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Kansas City's First Black Baptist Church Marks 150 Year Anniversary

Second Baptist Church

One hundred fifty years ago the country was midway through the Civil War, and back then, Second Baptist Church was a mission known as a "Stragglers Camp" located on the south banks of the Missouri River.

These days, the church at 3620 E. 39th Street is reaching out to deal with crime and a high unemployment rate, and it's about to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s March on Washington.

The senior pastors of Second Baptist have enjoyed long tenures.Over the last 150 years, the church has been led by just eight head preachers.

On Friday's Up to Date, the Church's eighth pastor, Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, joins Steve Kraske to talk about Second Baptist's history and their very present-day mission.

The Rev. Dr. Vernon Howard, leader of the Second Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo., is a Kansas City native and attended William Jewell College. After earning a Master of Divinity degree from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, he joined the staff of St. Stephen Baptist Church. Later, he worked as an adjunct lecturer within the African American Studies department of the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has also worked at St. James United Methodist Church and as an adjunct professor of homiletics at the Central Baptist Theological Seminary and an adjunct instructor in cultural studies at William Jewell College.


After growing up on the east coast and spending his first professional years in classical music, Stephen moved to Kansas City in 1995 expecting to leave after a few years. (Clearly that didn't happen.) More than two decades and three kids later, he doesn't regret his decision to stick around. Stephen began his career in public radio as a classical music host. As the founding producer of Up to Date with Steve Kraske, he received a number of local and national awards for his work on the program. Since 2014 he's overseen KCUR's broadcast operations. When Stephen isn't at KCUR's studios, he's probably adding more stamps to his passport with his KU professor wife and their three kids. His son almost made him cry during a drive through the Rockies when he said at age 8: "Dad, can we listen to public radio?" Sniff sniff.
Steve Kraske is the host of KCUR's Up To Date. Follow him on Twitter @stevekraske.