Gathering on the corner of Stricker and Presstman streets, members, family, and friends of the historic Sharon Baptist Church, came together Nov. 13 to honor their leader, the Rev. Dr. Alfred Corrigan Daniel Vaughn. Pastor of the congregation since 1986, Dr. Vaughn was recognized not only for his 25 years of diligent service to the congregation, but for his 54 faithful years in ministry.
Only the fourth pastor to head the church in its 126 years, Dr. Vaughn began his journey in ministry at Promised Land Baptist Church in Moneta, VA. Upon returning home to Baltimore in 1968, Dr. Vaughn became pastor of Grace Memorial Baptist Church, which he led until he began his tenure at Sharon Baptist Church.
“Sharon Baptist Church through Dr. Vaughn has been so instrumental to me. I hold Dr. Vaughn in high regard and I’m honored that my pastor would ask me to preach at his anniversary,” said the Rev. Dr. Walter Parrish III, who delivered the sermon at Sunday morning’s commemoration. “This church has been such a pillar of this community by welcoming and embracing people who otherwise would not have had a church home or a community with a place to worship.”
The sole minister to ever be elected to eight terms as president of The Baptist Ministers Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity, Dr. Vaughn has been nationally recognized for his commitment to serving the community both locally and across the country. Named a “Living Legend” by the Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History and Culture, Dr. Vaughn has been esteemed for his uncanny ability to connect with those in need.
“This is a caring church,” said Debra Moore, who serves on the usher board at Sharon Baptist Church. “I had strayed and was in the street and they welcomed me back with open arms.” Similar to the testimonies of hundreds of others who have passed through its doors, Moore considers Sharon Baptist Church to be her “family church” where she, her children, and her grandchildren all worship and learn on a regular basis.
Standing in amazement, Dr. Vaughn quietly watched as members poured onto the newly named Rev. A.C.D. Vaughn Way, which was unveiled in a ceremony following the morning service.“It humbles me and lets me know that I have to do a better job in the Lord,” said Dr. Vaughn, who was pleasantly surprised by the signage he had no prior knowledge of. “My main focus is not to be a celebrity, but a servant.”
Originally a Sunday school meant to instill moral values in local children, Sharon Baptist Church was officially organized into a congregation of ten members on February 5, 1885. Today, Sharon Baptist Church has made such an incredible impact in the Baltimore community through programs such as the food bank, the prison ministry, and school supply drives that some may find it hard to believe the church had its humble beginnings in an abandoned horse stable.
Aside from growing into the powerful ministry it is today, Sharon Baptist Church also gave birth to the Afro-American Newspaper on Aug. 13, 1892. Then a four page publication, it was edited and published by the Rev. William M. Alexander. Taking over the paper in 1897, John Henry Murphy Sr. effectively oversaw the growth of the paper into the leading black publication in the nation until his death in 1922. John Oliver, great-grandson of John Murphy Sr. and now CEO and publisher of the AFRO American Newspapers, honored Dr. Vaughn and Sharon Baptist Church for their vision and service in a special tribute Sunday morning.
Expressing gratitude to the man she said has made her “part of the family,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings- Blake was also in attendance to show support for the man she said is often calling with words of encouragement when the job of running a major city becomes extremely stressful.
Mayor Rawlings-Blake gave praise to Dr. Vaughn for his avid support of Awaken Baltimore, a new multi-cultural and interdenominational partnership between city officials and Baltimore’s religious leaders.