Second Baptist Church of Germantown
(Written and submitted by Rev. Crystal Jennings, Pastor, Second Baptist Church of Germantown)
Second Baptist Church of Germantown was founded in 1866 by a small group of thirty-two people, led by two lay persons, George Nugent, and Charles Cummings. The church grew out of the first Sunday school, which had been formed in 1859 as an outreach of the First Baptist Church of Germantown.
As the membership grew, new buildings were added, and improvements were made. Over the years, the large Romanesque church included church school facilities for adult and children’s classes, large and small function rooms, and an adjacent parsonage. In later years, these facilities included a kitchen, social hall, and a spacious parking lot.
In 1970, a disastrous fire destroyed our sanctuary. This tragic event saddened our hearts, but not our spirits. Through renovations, our current, beautiful, air-conditioned sanctuary was created from part of the original building that had been used for church school assemblies, dinners, and other social events. The original entrance to our former Romanesque sanctuary continues to stand as a memorial tribute in the front of the garden adjacent to the church.
We are proud of our rich history. Our stability in the community is credited to our dedicated membership and having had only five pastors in the past 87 years. In addition, several missionaries have been drawn from the ranks of our members, most notably Reverend and Mrs. Herbert Cope, who in the early 20th century had a large part in the development of Baptist churches of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. Our relationship with the Baptist churches in Myanmar continues to thrive today although the recent coup has severely limited our access to outreach in this area. In addition, the Reverend Dr. James Kelsey (currently Executive Minister for ABC-NYS) and Reverend Debbie Kelsey were missionaries in Northern Italy and worked with Italian Baptists to combat human trafficking and help refugees from the Middle East and Africa.
Like our community, we are a diverse family, with a diversity of theological views. Our congregation is intentional about being “a church forall people,” with innovative, engaging worship styles, preaching, Spiritual Formation programs, and Bible study classes. We as Second Baptist understand that in order to move successfully into the future, it is imperative that we pray, discern and use our gifts in ministry, give financially to the church’s ministries, embrace change, and follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.
We at Second Baptist have a legacy of open theological diversity. As Baptists, we are not creedal beyond believing that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior. As a church, we choose to include all of God’s people regardless of race, creed, age, gender identity or expression, ethnicity, economic status, mental or physical ability, or sexual orientation. Our goal as a church is to love as Jesus’ love and with intentionality strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus on this earth.
In May of 2021, our church installed Rev. Crystal Jennings as the first female and the first African American pastor in our church’s history. Rev Jennings is a preaching teacher with a heart towards all of God’s people in general and the youth and women.
Our church has a myriad of opportunities for individuals to exercise their spiritual gifts in various ministries of our church including our music ministry, discipleship & bible study classes, our Christ and Cultural Humility events which include fellowship opportunities as well as a time for courageous conversations impacting our community. Ministries for our children include Children’s church on 2nd & 4th Sundays during eleven months of the year, a brand-new program for our preteens, focusing on questions of faith and transitioning this group into the adult worship service.
Like many churches, our church has been affected by the 2019 Pandemic and is trying to find ways to regroup and navigate the technology needed after transitioning from online to a hybrid worship service. Because fellowship is especially important, we also provide opportunities to fellowship in person as well as on Zoom to stay connected to one another.
Finally, our church has a heart for missions from its inception to this present time. We have been blessed as a church, existing for 157 years and it is our desire to work together to be the church that God has called us to be, sharing the gospel and offering help and hope to a lost and hurting world.