After the Revolutionary War started, in 1778 Leile made his way to the British-occupied city of Savannah, to ensure his security behind British lines.The British had offered freedom to slaves who escaped their rebel masters.Bryan became a preacher and leader in the congregation.In 1782 hundreds of blacks were evacuated from Savannah by the British, who transported many to Nova Scotia and other colonies, and some to London.
All the members of the Silver Bluff church went to the city to go behind British lines for freedom. Others were converted by Leile's preaching, including Andrew Bryan and his wife Hannah in 1782.
Its claim of "first" is contested by the Silver Bluff Baptist Church, Aiken County, South Carolina (1773), George Leile, a slave who in 1773 was the first African American licensed by the Baptists to preach in Georgia, played a part in the founding of the Savannah church by converting some of its early members.
His initial licensing as a Baptist was to preach to slaves on plantations along the Savannah River, in Georgia and South Carolina.
It has since been continuously occupied by First African Baptist.
The congregation at Bryan Street, numbering fewer than 200, kept the facility built under Andrew Bryan and took the name Third Baptist Church.