Learn About Our Rich History

Madison Avenue Baptist Church History

In 1848, there was a section in Manhattan called Rose Hill, famous for its flowers, summer residences, and many stately homes, including the J. P. Morgan mansion and the boyhood home of Theodore Roosevelt.

In 1849, it changed its name to the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church and erected a building at Lexington Avenue and 30th Street. In the early 1860s, Jeremiah Milbank (developer of canned milk with inventor Gale Borden) and other congregational leaders decided to rebuild a spectacular new structure on five lots at 31st Street and Madison Avenue, renamed Madison Avenue Baptist Church.
Madison Avenue Baptist Church History

Madison Avenue Baptist Church - Left: Year unknown. Center: c.1905. Right: c.1920.

The church survived the Civil War, flourished in Gilded Age Manhattan, and endured the upheaval of the First World War, while continuing to serve its members and the larger community. In 1929, however, the Trustees made a bold decision to tear the original church structure to the ground and rebuild a commercial hotel on the site – the Roger Williams Hotel – with a new sanctuary, including the historic Zettler stained glass windows, reconstructed inside the hotel.

Madison Avenue Baptist Church History

Stained glass window details at MABC.

Maintaining our tradition of ministering to the community, we began a Sunday Afternoon Meal for Seniors and a Shelter for the Homeless in the 1980s, and in 1992 we began ministries to people with AIDS at Bellevue Hospital, sponsored by the Bellevue Chaplains’ Office. In 1993, Madison Avenue Baptist Church became a Charter member of the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists made up of American Baptist Churches and organizations committed to being inclusive of all persons without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. We now partner with various organizations and programs within New York City and abroad, including New York Cares, St. Peter’s Church, Hope Lodge, and the Bowery Mission.

Madison Avenue Baptist Church History

Left: MABC exterior, 1948. Right: Interior, year unknown.

Today, we continue our mission as a place of worship that honors inclusion and welcomes everyone. Our senior pastor, Rev. Susan Sparks, a trial lawyer turned standup comedian and Baptist minister, drives a community of faith that follows a gospel of joy and laughter, not judgment and fear. Along with our Sunday Worship, Bible Study, lively music program, and active community service, we strive to be the Baptist Church that redefines what people believe Baptist to be.

Visit our Historical Photos page for more images.

Madison Avenue Baptist Church History

Groups in the Parish House of the Madison Avenue Baptist Church, 1913 and 1907.