We invite you to become a part of the church today and a piece of its history tomorrow.
The great heritage of Mount Paran Baptist (MPBC) is heart touching and inspiring. The Church was organized in Southwest Washington, DC, in a one story frame building located at 1031 First Street, in 1917, by the late Reverend Wallie Westry. During the tenure of Rev. Westrey, new property was purchased next to the church. The adjacent property was combined to the church building, resulting in a slight change of address, as the address to the front entrance to the building became 101 "L" Street, Southwest. It is further documented that at the time of its incorporation in 1927, the church was located at 1033 First Street, Southwest. Those minor discrepancies simply confirm that MPBC once had a presence in Southwest DC. Rev. Westry served 23 years as pastor, from 1917 until his death in 1940.
The church maintained its ministry until the members selected another patsor to lead them. Through the providence of God, after the death of Rev. Westry, Rev. Sam Smith was chosen to serve as the pastor of the church. He served for eight years before resigning. Because of some "misconceived judgments" a change of pastor was recommended. The decision to seek a new pastor resulted in a church split.
Reverend Sam Smith became Pastor and then Reverend Frederick D. Thornton.
There was a division and some of the members went with Reverend Smith to the Mount Pleasant Baptist Church and the others
remained with Reverend Thornton at Mount Paran. After Reverend Thornton left, from 1933 until 1953, Rev. W. W. Flood
and several other ministers conducted worship service and served in the capacity as Pastor.
Foster Graham, a serviceman enlisted in the U.S. Army and stationed at Fort McNair, joined Mount Paran in 1933 and was later placed on the Board of Trustees. One day as Foster was listening to his car radio, he heard a preacher say, "There is no peace apart from God." Foster did not have complete peace in his life at this particular time because he was rejecting God's call to preach the Gospel. The message from the radio preacher brought about a turning point in Foster's life. Shortly thereafter, he accepted his call to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He preached his initial sermon in 1949 and was licensed by the Macedonia Baptist Church, Bryans Road Maryland.
When Reverend Graham took over as Pastor, the membership was small
and sometimes unable to meet financial responsibilities. Sister Lottie Haston, who was the great aunt of the late Ruby
Washington, became "Mother of the Church". She served faithfully and assisted in paying for the church.
Eventually, the church membership began to grow and we outgrew our place of worship in Southwest. Also, we were being
displaced because of the redevelopment of Southwest. Preparations to move to a larger sanctuary was a big task, but the
members pulled their resources together to make the relocation possible. By the grace of God, the church purchased the
present location on July 25, 1957. Over
the years, Mount Paran has licensed the following persons to the Gospel ministry: the late Reverend Cleveland Green
(who also served as Assistant to the Pastor, Reverend Graham, until he became physically disabled), Ministers General
L. Bunch, Titus Beasley, James Williams, Jr. and Minister Roy Holbrook. Reverend Roy Settles (Pastor, Ambassador Baptist
Church), Reverend Isaiah Webb, the late Reverend Clarence Howard and Reverend Johnnie Lewis (Pastor, Grace Amazing Power Ministries)
were licensed prior to joining Mount Paran. Ministers General L. Bunch and James Williams, Jr. were ordained to the
gospel ministry on June 17, 2006.
In December 1986, Reverend Graham was hospitalized because of diabetes and in January 1987 his right leg was amputated. During his confinement and subsequent disability, Ministers Beasley and Bunch conducted the Sunday morning worship services, with the exception of Communion and Baptism.
Communion and Baptismal Services were conducted to Reverend Roy Settles. However,on Sunday, March 15, 1987, Reverend Settles sent us a dynamic, god-fearing young minister, Reverend Willie T. Lawson, a soldier stationed at the Pentagon. Reverend Lawson preached, baptized and served Communion. His deep conviction for the Word of God flowed over in each sermon he preached and each prayer he prayed.
On December 16, 1988, the Church formed a committee to formally request Reverend Lawson to become the Assistant Pastor of Mount Paran Baptist. After proper consultation, the request was made. On January 29, 1989, Reverend Lawson consented to accept the position as Assistant Pastor, and on Sunday, February 5, 1989, he preached his first sermon in that capacity. The church was overjoyed with this blessing from God.
On February 4, 1989, Reverend Graham was moved
from Malcolm Grow Hospital (Andrews Air Force Base), Suitland, Maryland, to Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, for
extensive medical treatment. On Palm Sunday, March 19, 1989, Reverend Foster Graham went home to receive his heavenly
crown, for God called him from labor to reward.
On Friday, June 16, 1989, the membership voted unanimously for Rev. Lawson to become pastor of the church. He tearfully accepted the Pastorship. The installation service for Rev. Lawson was held Sunday, October 15, 1989, at the Ambassador Baptist Church, Washington, DC.
Pastor Lawson envisioned Mount Paran with an 8 a.m. Sunday morning worship service. He wanted to give the Associate Ministers more opportunities to exercise their gifts in the preaching ministry. On Sunday, July 12, 1992, the first 8 a.m. worship service was held.
Beginning in 1995, MPBC started purchasing residential properties next to the church, located
at 1339, 1343, and 1345 K Street, S.E. Presently, the properties located at 1339 and 1343 K Street are being used primarily
for Christian Education, training and outreach. The property at 1343 has been demolished, due to the poor condition of
the building and the space is used for church parking.
Since being planted as a baptist church in 1917, Mt. Paran has moved from Southwest to Southeast,
and impacted the lives of many people. In summary, this brief account of her magnificent journey is documented so that
in years to come, when those future generations, yet unborn shall read the historical record of the legacy of this great church,
they will know that we did not arrive where we are on our on merits, but rather, we have come this far by faith, and God Himself
was and is our refuge and strength and an ever present help in the time of trouble.