2015 - present
Reverend Dr. Maurice Watson was elected Metropolitan’s sixth pastor in 150 years on November 3, 2014. He begins this pastorate after 10 fruitful years with Beulahland Bible Church in Macon, GA, where he led that congregation to a second worship location in Warner Robins, GA, and through the construction of a state-of-the-art 2500-seat sanctuary on the Macon campus.
Dr. Watson's first pastorate was at St. Mark Baptist Church in Little Rock, where he served for 7 years. In November 1988, Dr. Watson accepted the call to pastor the Salem Baptist Church in Omaha, Nebraska, where he served for 15 ½ years. He earned Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees from Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Creighton University in Omaha, NE, and Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, AL, respectively.
A prolific pastor with a dynamic itinerant preaching ministry that extends across the continent and globe, Dr. Watson brings his passion for Christ and vision for the future to the Metropolitan pulpit.
Dr. Watson is married to the former Janice Hall and they are the parents of two beautiful daughters.
1977 - 2014
Reverend Dr. H. Beecher Hicks, Jr., came to Metropolitan in 1977 with his wife, Elizabeth, and two sons, H. Beecher III and Ivan Douglas. In 1981, the family was blessed with the arrival of a daughter, Kristin, the first child to be born to an actively serving Metropolitan pastor.
With great energy Dr. Hicks led the congregation in the construction of a new worship facility in 1985. Under his leadership, Metropolitan's membership grew to well over 6,000, with more than 40 ministries, more than 100 full-time and part-time employees, and a consolidated annual operating budget, including four subsidiary corporations, exceeding $10 million.
Dr. Hicks retired from the Metropolitan pulpit after 37 years of faithful
service in 2014. He continues to preach around the globe and mentor young
seminarians as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Wesley Theological Seminary
in Washington, DC. A noted author, among his published works is the best-selling
book Preaching Through a Storm. Dr. Hicks now serves as Pastor Emeritus of
Metropolitan Baptist Church.
For more information, visit www.drhbeecherhicks.com.
Reverend Ernest Clarence Smith, noted for his zeal for learning, was elected Metropolitan's fourth pastor in 1928. He believed that the church's primary ministry was to prepare members for success and that this preparation was grounded in Christian education. Dr. Smith expanded the already popular Sunday School to include an adult Sunday School and he also established the Baptist Training Union, the Children's Church and the Christian Education Institute.
Reverend Smith's leadership and oratorical skills served as a magnet, and membership continued to grow, once again signaling a need to expand to support the needs of the church's ministries. One of the milestones of his 49-year tenure was the construction of the E.C. Smith Monument Hall. Reverend Smith retired as pastor in 1977 but continued to serve as Minister Emeritus of Metropolitan to his death in 1988.
Reverend Moses Wilberforce DeWitt Norman a masterful orator was installed as - third pastor of Metropolitan in 1905. Reverend Norman, a Republican knew no shortcuts to progress or success. He believed that the best interests of the race should be promoted "by the religion of Jesus Christ the accumulations of real estate, the education of the children, the cultivation of cordial relations with neighbors without sacrificing manhood or womanhood, (and) fidelity to the churches, for as he said, 'the church means infinitely more to my race at this state than any other institution or any number of others combined."' Under Reverend Norman's leadership, the new Metropolitan Baptist Church building was completed. it was "erected in the best manner," as the former pastor envisioned, with steam heat, electric lights and a magnificent pipe organ. During Reverend Norman's 21 years of pastoral administration, the membership of Metropolitan continued to grow and the ministry in Hell's Bottom continued.
In 1870, Reverend Dr. Robert Johnson became the congregation's second pastor, and with characteristic zeal he applied himself to accomplishing the means to complete the new building. It was, he said, "dedicated to the service of God." Dr. Johnson had been affiliated with the church as a "private" member since 1864. A former slave, he enlisted in the U.S. Colored Infantry in the spring of 1865 and served through December that year.
His 33 years as head of the church were marked by considerable energy. In 1880 he organized the first "Metropolitan Day School," for a gathering of 40 children. In 1882, he oversaw construction a new building to accommodate the - continuously growing congregation. Having purchased two additional lots, the church laid the cornerstone for a new building - "built of brick, erected in the A manner" - on August 28, 1882; the best services were held there in 1883. At this point in time, the church membership totaled about 1,500, with a congregation usually numbering 2,000, "composed entirely of plain working people."
The Sunday School connected with the church had an average attendance of 2,000 alone. 1892, the church became Metropolitan Baptist Church.
Our beginnings took root in 1864 when Reverend Henry Bailey and 10 Christian followers founded and built our Mother Church - then called Fourth Baptist Church - in an area known as Hell's Bottom.
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 current site of Metropolitan Baptist Church. Reverend Bailey ministered to them and their families as he began our journey truly from Hell's Bottom.
As the Civil War came to a conclusion, Fourth Baptist Church was experiencing a momentous event in its own history - the establishment of its first building. Members initially had held their services in the old barracks on R Street between Twelfth and Thirteenth streets, but in 1865 the church purchased "two good lots of land" on R Street and immediately commenced to erect a frame building for church purposes.