The people of Community Church are heirs of a rich tradition. Founded as Second Baptist Church of Providence in 1805, the congregation’s roots go back to Roger Williams, who first brought a passion for “soul liberty” to American religious life. At the suggestion of the Reverend Stephen Gano, pastor of First Baptist Church in America, it was decided that a Baptist congregation was needed on the West Side of the city. The congregation occupied numerous buildings during its first century; it also changed its name twice: first to Pine Street Baptist Church, then to Central Baptist, when it relocated to the heart of the city. In 1917 the congregation moved into its present facility, located on the East Side.
Elisha Hunt Rhodes, a General in the Rhode Island militia and a Colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War, was chairman of the building committee that oversaw construction. Colonel Rhodes returned from the war a hero. Trees were planted in his honor at the State House and Roger Williams Park, and the congregation dedicated a stained glass window in our sanctuary to him.
In January 2003 the members voted to become “Community Church of Providence.” This decision evolved over time as the result of an extensive visioning and strategic planning process. The new name reflects the congregation’s ecumenical character and its desire to serve as many people as possible. Affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, USA, the congregation offers “believer’s baptism” but receives into membership Christians from denominations whose practices may be different.