Who We Are
Founded in 1849, Shiloh Baptist Church is the oldest African American Baptist church and the second oldest African American church of any denomination in the city of Cleveland. Our building (formerly B’Nai Jeshurun Temple) is now a national and Cleveland historic landmark. As the first African American Baptist church in Cleveland, Shiloh is the mother church from which a number of Cleveland’s African American churches emerged. Shiloh has been a bedrock of the Central neighborhood for over 172 years. We were born out of the need for human dignity, equality, and civil rights for African American persons who were being marginalized even in places of worship. As such our founders left the white Baptist church and formed Shiloh as not only a place of worship or spiritual home, but to be a place of communal support, racial uplift, a safe space for the oppressed, a hub of resources, a source of economic empowerment, and an advocate for the disenfranchised.
Led by these shared values Shiloh was a guiding force to the African American community during reconstruction and Jim Crow, a welcoming community and resource during The Great Migration, a leader during the Civil Rights and Black Power eras, and a source of communal engagement throughout the late 20thand early 21st-century. We were the church home of Dorothy Dandridge and the pulpit from which Dr. King spoke. We were the church that financed and rebuilt a family’s home during the Hough riots. We also hosted our annual International Tea which promoted the theme of unity through highlighting the cultures of diasporic nationalities and featured African American leaders as keynote speakers. We founded one of the early African American faith-based credit unions in Cleveland and instituted a savings program with local schools that taught students financial literacy and the value of savings. We were a hub of youth activities including drill teams, drum corps and scholarships. And for decades we have hosted Shiloh’s Kitchen (now Shiloh Shares) a soup kitchen and food pantry for those suffering from food insecurity. Now Shiloh is shifting seasons to provide relevant 21st-century ministry.
In 2020 Shiloh called its first female Pastor, the Reverend Dr. Lisa Maxine Goods. Rev. Goods took the helm of Shiloh in the midst of the COVID19 global pandemic and immediately hit the ground running, bringing a new anointing for a new season. Under her leadership throughout the COVID19 pandemic, Shiloh has provided COVID19 testing and has hosted multiple vaccination pop-up clinics, even funding financial incentives to get our neighbors vaccinated. We shifted our soup kitchen to food distribution and have provided food and PPE to area food-insecure residents, providing over 2300 food boxes to area residents in one day. We have done community clean ups – picking up trash in the neighborhood and parks. We have made donations and provided programming to women at local women’s shelters. Our goal is to do “real, relevant, and redeeming ministry that matters” in the lives of people – all God’s people.
In the 1960s and '70s Shiloh Baptist Church played a prominent role in the political life of the city of Cleveland. The church played an active role in voter registration and acted as a space for public meetings and rallies. The first International Tea was held in 1966 with the intent to broaden the outreach and culture of the Black community by familiarizing them with traditions and heritages of others. Congregation members researched the history and culture of different ethnicities in their neighborhood for recipes and costume suggestions. To read this article in its entirety CLICK HERE.