Local church is hidden gem, serving as pillar for Black community in Greenwich

Black History Month

GREENWICH, Conn. (WTNH) — First Baptist Church is a hidden jewel, tucked away in a small but regal building in Greenwich’s Fourth Ward; one of Connecticut’s most affluent communities.

Helen Brown, a deaconess at First Baptist, has been a proud member of the congregation for over 40 years.

“Years back, there used to be many Blacks, but they were live-ins, domestics,” she said. “But then they would come to church on Sunday.”

And it was a small group of women, domestic workers who worked at mansions and hotels in town, who literally put their pennies together to establish the church in 1897.

“In order to secure a building, this building, they would literally gather whatever coins they had, and in plastic bags, bring them to the property owner to secure this property,” explained First Baptist Church Pastor Thomas Nins.

This church and its congregation has remained strong through more than a century of the nation’s good times and bad.

“It has gone through every major world war, gone through depression, and now it is strong in the midst of the virus. That’s substantial,” said Pastor Nins.

Dwayne Newell came to the church as a theological student. Today, he’s the congregation’s Youth Minister.

“It’s helped bring out my children, it’s a great family environment,” Newell said. “Everyone here is so loving, caring and supportive.”

A proud past and bright future for a house of worship that has truly stood the test of time.

Pastor Nins told News 8 that in the 19th century, the church was known as a destination spot for southern Blacks, coming to the north for a better life.

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