The Lenox Road Baptist Church (LRBC) began not as a church, but as a simple prayer group, first meeting in February 1871. That group gathered at the Schoenmakers Hall (893 Flatbush Ave, Brooklyn). In March 1872, the LRBC church was formally organized. One month later, our church was publicly recognized as a regularly constituted Baptist Church. For more than a hundred years, the church has flourished.
The 1960s were a time of a time of tremendous of social unrest in the United States. Brooklyn and our church were not immune to these events. Individuals rights, economic and social equalities were critical for everyone. Our community went through several demographic and socio-economic changes, starting in the early 1960s.
Large numbers of new immigrants were arriving in this predominantly white area of Brooklyn. Many worshipers traveled from southern American states, as well as from the Caribbean, Panama, British Virgin Islands, Costa Rica, Guyana, and other parts of the world. During this time of transition, many of the older, mostly white, residents were moving out of the community.
The economic influence of this new group was profound to Brooklyn. Immigrant ownership of homes and businesses shifted the cultural 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 ministry.
In the 1960s and ’70s, the LRBC was widely viewed as a beacon in the community. It was one of the most established churches in the area. On December 23, 1975 that foundation was shattered; fire destroyed the 103-year-old landmark. Soon after, an Army Chaplin, who served LRBC as both an interim minister and pastor, was reassigned by the United States Army.
Our church found itself with a profound sense of loss. These events were the catalyst that united the established church with a new, emerging membership. Together, they discovered a new direction of ministry. In response to our needs, the local community provided the Grand Theater as a location for our temporary house of worship.
Within a year of the fire, LRBC recruited its first African American minister. This was a first step in filling the void in leadership. This move, coupled with the tremendous financial obligations needed to rebuild the church, precipitated an exodus of primarily young, white families from the church. The Lenox Road Baptist Church, which started as an all-white congregation, transitioned to an all-black congregation within a few years.
It took 13 years to rebuild LRBC where it is today. Again, the Church stands proudly as a beacon in the community. The first worship service in the new sanctuary was held in 1988.
Time and again, our doors have provided refuge to those who sought the Lord. During times of social unrest, changing values, and demographic shifts, LRBC has been an anchor to both our community and Brooklyn. The fire may have destroyed our building, but body has always stood firm in times of adversity and change. This is the gift that we offer all who seek a home with Christ.
Since its beginning, LRBC has embraced a total of eighteen pastors. The church can now be classified as an African-American congregation. Our geographical location is mostly the same, although the cultural make-up continues to change. The church has been an American Baptist congregation Church for most of its history.
After more than a hundred years, we look forward to embracing Brooklyn during the next century. LRBC has always been responsive to the needs of our community, to our followers, and to the Lord. It has always been our humble ambition to provide a home to those who seek God’s grace.