Over a century ago, New Hope Baptist Church was born out of a desire by a few men and women of shared and specific denominational interests to worship together.
Initially, as part of the great migration from the south to the north, “colored people” settled in the Danbury, Connecticut area. They traveled together, lived together, and worshipped together. These people of combined and various denominations worshipped as a community united by race.
The worship services began in places where the people could be themselves without fear of persecution or embarrassment. They prayed and sang together and heard sermons whenever a minister was available or passing through the area. This community worship went on for several
years until a few men and women, led by Reverend Thomas Garnett, broke away from the community “church” and on February 16, 1895, organized the New Hope Baptist Church of Danbury.
With the birth of New Hope, there were several men to pass through its doors preaching the word and increasing its membership. Only some of these preachers were installed as shepherds of the new church. The
Reverend Garnett’s leadership was followed by Reverend D.C. Thomas, Reverend Paul Harrell, and Reverend Wyatt C. Milton. Reverend J. Edwards Harris was installed as the pastor in May of 1916, and remained as New Hope’s leader until August, 1953. Under Reverend V. Loma St. Claire, from June 1954 through December 1954, the church continued to serve the community and it’s parishioners.
During the pastorate of Reverend Richard Bodie from November 1955 through October 1965, New Hope purchased the adjoining property (8 Cherry Street) and made several major adjustments. After the two year tenure of the Reverend Willie D. Cleveland, Jr. (May 1966 through July 1968), the Reverend Dr. Aaron B. Samuels was called on April 11, 1969. Dr. Samuels brought stability and re-energized the congregation during his pastorate where many souls were added to the church leading to an eight fold increase. In addition to the numerical growth, Dr. Samuels presided over the construction of the former sanctuary building, which was completed in 1977.
After 32 years of faithful service to New Hope, Dr. Samuels retired in June of 2001. Committed to doing God’s work, he remained active in the community until his unexpected death January 3, 2002. The city of Danbury honored the life and legacy of Dr. Samuels by renaming the street on which the church sits from Cherry Street to ‘Dr. Aaron B. Samuels Boulevard.’
The Reverend Ivan S. Pitts was elected the Pastor of New Hope Baptist Church on April 6, 2002, and was installed on September 22 of that year. Pastor Pitts showed his commitment to New Hope’s legacy of spiritual growth and community service. In October 2009, New Hope completed a 25,000 square foot expansion which included a senior center, daycare center, computer lab, library, meeting and conference rooms. Membership grew exponentially while New Hope continued to focus on worship, ministry, evangelism, fellowship, and discipleship. Pastor Pitts was a visionary leader with goals of expanding New Hope’s ministries and influence on the Danbury community.
Currently, with more than one hundred years after the birth of New Hope, this church has a ripe and vibrant history that includes honorable pastors, strong leaders, and congregations of worshippers ever thirsty for spiritual and emotional health. The demographics of the church have become diverse and the congregation continues to be enriched by the unique offerings of its members.
Reverend Leroy Gerome Parker was elected as the eight pastor to New Hope Baptist Church on November 29, 2013. He is a spirited preacher, an exceptional teacher, and a community leader. His commitment to fitness and healthy living has greatly influenced his congregation to seek physical health. An advocate for the elderly and a voice for the “voiceless,” Reverend Parker has dedicated himself to serving the “least of these.”
The New Hope Family is excited to have Reverend Parker as the new shepherd and are committed to his vision for the church and the community. New Hope Baptist Church, through God’s grace and blessings, continues to thrive and grow.