Second Baptist Church of Indianapolis, Indiana is the oldest black Baptist Church in the state of Indiana. The Church was organized in 1846 by Reverend Charles Sachel, a Missionary and Pastor of the Baker Street Baptist Church of Cincinnati, Ohio. The first meetings were held in the home of Deacon John Brown near the corner of West and Ohio Streets. The congregation grew and was moved into an old school house on Alabama Street.
In 1848, the Reverend Joshua Thurman of Madison, Indiana was called to pastor the church. In 1849 the first church home was built on Missouri Street between New York and Ohio Streets. The church building burned during the winter of 1851 and meetings were resumed at the home of Deacon John Brown. A portion of the land was sold so that materials could be purchased to begin new construction.
In 1852, Reverend Jessie Young became the Pastor of Second Baptist and under his leadership new construction began. In 1853 Reverend Joseph Fitzgerald was called to pastor Second Baptist and in a short time the church structure was completed. Other pastors during this period were Reverend George Butler 1855-1856 and Reverend Pleasant Bowlar 1856-1857.
In 1857, Moses Broyles came to Indianapolis as a teacher. He united with Second Baptist Church where he worked diligently in the Sunday School and worship services. During the later part of 1857 Brother Broyles was called and ordained for the pastorate. The church membership rapidly increased and the building was enlarged to twice its original size.
In 1867, a 63x63 foot building was erected at 422 West Michigan Street west of Indiana Avenue at the cost of $25,000. The pastorship of Reverend Broyles was unique, it was Pastor Broyles who in 1876 wrote the history of Second Baptist Church, which was published by the Indianapolis Printing and Publishing Company and to this date can be found in the archives of the Indiana State Library. Reverend Moses Broyles remained Pastor until his death in August 1882. In June 2006 during the celebration of our 160th church anniversary a headstone was purchased and a memorial service was held at the unmarked grave of this great leader.
After the death of Pastor Broyles, the Reverend J. M. Harris was called to Second Baptist; however, he held the position very briefly. The doors of the church were closed and the membership met in different homes.
Later, Reverend J. W. Carr was called who reunited the congregation and led them back to the 422 West Michigan Street location. Under his leadership, membership increased to over 1000. After his departure, Reverend Charles Johnson served as pastor for two years. In 1908 Reverend B. J. Prince of Cleveland, Ohio was called to be the pastor. Under his leadership, the old church building was demolished and new construction began.
In 1916, internationally renowned Reverend B.J.F. Westbrook was called to pastor. With his guidance the structure was completed and paid for at a cost of $140,000. Pastor Westbrook served until his death on September 20, 1932.
After the death of Reverend Westbrook, Reverend John A. Hall, a minister of the church, served as acting Pastor until August 31, 1933. He was then elected as pastor. During Pastor Hall’s tenure, he organized and implemented many uplifting programs. He was a God-fearing, powerful leader who served 45 years as the leader of Second Baptist Church until his death in 1978. Others who served as pastor during this era were: Reverend Francis Wade, Reverend Hoy Thurman and Reverend Larry Flake.
In September 1990, Reverend Floyd S. Crenshaw was called to pastor Second Baptist. Under his leadership the church building at 422 West Michigan Street was sold. A new site was purchased at 2302 West Washington Street and on February 14, 1993, the congregation marched to its new home. Reverend Crenshaw resigned after serving four and one half years. Reverend Crenshaw later died in 2016.
On August 22, 1995, Reverend David W. Greene, Sr. was called to pastor Second Baptist. The congregation has since grown to over 1000 members. Under the leadership of Pastor Greene over 40 new ministries have been established and implemented. Pastor Greene believes in leading by example and ensures that Second Baptist is actively involved in community outreach. The church serves food to the homeless weekly, operates a food pantry for needy families, annually sponsor a Community Awareness Day and Health Fair and provide financial support to not-for-profit organizations that serve the poor and disenfranchised. Local public schools have been adopted and the church serves as a mentor and positive role model for at risk youth. We also offer a Summer Camp program.
Under the leadership of Pastor Greene, Second Baptist purchased and paid for the eleven acres of land at our current location, 3705 North Kessler Boulevard North Drive, which houses our multi-purpose Family Life Center and Child Care facility.
Being ever mindful of the needs of our youth, Second Baptist began construction on a new youth center in 2006. In 2007 “The Upper Room” located in the mezzanine area of the building was opened. The church’s efforts were recognized by Mayor Bart Peterson and the City of Indianapolis. On April 16, 2007 Second Baptist Church was presented the mayoral “Character Achievement Award” for crime prevention by Mayor Peterson. Second Baptist Church was the first church ever to be presented with such an award.
Pastor Greene continues to engage our congregation in community efforts and awareness. He is a true champion of justice for the city and community. In 2007/2008 the church had a partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Amachi program. Both programs are mentoring programs for youth. In, the electoral year of 2008 Second Baptist was an audience for numerous local and national political candidates or their representatives.
December 2008, blessings continued to flow as the church released their first CD, “Birthed Out”. The project was a combined effort within the church and music ministry with all original lyrics and music by members of the ministry. On New Year’s Eve the church worshiped at Arlington High School in a non traditional manner with the drama ministry performing an original production inspired by God through our Pastor, sharing the title of the CD, “Birthed Out”.
The New Year brought more blessings, as Pastor Greene was contacted by WHMB TV 40 in regard to broadcasting the church services. Through prayer and negotiation, Second Baptist was shown the favor of God and was given ideal time slots and the first broadcast was aired on March 30, 2009. Because of his relationship with God, Pastor wanted to make sure the church was positioned to reach all men, women, boys and girls regardless of race, creed or religious persuasion; we are now doing business as, “Purpose of Life Ministries”. June 2009 the SBC Adult Foster Care home, another vision, became reality.
Since 2009, we have still been on the move for the community. We hosted our first annual Backyard Bar-B- Que where the community could participate with vendors, music and fellowship.
In May 2010, Our academy became a Level 1 and Level 5 in the Star Environmental Safe Facility standards. As a part of that process, classrooms were remodeled to support the growth of the Academy.
In 2011, we received the President's Drum Major award for Excellence for the work that we have done with the Juvenile Detention Center.
In 2012, we hosted a prayer vigil for a young man, Trayvon Martin, who was unjustly killed in Florida that had far reaching impact across our country. In June 2014, upgrades to the Family Life Center area that included new sound equipment, decorations, security cameras, and painting. Also, in 2014, Pastor Greene continued his community involvement by becoming the Chairman of the American Red Cross of Central Indiana Board and the Chairman of the National Action Network of Indiana Board.
In 2015, we continued our rich history of community advocacy by hosting Drive-by-Prayer vigil on our campus, homeless advocacy, breast cancer advocacy to address the disparity in the African-American Community, American Red Cross Blood drives, Childcare Development Associate training site for teachers, and a site for mental health training for congregations. Also, Pastor Greene became president of the Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis. The academy expanded to classes on the second floor to support continued growth.
In 2016, the Purpose of Life Academy became a level 3 in the State’s Path to Quality process. Additional renovation took place on the second floor and an additional playground area was added. The church was a recipient of a letter from Mayor Joseph Hogsett for our participation in the Healing of the HIV/AIDS in our community. The church continues to expand its ministry to seniors and those with disabilities by not just continued visitation to Nursing Homes but also providing services to Senior & Assisted Living areas in Central Indiana.
Second Baptist Church/Purpose of Life Ministries, continues to reap God’s blessings through spiritual, physical growth year after year. We thank and praise God for such a rich history, 170 years of continued existence as a church, and for the vision of our pastor to "Find Our Purpose. Live Our Purpose. Share Our Purpose"
To God Be The Glory in all things!