The First Cathedral

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Coordinates: 41°50′01″N 72°41′57″W / 41.8337°N 72.6992°W / 41.8337; -72.6992

The First Cathedral
The First Cathedral - A Church for all people
Lancet window in The First Cathedral Sanctuary
Country United States
Denomination Non-Denominational
Website The First Cathedral
Founder(s) Rev. Edward R. King
Architect(s) TMA Architects/Russell & Dawson Architecture and Engineering of East Hartford, Connecticut
Style Post-Modern Cathedral
Minister(s) Over 100 recognized associate ministers (Minister of Music: Jj Hairston )
Senior pastor(s) Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr.
Pastor(s) Assistant Pastor LeRoy Bailey III
Deacon(s) Over 200 ordained and recognized deacons
The First Cathedral in Sunday Morning Worship

The First Cathedral exists both as a non-denominational Christian ministry based in Bloomfield, Connecticut as well as the edifice in which the ministry is held . Originally known as The 1st Baptist Church, it was founded in 1968 in Hartford, Connecticut.[1] The pastor is Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr.

The First Cathedral: The Ministry[edit]

Milestones in development[edit]

  • 1968, The church is founded with Rev. Edward R. King as founding pastor with about 100 people.
  • 1970, Rev. Thomas Tate served as interim pastor
  • 1971, Rev. Dr. LeRoy Bailey Jr. begins his tenure as second pastor.
  • 1971, The church launches radio broadcast
  • 1972, The church becomes known as The First Baptist Church of Hartford, joins American Baptist Convention and National Baptist Convention.
  • 1977, In September, the church moves to a larger facility.
  • 1981, The School of Ministry was founded.
  • 1987, The first of two apartment buildings for the elderly, managed by the First Baptist Housing Development Corporation were constructed. The second is completed in 1990. (First and Second Villages)
  • 1988, The church begins annual Christmas program, with drama and singing functions as first faith-based performing arts conservatory in Southern New England.
  • 1989, The church bookstore was founded. (First Cathedral Bookstore)
  • 1993, A mission in Kenya was started.
  • 1995, A kindergarten through 8th grade school was founded. (First Academy)
  • 1997, The Praises of Zion, one of The First Cathedral's choirs, releases their first album. Themed: "Incredible", it was recorded live at The First Baptist Church of Hartford Edifice, purchased in 1977.
  • 1997, The church begins construction on the Cathedral Edifice.
  • 1999, In September, The church moves to the Cathedral Edifice.
  • 2001, Rev. Dr. LeRoy Bailey was consecrated into the Bishopric, becoming known as Bishop LeRoy Bailey Jr.
  • 1997, The Praises of Zion releases their second album. Themed: "Forgetting What's Behind", it was recorded live at The First Edifice, purchased in 1977.
  • 2003, Bishop Bailey authors "A Solid Foundation: Building Your Life from the Ground Up"[2]
  • 2004, The All-Purpose Playfields are built (First Cathedral Playfields).
  • 2004, The church adopted 16 churches in Bangladesh.
  • 2006, Bishop Leroy Bailey Jr. is appointed Archbishop, becoming known as Archbishop LeRoy Bailey Jr.
  • 2006, The church adopted the Thurman Milner School in Hartford, Connecticut.
  • 2007, The church began a stewardship campaign to fund a future Family Life Center.
  • 2007, The church builds 3 churches in Peru and one church in Bangladesh. In addition to the Church edifice in Bangladesh, the church built several wells in the country, serving several thousand residents.
  • 2007, The church begins an inter-mural program with The Greater Hartford Chapter of The Boys and Girls Clubs of America.
  • 2008, The church builds a 40,000 dollar orphanage in Uganda.
  • 2008, The church begins The First Music Conservatory, semester model applied to instrumental department with the intention of bringing a Christian alternative to learning music.
  • 2008, The Praises of Zion records and releases their third album.
  • 2009, "Discovering your Power" begins broadcasts both locally and nationally.
  • 2010, The church launched First Cafe, an informal restaurant offering.

Goals for Future[edit]

  • The church plans to build a Family Life Center.
  • The church plans to expand its ministry into 83 Countries across the world, including The United States.

Changes brought by LeRoy Bailey[edit]

In 1971,[1] 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 arrival brought new revolutionary teaching to the members of 1st Baptist Church. In fact, 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)

LeRoy shared with the people in this sermon that was more to life then what they had experienced in the past and that he was determined to lead them into that lifestyle. The ministry grew tremendously. In 1970, LeRoy led the church into a larger facility.

In 1989, LeRoy led the church, now known as The First Baptist Church of Hartford, into a series of stewardship campaigns based on sermons with the themes of faith, equality, obedience and the 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 Edifice 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 hold 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 tremendously. As of 2005, the membership numbered over 11,000 [1] making the cathedral the largest church in the New England Region.[3]


  • 2002, Began an organization that is a forum for churches of diverse denominations, ethnicities and geographic locations. (Churches Covered and Connected in Covenant)
  • 2004, Began a physical and spiritual health ministry. (The Good Life Wellness Center)
  • 2006, Began a Christian Catering Service. (First Harvest)
  • Multilingual/Translation Ministry Sign Language Ministry.[4]
  • Annual Multicultural month.
  • Praises Of Zion, an award-winning Gospel Music choir.

Annual Events[edit]

  • Covenant Conference
  • Churches Covered and Connected in Covenant Conference held every other year (2001)
  • Gospel Explosion (2007)
  • Pastoral Anniversary Celebration, March of every year
  • Annual Christmas Production (Late 1980s)

Controversial use of facility[edit]

The First Cathedral rents its facility to several local and regional organizations, including several local high schools including Windsor High School In Windsor, Connecticut, South Windsor High School [5] in South Windsor, Connecticut, Enfield High School and Enrico Fermi High School in Enfield, Connecticut.[6] In 2010, after the ACLU of Connecticut and Americans United informed the schools that continued use of the Bloomfield facility constituted a violation of the First Amendment's "establishment clause", which prohibits governmental entities from acting in a way that could be viewed as endorsing a religion. The high schools in Windsor, South Windsor, Enfield, East Hartford, and the Metropolitan Learning Center, a magnet school, subsequently decided against using First Cathedral [7]

Controversy over Marriage Rights[edit]

In 2003, Rev. Dr. Bailey and other ministers paid for an advertisement in the Hartford Courant affirming their opinion that homosexual marriage rights are not a civil right.[8] This was part of a larger statement he and other ministers made which included the claims that, if homosexual are provided the same marriage rights as heterosexuals, ministers would be forced against their will to perform marriage ceremonies for homosexuals.[9] Rev. Dr. Bailey is an adviser to the Family Institute of Connecticut.

Ministry affiliations[edit]

The First Cathedral is affiliated with several Ministries:

The First Cathedral: The Edifice[edit]

In 1998, the ministry at the time known as The First Baptist Church of Hartford broke ground on its first custom house of worship, on a 40-acre (160,000 m2) plot in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Funding for the construction was raised via stewardship campaigns over twelve years. After two years of construction the 120,000 sq ft (11,000 m2) first phase of the facility was completed.[13] In the planning phases of the building, church officials planned to remain called The First Baptist Church of Hartford while occupying the edifice called The First Cathedral. The Ministry became known as The First Cathedral as individuals within the community who were unfamiliar with these plans began confusing the two.

Built with the intention of being the final Building of The First Baptist Church, The First Cathedral is full of symbolism

. The Cathedral Edifice is considered a radical departure from the Greek Revival and Georgian Architectural Styles used in the construction of most New England Churches.

The First Cathedral is half of the complex of what is intended to be the final location of The First Baptist Church, The First Cathedral is full of symbolism. Church officials worked with architects and engineers to create an environment that is full of theological and biblical symbolism.

Overall Structure[edit]

The First Cathedral edifice is built in the shape of a dove, a reference to the Baptism of Jesus which is recorded in every canonized Gospel.

External Symbolism[edit]

The Foundation The Doves' Feet are represented by the foundation of the Cathedral. The foundation of the Cathedral, being quite large and being located on former swampland, is a network of grade beams that equally disburse the weight of the building.

The Structure

The structure of The Cathedral is divided into 3 levels: • The First Level is the two commercial floors, the primary representing earth, the second representing Heaven
• The Second Level is located within the second of the commercial floors, The Two Balconies representing Heaven.
• The Third Level is Represented in the Cupola, 8 sided, ordained with stained glass windows, symbolic of the throne room of Heaven where God is

Exterior Walls

The immediate external wall of the Cathedral are covers with Dryvit, the dryvit wall installed in stages reminiscent of the extensive project, undertaken by Nehemiah, in the rebuilding of the city walls of Israel. Additionally the Sandstone Color of the building is a reminder of the Wilderness Experience of the Ancient Israelites before reaching their promised land.

Interior Elements[edit]

Within the Dove shaped edifice, are three major components, The Grand Lobby, The Grand Concourse and The Sanctuary, modeled after Solomon's Temple.

The Grand Lobby[edit]

The Grand Lobby is the 'facade' of The First Cathedral; the lobby contains several symbolic elements:

The Entrance way is a set of double doors, creating an energy saving lock. The double set of double doors are reminiscent of the main entry way into an ancient city, the doors were part of the cities defense system.

Stained Glass Mosaic-depicts people of all races and every ethnicity from all directions with their hands lifted in praise.

Fountain'- the fountain is in the shape of a tomb, the water shooting out of the fount comes in the form of cross representing life out of death.