Our congregation was formed in 1974 with the merger of two other local churches: Shiloh Baptist Church and Mount Olivet Baptist Church. Shiloh Baptist Church, formed in 1869, stood at 29 School St, and Mount Olivet at 79 Thames St. was founded in 1897. Those two congregations joined in 1974 to form Community Baptist Church, with the Rev. Robert L. Williams as its first pastor, our second pastor Rev. Dr. Vincent L. Thompson Jr. retired after 29 wonderful years, faithfully leading our congregation. Rev. Lauri Smalls is currently the transitional pastor.
The soup kitchen runs every Saturday in the church’s annex under the name of “5-Star Souper Kitchen.” It is open to anyone who is hungry. Each week, upwards of 60 people receive a free meal, the pastor said. Earlier each Saturday, the church holds its Community Grocer, where needy local residents can get groceries for free. Other programs include church school on Saturday, Bible studies on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, a dance ministry and three choirs. Turning Around Ministries offers help and advice to former felons.
Pauline Perkins-Moye, a trustee and usher at Community Baptist, said the Souper Kitchen started 31 years ago using money from a federal grant. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was running a program addressing hunger issues across the country and the local community action program, then known as New Visions for Newport County, was to receive some of the money. “They started the program in different spots in Newport, and we were chosen as one of the spots,” said Perkins-Moye, director of resident services at the Newport Housing Authority and a former director of community organization for the East Bay Community Action Program in Newport, the organization that succeeded New Visions. “We have been going ever since with FEMA assistance and other resources,” she added. Ralph James, a deacon of the church who attended Mount Olivet Church before the merger, recalled how it happened. “Members of Shiloh and members of Mount Olivet got together and decided that there should be one church,” he said. “We were all in the same community and they wondered why we should have two churches when one would suit both of our needs. So that’s what happened.”