Our History

The East Friendship Baptist Church began as a Sunday school mission organized in 1947, in the homes of Mrs. Elizabeth Johnson and Ms. Lillie Mae Johnson (no relation). In 1948, with their homes unable to accommodate the growth of the mission, Elizabeth Johnson, a member of the Friendship Baptist Church, sought the advice of her pastor, Reverend Benjamin H. Whiting.

Reverend Whiting directed Reverend Robert Wright, a son of the Friendship Baptist Church, to aid the mission. Reverend Wright led the mission to its first location, at 923 Kenilworth Avenue, NE, Washington, D.C. in 1948. In 1952, the growing mission was organized as a church. It was renamed the East Friendship Baptist Church with the Reverend Wright as its first pastor. Under the leadership of Reverend Wright and the dedicated service of many others, including the first lady, Wilhelmina Wright, East Friendship demonstrated great faith and sacrifice during those early years.

In 1954, the church found a new home at 4094 Minnesota Avenue, NE.  In 1956, William Vaden was ordained as its first deacon.  

In 1971, the church moved to its present location at 4401 Brooks Street, NE.  In 1977, Reverend Wright retired after 29 years of faithful service.

Reverend Willie Green, a son of the Church, was called to pastor later that year. Under the leadership of Reverend Green, East Friendship continued to experience the grace of God.  From 1977 to 1996, East Friendship was affectionately known as “The Church with a Great Welcome.” The spirit of warm fellowship was marked by continued church growth in spirit, strength and membership.  In 1988, the church began a church expansion program, which was completed in 1990.  In 1997, Reverend Green retired having spiritually led the congregation for two decades.

In 1998, East Friendship installed Reverend Jonathan Bennett as its third pastor. Reverend Bennett led East Friendship’s transition from an “auxiliary and club” church model to a “holistic ministry” focus, aimed at ministering to the family of God.


In 2002, its jubilee 50th anniversary, East Friendship called the Reverend Jawanza Karriem Colvin to be its fourth pastor.  Reverend Colvin, was a son of East Friendship, having been spiritually nurtured, baptized and licensed to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Under Reverend Colvin’s leadership, East Friendship experienced a revived growth and commitment to seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Pastor Colvin envisioned a church spiritually equipped, socially conscious and progressively active in advancing the Kingdom of God on earth.  After seven years of faithful service, Pastor Colvin was called to the historic Olivet Institutional Baptist Church in Cleveland Ohio departing March 31, 2009.


A seamless transition was made by the church in selecting Reverend Melvin M. Maxwell as its Interim Pastor.  The church formed a Pastoral Search Committee that went to work immediately.   The continuity of ministry was sustained through the shepherding gift of Reverend Melvin M. Maxwell, the leadership of the Chairman of the Diaconate, George Mathis, and the spiritual gifts of the Board of Elders, ministry leaders, and associate ministers.  On February 27, 2010, after great deliberation and pressing through snow laden streets, the East Friendship congregation voted Rev. Melvin M. Maxwell as their fifth pastor.