"In the 1970's - while the "The Bronx was Burning," The Bronx Baptist Church in the midst of a community troubled, among other things, by landlords who ;reduced maintenance, stopped paying real estate taxes, and abandoned or torched their properties,the Bronx Baptist Church was a beacon of light in the midst of that community and it remains a beacon of hope today- 56 Years later. "
Picture attribution: Baptist Press
The vision of a ministry in the Bronx was born in the mind of Rev. D. A. Morgan, Pastor of the First Baptist Church, Brooklyn (now called the Evergreen Baptist Church) and affiliates of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). This vision was realized with the commissioning of Samuel and Lola Simpson in the summer of 1964. Together with representatives of the First Baptist Church and a small group of dedicated Christian friends, the Simpsons met regularly for prayer meetings in the apartment of Cecelia Robinson at 2114 Daly Avenue in the Bronx, NY.
In answer to their prayers, God directed them to a small two-family house at 2024 Honeywell Avenue, which was then purchased by the Home Mission Board of the SBC (now called the North American Mission Board). On Thursday, November 6, 1964, the Bronx Baptist Chapel was dedicated to the glory of God. Present at the service were community people, officers of Metropolitan Baptist Association, members of the Evergreen Baptist Church, Pastors of neighboring churches, and the following individuals: Hyacinth Francis, Patricia and Hervin Rattray, Cecelia Robinson, Voris Walker and Samuel and Lola Simpson, who had all committed themselves to the work.
Exactly two years later, November 6, 1966, the Bronx Baptist Chapel, with an enrolment of 64 members, was constituted into a church. The Home Mission Board, recognizing the spiritual zeal and missionary outlook of the ministry under the leadership of Reverend Samuel Simpson, appointed him Associate Missionary. They later named him Pastor-Director for Southern Baptist work in the Bronx, and in 1971 he was appointed to full missionary status. With an expanding congregation, the building at Honeywell Avenue was no longer adequate. A prayerful search led to the current building at 331 East 187th Street. In April 1970, they moved in and held a service of rededication.
A Missions Focused Church
Dr. Simpson embarked on the prayerful and arduous work of church planting. Over the years church plants have included, the Wake-Eden Community Baptist Church, Honeywell Baptist Church, Inter-denominational Fellowship of Co-op City (now the Protestant Community Church), Grace Baptist Chapel, and the co-sponsoring of Haitian Bronx Baptist Church. Currently, the Bronx Baptist Church sponsors four church plants – the Kenyan Fellowship Church in New Jersey (Pastor John Ronoh), Power Point Baptist Church also in New Jersey (Pastor Cephas Agbesi), and ByStorm Church here in the Bronx (Pastor Jimi Orekoya) and A Better City Movement Church (Pastor Israel Kelly).
A Community Focused Church
The Bronx Baptist Day Care and Learning Center was established in 1977, at a time when the south Bronx was in dire need of hope. With only one child, Sis. Jennifer “Carmen” Ellis, with the blessing of Pastor Simpson, started a day care center, and served as it’s first program director. The day care eventually became a fully licensed pre-school program, with a Summer Camp, and After School program. It continues to operate today providing the best care and learning opportunities for children in this neighborhood. Additional programs of the church extend into the area of health, Christian education, and affordable housing. With the assistance of a Federal grant and “hunger funds” from our State Convention, the church operates a Food Pantry program and a Soup Kitchen to benefit families in our community.
In October 2011, after 47 of pastoral leadership, the Founding Pastor, The Late Reverend Dr. Samuel G. Simpson, retired from active ministry. He went home to be with the Lord on February 23, 2015. On July 2, 2018 a double street naming honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Simpson took place at both Bronx Baptist Church and Wake-Eden Community Baptist Church - renaming the corner “Rev. Dr. Samuel Simpson Way.” The vision and the dream continue under the leadership of the Reverend Frank Williams, who served under Dr. Simpson’s leadership and mentorship for 20 years and two Associate Pastors, the Reverend Pedreto Graham-Brown, also a son of this ministry, and the Reverend Dr. Pauline Heslop, who has served faithfully in this church for over 40 years. Together we continue to communicate the changeless Christ in a changing world.