The Rev. Dr. James Christopher Wyatt, 76, pastor emeritus of the First Baptist Church of Highland Park, died Sunday at Prince George's General Hospital following surgery.
He had served as pastor of the church from 1945, when it had only 13 members. until his retirement in 1973. The church now has an enrollment of 1,500.
Born in Dinwiddie, Va., Dr. Wyatt attended Virginia State College and taught elementary school in Warren County, N.C., before coming to Washington in 1927.
While doing custodial work for D.C. public schools, he decided to enter the ministry. He enrolled at the old Frelinghuysen School of Religion in the 1930s.
He continued custodial work at Armstrong High School while attending classes at night. On receiving his diploma in 1939, he was ordained by the Baptist Ministers' Conference of Washington, D.C. and Vicinity.
Dr. Wyatt then became an associate minister of the Community Baptist Church in Cedar Heights, Md., before he was called to the Highland Park church. At the same time he took a post office job, and continued in that work until 1949.
After his appointment to the Highland Park Church, Dr. Wyatt, who received an honorary doctorate from the Bible College of Baltimore, served as director of the young people's department of the Baptist Association of Southern Maryland and as the field missionary of the United Baptist Convention.
He also had held two four-year terms as moderator of the Baptist Association of Southern Maryland. He had been a member of the Ministers' Conference of D.C., president of the Far Northeast Ministers' Alliance and a member of the Prince George's County Library Board.
He is survived by his wife. Lucy Virginia, of the home in Washington; two sons, James C. Jr., of Washington, and Justin R., of Glenarden; four daughters, Mary Jones, of Upper Marlboro, Delores Crawford, of Washington, Helen Thomas, of Clinton, Md., and Angela Taylor, of Bladensburg; of Washington, and Martha Perry, of New Jersey, 16 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.