A Short History of the Washington, DC, SDB Church

The substance of this article was taken from a pamphlet circulated by the church on the occasion of the dedication of their new building on October 15, 2016. It has been lightly edited for clarity and to fit into the space permitted.

The founding pastor of the Washington Seventh Day Baptist Church was Harold E. Snide, who served from October 13, 1945, to September 13, 1947. Pastor Snide was leading an independent group of Sabbath-keepers before being encouraged by Pastor Leon Maltby to look into the Seventh Day Baptist denomination. The church became the Evangelical Seventh Day Baptist Church of Washington. Services were held at the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church located at 900 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC.

On November 9, 1948, the Evangelical Seventh Day Baptist Church of Washington was incorporated and eight years later, on January 8, 1956, a resolution was adopted by the

Directors to rename the church the Washington SDB Church.

It should be mentioned that in the early 1900s, there was another Sabbath-keeping church located at 10th and V Streets NW, Washington DC. This church would later become affiliated with the SDB denomination and have ties to the Washington SDB church. In a local newspaper, when the congregation moved to join SDBs, Elder Sheafe of the People’s Church explained why he joined the SDB denomination. He said the (Colored) People’s Church “wanted to affiliate with another body of Sabbath keepers.” He further explained that they were “established longer than any other, with origins stretching back to the 17th century.” Their doctrines, he said, “…are simple; the Bible and the Bible only is the rule of faith and practice.”1

An interesting period in Washington SDB history is the ordination of its first female minister, Rev. Elizabeth Fitz Randolph. It was said that she was “of superior intellect and highly educated.” She was equally passionate about attending “to the lonely, homeless, and disadvantaged people of all ages, classes, and races.”2 “She was a ‘Promoter of Evangelism’ who helped to organize and develop two churches: one of which was the Washington Seventh Day Baptist Church (1954-1962); and the other, the Colored People’s Seventh Day Independent Church at 10th and V Streets.”3

Rev. Randolph’s accomplishments in her ministry and in compassionate care were many. Some families followed her to the Seventh Day Baptist Church when she became the pastor. One such family was the Crichlow family. Lillian W. Crichlow remained a committed member of the WSDB church until her death at 93 years old. Her son Luther W. Crichlow was a pastor in SDBchurches.

In 1963, the Washington Project committee of the South Eastern Association churches (later to include the churches in southern New Jersey) was formed. This committee promoted the idea of a strong SDB witness in the nation’s capital and initiated fund raising. By the summer of 1966, Rev. Delmer E. Van Horn became the pastor and director of the project. In May 1967, worship services were moved to the National Memorial Baptist church at 16th and Columbia Road, NW. On February 10, 1968, a special business meeting was held for the purpose of allowing the Board to purchase property at 4700 16th Street NW. The congregation gave a unanimous vote of approval. After inspecting the property, the following motion was made by Miss Rua Van Horn, seconded by Grover Brissey, and passed by the congregation as a whole:

“I move that the WSDB church purchase the property at 4700 16th Street NW, DC, at the lowest price obtainable, but, in the event not any more than $55,000, etc.”

It should be noted that in 1968, there were already 28 churches on 16th Street from the district line with Maryland to the White House at the bottom of 16th Street, none of which were Sabbath-keeping churches.

The founding members continued with new projects. One project, they said, was to enable them to “seek revitalization of our personal lives so that we may become Christ-centered and more sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, etc.” The listed goal of the project was “to lead people to Christ and then continue to help and share with them as they grow in the Christ-centered life.”

Our goal has not changed much. The current mission statement of the congregation is: “Having been called and commissioned by the Lord through the Holy Spirit, we will strive to reach the world with the Gospel and equip the saints for the ministry.”

1 From “Lewis C. Sheafe: Apostle to Black America,” by Douglas Morgan,

Review and Herald Press, p425-426.

2 Sabbath Recorder v206, i2, p31 (February 1984)

3 “Personality Profile: Rev. Elizabeth Fitz Randolph,” by Albert N. Rogers,

Sabbath Recorder v202, i6, p9 (June 1980.)

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