Shiloh Baptist Church was organized on Thursday, July 23, 1953, at 2 p.m. in the Holy Communion Episcopal Parish House located at 1407 South I Street in Tacoma, Washington.
Two concerned Christian workers met with Chaplain E.H. Hankerson, who was serving as the Base Chaplain at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma, to talk with him about organizing a church. Serving as council members were: Rev. F.W. Penick of Peoples’ Institutional Church, Seattle, WA; Rev. Norman Mitchell, Goodwill Baptist Church, Seattle, WA; Rev. Benjamin F. Davis, Mount Zion Baptist Church, Seattle, WA; Rev. Cornelius Brown and Rev. Horton, Seattle, WA.
A name was selected on the same night of the newly organized congregation. The selected name was Shiloh Baptist Church and the Articles of Incorporation and By-laws were drawn up. The votes in this meeting were unanimously cast. The church held its first service on Sunday, July 26, 1953, at 9:30 a.m. at the Masonic Hall located at 1702 South K Street. There were 26 children and 24 adults present for Sunday School. Rev. Cornelius Brown conducted the morning worship service with 37 present. The first offering was $59.40.
On July 26, 1953, at 7:30 p.m., the group met at Holy Communion Episcopal Parrish House. Chaplain E.H. Hankerson conducted the second service with 30 people present and the offering was $10.00. The church unanimously voted to have Chaplain E.H. Hankerson serve as Spiritual Adviser until such time the church would call a Pastor. By July 27 the church membership had grown to 30 members. On August 9, the congregation agreed to rent a church and parish house at 1307 and 1309 South I Street for $60.00 per month. The church began to grow and auxiliaries were organized.
On July 4, 1954, the property at 1307 South I Street was purchased for $12,000 with a down payment of $3,000. When Chaplain Hankerson was transferred from McChord Air Force Base to the Federal Republic of Germany, the church was left without a spiritual adviser leaving the church to call a pastor. On December 31, 1954, Shiloh extended the call to Rev. Earnest Stonewall Brazill who was then the pastor of Sinclair Baptist Church in Bremerton, Washington. Rev. Brazill accepted the call to serve as Shiloh’s first pastor. Rev. E.S. Brazill officially assumed his duties as pastor on Easter Sunday, April 10, 1955.
Shiloh had grown tremendously under the leadership of Rev. E.S. Brazill. Since 1955, the church roll has grown to over 800 members. The church has also paid off several mortgages in excess of $90,000. At the start of new construction in 1999, the church property was valued at $400,000.
The Rev. Dr. E.S. Brazill retired after faithfully leading Shiloh Baptist Church as pastor for 44 years and eight months. In January 2000, the congregation voted in Rev. Dr. Gregory Christopher as pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church. He had served as an associate minister under Rev. Dr. E.S. Brazill for a number of years. Rev. Christopher stayed on course with the vision Rev. Brazill had of a new sanctuary. The $1.2 million construction of the new sanctuary began in 1999 and was completed in December 2000, under the able leadership of the late Deacon James Stephens, chairman of the Building Committee. The old church building (which is now the E.S. Brazill Multipurpose Building) was totally remodeled at a cost of over $400,000 and was completed December 2001.
Property acquired: 815 South 13th Street, 1206 South I Street, 1208 South I Street and 1210 South I Street. The property located at 1208 and 1210 South I Street were totally remodeled and coded for a childcare center. The cost of this project was approximately $100,000 and upon completion, the Lily of the Valley Christian Childcare Center was opened in October 2001. The childcare center is named after Lily V. Brazill, former First Lady Emeritus of Shiloh Baptist Church.
The Shiloh Feeding and Clothing Ministry was organized later in the year and began ministering every Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. This ministry continues reaching out to 800 homeless, displaced and transient citizens yearly.
On September 1, the Lord called Pastor Emeritus Dr. Earnest Stonewall Brazill from labor unto reward – his favorite Scripture was Revelation 2:30. Dr. Brazill’s home going celebration was highlighted with two “standing room only” services. The first service was celebrated in the old church building.
The second service allowed the secular, local and state government communities to come and commemorate “God’s Little Giant” who impacted a city and state on the level of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The second service was held at Bethlehem Baptist Church where Dr. Brazill was first introduced to the great Northwest and preached his first sermon in the Northwest. Not even standing room was available in this one thousand-seat sanctuary as the Christian and religious community came to celebrate “God’s Little Giant’s” home going celebration. Dr. Arthur C. Banks preached the sermon for this celebration with passion and an anointing from God.
The Lord called First Lady Emeritus Lily V. Brazill from labor to reward and the home going celebration was held in the new sanctuary. Once again, Dr. Banks was called to officiate the service and, again, God used him in a special way.
A year of redirecting began through organizational development within internal church administration and Shiloh’s ministries to meet the needs of the congregation.
The year arrived with great anticipation and excitement as the church prepared for 50 years as an organized body of believers in Christ Jesus. The event was celebrated for an entire week in July to include a banquet at the La Quinta Inn and a parade that featured community leaders that included the first Black City Manager of Tacoma, Mr. Jim Walton. City and church luminaries led the way riding in custom Jaguar automobiles loaned to the church by the local Fife, Washington dealership. They were followed by a long queue of other church and community-based participants. An excited crowd composed of Shiloh members and friends, neighbors and merchants lined the parade route which began at the intersection of 19th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way (MLK). The highlight of the march occurred at the nexus of MLK and what was once 12th Street when a portion of it – from Sprague Avenue to Tacoma Avenue (approximately three miles) – was renamed. An enthusiastic unveiling disclosed the stretch of 12th Street (known to the community by that designation for over 44 years) had now become Earnest S. Brazill Street, after the late pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church. The celebration closed out that following Sunday with a shout…”God has done marvelous things!” Also during the year, Shiloh remodeled its property at 815 South I Street and opened up a men’s transitional home – Hands Up Ministry – that provides a structured environment and housing facilities for eight men at a time. In addition, the church purchased a 2004 van with automated wheelchair access. Of note, the first in a series of comprehensive Shiloh newsletters were printed.
Currently, we are one phase away from fulfilling the dream of the late Rev. Dr. E.S. Brazill which was to build a youth center that includes a full-sized gymnasium, a childcare center and a computer lab. We continue to work towards that realization. We are truly blessed.
The present membership is at 617 to include 18 ministers; 18 deacons, deaconess, trustees; and two full-time ministers – Youth Pastor Dwayne Hawkins and Outreach Minister Chavis Young. Shiloh voted unanimously to call Rev. Dwayne Hawkins to the position of full-time Youth Pastor. The church also received a grant in the amount of $90,000 from World Vision to hire a full-time Youth Outreach Worker. Rev. Chavis Young was appointed to this position. In celebration of Shiloh’s 52nd Church Anniversary, under the guidance of Deacon Lonnie Traylor and Deaconess Kim Traylor, Shiloh held its first community picnic. Intercessory prayer was in action, Gospel music was sung with conviction and over one thousand people were fed barbecue ribs, chicken, and hot dogs. A U-Haul full of new clothes was given to those in need – God was glorified!
Sister Scarlett Watts and Sister Sheila Pearson organized the Approved Workmen Are Not Ashamed (AWANA) Ministry serving over thirty children every Friday evening, teaching them the Word of God. God favored Shiloh with another grant to install a computer lab in the E.S. Brazill Multipurpose Building. This lab will enhance the church’s tutoring ministry, giving Shiloh the ability to assess what level a youth is at in reading, writing and math as well as provide the opportunity to enhance their present skills. The church purchased 811 South 13th Street to be used for a youth or women’s transitional home.
Shiloh organized the Economic Development Ministry. The first meeting was held at Dr. Gerald Burke’s home with the purpose to position the church for ministry in the 21st century. Currently, the church membership on roll is over 900 with about 300 plus attending the 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. services combined.
The Rites of Passage, for males grades 9 through 12, and the Young Men of Distinction (YMD) ministries were organized by Sister Sedonia Young. There are 18 African-American male youth participating in YMD and five schools within the Tacoma School District.