Our History

Greater Friendship Baptist Church was founded in the year of our Lord, 1951, thus becoming the first Black church in the state of Alaska. In addition, Greater Friendship Baptist Church was the first Black church in America to affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.

The founding of this church planted the seed for other Black churches in Alaska. The church was formed with a group of 32 baptized believers. Among the people who sacrificed in the early stages of Greater Friendship Baptist Church’s development were: Reverend Charles Kennedy, the founding pastor, Brother and Sister Hawkins, Brother and Sister Johnson, Brother and Sister Dockery, Deacon and Sister Chamberliss, and Sister Vanee Robinson, as well as many others.

The first worship services were held in the basement of the First Baptist Church of Anchorage, Alaska. After holding services there for several months, the congregation moved to the Pioneer Hall on 6th and F Streets. In 1952, a third move was made to 12th and Cordova. Then, by the grace of God and through the diligence and sacrifice of faithful members, land was purchased at the present location of 903 East 13th Avenue. Reverend Charles Kennedy dedicated the church during that year.

Greater Friendship Baptist Church faced difficult times early in its history.

After only one year in the new building in 1953, the building caught fire and burned, causing the congregation to move back to the 12th and Cordova location. Once again, the congregation worked together, and after renovation in 1955, the congregation moved back to the 13th and Ingra Streets location. What this demonstrated to the congregation and the community was all things are possible through faith in God. Greater Friendship has stood as a beacon of hope within not only the city of Anchorage, but for the whole state of Alaska, pointing the way to the greatest hope, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. From the growth of Greater Friendship, Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church and New Hope Baptist Church were organized. In 1994, Greater Friendship Baptist Church purchased a parcel of land located at 16th Avenue and C Street in Anchorage to build a new church. Greater Friendship is thankful to God for all the outstanding ministers of God who have won hosts of souls through their ministry and leadership as pastor of Greater Friendship Baptist Church:

  • Reverend Charles Kennedy (Pastor 1951-1955)
  • Reverend L. Lewis (Pastor 1955-1959)
  • Reverend O. R. Pigford (Pastor 1960-1962)
  • Reverend Leo Josey, Sr. (Pastor 1962-1969)
  • Reverend H. Ring Griffin, Jr. (Pastor 1969-1970)
  • Reverend Cammie L. Watkins (Pastor 1971-1974)
  • Reverend Charlie Dargan (Pastor 1975-1985)
  • Reverend Mark Smith (Interim Pastor 1985-1986)
  • Reverend John L. Smith (Pastor 1986-1995)
  • Reverend Clifton J. Gay III (Interim Pastor 1996)
  • Reverend Leon D. May I (Pastor 1997-2009)
  • Reverend John L. Smith (Pastor 2011- 2013)
  • Reverend Michael A. Bunton (Pastor 2014- Present)

We believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, which cleanses our souls. It holds the words of eternal life, and the keys to the Kingdom of God. The Bible shows us God’s principles and standards for living, and it is the food that sustains us in all circumstances

(John 1:14; 2 Tim 3:16-17; I John 2:5-6)