Places that Matter

Concord Baptist Church

Martha Cooper
Martha Cooper
One of Brooklyn's largest African-American congregations
Place Details »

Place Matters Profile

Brooklyn's Concord Baptist Church of Christ is the fourth largest Protestant congregation in the country and one of Brooklyn's largest African American churches. Founded over 150 years ago and housed in six different buildings during its history, the church has long played a central role in the political and social landscape of Bedford-Stuyvesant and beyond.

Overview

Started by abolitionists in 1847, Concord Baptist's first home was on Concord Street at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, giving it the name it has retained throughout its history. As the church's congregation grew it moved four more times--to nearby Canton Street, then to Duffield Street in downtown Brooklyn, then to Adelphi Street in what is now Fort Green, and finally to its current location in Bedford-Stuyvesant. This movement not only reflects a search for larger spaces, but also mirrors the movement of Brooklyn's African-American population from the waterfront that once employed many slaves and free blacks to the more residential communities of Fort Greene and Bedford-Stuyvesant.

When the congregation arrived in Bedford-Stuyvesant in 1939 it was housed in a gothic church with a spiraling steeple that was formerly home to a predominantly white congregation. Thirteen years later an electrical fire destroyed this building. Banding together, congregation members, though not wealthy, were able to raise a million dollars for a new building on the same site. Completed in 1956, this modern brick gothic-inspired structure is notable for its large stained glass windows and red double-doors. The church's proactive social programs also led to the creation of a number of other adjacent buildings including a credit union, elementary school, nursing home, and an apartment building for seniors. The church and its membership also played a role in the Civil Rights Movement and other national political movements and, through its Concord Baptist Church Fund, the church donated funds to other community programs and organizations. Thus the current Concord Baptist truly embodies the notion of the church in the community.