It was organized the year President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation set most of the nation’s slaves free. As war waged between the North and the South, a group of former slaves found their way north to the nation’s capital and started a church. The mission was to inspire people through “prayer, evangelism, preaching and service,” according to the church website.

On Feb. 23, First Baptist Church, located at New Hampshire and Randolph streets NW, will celebrate its 150th anniversary with a concert featuring gospel music icon Shirley Caesar at the Lincoln Theatre on U St., NW. The Grammy-winning Caesar has performed for U.S. presidents and for heads of state all over the world.

The concert is scheduled for 5 p.m. Tickets are $30-$50 and can be purchased at the Lincoln Theatre or through Ticketmaster.

According to the church website, First Baptist has been “a beacon of hope” during periods from slavery to the Great Depression to Jim Crow to the new millennium.

“The church has experienced its good and bad days as well as its strengths and weaknesses during these extraordinary times in history,” the website said.

The pastor since 1975 has been Rev. Dr. Frank D. Tucker.