WHO WE ARE
In the year 1891 a handful of baptized believers in Christ, who had been meeting from house to house holding prayer services, gathered together one August evening in the home of the late Deacon James Harris for the purpose of organizing a church which was to become the first Negro church in the Harlem community.
The Birth of Walker Memorial Baptist Church
The late Rev. B.H. Walker was selected as the first Pastor. The first church home was located at 104 East 126th Street, over an old stable. Rev. Walker served as Pastor until his death in 1903. Early February 1904, the late Rev. L.B. Twisby of Hackensack , New Jersey 9 and formerly of Virginia) was called to the pastorate, and the membership grew so rapidly that Mt. Gilead was compelled to seek larger quarters. The church was moved to 305 East 122nd Street where the church grew in numbers.
In 1908, two private houses located at 39-41 East 132nd Street were purchased and altered for the church home. The Rev. Dr. Twisby was known as the "Roaring Lion" of Harlem and Mt. Gilead became the "Hotbeat " of all the other churches in the vicinity.
On September 16, 1916 the name of Mt. Gilead was discontinued and in memory of the first Pastor, the late Rev. Benjamin Walker, Walker Memorial Baptist Church, Inc. was selected as the new name. Rev. Twisby served under his resignation in 1918. In December 1919, the late Rev. J.B. Bushell, D.D. from Texaswas the third Pastor until December 21, 1927.
On October 11, 1928, the Rev. Dr. John W. Saunders from Pennsylvania took over the pastorate and served until 1939. Under his leadership a pipe organ was purchased and the membership grew to approximately 2, 800. The administration of this fourth Pastor was marred by friction that arose as a result of his desire to move the church from east Harlem. The is led to financial decrease and a drop in the membership. In the interim period from this time until 1940 the membership was 300. After a series of preachers were heard, the lot was cast for Rev. James W. Tate of Decatur, Georgia and on October 17, 1940 he was called as Pastor. Under his leadership he was able to increase thechurch membership to over 3000 members.
The city claimed the property on East 132nd Street in 1945, for the purpose of buildings a " Better Housing" project. Again Walker Memorial was forced to seek new quarters. One June 5, 1945, a five story building was purchased at 37-43 West 116th Street, and set into motion one of the most elaborate Community Service Programs in Harlem which included a pool, Rev. Tate was Pastor until his resignation on March 17, 1953.
On April 24, 1955, the late Rev. Dr. Ivor Moore became the sixth Pastor. He came after serving as Pastor in Mumford, New York and Gary, Indiana. Rev. Moore began to preach and teach with unification as a goal. His sermon, "What Did You Come Here For?" dealt with the church as an organization and organism. In 1981, his 26 years long Pastorate ended in retirement and Rev. Moore became Pastor Emeritus.
On March 6, 1982, the congregation extended the pastoral call to our seventh present Pastor the Rev. Joe Albert Bush, Sr. , a native of Columbia, South Carolina. Rev. Bush has led the congregation to "burn" the Church mortgage (within his first year) and the parsonage mortgage. Learn More About Dr. Bush