Our History Kristin Hicks February 23, 2015

A Beginning in Hell’s Bottom

In 1864, a year after President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation freeing slaves in these United States, wards where black people resided in the District of Columbia continued to have disparaging labels, i.e., “Hell’s Bottom,” “Cow Town,” and “Vinegar Hill,” to name a few. It was in the “Hell’s Bottom” ward that the Reverend Henry Bailey and ten like-minded Christian believers began worshipping in an abandoned Civil War barracks. Later, they pooled their resources, purchased a frame house, renovated it, and established it as the Fourth Baptist Church of the District of Columbia, valued at $2500.00. Among those ten believers was a Mr. Wiley Jordan, grandfather of our own Mrs. Moncerie Woolfolk.

Reverend Henry Bailey

The ground on which the Shaw community now stands had been open farmland until shortly before the Civil War. During the war, several barracks were built on the site. The barracks also were used as contraband camps,” sheltering former slaves who had either escaped from nearby Virginia and Maryland or had been “confiscated” by the Union Army, along with other destitute freedmen. From 1862 to 1863, approximately 4,000 freedmen were housed at Camp Barker, directly across the street from the former site….


Mrs. Francis Bailey

Mrs. Francis “Fannie” Bailey served by his side in a post-slavery Washington, DC. No. doubt she walked in step with her husband as they established the Fourth Baptist Church. They had one daughter, unfortunately, we have no photo of Mrs.Bailey.

A “Church in Transition” Reverend Dr. Robert Johnson

That same year, 1870, Fourth Baptist Church called the Reverend Robert Johnson as its Pastor. Among the most significant changes during his thirty-three year tenure are: (1) the Church was reconstructed from the frame building it was to the Victorian Gothic style – marking our second period as “a church in transition;” (2) the name of the Church was changed to The Metropolitan Baptist Church (Colored) in 1888; (3)the membership was organized into fund-raising clubs, many names of which are….


Mrs. Martha Johnson

Dr. Johnson was married to Ms. Martha Hayden. She was very active in the church and believed in being a good steward and role model for her children. Her motto was "Education is the Foundation of Life." They had 2 sons and one daughter.

Dr. Moses W. D. Norman

Sixteen months later, on April 10, 1905, Dr. Moses W. D. Norman of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, was called to shepherd this flock. His twenty-one year pastorate brought us an even greater organization of the laity to provide a sounder financial basis for the Church through tithing. As a result, material improvements and accomplishments included: (1) the installation of a magnificent pipe organ, steam heat, and electric lights; and (2) the liquidation of church indebtedness along with….


Mrs. Fannie Norman

Mrs. Fannie Bridges Norman was his first wife and she was the founder of Metropolitan’s Woman’s Club. She was an accomplished musician and operated a music school for many years.

Ms. Ethel Norman

After the passing of his first wife, Dr. Norman married Ms.Ethel Fitzhugh. She was heavily engaged in church ministries including the Senior Choir, Women’s Club, Church Women United and Union Missionary Council. Mrs. Norman was a real estate agent.

Dr. E.C. Smith

Just under two years later, on June 29, 1928, Dr. Ernest Clarence Smith of Richmond, Virginia, was elected as our fourth administrator. During his forty-eight years with us, Reverend Smith, while maintaining a sound financial base, also sought to biblically solidify and undergird the spiritual foundation of Metropolitan’s membership. Subsequently, he established the Baptist Training Union, the Leadership Training School, the Christian Education Institute, Vacation Bible School for Children with…. 


Mrs. Mamie O Smith

Dr.Smith’s first wife was Mrs. Mamie O. Smith. She is most remembered for her warm spirit and charming disposition. She served as Vice President of the Deaconess Board, Financial Secretary of the Union Missionary Circle, and a member of the Women’s club. This couple has 2 sons.

Mrs. Dorothy Smith

Following the passing of his first wife, Dr.Smith married Mrs.Dorothy Butler. She was very active not only in church ministries but also in the community. She founded the Quester’s a women’s service organization in Washington, DC. There are Questers in our congregation today.

Dr. H. Beecher Hicks Jr.

On June 17, 1977, the Metropolitan Baptist Church elected Dr. Henry Beecher Hicks, Jr., from Houston, Texas, as its fifth administrator. Dr. Hicks brought to Metropolitan new and innovative methods of solidifying the membership base while simultaneously “spreading the Gospel to others.” Among other things, he (1) started a closed-circuit video worship service, (2) established a Weekly Radio Ministry as well as a 24-hour Prayer Line Ministry, (3) organized a Prayer Partners Ministry and a Lay Ministry…


Dr. Elizabeth Harrison Hicks

Dr.Hicks is married to Dr. Elizabeth Harrison Hicks, affectionately call Lady Liz. Dr. Hicks is an educator. She served as president of the Women’s Ministry for many years and founded FAME–Fine Arts and Metropolitan and its Environment. She was also active in community organizations. The Hickses have three children and five grandchildren.

Learn More About our Previous first ladies

Dr. Maurice Watson

In 2014, Dr. Maurice Watson became Metropolitan’s sixth pastor in her 150-year history. A dynamic preacher, pastor, and leader, he brought 33 years of pastoral experience to the great Metropolitan pulpit. He received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas; earned a Master of Arts Degree in Theology from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska; and earned a Doctor of Ministry Degree from Beeson Divinity School in...


Mrs. Janice Watson

Dr. Watson is married to Mrs. Janice Watson who immediately endeared herself to the Metropolitan Family with her sweet, humble spirit. With her servant’s heart, she quickly touched almost every Metropolitan Ministry upon her arrival. Perhaps you saw her serving as an usher or driving the Church shuttle, teaching in Children’s Church, serving as a Greeter on Sunday mornings, or singing in the Women’s Day Choir. She and Pastor Watson have two daughters, one son-in-law, and one grandson.

Dr. George Lewis Parks Jr.

On July 30, 2023, Dr. George Lewis Parks Jr. began his journey as the seventh pastor in the 159-year history of Metropolitan Baptist Church. Pastor Parks brings an extraordinary commitment to church and community to the Metropolitan Family. The son of Dr. George Lewis Parks Sr. and Mrs. Kay Ramona Parks, Dr. Parks attributes the formation of his spiritual journey to his father. Beginning his formal ministry preparation with undergraduate studies at the American Baptist...


Mrs. Joy Marie Parks

Mrs. Joy Marie Dailey Parks joins the Metropolitan Family with a heart for the people of God. Her spirit is indeed joy-filled as she blesses everyone she touches. Affectionately called “Lady Joy,” one of her greatest ministries is inreach to those who are new to the body of Christ and those who are new the Metropolitan Baptist Church Family. Lady Joy and Pastor Parks are the proud parents of four beautiful children, George III (Trey), Genesis, and twins Gabriel and Grayson.