The Central Baptist Church has a long history in the center of the city. Founded in 1840, the first building was located on Union Street (what is known as lower Broadway today); however, it outgrew that facility and a new building was constructed where it is located today. There have been some structural changes since that building was dedicated in 1892, which include the Bushnell Chapel, 1899; Noyes Parish House, 1927; remodeling of the sanctuary in 1939 and the reconstruction of the Bushnell Wing in 1975.
The cornerstone for the present building that houses Central Baptist Church was laid on November 18, 1891. A thousand people gathered in Union Square. One quotation from that ceremony speaks beautifully to the principles upon which the church was built. “We also lay this stone that upon it may stand for years to come a temple that shall be open to all who desire to [worship] the God of our Fathers. Whether they be rich or poor, high or low, home or foreign born, and without respect to races or conditions, all shall be alike, welcome.” We still hold true to those principles of openness to all of God’s children as we welcome all who seek to worship and to serve God. Come join us as we proclaim the Good News of the God’s love in Christ and witness to the Gospel of Reconciliation and Redemption. The formal dedication of this new church building was held on October 14, 1892.
September 21, 1938 was a day in the history of Norwich and the Central Baptist Church that will never be forgotten. The area took a direct hit from a hurricane. There was much devastation all over the city including the destruction of the sanctuary of the church. The Pastor suggested that the Renovations project ahead of them be postponed for a period of time and for many months the congregation held their worship services in the Bushnell Chapel. It was spring before any firm decisions were made about what had to be done with the old structure. On December 17, 1939 the new sanctuary of colonial design was dedicated.
We are an American Baptist Church. This means we are a Biblically oriented people who practice Believers’ Baptism by immersion. We are ecumenically minded and strongly support religious freedom for all people. We hold dearly to the principles of the separation of church and state. In the words of the Rev. Dr. Daniel Weiss: “We believe that the local congregation is the fundamental unit of mission. American Baptist congregations are called by God through Jesus Christ to be communities of faith, empowered by the Holy Spirit to live as witnesses and agents of God’s love and justice in the church and the world…”
Through the years from the time it was organized this church has always provided for outreach into the community with the establishment of other Churches, Sunday Schools, and Chapels within the area. Our doors have always been open for sharing and over the years, our facilities have been used by a variety of social service agencies. It is currently being used by Psalm 23 (a Haitian church) AA, Reliance House, and the Augustine Fellowship. In addition, it is used for the Gathering Place for those seeking housing. We have housed the Food Locker for the Norwich Area Clergy Association since 1978.