First African Baptist Church (FABC) was organized in 1773 under the leadership of Reverend George Leile. The 1773 organization date for the church makes it clear that FABC is older than the United States (1776). In May of 1775 Rev. Leile was ordained as the pastor and December of 1777 the church was officially constituted as a body of organized believers. Four converts Rev. Andrew Bryan, his wife, Hannah Bryan, Kate Hogg, and Hagar Simpson would form a part of the nucleus of First African Baptist Church’s early membership.
In 1782, rather than risk reenslavement, Pastor Leile left with the British when Savannah was evacuated and migrated to Jamaica. He became the first American missionary, 30 years before Adoniram Judson left for Burma. He was also the first Baptist missionary in Jamaica.
Under the leadership of the 3rd Pastor Reverend Andrew C. Marshall, the congregation obtained the property where the present sanctuary stands. Reverend Marshall also organized the first black Sunday School in North America and changed the name of the church from “First Colored Baptist” to “First African Baptist“. The sanctuary was completed in 1859 under the direction of the 4th Pastor, Reverend William J. Campbell.