Our History

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Founded in May 1848

with 77 charter members, Freemason Street Baptist Church quickly developed a reputation for being a warm, open-minded fellowship of Christian believers who had a passion for missions and social justice. Central to the experience of the church was the importance of education and a formal style of worship.

 

Soon after the church’s founding, in keeping with the young church’s emerging identity, Thomas U. Walter, fourth Architect of the US Capitol, was contracted to design the magnificent revival-Gothic sanctuary building, now listed on the National Historical Register, that serves as our home and launching point for worship, education, ministry, and mission.

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For over 140 years,

Freemason Street Baptist Church has been involved with God at work in the world. We have provided state, national, and international leaders in Baptist life, including the Baptist World Alliance (international), Woman’s Missionary Union, seminary professors and college presidents. Under the 44-year pastorate of Dr. Sparks Melton, Freemason Street helped begin seven other churches in the Hampton Roads area. The church embraced and practiced an inclusive attitude toward others.

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Following the Civil War,

the church openly welcomed northern Christians. Over the years, it has taken stands for racial equality and the status of women, and has cared for refugees, the poor, and the homeless. These values are reflected today in our partnerships with other ministries and community groups and led the church to affiliate with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in 1993.

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