Baptist principles of the authority of the Bible, salvation by grace through faith, the autonomy of the local church under the Lordship of Christ, religious liberty and separation of church and state, the priesthood of all believers, and cooperation with others who wish to work together to carry out the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.

As a result of its missionary spirit the church has participated in the sponsorship and beginnings of six other churches -- Georgia Avenue Baptist Church, Ashton Baptist Church, Colesville Baptist Church, Calverton Baptist Church, Baptist work in Columbia, and Viers Mill Baptist Church.

In addition to supporting the regular missionary program of the denomination the Kensington Baptist Church has sent three missionaries to foreign lands, one in Thailand, Viet Nam and the Phillippines; one to Japan; and one to Germany.

Currently the church divides its global missionary support between the Cooperative Program of the Southern Baptist Convention and the missionary work of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

List of Pastors and Interim Pastors

Rev. H. H. Nicoll Nov. 1922 to Dec. 1928

Rev. N. E. Harrington Nov. 1929 to Dec. 1931

Rev. J. P. Scruggs Jan. 1932 to Sept. 1935

Rev. O. Eure Jan. 1936 to Sept. 1936

Rev. W. Scott June 1937 to Oct. 1937

Rev. C. E. Jones June 1938 to May 1947

Rev. E. Y. Averett Aug. 1947 to Dec. 1949

Rev. K. W. Knox April 1950 to Jan. 1953

Rev. Guy Saunders March 1953 to Nov. 1958

Rev. W. C. Ballback April 1959 to June 1959

Rev. W. Barry Garrett (Interim) July 1959 to Oct. 1959

Rev. Thomas Painter Nov. 1959 to Feb. 1968

Rev. Rex Bennett Sept. 1968 to Aug. 1972

Rev. Charles Barnes (Interim) Sept. 1972 to Jan. 1973

Rev. C. P. Morell Jan. 1973 to April 1980

Rev. R. G. Puckett (Interim) April 1980 to Aug. 1980

Rev. E. C. Seddon Aug. 1980 to April 1984

Rev. J. O. Duncan (Interim) May 1984 to June 1986

Rev. Jerry L. Martin June 1986 to Dec. 1999

Rev. Burnis Barrett (Interim) Feb. 1999 to Dec. 2000

Rev. Charles Barnes (Interim) Jan. 2001 to Jan. 2002

Rev. William (Bill) C. George Feb. 2002 to Feb. 2022

Kensington Baptist Church at the time of its first service (1956).

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