I. THE CREATION “…upon this rock, I will build my church …” (Matthew 16: 18)
When the Reverend Dr. Emmett C. Burns, Jr. moved to Baltimore in 1979, Civil Rights work was his professional mission. However, even then, a divine mission was in the making for this great man of God. The Lord laid upon Reverend Burns’ heart to build a church in Baltimore. After five years of working with the NAACP in Baltimore as Director of Region VII, there was still no impending pastorate on his horizon. Describing this time as his “wilderness” experience, Reverend Burns decided to step out on faith and organize a church in Baltimore County. The year was 1984. He prayed and asked God to give him fifty dedicated Christians in order to start a church. Instead, God sent him five dedicated Christian women. With his devoted wife, Sister Earlean Poe Burns, Reverend Burns opened their home to this Core Group of Christians for weekly meetings. Immediately, they began creating concepts for a new church. As plans were made to hold a public worship, the Core Group considered a name for the church and decided on Rising Sun First Baptist Church. Thus, Reverend Burns’ divine mission to build a church was being fulfilled.
- THE COMMENCEMENT
“…can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3)
On Sunday, March 4, 1984, the first public worship service was held at Campfield Elementary School. Pastor Burns’ sermon, taken from Ezekiel 37:3 asked the question– “Can These Bones Live?” Today, the answer to that question is evident. Since the creation and commencement of Rising Sun First Baptist Church, members have witnessed the conversion, consecration and continuation of this great church.
The Core Group continued to meet at the Burns’ home, where the principle of tithing was introduced as the method by which the church would be financially supported. On March 14, 1984, the Core Group overjoyed and in awe of his work, preaching, teaching, leadership and genuine concern for people, officially named Reverend Dr. Emmett C. Burns, Jr., the Pastor and Founder of Rising Sun First Baptist Church.
As the members of Rising Sun continued to meet at the Burns’ home, they organized a choir, Sunday School, prayer meetings, and an Usher Board. The first Communion Service was held on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1984. With members joining the church as candidates for baptism, there was a need to find a location to perform this service. Pastor Burns was able to secure the use of Calvary Baptist Church baptistery in Baltimore City and early on Sunday morning, May 9, 1984, the first baptismal service was held jointly and in conjunction with Calvary Baptist Church.
In July 1985, as the church membership was growing, Campfield Elementary School closed its doors and Rising Sun First Baptist Church sought a new location in which to worship.
III. THE CONVERSION
“For the people had a mind to work.” (Nehemiah 4:6)
The church moved its weekly worship service to Powhatan Elementary School on Kelox Road. Powhatan Elementary School provided Rising Sun with an atmosphere of peace and harmony, as members worshipped together as one body in Christ. With authority to render religious services and all the rights and privileges as any other church, the membership set about enforcing and strengthening its quest to find a permanent church home.
Shortly after moving to Powhatan Elementary School, a 1.8 acre lot with a 90-year old three-story Victorian House was purchased as the “New Home for Rising Sun First Baptist Church.” The property was located at 2211 St. Lukes Lane. Immediately, extensive renovations began on the house that was affectionately named “The White House.” As soon as the land was cleared and the house renovated, “The White House” became the site for all meetings and fellowship gatherings.
On March 1, 1987, Rising Sun First Baptist Church held a Ground Breaking Ceremony and shortly thereafter, construction on the new edifice began. On Sunday, September 7, 1989, the members of Rising Sun First Baptist Church held their last service in Powhatan Elementary School.
Pastor Burns, his wife, officers, members and friends gathered at Powhatan Elementary School onSunday, September 14, 1989, to march to their new edifice at 2211 Saint Lukes Lane. The members convened in the parking lot of 2211 St. Lukes Lane for the ribbon cutting ceremony and receipt of the keys to the church. Then on Sunday, October 1, 1989, Rising Sun First Baptist Church celebrated its Grand Opening;officially opening the church to the public.
- THE CONSECRATION
“Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it …” (Psalm 127:1)
On Sunday, March 11, 1990, Rising Sun First Baptist Church was formally dedicated. Reverend Dr. Benjamin L. Hooks, Executive Director of the NAACP and Pastor Emeritus of the Greater New Mt. Moriah Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan, delivered a powerful message for the 4:00 p.m. worship service.
- THE CONTINUATION
“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matthew 28:19)
Just two years after the opening of Rising Sun First Baptist Church in Woodlawn, Reverend Dr. Emmett C. Burns, Jr. was led to expand the ministries of the church. In June 1993, the church added a new property with the purchase of a house on Schissler Avenue. The house was appropriately named, “The Little Mission House”; for it was used by the Missionary Circle to distribute food and clothes to the needy.
In the summer of 1995, Rising Sun added the 8:00 a. m., early morning worship service.
In 1997, preliminary research was conducted to determine the feasibility of building a Christian Fellowship Center. On January 4, 1998, Dr. Burns initiated a Building Fund Drive for the Center. In the spring of 1998, the building concept was approved and on March 5, 1999, Rising Sun First Baptist Church held its Ground Breaking Service for the Christian Fellowship Center. On April 17, 2000, the building contract was signed and construction began on May 25, 2000. A bulldozer demolished the beloved “White House” on June 20, 2000. By December 10, 2000,the Christian Fellowship Center was completed and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held with an official tour of the new facility.
From 2001 to the present, Rising Sun First Baptist Church has celebrated many public functions in the Christian Fellowship Center beginning with the Laying of the Cornerstone in March 2001. Other functions include the dedicatory service, banquets, recitals, plays and workshops. One main function of the Christian Fellowship Center is to house the Rising Sun First Baptist Church Early Educational Learning Center, which opened on September 10, 2001. Today, the Early Learning Center is licensed to serve seventy (70) students from the ages of 2-9 years old.
In the year 2002, Rising Sun purchased the adjacent property at 2207 St. Lukes Lane which was named the Rising Sun First Baptist Church Annex. The Annex Building has been used for ministry meetings, workshops and the Summer Excel Camp Program. It has been used in the recent past as storage space and for distribution of food to needy.
As Pastor Burns continued to spread the Word of God, he envisioned expanding the ministry of Rising Sun First Baptist Church to Catonsville, Maryland. On, March 9, 2003, the Rising Sun First Baptist Church of Catonsville opened its doors for worship at Edmondson Heights Elementary School with 30 members. Thus, an additional worship site came into existence. Enlisting the assistance of approximately twelve Woodlawn members to serve and to guide the newly formed church through its infancy, Rising Sun First Baptist Church – Catonsville began its quest to continue winning souls for Christ. Rising Sun First Baptist Church of Catonsville served as a beacon of light in the Catonsville Community for over ten years; closing its doors in 2016. Many of the remaining members joined the Woodlawn family.
We know that Rising Sun will remain a beacon of light, giving hope to the community with the realization that it was Created by God, Commenced by God, Converted by God, Consecrated by God, and will Continue by the hands of God.