One of Rev. Liele’s congregants, Andrew Bryan, continued his ministry to the congregation. Bryan and his wife Hannah had been baptized by Liele, but their faith had been encouraged by their master Jonathan Bryan, himself a devout Baptist who had once been arrested for evangelizing to slaves. With Jonathan Bryan’s support, Andrew built a small church for the congregation and preached the Lord’s word to hundreds of congregants, mostly black, but some white. Because of the fear of uprisings and defections to the British Caribbean, colonial and early American law forbade ministering to those enslaved and the church’s congregants suffered harassment, violence and jail.
In 1794, Bryan had raised enough money to build Georgia’s first black Baptist church and named it The Bryan Street African Baptist Church. By 1800, the congregation boasted more than 700 members. In 1832, the congregation pooled their $1,500 savings to purchase the lot at 23 Montgomery Street with a wooden frame church building on the site, where worship was held for 23 years before construction began on the First African Baptist Church building you can see today. The church’s mostly enslaved members worked on plantations surrounding the city by day and at night they were allowed to work on their church, completing the structure in 1859 under the direction of pastor William J. Campbell.