Cornerstone has a strong sense of its history, which has provided a solid foundation for the church today and in the future. We periodically take a look back to rediscover how the church came into being, what its early ministry was like, and how it has grown and changed over the years.
Spiritually, Cornerstone is a “Place to Grow”. We are a people who have a heart for God and seek to help each other have been transformed by the truth and grace of God. While we are still a far from perfect people, we seek to help each other live according to the truth that God has given us in His Word. In so doing, it is our deepest desire to fulfill our ultimate purpose – bringing glory to God
Denominationally, we are a Baptist church. That means that we are in friendly cooperation with other Baptist churches.
Theologically, we are a Bible-believing church. We believe that God’s Word is the only true and trustworthy guide for all areas of life. From the Bible, we derive our principles for living.
Cornerstone is truly a multi-generational church. We refer to ourselves as the 4G – four generations – church; attracting people from all walks of life and serving the community in which we are located. We offer opportunities for you to get involved and to serve God and man.
Historically, we are one of the oldest churches in New York City. Established in 1917 with a few members, our history goes back to WWI. Today, we have grown to serve over 1500 members. Our church is best known for its strong teaching ministry, vibrant worship, life-building children and youth departments, emphasis on personal integrity, and community service. Our understanding and love of God and for one other through God-inspired teaching by our Pastor, praise and worship by our choirs and giving of our gifts, talents through ministry and mission engagement and support of our ministers, church leaders and staff.
In the year 1917, in the borough of Brooklyn, New York, as bombs and bullets were being hurled across the continent of Europe, our Heavenly Father was planting seeds of courage in the hearts and minds of some Christian soldiers that were determined to live for Christ.
Led by the Holy Spirit, a small group went from home to home and held their first meeting at 933 DeKalb Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, in the home of Mrs. M. Freeman. This group continued to worship together and on September 10,1917, the Cornerstone Baptist Church was organized and dedicated to the Service of God. The Reverend William H. Rodman was the founder and first Pastor. On May 3, 1920, a meeting was held to organize this body into a permanent church.
The six Baptist Churches which formed the Recognition Council, officially recognized Cornerstone Baptist Church on June 9, 1920, by holding a public service. The financial offering for this service was five dollars.
The Reverend Rodman was called from labor to reward in February, 1921. Later that same year Reverend A. R. Artis was called to pastor Cornerstone. He served until May, 1922. The Reverend J. J. Jenkins became pastor later in 1922 and served until 1925. He was followed by the Reverend J. R. Williams, who passed away on June 16,1929. The Reverend Thomas Willis Fentress was then called to pastor. Under his pastorate the church moved to 688 DeKalb Avenue, and in 1932 Cornerstone moved to its first church edifice at Gates Avenue and Irving Place. The word spread of a place where “Welcome and Worship Are Warm” and grew to be one of Brooklyn’s largest congregations.
During the twelve years of Reverend Fentress’ ministry, many strong soldiers began to emerge. . . Deacon Cyril A. Davis, Deacon Allen Jordan who served as both deacon and trustee, Deacons William Holley, Conrade Scott, Mrs. Carrie E. Moore, Mrs. Mary N. Barnett and others.
In 1941, the Reverend Fentress was called to rest from his labor. We thank God for his life and service.
On April 1, 1944, the Reverend Dr. Sandy Frederick Ray who had pastored three churches and was pastor of the Shiloh Baptist Church in Columbus, Ohio, was called to Cornerstone. The Cornerstone congregation had grown so large the church edifice at Gates Avenue and Irving Place could no longer accommodate us.
On December 28, 1944, a contract was signed for the Lewis Avenue Congregational Church Parish which would accommodate our parishioners. The purchase price was $29,000.00 and renovation cost was $28,000.00. On June 10, 1945, the march from the old church to the new took place under “SHOWER OF BLESSINGS.” Dr. Milton K. Curry, Sr. preached the first sermon in the new edifice.
During the thirty-five year ministry of Dr. Ray new buildings were purchased and erected to house our church office and the pastor’s study. The church parsonage at 1281 President Street was purchased in 1956. The Cornerstone Educational Center, 289 Lewis Avenue (now Dr. Sandy F. Ray Boulevard) was completed, dedicated and opened to the public May 29, 1966. The Reverend Dr. Sandy Frederick Ray fell asleep on April 11, 1979.
During the period from May, 1979 to November, 1981, the Reverend Henry G. Scott, Assistant to Dr. Ray, served with distinction as Minister-In-Charge.
On November 14, 1981, the Cornerstone Baptist Church Family held an election and unanimously elected the Reverend Dr. Harry Starks Wright, a Pastor, Dean and College President, to the Pastorate of Cornerstone Baptist Church. He is our seventh pastor.
In March, 1982, Dr. Wright officially began his ministry at Cornerstone. God has given him the message of love, not only to speak it, but to live it. Following a Pre-Installation Luncheon at the Waldorf Astoria on July 24, 1982, Dr. Wright was installed as Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church by the Reverend Dr. Gardner C. Taylor, Senior Pastor, Concord Baptist Church of Christ, on Sunday, July 25, 1982.
There is no doubt in our minds, Dr. Wright was sent by God to take hold of the spiritual baton passed on to him to continue this Gospel Journey of Joy. As we journey through this 21st century, we look back in admiration and appreciation to the Cornerstone pioneers who paved the way for us to better serve the present age and to be “A Witness For Christ.”
On August 3, 2003, our beloved Pastor Harry S. Wright retired. His successor, The Revered Lawrence Aker took the reins and presently serves as Pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church.