PROVIDENCE — Rhode Island’s oldest black church is marking its 200th birthday.

The Congdon Street Baptist Church has had an integral role in providing spiritual and educational needs for Providence’s black communities.

The original members of the church came from the First Baptist Church in America, where they were forced to worship in a segregated space, according to The Providence Journal.

In 1863, as tensions grew among the congregation and their white neighbors, the original church was torn down without their approval.

State Senator Harold Metts, a Providence Democrat and a church deacon, said the congregation has always combated ‘‘such evil’’ with good.


Metts pointed to the aftermath of the 2015 mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., when nine people were killed, as an example of that.