On a late November evening in 1867 on Capitol Hill, a group of people came together to pray about the vision of seeing a church planted in their midst. That church, founded first in the prayers of its future members, would one decade later exist as the Metropolitan Baptist Church, registered in 1878 with 31 members. The current facility stands on the same ground as the original chapel.
Years of steady growth followed, and in 1912 the church completed construction on the new main hall under the direction of Dr. John Compton Ball. Dr. Ball would go on to serve forty-two years at the church and lead it through the trials that accompanied the Great Depression, two World Wars and numerous changes in city life. Known as a gifted teacher, Dr. Ball oversaw an increase in church membership that numbered in the thousands by 1950.
Always doctrinally conservative, the church continued to draw visitors through the 1960s. Yet the years of feast did not continue uninterrupted. Famine soon followed in the form of urban decline and sometimes spotty leadership which caused the church’s attendance and membership to spiral downward in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. Surprisingly, unlike so many evangelical churches at this time, the church held fast to sound doctrine and even included in its ranks one of the key twentieth century evangelical thinkers, Dr. Carl F.H. Henry, who taught Sunday school.
The congregation hit a low point in the early 1990s, when attendance dropped to around one hundred people. In 1994 CHBC called its current pastor, Dr. Mark Dever, freshly graduated from Cambridge University and possessing the pluck and skill needed to revive the flagging church. Dr. Dever, the sixteenth man to assume the pastorate of CHBC, now serves both our church and the broader evangelical community as a writer and speaker.
CHBC has renewed its commitment to the principles of God’s Word embraced by our founding members. We rejoice in the grace of God that has not only sustained but rebuilt a congregation now full of health. The church born in the petitions of a few has weathered many tests and stands over a century later as the light to the Capitol Hill area it was prayed to be.