Staten Island’s St. Philips Baptist Church Proudly Marks 145th Anniversary

Members of the congregation arrived early for the 11 a.m. 145th Anniversary Service at St. Philips Baptist Church on Bennett Street in Port Richmod. May 17, 2015. (Staten Island Advance/Virginia N. Sherry)
Members of the congregation arrived early for the 11 a.m. 145th Anniversary Service at St. Philips Baptist Church on Bennett Street in Port Richmod. May 17, 2015. (Staten Island Advance/Virginia N. Sherry)

St. Philips Baptist Church, a major institution serving the Port Richmond community, celebrated its 145th anniversary on Sunday with two worship services, one at 11 a.m. and the other at 4:30 p.m., in the congregation’s imposing historic building at 77 Bennett St.

“This church continues to be a beacon of hope to those who find themselves in challenging situations,” said Dr. Tony Baker Sr., who has served as pastor for 19 years. Dr. Baker succeeded Rev. William Epps Jr., who retired in 1996 after providing spiritual leadership to the congregation for almost 43 years.

“The church has extended itself to every facet of this community and its residents,” Dr. Baker added.

St. Philips has hosted monthly Friendship Dinners to bring together neighborhood residents of diverse backgrounds, provides scholarships for high school graduates, sponsors housing seminars and offers CPR certificate training classes through its Progressive Nurses Ministry, among other activities.

Attendance at church on Sundays “averages between 250 and 300,” said Dr. Baker, who served 20 years in the U.S. Army and taught ROTC at Port Richmond High School.

Sunday School for children is at 9 a.m., and two bible study sessions are held on Wednesdays, one in the afternoon and another in the evening.

The church’s Heat Drumline — open to the community — now includes 50 participating young adults performing on drums, Dr. Baker noted.

A BRIEF HISTORY

St. Philips Baptist Church was organized as a Mission in 1870 at the historic Reformed Church on what is now Port Richmond Avenue.  Prior to that time, “there was a prayer meeting group that met from house to house, led by John Taylor,” according to church research.

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SOURCE: SILive.com – Virginia N. Sherry

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