Grace Baptist Church, Norwalk, CT

Where Jesus Christ is Lord!!

Our History

A small group of people who migrated to Norwalk from various southern states and found employment here decided there was a need for a place of worship. On November 30, 1891, the first Baptist church with a Negro membership was organized in Norwalk . Fifteen people who had been meeting in the African Methodist Church organized what is now known as the Grace Baptjst Church (formerly Calvary Baptist Church), with the Rev. M. J. Haskins as moderator.


With a membership of 30, Grace Baptist elected its first pastor, Rev.. D. C. Thomas. The first church meetings were held in a rented hall in the Lauder Block on South Main Street in South Norwalk. The little flock was constantly on the move in those early days using various facilities for worship. Among those were the Gazette Building, Prince Hall and the Grand Army Hall. In 1902, a parcel of land on the corner of Quincy and Butler streets were purchased from the late Andrew Thompson, Senior deacon of the Community Baptist Church (formerly South Norwalk Baptist Church). Because of his generosity, the lot was acquired for a nominal sum for the sole purpose of a church site. Soon after, a foundation was laid by the faithful few Christians and the first edifice, a white wood structure was erected. On March 19, 1902, the church received its Certificate of Organization.


In 1904, Grace Baptist Church along with ten other Missionary Baptist Churches in the state formed and organized, The Connecticut Missionary Baptist Union (presently the Connecticut State Missionary Baptist Convention), at the Messiah Baptist Church of Bridgeport . In 1908, Mrs D. C. Thomas of Grace Baptist Church was elected the first president of the Women ‘s Auxiliary of the Connecticut Missionary Baptist Union at the Grace Baptist Church of Waterbury, CT.


God has blessed Grace Baptist Church through the years spiritually and in the area of membership. Time and circumstances indicated that a larger church building would be needed. With much prayer and faith, under the pastorate of the late Rev. John P. Ball, the former Jewish Center was purchased in 1957 for $125,000.00. After extensive alterations a major portion of the building was converted into a place of worship.


Three years later, the Rev. Dr. Richard H. Wood, from the Bright Hope Baptist Church of Montclair, NJ, became our eleventh pastor in June 4, 1960. He was officially installed on September 18, 1960 with very impressive ceremonies held throughout the week. He came to us with a rich religious background and great promise of potential service. He was also well known locally for his community involvement. Rev. Wood was the first Black to serve as Trustee on the Norwalk Hospital Board. Under his leadership a fifteen-year mortgage was paid off in six years. This was due to the generous gift of $20,000.00 given by Mr. Charles Dana, a local philanthropist, other churches, public funds and great sacrifices by the pastor and congregation. Subsequently, a Mortgage Burning Service was held on Sunday, November 28, 1965. Only to have our hearts saddened a year and a half later, on February 4, 1967 our church was destroyed by fire. The edifice was beyond repair. Rev. Wood and the faithful membership decided the church must be rebuilt. There was much community spirit and neighborly action. Gifts were received from industry and individuals, among these was a gift of $75,000.00 from Mr. Dana. In the interim, the First Methodist Church and the Calvary Baptist Church of South Norwalk offered a place to hold worship services. Services were held at the Methodist Church on the First Sunday in February, and from then on were held at the Benjamin Frank).in Middle School until December 1969.


During the rebuilding phase, a Ground breaking service was held on Sunday, September 24, 1967 at the First Methodist Church of South Norwalk. Actual church construction began in August, 1968, and the first church services were held on December 14, 1969 in the Martin Luther King Memorial Hall. In February 1970, the sanctuary was completed and on Sunday, June 4, 1970, a service for the Laying of the Cornerstone was held with our pastor, Dr. Wood, delivering the sermon.


Among our many accomplishments, under Dr. Wood ‘s leadership, we were able to purchase the adjacent property at 23 West Avenue. On October 24, 1993, He ordained Rev. Diane C. Wilson to the gospel ministry, the first female minister to be ordained in Grace Baptist Church. Dr. Wood retired in December 1993 after 331/2 years of dynamic spirit-filled leadership, which continues to be felt. Dr. Wood went home to glory on April 4, 2000.


On September 1, 1995, Rev. Derek L. Calhoun became our twelfth pastor and served until 1999. Under his pastoral leadership the Rev. Eva R. Gittens was ordained into the Gospel Ministry. Through his leadership the membership grew by several hundred and we were able to purchase the adjacent property at 31 West Avenue.


As God would have it, he sent us a “ram in a bush” our thirteenth pastor. The Rev. Lindsay E. Curtis took: the leadership reins on April 1, 2001. We believe under his spiritual guidance there has become a sweet, sweet spirit in this place. We further believe God is preparing us for a mighty work in this vineyard. On April 8, 2005, we kicked off our Three million in three years Capital Campaign. The apostle Paul says it well in I Cor. 2:9, “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have it entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”


Thus through the ages as it is written in Ecclesiastes 1:4, (RSV) “a generation goeth, and a generation comes” to carry on our priceless heritage. The Grace Baptist Church of Norwalk, Connecticut has had one hundred and thirteen years of spiritual achievements. May the blessings of God through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be with us as we approach the future with vision and lofty purpose.

*Mr. & Mrs. George Miller
*Mr. & Mrs. Fred Tennie
*Mr. & Mrs. James Chatman
*Mrs. Mattie Roebuck
 Mr. & Mrs. Ruel Coombs 
 Mr. Tyre Stewart
*Mr. & Mrs. Andrew J. Wise
*Mr. & Mrs. John L. Carlos
 Mrs.  Dorothy Mason

*Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Gourdine

*Mrs. Alice Ward

*Mr. Phillip Lundy

*Mr. H. Thomas Sanders

 Mr. Robert Dunn

*Mr. Willie Washington

 Mr. James Wheeler

*Mr. William Ashton

 Mr. Edward Keels

Former Pastors 1892-2001

Rev. D.C. Thomas

Rev. D.S. Thomas

Rev. J.E. Harris

Rev. L.G. Nichols

Rev. S.S. Henderson

Rev. J.E. Simms

Rev. J.R. Cooper

Rev. T.A. Ponds

Rev. H. Z. Cooper

Rev. Dr. John P. Ball

Rev. Dr. Richard H. Wood

Rev. Derek L. Calhoun

*Deceased