On September 27, 1944, Stanley B. Hazzard, the Executive Secretary of the Baptist Church Extension Society of Brooklyn and Queens, wrote a letter expressing the desire to start a new church extension enterprise in Nassau County. Accordingly, Reverend Allen C. Crawford was appointed to make a study to determine if there was an interest within the community area referred to as “East of Garden City and south of Mineola.”
In January 1945, Reverend Crawford completed the survey, known as the East Garden City Project, which showed a “keen interest” by the people in the area. The new church enterprise was to serve the people in the vicinity of the Mott Development Community. It was also announced that Mr. Crawford had been appointed Minister-in-Charge and that the first meeting would be held Sunday, January 25, 1945 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Cursley. As growth took place, a room at the Garden City Hotel was used for worship services, the first of which was held Sunday, February 18, 1945. Although the project was sponsored by the Baptist Church Extension Society of Brooklyn and Queens, the church was to be “interdenominational under Baptist auspices.” Incorporation of the church was completed 1946 using the name Church-in-the-Garden.
In 1946, the decision was made to purchase lots on Osborne Road and Clinton and Stewart Avenues. A building drive was set in motion with a goal of $15,000. It was agreed the first section of the building should be the educational wing. Total cost of this section was set at $93,000. The sum of $75,000 was made available by the Baptist Church Extension Society. Groundbreaking was held in October 1948. By June 22, 1949, the Educational Building was dedicated. Four additional lots were needed and purchased from Garden City Company, which brought the total lots to six that amount to three acres. As the educational wing was outgrown, the Church began making plans for the new sanctuary in November 1953. Funds from the various denominations included Home Mission Society and American Baptist Home Mission Society. Groundbreaking for the sanctuary took place in July 1955 and was dedicated on September 9, 1956. In 1964, the current parsonage was built adjacent to the church.
Laypersons of Historical Note
- Mr. and Mrs. George Hertell ~ held the second meeting in their home.
- Mr. and Mrs. Randolph Sinclair ~ held many meetings in their home.
- Mr. William Porth ~ provided legal services for the incorporation.
- Mr. Phillip South ~ instrumental in the building of the church and parsonage.
- Mrs. Randolph Frary/Miss Winifred Porth ~ charter members.
- Mrs. Margaret Treat Doane ~ member of the Board of Managers of Women’s American Baptist Foreign Mission Society and major contributor to the Church.
- William H. Doane ~ father of Margaret Treat Doane and one of our most prolific and beloved hymn composers. His hymns include “More Love to Thee” and “Take the Name of Jesus With You.”
- Dr. Josephine C. Lawney ~ served as medical missionary in Shanghai for 30 years and time friend of Margaret Treat Doane.
- Reverend Allen P. Crawford (1945 -1947) was the founding Pastor.
- Reverend Dr. Joseph C. Robbins (1947-1949) was the first called Pastor to the church. He served in the Philippines for seven years, was president of the Baptist Convention for two terms, and authored four books.
- Reverend Evan J. Shearman (1949-1959) He guided the congregation through the major building phases.
- Reverend Robert Burdette Rose (1959-1968) He was previously program coordinator of the Council of Finance and Promotion of the American Baptist Convention.
- Reverend Edward N. Harrell (1968-1971) was a graduate of the Bible College of South Carolina and Crozier Seminary.
- Reverend George E. Vanderpoel (1971-1984) a Navy Chaplain for 25 years, provided a strong teaching ministry. The emphasis of Reverend Vanderpoel’s ministry was Bible Study. There were seven new translations to be studied and compared. A church history class was taught by him, which was very informative.
- Reverend Paul S. Dodge (1985 to 1994) was called to the church as Pastor after the untimely death of Reverend Vanderpoel. Reverend Dodge and his wife Winnie came to the church having served as missionaries in Thailand for 25 years. Under his pastorate, Sunday School for children was resumed and emphasized, adult Bible study and Bible study groups were mandated, opportunities for fellowship increased, the church became more active in outside ministries, and prayer meeting opportunities were enhanced. As a result of these programs the membership grew significantly. After almost nine years of service at the Church-in-the-Garden, Reverend Dodge and Winnie were recommissioned to missionary duties in Thailand.
- Reverend Dr. Donald Hillyard (1996-2000) was called to the church as Pastor in January 1996. Reverend Hillyard and his wife, Betty, brought new attention to the children’s programs and began the Vacation Bible School and Pioneer programs. The church began to use the Whole People of God curriculum for the Sunday Bible study for all ages
- Reverend Earl Y. Thorpe Jr. was called to the church as Pastor in the summer of 2014. To learn more about our Pastor click here.