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History of Lenox Road Baptist Church

LenoxBaptistChurchHistoryTimeline

The Lenox Road Baptist Church started as a prayer meeting in February of 1871, and had some of its first meetings in the Schoenmakers Hall, now 893 Flatbush Avenue. The church itself was formally organized on March 12, 1872, and publicly recognized as a regularly constituted Baptist Church on April 12, 1872.

The Lenox Road Baptist Church started as an all-white congregation in 1871, and continued so up to the early 1970’s. The racial transition started during the early 1960’s when there was a tremendous amount of social unrest. The community and the church went through several demographic and socio-economic changes. Large numbers of new immigrants were arriving in this predominantly white area of Brooklyn. These new immigrants migrated from the southern states as well as from the Caribbean, Panama, British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Guyana, and other parts of the world. During this period, many of the older, mostly white residents were also moving out of the community. Housing and business ownership by the new immigrants changed the racial and ethnic composition of the community and the church. As more African Americans and people of color from the Caribbean became members of the Lenox Road Baptist Church, the direction and focus of the church’s ministries changed to a more socially oriented service.

On December 23, 1975, the 103-year-old landmark church was totally destroyed by fire. This event appeared to have been the catalyst that brought the “old” church and the emerging new membership to a new direction in doing ministry.

The rebuilding of the old church was the main thrust and motivation. The community responded to the need of the church by providing a meeting place for Sunday services at the Grand Theatre. The membership continued to grow despite the fire. An interim minister, who was also an army chaplain, served the church as pastor. This relationship was soon dissolved as the army terminated his service.

The church was left with a void in leadership and within a year called its first African American minister in 1977. This move seemingly precipitated the final exodus of the people, primarily young white families from the church. The Lenox Road Baptist Church, which started out being an all white congregation in 1871, was eventually transformed into an all black congregation in the late seventies. The transition was also a time of unrest for the church, as racial dynamics of the congregation changed. The primary reason being the power base of the church now shifted from an all-white congregation to a culturally mixed one with diverse background.

From its inception, the church has had a total of eighteen pastors including the current one. The church can now be classified as a typical urban African American congregation. Its geographical location is largely the same even though the cultural make up is changing.

The church has been an American Baptist congregation Church for most of its history.