Friendship Baptist Church, located at 515 Richland Ave. N.E., will celebrate its 146-year history on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. The keynote speaker for the anniversary services is the Rev. C.A. Scott of Zion Hill Baptist Church.

The anniversary services will pay tribute to the church origins, which date back to 1866.

Its first members were recently-freed slaves who eagerly exercised their newly-gained freedom from religious suppression.

Their sanctuary was a brush harbor located on Kershaw Street, on the southern side of the railroad, where congregants knelt on spongy grass under moss-draped branches to sing songs of thanksgiving and to pray prayers for mercy. Because of the location, the assembly earned the name “brush harbor worshipers.”

Shortly thereafter, First Baptist Church of Aiken extended a welcome to the brush harbor worshipers, and, for a brief period, the former slaves and First Baptist Church members were united in worship.

Then, a collaboration between First Baptist Church minister the Rev. Lucious Cuthberth, and ex-slave the Rev. John Phillips launched the initiative to build Friendship African Baptist Church.

The Rev. John Phillips was installed as the first minister, and over the span of the church’s history, there have been a total of 15 ministers who have served as pastoral leaders.

Currently, the Rev. T.C. Edwards serves as pastor, and the associate ministers are Willar Hightower, Ernie Murray, Craig Jenkins and Kevin Robinson.

The church, which is listed on the Historical Register, offers exciting programs, ministries and outreach that appeal to and serve a wide range of ages and interests, including:

• Friendship Community Improvement Corporation

• Youth Day on fourth Sundays

• Warriors for Christ Youth ministry

• Children’s Church Ministry and annual youth retreat

• Friends and Families Day and Senior Citizen’s Day on fifth Sundays

• Drama ministry including Black History production, Easter play, and Christmas pageant

• After-school tutoring and summer enrichment programs

• Back-to-school supply drive

• Monthly soup kitchen lunches

• Weekly Bible study/prayer meeting

• Thanksgiving dinner for the community

• Project Christmas Shoebox

• Care packages for armed services personnel

• Christmas outreach (toys, gifts, groceries) to needy families

As Friendship Baptist Church moves beyond 146 years of existence, it continues to seek, to save and to serve humanity.

The doors of Friendship Baptist Church are always open to those desiring a place of worship, and on Sunday at 2:30 p.m., everyone is invited to the joyous occasion of the 146th church anniversary celebration.

For more information, call the church administrative office at 648-9290.