F16--GREENFIELD RECORDER-GAZETTE, TUES., JUNE 9, 1953
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'
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.