Church History

1888

In the year of our Lord 1888, twenty-five former slaves and descendants of former slaves organized the Union Baptist Church Mission in Stamford, Connecticut. The Mission was formed under the leadership of Reverend George H. Jackson, Pastor of the Emmanuel Baptist Church of New Haven, Connecticut.

Their decision to form the Union Baptist Church Mission grew out of a prayer meeting held by our original first families. Brother Robert Doswell was the first Deacon of the Union Baptist Church Mission. These humble Christians were steadfast in their determination to serve and worship God free of segregation and oppression.

Under the leadership of Reverend Moses J. Haskins, who was originally from Virginia, worship services were held at Weed’s Hall, an old rented dance hall located at Atlantic and Canal Streets near Main Street in Stamford. After the dances concluded at Weed’s Hall on Saturday evenings, church members would scrub the floor, clean and rearrange furniture and transform the untidy dance hall into an edifice of worship.

Reverend Moses J. Haskins served the Union Baptist Church Mission for three years and was succeeded by the Reverend J. O. Cornish of Concord, New Hampshire. During Reverend Cornish’s pastorate, a lot on the corner of Adams Avenue and Beech Street, now Vista Street, was purchased from St. John’s Society, which is now St. John’s Episcopal Church.

Reverend Cornish was succeeded by Mr. William O. Harris. Mr. Harris was, at that time, a student at Boydton Institute in Boydton, Virginia. While he was a student, he served the Union Baptist Church congregation during the summers as a part time minister. During his absence, the pulpit was filled by the Reverend James Bowman of New Haven, Connecticut. Following his graduation from the Seminary, Reverend Harris returned to the Union Baptist Church Mission for full time service.

Under the leadership of Reverend Harris, the Mission was officially named the Union Baptist Church. A new church was built on the corner of Adams Avenue and Vista Street. It was a white painted wooden frame structure built in a New England colonial style motif. The new church included a belfry tower and consisted of three floors: a basement, main level and loft.

After a successful pastorate of twenty-five years, Reverend Harris resigned to accept a pastorate at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Albany, New York.

1923

In January of 1923, the Reverend Baxter L. Matthews succeeded Reverend Harris as pastor. Under his leadership, the site across the street from the original wooden frame church was purchased. The first unit of this edifice (known as the basement level) was erected in 1927. A parsonage was built next to the former first church. With the completion of the new stone church the wooden frame church building was used for social and community affairs and was renamed, “The Community House.” Numerous African American organizations including fraternal orders, civic and social clubs made use of this facility for events on a regular basis.

The Reverend William Lee Baxter came to Union Baptist Church in 1941 from St. Augustine, Florida under the recommendation of Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. The first female trustee, Mrs. Daisy Perlman, was installed during his administration. A tremendous financial gain was experienced during his pastorate and new auxiliaries were formed. The Stamford Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (the N.A.A.C.P.) was also initiated in 1942 at Union Baptist Church. Mr. Edward Jones, the church clerk, served as its first president.

1946

In 1946, the Reverend I. Logan Kearse of the First Institutional Baptist Church in Winston Salem, North Carolina accepted the call to Union Baptist Church. A most successful stewardship program was introduced by Reverend Kearse enabling the church to complete the superstructure of the building on Adams Avenue and Vista Street. During the construction of the superstructure and tower, the Stamford community opened its doors to accommodate us by permitting us to hold worship services at Hart Elementary School on Adams Avenue.

After seven successful years as the Pastor of Union Baptist Church, Reverend Kearse accepted the call to be the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Baltimore, Maryland.

In September of 1954, the Reverend T. Ewell Hopkins came to us from the First Baptist Church of Washington, D.C. During his four year tenure, the mortgage on the Adams Avenue church was burned during the Sixty-Ninth Anniversary of Union Baptist Church. Central Air Conditioning was also installed within the sanctuary. Following the departure of Reverend Hopkins, Reverend Edward H. Coleman served as Interim Minister.

1959

In July of 1959, the Reverend Charles J. Sargent, Jr. was called from Ebenezer Baptist Church in Poughkeepsie, New York. During his tenure, numerous ministries were formed.

The Reverend Charles M. Franklin, Pastor of the Beulah Baptist Church of Spotsylvania, Virginia assumed the pastorate of the Union Baptist Church in May of 1969. Under the leadership of Reverend Franklin, the Lay Ministers’ Program was established and the church became involved in various community organizations inclusive of the Stamford Day Nursery, the Stamford Hospital, the Rehabilitation Center and the West Main Community Center which is now the Yerwood Center.

1972

In 1972 the Reverend Dr. Robert W. Perry was called from the Mount Carmel Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia to become the Pastor of the Union Baptist Church. He has served in this capacity for forty- five years, the longest tenure of any pastor in the history of the Union Baptist Church.

Reverend Perry brought with him an anointed calling, wealth of experience, an abundance of energy, innovative wisdom and knowledge and the ability to share God’s Word in a most creative and effective manner.

The church purchased a new parsonage at 42 Cooper’s Pond Road. With the development of a rapidly growing congregation, there were overflowing crowds at Sunday worship services and Church School sessions. Soon the Union Baptist Church outgrew its facility at 28 Adams Avenue. The church membership met as a body in 1977 and voted to purchase a 3.5 acre property located at 805 Newfield Avenue. The property, consisting of a church edifice and parsonage, was previously owned by the Bethany Assembly of God.

1978

On September 10, 1978, with God’s Blessings, we entered joyfully and triumphantly into our new residence. It was understood that the 805 Newfield Avenue facility and acreage were purchased with the vision of the development of a larger building when appropriate. Shortly after the move in 1978, it was discovered that the facility was too small.

1998

After a three year study, the appointed Planning Committee presented its findings and the church unanimously accepted the recommendation to build a new church. With great enthusiasm the church began a Capital Stewardship campaign known as “Forward to Pentecost”, with the theme: “Not Equal Giving but Equal Sacrifice.” With deliberation, planning and prayer, we assumed the building task ourselves and served as our own general contractor. The Grand Entry Services for the completed new edifice were celebrated on Sunday, November 8, 1998.

The structure is more than brick, mortar, stone and wood. Symbolism is interwoven throughout the construction. The church is built on 12 foundations. A 12 sided structure taken from Ephesians 2:20 and the hope of the New Jerusalem as found in Revelation 21:14-16.

Under the dynamic leadership of Dr. Perry, who is known for his prophetic preaching, prolific discipleship and progressive ministry, the Union Baptist Church has become a viable Christian enterprise which operates to serve others on a twenty-four hour basis. During the 1990’s the Union Baptist Church in Whitlesea, South Africa was completed with our financial support.

Our church members are fulfilling the spiritual mission which God has ordained and mandated. With His blessing they have assumed community leadership responsibilities in education, medicine, politics, and government on the local and state level.

The Union Baptist Church continues to engage in innovative ventures which seek to expand and enrich the earthly kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Its emissaries are currently developing a prospectus entitled: “Open Our Eyes; Order Our Steps, The Union Baptist Church Strategic Plan: 2020 and Beyond”. The mission is to develop a 3-5 year strategic plan to support UBC’S vision to become a relevant biblical community developing dynamic disciples for the Kingdom of God in Lower Fairfield County and the world through reverent worship, relevant ministry, realistic evangelism, revolutionary discipleship and real fellowship. Based upon Ephesians 1:18 and Psalm 119:133 the scope of the plan includes Christian Education and programming, facilities and infrastructure, and marketing and communications.

From our obscure beginnings at Weed’s Hall, God has transitioned the Union Baptist Church Family into the twenty-first century and provided for us a kingdom building purpose and agenda through which we may continue to serve Him and serve humanity within our local and regional communities and the world.

2018

On October 21, 2018, we were blessed to burn the 20 year church mortgage. As we view our present church which is a 5.3 million dollar edifice, we rejoice in the fact that it was built by tremendous sacrifices from the membership. Our theme was and continued to be in our Higher Ground Campaign: “Not Equal Giving, But Equal Sacrifice.” Within this structure there are no walls of memory or plaques of donation. Although many gifts were given, the building serves as a monument dedicated to the joint sacrifices of all of God’s people. It is a mute testimony to the joint labor of love. No one received the praise but God, who is the giver of every good and perfect gift. From 1888 until the present time, Union Baptist Church has truly been the earthly vineyard in which the spirit of God reigns and where we enter to worship and depart to serve.
– Margaret J. Smith, Church Historian