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Church History

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July 29, 1949

This date St. Stephen Missionary Baptist Church was organized at the home of Rev. and Mrs. C.L. Smallwood at 44 Davis Street N.W. Atlanta.  The church was organized with twenty-seven (27) members in attendance.  The first song A Charge to Keep I Have was led by Reverend Smallwood followed by a prayer from Reverend A.C. Culbreath and scripture by Reverend Smallwood.



At the beginning, the 1950 services were held at Saint Mark Baptist Church.  After a few months, Saint Stephen’s members purchased a building at 454 Bedford Place N.E.   After determining that permission had not been granted for the building, St. Stephen moved to White Rock Baptist Church for Sunday Services.  Shortly thereafter, St. Stephen moved to Holmes Institute.  It was during this time that Rev. B. M. Milner was called as Pastor.  During his tenure services began being held at Hines Funeral Home.


In April of 1952 year, Rev. William J. Ferrell was called as Pastor.  January 1953 St. Stephen began holding joint services with St. Mark Baptist Church located at 244 Houston St. N.E.   In February 1953 St. Mark and St. Stephen consolidated their membership under the continued leadership of Rev. Ferrell until 1955.  On October 19, 1955, Rev. B.B. Bowens was called to the pulpit of St. Stephen. In 1958, St. Stephen purchased and moved into the church at 181 Georgia Avenue, S.E., now known as 181 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard (The Hall).


1960’s and 1970’s

During the early 1960’s St. Stephen was incorporated by Dea. Isaiah Davis.  Rev. Grady Butler was called to pastor on March 23, 1969.  Under his leadership many boards and auxiliaries were organized or reorganized to develop a stronger functioning church. The boards and auxiliaries included – the Trustee Board, Pastor’s Aide Club and Scholarship Aide Club. Groups organized were the Grady Butler Chorus, Sanctuary Choir, Advisory Council and the Birthday Club. During Rev. Butler’s pastoral period, the income of the church more than doubled and debts were paid off.  In March 1971, May 1973 and December 1979 properties adjacent to the Georgia Avenue property were purchased.

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