During the first half of the 20th Century, the urban congregation of the Lord’s people had been struggling in its efforts to promote Christianity in the City of Baltimore and its surrounding areas.
In April 1940, Allen and Elsie Blackwell, and their three children, relocated from Statesville, North Carolina to Baltimore, Maryland. The family found a home at 230 N. Stricker Street. Unfortunately, because of circumstances beyond Bro. Blackwell’s control, he was forced to worship at his home on the Lord’s Day. Bro. Blackwell’s faith and conviction about New Testament Christianity was the motivating factor that separated the Blackwell family from their religious neighbors.
During this time period, Bro. Blackwell and others made ongoing efforts to win people to Christ. In 1942, Bro. Marshall Keeble, a legendary preacher, hosted a gospel meeting in a rented hall on Pennsylvania Avenue, but unfortunately, no one responded to the preaching of the Gospel. Later, Bro. Shelton T. Gibbs conducted a tent meeting in the vicinity of Fremont Avenue and Laurens Street. Additionally, Bro. Henderson Pope conducted a meeting and he also continued assisting with preaching the Gospel on the Lord’s Day. As a result of these efforts, people were hearing the Gospel of Christ. People began responding and the church grew. Also, Christians
who migrated to Baltimore from other cities began assembling with the saints, adding to the number.
By 1943, with the assistance of brothers in Christ from the congregation located at 12 W. 22nd Street, the church began renting out a store-front building at 1310 N. Calhoun Street to conduct worship services. Then, for a short time, the congregation shared a building at 29 W. Vincent Street. Eventually, the church relocated again, this time to Gilmor Street.
In April 1958, two Texans, Humphrey and Annie Jewel Foutz began worshipping and serving with the congregation. During this time, through Bro. Foutz’s determination and vision to teach the lost, the congregation implemented several outreach methods. The saints hosted Cottage Classes utilizing the filmstrip series, sent out Bible correspondent courses, and preached the gospel on the radio program, “Hearing for Eternity,” on WEBB each Saturday morning. By 1959, under the leadership of Bro. Foutz, the congregation moved to 1602 Bloomingdale Road. This facility was more conducive to meeting the needs of the church.
With the continued growth of the congregation, the time was right to purchase our own building. We acquired the former Fremont Avenue Branch #1 of the Enoch Pratt Free Library — located at 664 Pitcher Street — which was the largest of four original branches in Baltimore City. The building was renovated into a place of worship, enabling the saints to worship on Pitcher Street beginning in 1963. For the first time in our history, we had our own baptistery, conveniently located within our sanctuary. Prior to the Pitcher Street building, converts were baptized in various places, including the Long Green Pike River in Glen Arm, Maryland, and baptismal facilities at several other local congregations.
By 1974, the membership had grown to approximately 375 members, necessitating another move. We found a building in Edmondson Village located at 4301 Woodridge Road, where we became the Central Church of Christ. The move opened more doors for the Lord’s people to share the Good News. We also trained young, faithful men to preach and lead, as we campaigned and planted congregations in Cambridge and Annapolis, Maryland, Wilmington, Delaware and in York, Pennsylvania.
Central is known for making every effort to preach and teach the gospel. We utilized the radio to proclaim God’s Word every weekday on the program “The Morning Bible Study” on WBGR and we launched a bus ministry, which was instrumental in continuing to grow the congregation. Central also started “The Community Bible Study” which is still held every Tuesday morning.
As our numbers continued to multiply, Central added a third service to accommodate the hundreds of members who came for worship each Sunday. The Woodridge Road sanctuary only has a seating capacity of approximately 350, so in 1988, Central made plans to erect an adjacent building on Geltson Street that would allow the entire congregation to worship together.
On April 22, 1990, Central began worshipping in its new building. Over the years, Central’s membership continued to grow, as we established several ministries. Central even hosted the National Lectureship in 1998, and kicked off the Mid-Atlantic Lectureship in 2004 and 2005.
Sadly, Bro. Foutz departed this life on April 13, 2006, following a lengthy illness. Bro. Foutz labored with the Central congregation for 48 years. During a time of transition following Bro. Foutz’s passing, Central formed a ministerial search committee. The congregation selected Bro. Willie L. Rupert, Jr. as its new minister.
On Sunday, September 14, 2008, Bro. Rupert was installed as Central’s minister, and continues to labor at the at the congregation today.