In November 1937, Rev. Robert L. Rollins, a son of the church who was pastoring the Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Arlington, VA was called as the second pastor of our church. He preached his first sermon in January 1938.
The church entered into the life of the community. New members joined the church, new clubs were organized, several singing groups were formed and young people’s groups took on new enthusiasm and vigor. Under Dr. Rollins’ leadership, the church was renovated and expanded. The mortgage on this renovation was burned in 1947 by the late Deaconess Mildred Towles and the late Deacon LindseyJones.
Dr. Rollins was not only a dedicated leader but also a man of vision who saw the need for a new building that would house a growing congregation. The members eagerly accepted the challenge and decided the new church and education building would be erected on the site of the old one.
Our last Communion Service in the old church was held on Sunday, July 15, 1962. Final Prayer and Testimonial Services were held on July 17, 1962. After much hard work the cornerstone for our present building was laid on November 7, 1964 and combined dedicational and anniversary services were held from October 25 through November 16, 1964. The new building was dedicated on Sunday, November 15, 1964. We were able to burn the mortgage on our present ediﬁce and the Robert L. Rollins Educational Building on July 15, 1971. Dr. Rollins, having worked hard and accomplished many goals, departed this life on March 14, 1972.
Our leaders and members kept the church moving onward and upward and in July 1973, Rev. Everett E. Smith, Jr. was called to be our third pastor. He assumed pastorate of the Florida Avenue Baptist Church on October 14, 1973.
During his tenure, Rev. Smith demonstrated innovative leadership in three main areas of our church life, church facilities, social services and worship. Innovations of his leadership in the area of facilities led to the purchase of two (2) buses, a van, remodeling of the choir loft and pulpit in 1987 and the installation of the elevator 1992.
Social services innovations included the Feeding the Hungry Program, a clothing ministry, Share Program, board and church retreats, implemented the LEAP program for boy ages 9-12 and organized the Birthday Circles.
Rev. Smith’s innovations in worship included a tape and radio ministry, monthly newsletter, the Voices of Praise, the Celestial Trinity Choir, Minister of Music, and the Volunteer Choir for funerals.
Rev. Smith made his mark in history at the Florida Avenue Baptist Church with the ordination of three women deacons. They were Pauline D. Young, Linda L. Washington and Cynthia O. Jenkins-Smith. He also licensed Paula Shaw Bowman, the first woman in our church’s history to preach. He licensed and ordained Lorenzo Hill and John McLean and licensed Robert Gibson, Robert Ewell, Alan Haskins, William Moultrie and Gregory Thompson.
Rev. Smith retired after 20 years of dedicated service on May 16, 1993. He departed this life on March 26, 1994.