Throughout the nineteenth century, Missouri law forbade the assembly of blacks in large groups for any purpose-including worship-unless they were supervised by a white person. Despite the existence of such laws, despite frequent threats and lack of finances, local blacks founded churches, gathered to worship, and defined freedom of religion for themselves. While the church was founded by free Blacks, most members were enslaved. Churches played an important role in black life, providing a key source of social contact and relief.
Eighth and Center Street's first pastor, Oliver H. Webb, led the church for the next forty years from 1853 to 1878, longer than any other pastor in the city. As a mark of respect, he was known as "Father" Webb. During the time, when he was not in the pulpit, he worked on a transfer wagon. He labored late at night with other members of the church to build their new building with a small room in the rear for a school. G. H. McDaniel succeeded Father Webb and was notable as the publisher of the Missouri Baptist Standard. At the time, the Missouri Baptist Standard was the only African American publication in Missouri. The Church officially became The Eighth and Center Streets Missionary Baptist Church in 1880.
In the early days Baptists, Methodists, and other denominations shared the building for worship services until other churches were built some years later. Although membership at Eighth and Center Streets Baptist Church has declined in recent years, dedicated members continue to preserve the church.