White Lily Baptist Church (Pittsburgh, PA)
In the year of 1918 and 1919, the people of Windgap Community (then called Red Row), Pittsburgh, PA, who had mainly come from the South and settled there, felt a need of organizing a church of their religious beliefs. It began as a mission in the basement of one of the “Founders of White Lily Baptist Church”. They were Mr. Edward and Mrs. Mary Morris, Mr. Eulis and Mrs. Pinkie Anna Lee Cook, and Mr. Henry and Mrs. Lillie Morris. Services were held in the basements of four of the row houses. The early organizers white-washed the church area, but somehow this did not do justice so they decided to paint the church area white. Feeling that the church area still need something else, Sis. Mary Morris went to her bedroom and took a picture off of the wall and took it downstairs and placed it on the wall behind the rostrum which they built. The picture had a bundle of white lilies on it and it was then that Mrs. Mary Morris announced that the church would be named White Lily Baptist Church. The pastor at the beginning was the late Rev. Edward Harris of Elliott. It began to grow in strength and spirit and they moved to larger quarters. In 1920, they received their charter. Sunday school, BYPU, and other church programs were carried out.
There was no baptism pool in this mission; therefore baptizing was done in Chartiers Creek under the Windgap Bridge in the summers. In the winter they baptized at Rev. Green’s church in Jack’s Corner, or Rev. Maddock’s Union Hope Baptist Church in McGan’s Corner.
As membership grew, the desire to build a church building and get out of the basement, prompted the members to begin fund raising programs. Fund-raising programs were successful in large part to the late Mrs. Della Watkins and others who were apart of the original building fund effort of the church to replace the basement mission, now named White Lily Baptist Church.
The option to move to Chartiers City was a tough one due to the racial demographics in Chartiers City and the lack of transportation. However, it was stated by the late Rev. Marshall, Asst. Pastor at the time, who later became pastor, a forward-thinking man, “that if we move up there, the people would move in the area and follow where the church was.” The members finally agreed then to build a church in Chartiers City.
A lot in the Chartiers area was purchased to build both a church and parsonage for the new pastor, Rev. Lockhart and family. Rev. Lockhart stayed until the cornerstone was about to be laid before leaving. Rev. Bailey Marshall then became pastor. In 1925, the edifice was ready for services. During the time of war membership began to drop and despite the concerns of the remaining members, Rev. Marshall encouraged them by sharing a vision in which he seen the church growing, with people coming from different places. They would be drawn to the church and build around it. Although he didn’t live to see it, after the war, the government built houses for the servicemen all around the area and many of them began to join.
Economic hardship would soon hit the church, but praise the Lord for the late Mr. Frank Lanaham, the employer of the men in the community at his mill. Mr. Lanaham was a loving, Christian gentleman who was responsible for most of the members belonging to the church whom he had brought from the South. He helped immensely in their endeavors of realizing their dream to build a church building. Deacon Alex Nolan, along with two other members met with Mr. Lanaham at the old Chartiers Bank in McKees Rocks and received a loan for the new building. After a lingering illness, Mr. Lanaham, also President of the bank, died leaving a statement in his will for the members of White Lily Baptist Church not to lose this church when he died. Arrangements were then made for the members to finish paying off the interest. So you see Mr. Lanaham served as the benefactor until his death in 1943.
Through the years we see how God’s provisional hand has been at work. As we look around us today we can see how wise and how farsighted the early organizers were. The once undeveloped, wooded section and muddy roads have been transformed into a thriving neighborhood of suburban homes and paved roads. Some of the early pastors of the WLBC have been as follows: Rev. Phillips, Rev. Wilson Hill, Rev. Clifton Ruggs, Rev. Leroy Walker, and Rev. Howard Chaney.
After a two-year interval, the Lord sent Rev. Kelvin A. Brooks, who was installed on May 2, 1982. Like Pastor Marshall, Pastor Brooks was also a visionary. His vision was to build a church; first in the hearts of men and then the physical building. The theme under Pastor Brooks was: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it; Except the Lord keep the city the Watchman waketh but in vain.” Psalm 127:1
Pastor Brooks helped establish over 40 Ministry Classes, to aid in growth and spiritual maturity. The vision of a new building came to fruition when we crossed over into our present sanctuary on October 10, 1999. The Rev. Archie Perrin and congregation of the Macedonia Baptist Church of Duquesne dedicated our building. In 2009 our church paid off the mortgage 5 years early and in April of 2010 we celebrated a joyous mortgage burning service to commemorate the blessing of paying off God’s house.
Our mission is to bring fellowship to our communities and discipleship to our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ.
We take to heart the commission of making disciples for the kingdom of God.
In November 2014 after over 30 years of faithful service to the WLBC, God called Pastor Brooks to a new assignment in Detroit, Michigan. In February 2016, after diligent prayer and the process of bringing in new perspective pastors the WLBC called Rev. Antawn D. Coleman Sr. to be their new Pastor. Rev. Coleman served as an Associate Minister under Pastor Brooks, and is a homegrown son of the WLBC. Pastor Coleman was officially installed as our Pastor on May 29th 2016.
Pastor Coleman’s vision has been “Building a Contagious Church.” We move into this next season trusting the sovereignty of God. It is His hand that has kept us as in over 100 years of service in His name.
To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. ~1 Corinthians 9:22
Special thanks to the late Bro. Artis Jackson a former trustee of the church gave us this record in 1988.