137th Anniversary
Second Baptist Church
Let Second Baptist Rejoice,
Let All of Her Children Be Glad

Dr. William S. Epps, Senior Pastor

Sunday, May 15, 2022
11Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. 12Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. 13Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. 14For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” Psalm 48:11-14


Psalm 48 depicts a people celebrating the joy of God’s deliverance. Listen to its words; they have been made into an anthem entitled, Let Mount Zion Rejoice.

Great is the Lord! Great is the Lord! Great is the Lord and greatly to be
praised in the city of our God. Beautiful for situation;
the joy of the whole earth is Mount Zion. 
We have thought of thy loving kindness. 
O God in the midst of thy temple, we have thought of thy loving kindness. 
According to thy name O God, so is thy praise to the ends of the earth. 
Thy right hand is full of righteousness. 

Let Mount Zion rejoice! Let Mount Zion Rejoice! 
Let the daughters of Judah be glad. Walk about Zion and go round about her. 
Tell of the towers, the towers thereof. Mark ye well. 
O mark ye well her bulwark. Consider her palaces.
That ye may tell it to generations following; for this God is our God forever. 
He will be our guide, even unto death, even unto death.

These words capture the expression of a people who are aware of the association of the presence of the Lord and the place of worship. God has proved to be a trustworthy defender. It was known how God miraculously rescued Jerusalem when destruction threatened. The enemy forces had amassed their troops outside the city. They took up their positions for assault. Militarily Jerusalem had little hope of preventing the attack. Then the attackers saw something that unnerved them. 
What they saw we do not know. However, we know the effects of their sighting. 
The warriors lost their courage. They were thrown into a panic. Pandemonium broke out in the camp. They retreated trembling as they went. The people inside the city are now delirious with joy. What seemed like imminent disaster for them has been turned to miraculous victory. They had always heard in the past that God was the Founder and Defender of Jerusalem; now they have seen with their own eyes. 
So they lift their hearts in praise to God.

Consider what it means that the Lord is the Founder and
Defender of the relationships the Lord establishes.  
Monday, May 16, 2022
“We have thought of your loving kindness. O Lord we have thought of thy loving kindness in the midst of thy temple.” Psalm 48:9

They have had abundant reason to meditate on the loving kindness of the Lord as they went up to the temple with their thank-offerings. They reflected that wherever God’s name is known in the earth, there the Lord is praised as the One whose right hand is filled with righteous victory. They call on Jerusalem to celebrate and on the lesser cities of Judah to be glad.

Now they are walking around the city in a sort of post-victory tour. They encourage one another to count the number of towers (every one of them is still there), to consider her bulwarks (they are all intact), and to walk through the now-deserted palaces (just as undamaged as they were before the enemy arrived). It will be a wonderful story to share with their children and grandchildren—how God miraculously preserved Jerusalem from the slightest damage! They will teach the new generation that the God who did this is “our God for ever and ever. He will be our guide even to death.” (Psalm 48:11-14)
Someone has beautifully suggested that verse 14 could be rendered: This God is our God from eternity to eternity. He will be our guide even unto death, over death, and beyond death. 

Consider what it means to mediate on the lovingkindness of the Lord.  
Tuesday, May 17, 2022
Let Second rejoice; let all of her children be glad. Access her accomplishments/achievements; consider her contributions; share her story.  

Access Second’s Accomplishments

It was on May 13, 1885, that the first African American Baptist Church in Southern California was established. A few African Americans driven by the passion to have their own church formed this congregation. Born in protest with an unwillingness to accept racially segregated seating in the First Baptist Church, this congregation of believers in Christ has come to celebrate 137 years of uninterrupted, creative witness to the reality of the presence of the Lord in the city of Los Angeles, the nation, and the world.

The origin of this congregation chronicles noteworthy accomplishments. 
Ponder the commitment of the congregants, the dedication of their discipleship, the focus of their faith, the length of their love, and the practice of their piety.  

They were committed as a congregation. They were determined to succeed. 
They were filled with faith. They were possessed by a love of the Lord. They practiced their piety. Property was purchased on Maple Street where a wood frame building was erected for worship. Sometime after that another structure was built on that same site. Later property was purchased at Fourteenth and Paloma Streets, and subsequently Twenty-fourth and Griffith. That takes commitment. They continue on determined to maintain their existence against the odds

The current facility was designed by architect Paul Williams and is currently a historic site and cultural landmark. Most recently the building has been listed with the national registry of historic sites in Los Angeles. Who would have thought it?  

Consider the commitment of the congregants through the years;
the dedication of their discipleship, the focus of their faith, the length of their love, and the practice of their piety.  
Wednesday, May 18, 2022
Consider Second’s Contributions

It is difficult but not impossible to attempt to measure the contribution that Second has made over its 137-year history. We can cite the seeds that have been sown as we attempt to measure the extent of the crop that has been grown. Facts point to what has been done at a moment in time. However, the rippling effects far outdistance the immediate impact, leaving a lasting residue. 

137 years (1,644 months, 7,148 weeks and 50,040 days). Imagine 7,148 gospel messages (a word from the Lord, Jeremiah 37:17). Ponder the celebration of life ceremonies, babies dedicated, baptisms, members who have joined, songs sung, prayers prayed, people helped, persons employed, those whose lives have been encouraged, directed, and inspired by what has happened here. 

“According to thy name O God, so is thy praise to the ends of the earth. Thy right hand is full of righteousness.”  We reflect on who you are, and how you are, and where you are at work in our lives and the world.      

The gift of leadership through its pastors is one of the most significant contributions. The founding years credit four pastors with leadership that
established and sustained a fledgling congregation. 

S. C. Pierce (1885-1887) the founding pastor established a congregation of believers who saw the necessity of this church, the first African American Baptist Church in the city of angels. 
C.H. Anderson (1887-1907), was instrumental in forming the Western Baptist State convention, and organizing other Baptist churches in 1888, connecting them with the Los Angeles Baptist Association. He was considered the Father of Negro Baptist. 
J. L. McCoy (1908-1915) liquidated all debt on the Maple Street property and burned the mortgage and began making plans to build a new church on newly acquired property at the corner of Fourteenth and Paloma Streets. 

H. D. Prowd (1916-1920), served the congregation for four years until he left to serve as a missionary in South America. 

Each of them made their contribution.

Dr. Thomas L. Griffith began the building years. He led the membership in erecting the current facility which stands to this day as a legacy to his leadership and vision. He believed in the future of the congregation and had the greatest of hopes for its possibilities. During his tenure more than 2,000 persons united with the church.  

Dr. J. Raymond Henderson ushered in the expanding years. He liquidated the indebtedness and began to purchase property adjacent to the church and across the street in order to enlarge the services of the church to the broader community through the Henderson Community Center and the Velva Henderson Christian Education Building. 
Dr. Thomas Kilgore, Jr., began the serving years. Most notable during his tenure was the designation of the congregation as a servant church. He gave himself to leadership in civic, cultural and educational affairs of the city and the nation. Housing and food for the homeless, along with low income housing for seniors and the handicapped, were established during his tenure. 
Our legacy continues with the challenging years of the 21st century. It does not yet appear what we shall be. We are on our way to inherit what is in store for us in the future with the assurance that “we have come this far by faith leaning on the Lord, trusting in his holy word, because he never failed us yet.” 

We believe that the best is yet to be - just you wait and see. 

Consider the contributions of the founding years, the building years,
the expanding years, the serving years and the challenging years.  
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Share Second’s Story

Tell your story. What a story it is. A story of assurance amid adversity; a story of belief along with bewilderment; a story of comfort despite calamity, confidence in spite of crisis, courage in the midst of challenging circumstances, a story of faith regardless of frustration, a story of perseverance regardless of pathos, a story of triumph through trouble. What a story! You ought to be proud to tell it. Tell of the opposition that threatened to obliterate opportunities and how you have overcome. Hitherto has the Lord brought us (I Samuel 7:12). If it had not been for the Lord on our side, where would we be (Psalm 124). This the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24)

Imagine what life was like in 1885. The average life expectancy in 1908 was 47 which means it was even less 23 years earlier. At that time there were only 8000 cars and only 144 miles of paved roads; the maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 miles per hour. The average wage was 22 cents an hour. The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year. More than 95 percent of all births took place in the home.  

Consider what it means to tell your story about
your faith’s contribution to your life. 
Friday, May 20, 2022
Langston Hughes put it this way,

Well, son, I’ll tell you: / Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
It’s had tacks in it, And splinters, / And boards torn up,
And places with no carpet on the floor—
Bare. / But all the time, / I’se been a-climbin’ on,
And reachin’ landin’s, / And turnin’ corners, / And sometimes goin’ in the dark
Where there ain’t been no light. / So boy, don’t turn your back.
Don’t you set down on the steps! / ‘Cause you’ll find it’s kinder hard.
Don’t you fall now— / For I’se still goin’, honey,
I’se still climbin’, / And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair. 

Telling your story is the way you pass on to your posterity your sense of what is important and significant about life and your faith pilgrimage.

Consider what it means to share your story about how you have
hurdled hindrances, overcome obstacles, and triumphed over troubles,
trials and tribulations.  
Saturday, May 21, 2022

Well, accessing your accomplishments, considering your contributions and sharing your story are all done for one central purpose, which is to point people to God. Tell it to generations following that this God is our God forever and shall be our guide forever.  

This God shall be our God and our guide forever. This is not just any god. This is not a reference to the gods of the pantheon, Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, Demeter, Artemis and the like. No. You see the images of these gods are housed in a temple dedicated to them. As palatial as the temple may be, these gods have eyes and can’t see, ears and can’t hear, mouths and can’t speak, noses and can’t breathe, feet and can’t walk, hands and can’t feel, touch or lift them to help anyone. (Psalm 135:15-18).      

What God? Well I am glad you asked. This God is the God that brooded on a wide abyss of nothingness and by sheer essence of being God called a moratorium on nothing and declared that something would be the order of the day. This God is the maker of heaven and earth and the cause of the existence of the expanse of the universe. This God is the God who has fashioned and made humanity. This God put something celestial in clay; put a little deity in dust; and put something majestic in mud. This God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. 

Karl Barth maintains that Biblical Faith and Religion are not synonymous. Religion is humanity’s quest for God. We have our rituals, rites, celebrations, festivals, observances and man-made declarations. Religion puts God in a box. In the bible we are introduced to a God who condemns religion as idolatrous attempts to control and manipulate deity. Biblical faith depicts God pursuing humanity. We have the call of Abraham, a covenant relationship established, nurtured and maintained by God who takes the initiative. It continues through the Exodus event on through the wilderness sojourn, through the conquest of the land to the establishment of the monarchy. It continues in a crib in Bethlehem where the paradox of the incarnation stills a world in silence as an angelic chorus sings. It continues on through the life, teachings, preaching, healing, death, burial, resurrection and ascension of Jesus. 
It continues through the power of the Holy Spirit to manifest itself even now and shall continue on pass the end.   

This God shall be our God and our Guide forever.

Consider what it means that our God will be our God and guide forever. 

2412 Griffith Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90011 
Phone: (213) 748-0318