ANTIOCH BAPTIST CHURCH - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
ANTIOCH BAPTIST CHURCH was established by Reverend Alexander Moore in January 1893 as Cleveland's second Baptist church for AFRICAN AMERICANS. Unhappy with the leadership of the SHILOH BAPTIST CHURCH, a small band of members began meeting informally in October 1892 in the home of Henry Myers at 10 Laurel (2327 E. 29th) St. with Reverend William Ridley as the first acting pastor. The Reverend D. D. Minor, an Oberlin College student, was engaged as the first official minister of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in March 1893. The small congregation soon outgrew its small home meeting place and moved to the Odd Fellows Hall on Ontario St. at Prospect Ave. It purchased and remodeled a house on Central Ave. at Sked (E. 24th) St. for its first church home, dedicated in July 1893. By 1905, the congregation had once more outgrown its quarters and erected a larger church building at the same location with the aid of matching funds from JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER. The congregation became affiliated with the Northern Baptist Convention (later the American Baptist Convention). To make way for public housing in the Central area, the church moved to the former Bolton Avenue Presbyterian Church at the corner of E. 89th St. and Cedar Ave. in 1934.
One of the leading institutions in the African American community, the Antioch Baptist Church has maintained its public visibility and community recognition through the appointment of dynamic and charismatic ministers, including Rev. Dr. HORACE C. BAILEY (1903-1923), Rev. WADE H. MCKINNEY (1928-62), Rev. Emmanual Branch (1964-83), and Rev. Dr. Marvin A. McMickle (1987-present). The church has historically advocated interracial cooperation in Cleveland and championed the civil rights of black Americans, beginning with the ministry of Reverend Bailey. Since 1945, Antioch Baptist has sponsored one of the largest protestant credit unions in the state of Ohio, Antioch Credit Union. With UNIVERSITY CIRCLE, INC. (UCI), and the CLEVELAND CLINIC FOUNDATION, the church co-sponsors a 12-story apartment building at E. 89th St. and Carnegie Ave.
Over the years, Antioch Baptist has maintained an active and varied community outreach program to address the social, economic, and spiritual needs of the black community. In 1999, Antioch Baptist launched the Antioch Development Corporation (ADC), a faith-based and non-profit agency working to enhance the quality of life of individuals and families in the Fairfax neighborhood. The agency has directed three programs: AGAPE, Stop AIDS is My Mission (SAMM), and Molding Minority Youth thru Faith And Mentoring (My FAM). The AGAPE Program was developed in partnership with Cleveland Clinic to heighten awareness about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the African-American community and to improve the quality of life for all, people infected with and affected by HIV/AIDS. While the AGAPE Program has focused specifically on heterosexual black women in Fairfax, offering early prevention education, testing services, spiritual counseling, and treatment referral, its programs have been open to all those in need. The program has sponsored support groups for gay and heterosexual black men as well as eight testing centers around Cleveland which provide a free oral HIV-antibody test. Antioch Baptist was one of only five black churches in the nation to offer a model full service HIV/AIDS program and AGAPE was the state's first faith-based AIDS program in 2009. Focusing on at-risk youth throughout Greater Cleveland, the SAMM (Stopping AIDS is My Mission) project has promoted HIV/AIDS education to reduce risk behavior. The My Fam (Molding Minority Youth thru Faith and Service) program has targeted African-American males in the sixth grade, providing them with the long-term guidance and support of minority professionals willing and able to serve as mentors.
Antioch sponsored free legal advice clinics with the help of the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland's Volunteer Lawyers Program, handling civil issues, such as divorce, bankruptcy, and problems with predatory lenders. It also launched Project Angel Tree to provide Christmas gifts, mostly clothing and toys, to the children of those incarcerated in Ohio and hosted an annual "Hallo-Lujah" Festival, a free Christian alternative to Halloween for kids aged 5 to 12 complete with family activities, carnival-style games, and Bible lessons. Working with the UNITED BLACK FUND OF GREATER CLEVELAND, the church hosted the Re-Entry Resource Fest to connect ex-offenders with prospective employers and legal and financial resources.
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