GREENSBORO, N.C. – It began under a brush arbor near East Market Street in Greensboro.
A small band of worshippers organized Providence Baptist Church.
“Slaves could have gathered from different areas to come to that one particular site,” said Dr. John W. Thompson, co-chair of the sesquicentennial celebration for Providence Baptist Church.
150 years ago, there was not an actual building – but it was the people that made the church. They came together with a commitment to serve God and a community. During its growth, the church established a legacy.
“We know that we are the first black brick church in the state of North Carolina,” Thompson said.
In 2016, those same commitments to God and community have produced a new vision that can be seen on Tuscaloosa Street.
Connie Murray, Joan Finger, and Ethel Taylor are members of the Philathea Missionary Circle and have been members for more than 30 years.
“We have some very distinguished people in our church, but no matter if you have a doctor or medical degree or whatever, its brother and sister,” Taylor said.
“Through all these years, we have been noted for things we do in the community,” Finger said.
Murray recalls the church’s role during the Civil Rights Movement.
“We have had an impact on the Greensboro area starting with the historical sit-ins at [North Carolina] A&T State University,” she said.
“Providence was part of a community that helped these young people make a difference,” she added.
Many members attribute the church’s longevity to being blessed by God to have dedicated membership and strong leadership.
“To have someone in a leadership role for 49 years, that's consistency,” Thompson said.
Reverend Dr. Howard Allen Chubbs led the church for 49 years. He passed away in 2015, but his vision lives on.
The church has an expanded area which houses the Howard Allen Chubs Enrichment Center.
The facilities included a basketball court, auditorium, chorus room, children’s library among other amenities.
“He wanted to have this facility for the community to be able to use,” Thompson said.
Moving forward, the church is placing a strong emphasis on recruiting young members.
In March, the church will walk from its founding site to its current location to honor its journey.
Sesquicentennial events are planned for each month this year.