Church History

 The History of Goodwill Baptist Church

And Thou shalt speak unto all that are wise hearted, whom I have filled with the Spirit.
Exodus 28:3

On Sunday, February 25, 1938, our illustrious, dynamic, foresighted founder, Reverend James Edward Miles, with his wife, Romine Miles, opened the Goodwill Mission, in a storefront at 1980 Park Avenue, New York City.  Four were present; Rev. Miles, Mrs. Miles, pianist Evelyn Banks, and her mother, Mrs. Banks.

Our first accession was Clarence Lindsey on the third Sunday in March.  Also, Sis. Cora Fowler and Bro. William Files came to lend a hand.  In June of 1938, Sis. Frances Ferguson joined with her three children and her three nieces, thereby enabling the Sunday School to be organized.  The following Sunday, Sis. Dorothy Miles, Sis. Viola Canty, Sis. Bessie Moone, Sis Viola Holland, Sis. Ida Waters, Sis. C. Dudley and Sis. Rose Lee Dollson were baptized. Sis. Bessie Scott and Sis. R. B. Smith were added to these other dedicated servants.

In October 1939, Goodwill received its Charter from New York State; thereby know as a Missionary Baptist Church for a Council of Recognition. God blessed Goodwill to move to 642 Crotona Park South, Bronx, New York, into a three story house with sixteen members.  Many came and the Church grew.  Prayer was always the forefront for Christian Growth, enabling our membership to increase tremendously. 

A New Church Home

In 1959, 644 and 646 were purchased.  A Building Fund, spearheaded by Rev. Charles Durden was formed.  Personal loans, contributions from friends, sacrificial offerings and much more were given.  Rev. Miles reminded us to “Hold to God’s unchanging hand and build our hopes on things eternal”. April 29, 1962, Ground Breaking Service was held.  On Sunday, February 23, 1964, Sis Romine Miles cut the Gleaming Ribbon, and we marched into a new Sanctuary and realized that a dream had become a reality.  We thanked and praised God.

Goodwill was active in the Baptist Education Center, United Missionary Baptist Association, Council of Churches, Bronx Missionary Workers Union, Ministers Conference, The Progressive Association, and the Neighborhood Community Board.

On May 24, 1971, God called our pastor, Rev. Miles home.  In February 1973, Reverend Rufus Merriweather Thomas was called as our second Pastor.  Rev. Thomas continued all prior programs and added more: The President’s Council, Scouts Movement, Christian Education, Summer Day Camp, the Van Ministry and a $500,000 expansion and renovation.  God was good and continued to bless us.  Rev. Thomas retired in December 1984, and was called home to rest in January 1990.

Reverend Booker T. Sears, Jr. was called to Goodwill in June 1985, as the third Pastor and is still serving.  Rev. Sears has raised the consciousness of the congregation, and new programs have been added along with the existing ones; Food Bank, Tape Ministry, Bus Ministry, Prayer Partners, Stewardship Classes, Youth Church, and ordained our Youngest Minister, Reverend James C. Woodley.  Rev. Sears is also a participant in the Civic Community.  God is still blessing us.

Through leaders like our founder, Rev. James E. Miles, his successor, Rev. Rufus M. Thomas, and our present Pastor, Rev. Booker T. Sears, Jr., and the many other servants who passed this way, and are noted in our Archives of Goodwill’s Fifty Year Journal, God is continuing to bless us.  Thank you Jesus!!!

Goodwill’s legacy is one built by a multitude of Christians, both past and present, Associate Ministers, Deacons, Deaconess’, Trustees, other officers and many, many friends who have given of themselves for the cause of Christianity.  It is a legacy of Worship, Work and Witness.  To God be the Glory for the great things He has done for Goodwill Baptist Church.

Prayerfully submitted,
The Historical Committee