Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church

In May of 1977, the vision of beginning a new church in the Renton area blossomed in the mind of Sis. Margie Williams, a Renton resident weary of traveling to Seattle for church. She decided the local community needed an African-American church. Sis. Williams contacted Rev. J. W. Henderson of Seattle through her mother and asked him to meet with her regarding her vision. That meeting took place on July 4, 1977 in Sis. Williams’ home. Rev. Henderson accepted the challenge to pastor this church. They named it “Solid Rock Baptist Church.”

After the first two church services were conducted on the patio of Sis. Williams’ home, it was agreed that a building needed to be secured for future services. The Renton Community Center, located at 324 Smithers Street was secured. This building, later named “The Odd Fellows’ Lodge” became the first worship site for the Solid Rock Baptist Church.

Realizing there was an African American population in the Skyway area, Rev. Henderson and Sis. Williams walked door to door inviting all who would listen to come and worship at the new church. She promised to pick-up all who wanted to attend but had no transportation. On July 24, 1977, Solid Rock Baptist Church held its first service in the newly acquired location.

During the months of October and November, our congregation continued to grow. It was also at this period we lost the services of our first minister, Rev. J. W. Henderson. Sis. Margie Williams, determined not to let her vision die, contacted Mr. John Cannon, Executive Director of the Ecumenical Metropolitan Ministries. After numerous contacts, Sister Williams was referred to Rev L. C. Jones, Area Minister for American Baptist Association, North Puget Sound Area. Rev. Jones met with church members to discuss the development of the church, and at that time it was requested a minister be found. This request was taken to the core staff of the American Baptist Churches.

In December 1977, the first services under the leadership of Rev. L. C. Jones, Area Minister, were held. Assisting him was the Rev. Tom Fukuyama of Tacoma. Rev. Fukuyama’s leadership abilities were of great value. He was especially instrumental in setting up inspirational prayer meetings, public relations contacts and community input. It was during this period that the congregation felt a new awakening and a new sense of direction.

On January 29, 1978, our congregation overwhelmingly voted to change the name of the church from Solid Rock Baptist Church to Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Baptist Church.

In less than a year, Rev. Jones had begun to leave his “footprints on the sands of time“. Under his leadership on February 26, 1978, MLK Baptist Church was formally dedicated as an American Baptist Mission by the North Puget Sound Area American Baptist Churches of the Northwest. Peoples Institutional Baptist Church of Seattle was the sponsoring congregation. In March, our first baptismal service was conducted at Peoples Institutional Baptist Church.

November 1978, Rev. Glenn Miles began the following ministries: Youth, Music and Christian Education. To bring a joyous year to an end, our first Christmas program was sponsored by the youth choir.

Many significant accomplishments were achieved through the years under the leadership of Rev. L. C. Jones:

In 1985, 4.9 acres of land suitable for building was purchased for $75,000.00 with financing arranged by the American Baptist Extension Corporation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania. A Ground Breaking ceremony was held on September 18, 1988 and the construction of the building we now occupy was begun on May 9, 1989.

The first cornerstone was laid on Sunday, February 25, 1990, and on September 23. 1990, we held our first service in the new tabernacle located at 13611–S. E. 116th St. On September 22, 1991, a second cornerstone was laid. During this same period we celebrated our first Black History Program and to honor the memory of our first deacon, Walter Smith, a scholarship fund was organized and implemented in his name.

In 1991, during the Lenten Season, a fellowship began with The Panther Lake Community Church in Kent, Washington.  We have combined services each Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunrise Services.  The services alternate each year between the two churches.  A breakfast is served following the Sunrise Service.

In September 1994, four women were ordained deacons of the church.  They were, Adrienne Lawrence, Roslyn Lowe, Bobbi Sims and Alene Stephens.  Rev. Samuel B. McKinney performed the ordination services.

In 1995, the ethnic school was reorganized and named Jones Ethnic Academy. In 1995, The Jones Ethnic Academy Drill Team was organized. In 1997, a significant event occurred when women were elected to head two major departments of the church: Trustee Board and Diaconate Board.

On September 25, 1999, Rev. and Mrs. Leon C. Jones said their final good-byes as they retired from Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Baptist Church as Pastor and First Lady.

Rev Leon C. Jones is now Pastor Emeritus of Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist Church.

In May 2000, Rev. Dr. Oscar C. Jones came to us as our Interim Pastor and served until August 2001.  Under his leadership, several new ministries were established during this time, including the Tape Ministry; Margie Williams Helping Hands Center (a food and clothing bank), G.L.A.D. (God’s Growing Leaders and Disciples), a young adult ministry; and the Greeter’s ministry.

On January 20, 2002, Rev. Herbert J. Carey preached his first sermon as our new Pastor, and we are excited that God chose to send us Rev. Carey and his wife Diane to continue with the building of His Kingdom.

God has truly blessed us over the years. Today our membership is over 600 strong and over 200 have been baptized in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Additionally, we own property valued in the excess of one million dollars. Surely the Lord has been good and has kept His promises. As we look forward to the future, we will continue to trust in Him who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. To Him we give the Honor, the Majesty, the Power and the Glory forever.