Rev. William M. Alexander:

Pioneering Baptist Missionary

North Street Baptist Church's pastor, Rev. Harvey Johnson had an immeasurable impact on young William Alexander's development, so much so that in 1879, William enrolled at Johnson's alma mater, Wayland Seminary. Alexander graduated from Wayland Seminary in 1882 as class valedictorian. Yet, while theological scholarship held a place in Rev. Alexander's life (he went on to take a Doctorate of Divinity from Shaw University), he approached service and missionary work with the greatest zeal. Shortly before completing the program at Wayland, Alexander was ordained by Rev. Johnson at Union Baptist. Alexander's first charge was the First Baptist Church of Bladensburg, Prince George's County, Md. Within a few months, Rev. Alexander had established the Sitke Mission church at nearby Burnt Mills, Montgomery County, Md. Before Alexander left Bladensburg in 1883 when he was offered the position General Missionary for Maryland by the Maryland Baptist Union Association (a post he held until 1887), he assisted blacks near Burnt Mills on several levels, including the incorporation of a small town. Over the course of his service as General Missionary, Alexander seeded Baptist missions all across the state: at Cumberland, Westminster, Frederick, Annapolis, Elkridge, Snow Hill, and Berlin, as well as in Charles, Howard, and Worcester counties.

By 1884, this job brought him back to Baltimore for the purpose of canvassing the newly formed black community of northwest Baltimore. Two years earlier, at the impetus of T.A. Johnson, a member of Baltimore's Macedonia Baptist Church, the Whatcoat Street Sunday School Mission was established in an humble structure. Under the guidance of Macedonia's pastor, W. C. Lawson, the mission began to grow in membership and scope of purpose. A substantially larger structure at the corner of Calhoun St. and Patterson Ave. (now Laurens St.) was made available to the Whatcoat Mission in 1884. It was at this point that Rev. William M. Alexander was summoned to lead the mission.

Many in the neighborhood of Whatcoat Mission were migrants to Baltimore from the South, especially Virginia. Shortly upon obtaining the new building a movement began to transform the mission into a church independent of Macedonia. This was achieved in early 1885 as nine members of Macedonia and Rev. Alexander constituted the Patterson Avenue Baptist Church. During the late 1890s, Patterson Avenue Baptist Church relocated one block north, to the corner of Presstman and Carey Streets. At this point, Patterson Avenue Baptist Church became the Sharon Baptist Church. Rev. William M. Alexander continued to lead the congregation of Sharon Baptist until his death in 1919. Toward the end of his life, the Lott Carey Foreign Baptist Missionary Convention, organized by Rev. Alexander, began work in Liberia. Similar work was done in the West Indies. As a monument to the work of Rev. Alexander, Alexander Station, a mission, was opened in Monrovia.

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