Our Mission Statement

Our History

In March 1836, 13 determined men and women received permission from the Territorial Legislature of Michigan to own and operate their own church. This was Detroit’s seventh major church (after St. Anne Catholic, First Presbyterian, Central Methodist, St. Paul Episcopal Cathedral, First Baptist, St. Mary Catholic). This downtown Detroit church is the oldest religious institution owned by blacks in the Midwest. Second Baptist claimed a mission to free slaves and have them enjoy the full privileges of American citizenship.

Ministering from downtown Detroit since its beginning, Second Baptist has set a pattern for other churches with a variety of historical accounts:

From 1836 to 1865 (the end of the Civil War), the church served as a “station” on the Underground Railroad receiving some 5,000 slaves before sending them on to Canada. By giving them food, clothing, and shelter the church was in total defiance of the Fugitive Slave Laws.

In 1839, Second Baptist established the city’s first school for black children. In 1870, a member, Fannie Richards, became the first black career public school teacher in Detroit.


In 1843, the first State Convention of Colored Citizens met at Second Baptist demanding the right to vote. The Equal Rights League made the second petition in 1865. Both were denied. The church persisted until the end of the Civil War when the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were added to the Constitution declaring an end to slavery, making blacks citizens, and allowing black men to vote.

In 1859, Abolitionist Frederick Douglass spoke at Second Baptist minutes before a meeting in a Detroit home with revolutionary John Brown to plan methods of freeing slaves.

In 1863, the church hosted a public reading of the Emancipation Proclamation to explain that President Lincoln had freed the slaves in only the 10 “rebellious” states, leaving the nation half-slave and half-free.

In 1927, Ralph Bunche, the first black to receive the coveted Nobel Peace Prize, was baptized at Second Baptist.

Over the years, Second Baptist can claim direct or indirect influence in the creation of over 30 churches. 

Second Baptist has served in three centuries!

Our Mission is to strive to know Christ and win, raise, and equip His people for service.


Our Vision is of a vibrant, thriving, worshiping community, serving God and Humanity, unified by the love of Christ


Our Goals

  • Nurture, educate and support youth

  • Bring people into Christian fellowship

  • Cultivate spiritual wisdom and growth

  • Create and support a welcoming environment

  • Create a culture of service

  • Establish financial stability

  • Provide ministry to individuals, families and community


Take a ride on the train that traveled without tracks. Sit in the Croghan Street Station and hear the stories of runaways who, escaping slavery, rested in secret at Second Baptist Church before crossing the Detroit River into Canada and “Freedom.”