A "Concise" History
The concept of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church was born when a prayer meeting group organized in 1916 in a house on McIver Street. Prayer meetings were held there weekly. In the organization were, Mr. John Wright; his wife, Mrs. Lydia Wright; Buddy Wright; Reverend Pete W. King; and several other members. As interest and attendance increased, the group decided to include Sunday School as part of their program.
As membership grew, it was necessary for the group to seek a larger place to worship. The old Ashley Heights Church on Ashley Street provided the needed space. Reverend Pete King served as the minister for several years.
It was under the leadership of Reverend Charlie T. Underwood that the site on Campbell Avenue was purchased. Through hard work and much sacrifice, the church building was completed and occupied in 1924.
During the years 1930-1932, Friendship Church was used as a classroom for an overflow of grades one and two from South Side School, later known as Edward Evans School. There were two teachers, Catherine Smith, and Joanna Williams.
Dr. Baxter Lee Rich of Goldsboro, NC, was called to pastor Friendship in June 1968. Under his leadership, the church experienced a tremendous growth through the Spirit of Almighty God.
On March 8, 1992, God allowed Dr. B. L. Rich to turn the first shovel of dirt at the ground breaking for a new edifice. After twenty-six years of dedicated service, Dr. Rich retired from pastoring at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church on July 17, 1994.
On Sunday, March 12, 1995, Pastor S. Lee Downing of Mount Tabor Missionary Baptist Church, Cerro Gordo, NC, assumed the duties as full time minister of Friendship.
Pastor Downing's vision of a "Christ Centered, Bible Based, Reaching Out" church continues to expand the church's growth, ministry, and involvement in the community.
On March 31, 2019, Pastor S. Lee Downing retired with over 24 years of faithful and dedicated service to the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church and community.
Reverend Frederick Hill, the Assistant Pastor of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, was voted in by church members to serve as the Interim Pastor. Rev. Hill's vision is to continue to grow and move the church forward with "Christ Centered, Bible Based, Reaching Out in Love" principles.
On June 20, 2021, Reverend Timothy D. Careathers, of Chattanooga, TN was called to pastor, Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Careathers is married to the former Jill L. Baskerville of Chattanooga, TN.