The Capital View Baptist Church brings people to an acceptance of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the pardon of their sins and has provided a nurturing atmosphere for spiritual growth and development for nearly a century.
Capital View Baptist Church began on December 10, 1926, in a brand-new subdivision known as “Capital View”, located on the corner of Division Avenue and Ames Street in the Northeast quadrant of the city. Seven men and women—including the esteemed John Whitelaw Lewis, a pioneer of African American banking in Washington, D.C. and builder of the Whitelaw Hotel—founded the Capital View Baptist Church. The Capital View Baptist Church was officially recognized by the Churches of the District of Columbia on April 19, 1927 and incorporated as a religious society or congregation formed for the purposes of religious worship in the District of Columbia on February 2, 1929.
The Reverend Charles H. Johnson, who was also one of the founders, was elected the first pastor, serving from 1927 to 1937. During Reverend Johnson’s administration, the property on which the church was located (for 94 years) was negotiated for and the first building—19 Division Avenue, was constructed in 1928. It was also during this period that the Deacon Board, the Trustee Board, the Senior Choir, the Usher Board, the Women’s and Men’s Clubs, and the Sunday School were begun.
The second pastor, Reverend James Clarke Griffin, led the flock from 1937 to 1941. During Reverend Griffin’s administration, the church program was revitalized in the aftermath of the economic shock that impacted most countries throughout the world, which came to be known as the Great Depression. Reverend Griffin chose zestful heads for the various departments of the church. During Reverend Griffin’s term, the Christian Endeavor Society was organized. In addition, a fine fellowship was developed with the churches throughout the city and the church became a member of the Baptist Convention of the District of Columbia and Vicinity. Further, a strenuous effort was made to liquidate the financial obligations of the church, and a special banking account was set up to pay the second mortgage. All except a few hundred dollars had been raised to finish the payment on the second trust, before Reverend Griffin accepted an army chaplain post to serve during World War II.
In March 1941, the Reverend Dr. Andrew Fowler, the third pastor, was appointed. Originally intended to the lead the flock for just one year, he held the position until his death on January 4, 2003—sixty-two years! He impressed the church’s leadership by reorganizing its financial operations, bringing in new members, and sharing with the congregation his vision for the future. All the original groups were maintained during his administration, while others were organized or founded. Further, during the first few years of Reverend Fowler’s tenure, the second and first trusts on the building were paid and mortgage debts were cleared.
During Reverend Fowler’s first thirty-six years, the edifice located at 5201 Ames Street, N.E., evolved. Constructed for three hundred thirty thousand dollars ($330,000), the Superstructure—completed in July 1962—was considered to be one of Reverend Fowler’s great achievements. Here are a few more of his achievements: the Junior Choir, the Sunday School Choir, the Youth Choir, the Churchwide Chorus, the Volunteer Chorus, the Women’s Chorus, and the Ensemble were founded and organized. The Pastor’s Aid Society, the Missionary Society and the Scholarship Committee were formed. These special events were organized and commenced to take place: the Teenage Tea, Fun Nights, Christmas Caroling throughout the Neighborhood, Daily Vacation Bible School, Rambler Rose Family Day, Stay at Home Tea, and Harvest Home, to name a few. By way of the church’s religious education program, the church under Reverend Fowler’s leadership had always contributed greatly to the improvement of standards within the community. Even prior to the church’s new building, Capital View served as a housing space for mass meetings to improve the service of the street cars and buses of the Capital Transit Company sponsored by the Capital View Civic Association. Later, other organizations like the Northeast Branches of the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) continued to use the church for a meeting space as well. The church also had a record of contributing annually for more than 35 years to denominational schools such as Virginia Union University, Benedict College, Shaw University, Morris College, Virginia University of Lynchburg, Friendship College, and the Washington Baptist Theological Seminary.
Reverend Dr. John T. Fowler was elected as Co-Pastor on November 23, 2002, and upon the demise of Reverend Dr. Andrew Fowler (his blood and spiritual father), became the church’s fourth and present pastor, installed in March 2003. During Reverend John T. Fowler’s administration, many of the original groups and programs were maintained, while others were reorganized along with the formation of new ones. Here are a few achievements that he is especially proud of: the adoption of the church’s first written governing document, implementation of a monthly Food and Clothing Distribution, purchase of a new church van, refurbishment of the church’s interior, installation of a new church roof, hosting an Office of the Aged Satellite Senior Self-Help Office, an Annual Senior’s/Community Breakfast, an Annual Health Fair, designation of fifth Sundays as “Youth Day,” the creation of the Church Administration, Church Development, Evangelism, Finance, Budget, Fund Raising, Widow’s Mite, Health & Nutrition, Culinary, Performing Arts, Public Relations, and Technology/Media Ministries, the creation of the Young People’s Choir, the reform of the Sunday School and Youth Choirs, and the rebirth of Capital View’s Youth Program.
Like any institution that has been in existence for nearly a century, the Capital View Baptist Church has seen some dark and cloudy days. Having already suffered a substantial reduction in membership and participation pre-pandemic, leaving a small group of people to carry the substantial overhead of a building that housed almost one thousand, Pastor John T. Fowler, after much prayer and consultation with the Lord, recommended to the membership that the real property be sold. The membership agreed, and on January 10, 2022, the church building and its surroundings where we had worshiped and toiled for our entire existence were sold. Capital View held the distinction of being one of the few churches in the District of Columbia that was still operating in the same location where it was founded. However, society changes and the church of God is a part of society, so the church must change to remain viable!
A lot has changed since the founding of our church in 1926, particularly, our understanding of who we are and how we fit in God’s plan as expressed through biblical prophecies. Whereas for our first ninety-five years, we were a predominantly African American-centered congregation totally unaware of our rightful claim as direct blood members of the Children of Israel, we now must prepare ourselves to become a multiethnic, multiracial, and multicultural congregation as we embrace our brethren from across the globe as family members, while remaining true to our God and our faith. Thus, we have established our presence within the worldwide virtual community where we intend to maintain our presence in perpetuity, while seeking a physical place to which we may relocate our physical church.
Join us on our journey as we experience the transforming power of God’s love and embark on this new phase in our history!