LeRoy Bailey Jr.
|LeRoy Bailey Jr.|
Archbishop LeRoy Bailey
April 25, 1946 |
Memphis, Tennessee USA
|Spouse(s)||Reverend "Mother" Reathie Brown Bailey|
LeRoy Bailey Jr. was born April 25, 1946, the second of three children from the union of LeRoy Bailey Sr and Mrs. Vernada Breathett-Bailey. LeRoy Bailey Sr. was a steel technician and often traveled. Mrs. Bailey served as a secretary and organist at the Golden Leaf Missionary Baptist Church in Memphis Tennessee. After the birth of their second daughter the marital union dissolved.
Reverend Leander A. Hamblin, the pastor of Golden Leaf Baptist Church having heard of LeRoy's mother's difficulties after the divorce, arranged for live with him on weekends in his household. The rest of the week LeRoy lived with his mother and grandmother  L. A Hamblin and his wife, having no children of their own, acted as parental figures for the remainder of his childhood and into his young adulthood.
It was during the period of Hamblin' tutorship and mentorship that LeRoy grew spiritually. In early 1956, he began to observe services from the pulpit of the church with L.A. Hamblin. He was often given the responsibility to recite The 23rd Psalm or The Lord's Prayer during the service. His preached publicly at Hamblins' Church, and his first sermon was delivered June 18, 1956, at the age of ten. His text was Luke 23:34.
34Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."[a] And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
After delivering this sermon, his fame within the City of Memphis grew. Several preachers in Memphis asked him to preach at their church One of the sermons delivered at a Memphis church was entitled "Going into all the world" it was based on the The Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20):
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."
He toured with L.A. Hamblin, traveling across the United States preaching and teaching at several conferences. One of these events included the opportunity to preach to more than 5,000 people in Oakland, California as part of a youth rally and at New Bethel Baptist Church in Detroit, Michigan at the time pastored by the late Clarence LaVaughn Franklin, a civil rights activist in the city.
The First Cathedral
In 1971, Leroy Bailey was called to be the second pastor of the 1st Baptist Church, which at the time was located in Hartford, Connecticut. At the time of his arrival there were approximately 60 members.
LeRoy's vision and teaching
LeRoys' arrival brought new teaching to the members of 1st Baptist Church . His first sermon preached was entitled "What in the world are you waiting for?". It was a sermon that began his push for growth in the church.
LeRoy established, in his primary years at the church, his goals and objectives through sermons. One of these sermons, preached in 1974, was entitled "Going First Class", which was centered on the biblical passage Jeremiah 29:11:
"For I know the plans I have for you", declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"
- Jeremiah 29:11 (New International Version)
The ministry grew. In 1977, the church moved into a larger facility.
In 1987, LeRoy led the church, now known as The First Baptist Church of Hartford, into a series of campaigns based on sermons with the themes of faith, equality, obedience and hope for the future. For example, The third campaign entitled "Rise Up and Build" which raised funds for the construction of the The First Cathedral building was based on; Joshua 22:26-27:
"That is why we said, 'Let us get ready and build an altar—but not for burnt offerings or sacrifices.' On the contrary, it is to be a witness between us and you and the generations that follow, that we will worship the LORD at his sanctuary with our burnt offerings, sacrifices and fellowship offerings. Then in the future your descendants will not be able to say to ours, 'You have no share in the LORD.'
- Joshua 22:26-27
LeRoy allowed the people to contribute to his vision, by holding what he called "dream nights," an opportunity for members to communicate their hopes and aspirations in relation to the future of the ministry.
Under LeRoy's Leadership, the church's membership has grown. As of 2005, the membership numbered over 11,000  making the cathedral the largest church in the New England Region of The United States .
- New York Times- A Megachurch Takes Shape in Bloomfield. Bill Ryan. December 13, 1998.
- Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr. Make me Bigger. The First Cathedral.2007
- The Hartford Courant-Moving the Flock-New Chapter for Pastor and Church. Gerald Renner.1998.
- 2007 Biography of Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr. (an unofficial publication)
- Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr. God is More than Enough. The First Cathedral.2005
- The First Cathedral. The First Cathedral--Visitors’ Handbook. Bloomfield: TFC, 1999.