whoweareFounded in May of 1848 with 77 charter members, the fledgling congregation was quickly known for its emphasis on being a warm and open-minded fellowship of Christian believers with a passion for missions and social justice. Education and a formal style of worship were central.

In line with this identity, Thomas U. Walter, the architect for the U.S. Capital dome, was contracted and designed the magnificent revival-Gothic sanctuary building, which is now on the National Historical Register.

Over the centuries the church has provided numerous leaders in national and Virginia Baptist life, the Woman’s Missionary Union, the Baptist World Alliance, seminary professors and college presidents.

With growth, three additions were constructed, the steeple enlarged and bells were added to the belfrey. Growing to over 1,000 members under the 44-year pastorate of Dr. Sparks Melton, the church distinguished itself as the pre-eminent congregation in downtown Norfolk. Over that time, Freemason Street helped birth seven other faith communities in the Hampton Roads area.

Unfortunately, following World War II, downtown Norfolk significantly declined, as did the church. However, the church diligently continued to be a beacon for the Gospel and consciously decided to remain downtown. In the early 1990’s, Norfolk began a revitalization and, today, the downtown is a thriving urban center of renewed residential life.

Continually progressive, Freemason Street has always promoted an inclusive attitude. Following the Civil War, it openly welcomed northern Christians and over the years has taken a stand for racial equality, care of refugees, the poor and the status of women. Such an attitude led the church to vote to leave the Southern Baptist Convention in 1993 and affiliate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Along with the re-birth of the city, the church has undertaken major renovation and expansion projects, and recently completed work on the Williams Hall, which houses a chapel, classroom space, a library and a music rehearsal area.

Today, the members of Freemason Street take pride in their history, and the beauty of the facilities. But more so, these members are preparing to meet the challenges of the present day with the same passion as the original 77 members. We are an active, living Christian fellowship in the heart of downtown Norfolk with a call to thrive as the people of God on Freemason Street for generations to come.

Leadership

Staff | Church Council | Deacons