Rhode Island’s oldest African American Church celebrates 200 years of worship


PROVIDENCE, R.I. — On the East Side of Providence sits a 200-year-old church, the Congdon Street Baptist Church. According to Pastor Justin Lester, it’s the oldest prominently African American church in Rhode Island.

“It’s amazing to see that there is a black space, a brown space that has stayed together,” said Pastor Justin Lester.

Sunday also marked Pastor Lester’s three year anniversary with the church.

“We were founded as a church with a number of families, and on education,” said Pastor Lester. The original church was the African Union Meeting House. “To see 200-years of consistency in a black space is absolutely amazing.”

“I pride myself on attempting to have a community that everyone is welcome,” he said. “Nobody is perfect and anything is possible. That anytime you walk in these doors you know that you are valuable, you are loved.”

Welcoming Eyewitness News on Sunday was Dayus Metts of Providence.

“It just means a welcoming home, learning about god, allowing people to express themselves and love Jesus Christ. And knowing Jesus Christ is open for all,” she said.

Metts has been attending church services at Congdon Street Baptist Church since she was a child. She tells us, you don’t have to know everything about the Bible, “come and learn.”

“Jesus will help you and guide you along the way,” she said. “It’s not something, I have to wait until I am ready. Jesus accepts you as you are and when you are ready.”

Pastor Lester says the age range for his congregation is between newborn and people in their 90s.

“It’s so cool to be able to witness what we are praying our world to look like. To be a world where everyone is welcomed, everyone is accepted, grabbed a hold of, no matter who you are your nationality, your sexuality,” said Pastor Lester.

“No matter what that is you are welcomed here you are invited here.”

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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