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Second Baptists Survive Difficulties Of Early Years, Now A Thriving Parish

After a series of ups and downs during its 46 years in Greenfield, the Second Baptist Church faces the future with increased confidence, knowing that its problems will never be a great as those which faced the founders.

A mere handful of earnest Negro citizens, less than 10, were responsible for its start, when, in 1907, they met at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders Reid on Coombs Avenue to set up a church of their own. A club was organized as the first step toward their goal and prayer services were conducted at members' homes.

Interest spread and the meetings had to be moved to Mission Hall over the Pierce Bicycle Shop to accommodate the increased numbers. Also used as meeting places were Union Hall, where the W. L. Goodnow store now is located, the old Baptist Church on Pierce Street, and in Grinnell Hall.

No Lack of Help

The Second Baptist Church congregation is quick to acknowledge the aid of several leading Greenfield citizens who assisted and encouraged them in their early days. These included Rev. John B. Whiteman, J. W. Stevens, F. O. Wells and Perley Fay. With their help, the old Pierce house on Davis Street was bought to serve as church and parsonage. The downstairs was renovated into a meeting room and the upstairs used for living quarters.

The group was fairly well organized when a Rev. Mr. Gumbs was sent by the African Methodist Episcopal Conference to investigate and as a result of his report, the church was accepted as one of their missions.

The Conference supplied ministers, usually a different one each year as was the custom. During temporary vacancies, the pulpit was filled by speakers from Mt. Hermon and Springfield and quite often by Greenfield preachers.

A Sunday School had been organized with W. E. Hampton as superintendent. With the arrival of Rev. Burchell S. Jacobs, son of one of the previous ministers, the Baptists entered a new phase of their history.

Their First Church

Mr. Jacobs convinced his congregation they should have a new building as an encouragement and mark of progress. Again, with true Christian charity, people of other denominations came to their aid. With the help of Mr. Stevens, who was president of the First National Bank, $600 was raised to pay the mortgage of the Davis Street building and the present building structure on Hope Street was purchased in 1918. In November of that year, the church was dedicated under the name of St. Stephen’s AME Church. Prior to that it had been known as the AME Church of Greenfield.

A year later a parcel of land, directly in back of the present church, was given by George K. Pond for a parsonage site. Rev. Mr. Jacobs served here for four years and was succeeded by Rev.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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Organized in 1910 by fewer than ten individuals, by 1953 the Second Baptist Church had occupied several locations in Greenfield as it endured growing pains and financial difficulties. In the year the article appeared in the newspaper, the congregation is described as confident that its problems will never be as great as those that faced its founders. The headline describes the parish as a "thriving" one.


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"Second Baptists Survive Difficulties Of Early Years, Now A Thriving Parish"

publisher   Greenfield Recorder-Gazette
date   Jun 9, 1953
location   Greenfield, Massachusetts
width   6.0"
height   21.0"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
item type   Periodicals/Newspaper
accession #   #L00.051

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See Also...

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