The History of
Mt. Ephraim Baptist Church
Mount Ephraim has been a vibrant member of Atlanta’s spiritual community for more than 40 years. Our church started with only 13 members in 1970 in the apartment of the Rev. Dr. R.L. White, Jr and has become a pillar of the region’s religious community.
Sometimes, some of our greatest institutions are started in the strangest ways. The Mount Ephraim Baptist church was started by Rev. R. L. White, Jr. in response to rejection. He tried to get called to pastor one of the largest churches in Atlanta, but was rejected. After being urged by Deacon Robert Owens to start a church, Rev. White reluctantly agreed to do so. On May 25, 1970, Rev. White called everyone interested for a preliminary meeting. They discussed the possibility of starting a church and all were favorable. A date was set for organization, June 15, 1970, a pleasant Friday night in June.
On June 15, 1970 8:00 P.M., this small group of people met at Rev. White’s apartment. The late Rev. A.D. Tucker was invited to be the official witness. Deacon Robert Owens led devotion and Rev. White preached a message from the book of Haggai, Consider Your Ways. In response to the message, 13 joined. The offering was taken and $15 was raised. That began what would become a far reaching journey destined to touch thousands and even millions of the children of God. Our first place to worship was 112 Hurt Street, NE – it was a storefront. After worshipping there for a couple of months, we were told that we had to move. Because we could not find another place to go for a short while, we were back in Rev. White’s living room. We finally located a run down storefront that needed extensive repairs. It was located at 59 Haynes Street, SE…small but just what we needed.
Rev. White set a goal for 25 members by the end of the 1st year, we had 47. At the end of the 2nd year, we had 85 members. In 18 months we were outgrowing the storefront. A search was made for a new home. At the time, Greater Moses Chapel Baptist Church had planned to move. By the grace of God, we talked them into carrying a loan for us for a year and then we would apply for a bank loan. It was very hard to borrow money when (as a church) you were less than three years old. Rev. White talked the bank into lending the church approximately ½ the money needed and the Greater Moses Chapel carried the remainder of the money needed. In May of 1972 we moved to 815 Fox Street, NW where we were to worship for the next 14 years.
Also, in 1972, Rev. White proposed leaving his job at the Post Office for full-time ministry. The agreement was made and shortly afterwards, the church experienced a very rapid growth. So rapid, that we had to enlarge the sanctuary. The city permitted the enlargement and told us not to come back. While the church was being renovated by Joe Hollimon contractors, we met at the English Avenue School for approximately 8 months. It was during this time that Mr. Hollimon died and construction was delayed. His wife wanted to take over the construction, but we decided to buy her out with money already owed. Rev. White assumed supervision over the construction and we finished the building project.
In 1984, it was evident that we were again outgrowing the sanctuary. We began to search for a new home. A Search Committee was formed and we settled on our present site. It took over a year to arrange financing, the plans and associated court hearings. The building then moved from dream to reality when we moved to our present location, third Sunday of November, 1986.
Since our relocation, we have experienced astronomical growth and in 1988, Mount Ephraim was recognized as the first African American church to be the fastest growing church in North America, according to Church Growth America. In 1991, our church was mentioned in the church almanac of Religion in the United States as one of the top 100 churches in the United States.