The Norwich Street Baptist Church began in a tent in the fall of 1918 as
a mission sponsored by The First Baptist Church of Brunswick. It was
the second Baptist church established in Brunswick and Glynn County.
The population of Brunswick was about 14,000.
Reverend J. Claude Grimes, the first pastor of the church, found the tent
challenging. He hurried to the tent early on Sunday mornings after a
Saturday evening rain because the tent was often flat on the ground.
The sand would not hold the stakes securely.
The equipment in the tent was simple. Sawdust covered the sand for a
floor. The benches were made of rough boards with no backs. The
people sang to the sound of a pump organ played by Mrs. Grimes, while
the wood and coal stove gave off a little heat and a lot of smoke. The
mosquitoes and frogs were constant problems. The small children would
look for frogs and toss them out of the tent before the services began.
The members, who walked to church from Gloucester Street and as far
as Arco, found rags burning in buckets to drive the mosquitoes and gnats
away when they were especially troublesome.
These people looked forward to their first building in this wooded and
sparsely settled area of Brunswick. Hitching posts for horses were still
used by the townspeople when the church building began. Rev. Grimes
found the members eager and cooperative, but the group was too small
for the State Mission Board to approve both a church building and a
parsonage. Rev. C.D. Ogg, who later became the pastor of the church,
was instrumental in establishing the church. Mr. Ogg, a former
Brunswick Mayor, gave the first parsonage, a large two-story house at
3205 Norwich Street, to the church so the State Mission Board would
approve the church building. A flowing well provided water for the house
and ran continuously in the kitchen and bathroom.
The State Mission board headed by Dr. Arch Cree provided funds to
erect the building. The board also paid a salary of $100.00 per month
per house and utilities to Rev. Grimes. The First Baptist Church
furnished the building. The construction, completed in the fall of 1919
was of molded wood simulating brick.
Norwich Street Baptist Church held its first baptismal service in Baines
Bluff where live oaks trees, Spanish moss and marsh abounded.
The church struggled in the first years. Many early members who
worked in shipyards during World War 1 left Brunswick as the shipyards
closed down. The church continued to grow slowly with dedicated
members and pastors working together. Rev. Grimes served as pastor
In 1920 Rev. H.D. Gober was called as pastor, he served until 1921. In
1923 Rev C.D. Ogg, a former Brunswick mayor who donated the first
parsonage was called as pastor and served ‘til 1924. In 1925 Rev. A.W.
Smith was called and the first Royal Ambassadors and Girl’s Auxiliary
organizations were started. He served ‘til 1926. In 1926 Rev. Chester
J. Johnson was called as pastor. WMU was organized in 1927. He
served ‘til 1929. In 1929 Rev. Charles H. Moss was called as pastor.
There were still only two Baptist Churches in Brunswick. The church
had 115 members. In 1930 depression hit the county.
NOTE OF INTEREST: In the early 1930’s during the Sunday morning
worship hour a fire began in the cellar causing flames to interrupt Rev.
Moss’ preaching. He calmly asked the members to stand and file out
quietly. Damage was minor and only the night service had to be
cancelled. By 1931 the membership of the church totaled 216.
Rev. Moss being a builder led the church into making five additions to
the original building from 1930 to 1946 as the church membership grew.
A two story wooden structure was added to the original building before
1939. Soon a wooden two story structure was built in the back yard of
the pastorium for additional Sunday school classrooms and weekly youth
In 1940 a brick structure was built onto the original church building
extending to Ellis Street Lane and called Educational Building. It
contained classrooms, large nursery, and kitchen with pass through
feature and long hall which became “Fellowship Hall”. Services were
held here during the construction of the new sanctuary.
During World War II the church grew rapidly with the growth of the city.
In 1946 the membership was 800, Sunday school enrollment was 615.
In 1943 a building fund contained $13,000.00 which grew to $32,000 by
1946. Plans for a new church sanctuary were drawn by Henry Keith, a
church member. The sanctuary was completed by January of 1948 and
by 1949 the payment in full was made to National Bank. In 1954 Rev.
Moss celebrated his 25th anniversary as pastor. A mission was started
which later became Morningside Baptist. In 1959 Rev. James F.
Miedema was called to pastor. The church petitioned to become a
cooperating church with the southeast Baptist Association having
previously been in the Piedmont Association.
In October of 1960 the church had 873 member, 817 enrolled in Sunday
school with average attendance of 439; 227 enrolled in Training Union
with average attendance of 120; 175 enrolled in WMU. The total
receipts were $35,524 for the year.
Parking space was a problem with member surpassing 1000 in 1962.
Average Sunday school attendance was 500. Property adjoining the
church facing Norwich Street was purchased for parking area.
In 1966 Rev. Miedema resigned. In 1967 Rev. J. Elvin Reeves was
called as pastor, coming from the Sunday School Board in Nashville.
On the first of October in 1968 the church membership was 1040, the
Sunday School enrollment 818, Training Union 296, WMU 174,
Brotherhood (including R.A.’s) and the Music enrollment 100.
The first Constitution and By Laws were drawn up and approved in
conference April 6, 1969. Church members led by Rev. Reeves
marched against J.M. Fields Department Store when they began Sunday
business hours. Rev. Reeves resigned in November of 1970. In 1971
Rev. John W. Hunt was called as pastor.
The church sanctuary was completely renovated architecturally with new
furnishings. A dedication ceremony was held on February 20, 1972.
Rev. Hunt resigned in 1981.
The Young at Heart was organized by Mrs. Vallie James for senior
adults in June of 1982. It is still active today.
July 4th, 1982, Rev. Lee Paul Lewis became our new pastor and
preached his first sermon.
Worship attendance increased and work was begun with a mission in
Geneso, N.Y. known today as Pleasant Valley Baptist Church. Weekly
contributions were given for one year. Our old pulpit furniture was
donated to the mission and they are still using it today. Also, a
scholarship fund for promising ministerial students was established. A
food pantry and clothes closet were organized and stocked.
In 1983/84 an extension of the Sunday school was formed as teachers
were chosen to go to the Glynnvilla Housing Authority to hold Sunday
School Class on Thursday’s for older folks and shut-ins. That ministry
In 1984 $3,000.00 was donated to World Hunger. Also a classroom was
renovated into a beautiful Memorial Parlor/Chapel.
In 1984 when Rev. John Carr, Area Missionary, and others studied the
impact of the Trident Submarine Base on Camden County each church
was challenged to help develop a mission in St. Marys, later to become
Point Peter Chapel. Norwich Street supplied financial support, workers
to take surveys, and deacons donated an organ. Mr. W.T. Carson
donated the Pulpit furniture.
Also the same year, the church boldly voted to enter into a commitment
of increased giving to the Association and Cooperative Program as a
result of Planned Growth and Giving. Having already given 18% to the
Cooperative Program, the church voted to increase it’s percentage to
21.38% for the Cooperative Program and 3.68% to the Southeast
Association by the year 2000.
The property at 2410 Ellis Street leased to Southeast Association for
office space for Rev. John Carr, Area Missionary for one dollar per
In 1988 the church membership was 700. The budget is $201,643.21.
In 1992 the church voted to relocate. In November of that year the
Church called David Stokes. The church voted to change its name to
Norwich Baptist Church in 1993. In October of that same year morning
services were started at a second location, Glyndale Elementary School
and the church purchased its present location. In 1995 all services were
moved to the new location. Ground was broken for the Fellowship
Building and in November. In 1997 ground was broken and the building
completed for the current worship center. In 1998 the church once again
averaged over 500.
Rev. David Stokes resigned in 2002. In June 2002, Rev. Russ Graham
came on a voluntary basis for 90 days to assist the church in rebuilding
and in September he was unanimously called as Pastor. Since that time
the church has begun to rebuild with over 50 baptisms last year and has
added several new ministries and staff positions.
Some of the ministry highlights in the past year have been; new children,
youth & music ministry Pastors & staff, ordination of two members to
the Gospel Ministry, a church-wide mission trip to rebuild an orphanage
in Honduras; initiation of a Prayer Ministry; the Deacon led
enlargement of the benevolence ministry to include food, shelter &
financial assistance to those in need in the community; a Biblical
Counseling ministry with a full time counselor on staff
In May, 2003, Russ Graham was called as our full time Pastor. He was
instrumental in developing church wide mission trips to rebuild an
orphanage in Honduras and led in forming our local Mission, Helping
Hands/Loving Hearts. This ministry is a food pantry and clothes closet
for the needy in our area. A thrift store is operated by our volunteers to
buy food for the pantry and to aid our members with financial needs.
Russ served until 2005, at which time he resigned.
The church experienced a 2 year period in which the pulpit was filled by
guest pastors for our services. The membership held fast, doing what
God called each one to do as a search was begun at the right time for a
full time pastor to come our way.
In August 2007, Dr. Arthur L. Cyphers was called as our Senior Pastor.
Since that time, we have experienced growth in membership and
We will continue to work as a close church family so we may further God’s mission for Norwich Baptist
Church through out Glynn County and
Norwich Baptist Church