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Greater Friendship Baptist Church

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1955. 903 E. 13th Ave.
  • (Photograph by Ian Hartman)

Greater Friendship Baptist Church is a central institution in the Fairview neighborhood, one of Anchorage's most diverse communities. The church was founded in 1951, and its initial services were held in the basement of Anchorage’s First Baptist Church before temporarily moving to Pioneer Hall at 6th Avenue and F Street, and then to 12th and Cordova. The first permanent Greater Friendship Church began construction in 1952 at its current location but it burned down shortly after it was completed. The structure that stands today opened in 1955 and was partially rebuilt using materials recovered from First Baptist Church, which also burned down in 1953.

The concrete block structure—single story with raised basement and a gabled roof with asphalt shingles— is simple in design yet certain elements like the buttresses on the east and west facades and the belfry topped by a spire reflect its religious use. Two entrances on the east facade are distinguished by small projecting bays with horizontal lap siding. The primary entrance on the south end opens to a split entryway that leads upstairs to the nave and church offices or downstairs to the basement classrooms. The 3,200-square-foot church accommodates up to 250 parishioners in its nine rows of pews, which are divided by two aisles. The altar is south-facing.

The church is surrounded by surface parking and has limited landscaping or grass surrounding the building. During extensive renovations in 1977, the main entrance was moved from the south facade (where a large cross now hangs) to its current location on the south end of the east facade. Greater Friendship Church was rededicated on October 2, 1977. In 2017, the church was repainted and received a new sign. 

Perhaps most significantly, the Greater Friendship Baptist Church was the first Black church in Alaska. As the congregation quickly grew, membership split to form Anchorage’s Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in 1952 and New Hope Baptist Church in 1960. Greater Friendship was also the first modern Black church to affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention. In recognition of its historic status, Greater Friendship was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2019.


“Baptist Church Celebrates 31 Years.” Anchorage Daily News, June 19, 1982.

Barcus, Gwen. “Greater Friendship Flourishes in Fairview.” Anchorage Daily News, June 16, 1984, EE1, EE9.

“Church Mortgage Paid Off in a Third of the Time.” Anchorage Daily News, June 26, 1999, D6.

“Congregation Shares Facilities During Move.” Anchorage Daily Times, November 6, 1976, 8.

“Finish Work on New Church.” Anchorage Daily Times, October 10, 1953, 2.

Hunke, Naomi Ruth. I Have Planted Thee in This Land: The Story of the First 25 Years of Southern Baptist Missions in Alaska. Anchorage: Alaska Baptist Convention, 1971.

Melzer, Bruce. “Colorblind Lenders? Banks Try to Reach Minority Borrowers.” Anchorage Daily News, November 14, 1993, A9.

Newman, Mark. Getting Right With God: Southern Baptists and Desegregation, 1945-1995. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2001.

Newton, Jim. “First SBC Black Church Celebrates 40th Year.” Baptist Press, June 26, 1991.

Reamer, David, "Greater Friendship Baptist Church," Anchorage, Alaska. National Register of Historic Place Registration Form, 2018. National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, Washington, D.C. 

“To Rededicate Church.” Anchorage Daily Times, October 1, 1977, 1.

Willis, Alan Scot. All According to God’s Plan: Southern Baptist Missions and Race, 1945-1970. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2005.

Willoughby, Karen L. “Pioneering African American Churches Kept Growing After Making SBC History.” Baptist Press, February 14, 2003.

Writing Credits

David Reamer
Ian C. Hartman



  • 1955

  • 1977

  • 2019

    Listed on National Register of Historic Places

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David Reamer, Ian C. Hartman, "Greater Friendship Baptist Church ", [Anchorage, Alaska], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

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