904 North Roxboro Street Durham, NC 27701
Founded April 1897 as a Sunday School.
John E. Robinson, John Thomas, Ed Hockaday
Log Cabin on Corporation Street
Reverend Prince Raney Rivers
Reverend Paul Yancey, First Part-time
Pastor Reverend Jerome Cozart, First Full-time Pastor
Reverends John Stanford, J.R. Baines, John A. Lewis, Clarence Dunn, Dr. A.S. Croom,
Dr. Grady D. Davis, Sr., and Dr. Kenneth Ray Hammond, Emeritus
Joe Wilson, Clem Thaxton, Joe Suitt, John Grissom, Charles Lyons, and Rufus Tapp
Clarence Jones, Grady Riddle, Junious Blake, Van Clark, Sr., John Timberlake, Sr., and James Pointer
For well over a century, Union Baptist Church has stood as a testimony to God's grace and the commitment of His people. In April 1897, three individuals, John E. Robinson, Ed Hockaday, and John Thomas, had the vision to share the teachings of Jesus Christ to families in North Durham. With assistance from Dr. Aaron Moore, the three were able to start a Sunday School gathering that would eventually become Union Baptist Church.
Not long after starting the Sunday School, the desire for the preached Word began to grow. Robinson, Hockaday, and Thomas turned to Reverend Paul Yancey, the Pastor of Mount Vernon Baptist Church and their Deacons, to assist them in this endeavor. After developing a Board of Deacons and selecting Reverend Yancey as Pastor, the North Durham Baptist Church began to meet one Sunday a month.
The newly-organized North Durham Baptist Church purchased 175 feet by 75 feet lot for the Riggsbee Estate on Glendale Avenue. This site became the location of the first church-owned building. Once the building was completed, the congregation solemnly declared its new name to be Union Baptist Church. The laity played a very active and significant role in the development of the early church. Notably, Sister Martha Woods laundered clothes to finance the purchase of the church's first pulpit.
As the membership grew to nearly two hundred, it became evident that the church needed a full-time pastor. The Reverend Jerome Cozart became the first full-time pastor of Union Baptist Church. He was widely recognized as a forceful speaker with excellent pulpit skills.
For the next five years, Reverend Cozart led Union Baptist Church and helped grow the membership to over three hundred. For the next several years, Union Baptist Church saw its Pastoral leadership change four more times. Reverend John Sandford, Reverend James R. Baines, Reverend John A. Lewis, and Reverend Clarence Dunn served as pastors of Union Baptist Church.
In 1926, Reverend Ananias S. Croom became the 7th Pastor of Union Baptist Church. Reverend Croom was known for his intellect and character and was widely regarded as a religious, civic, and community leader. For more than thirty-seven years, Reverend Croom led Union Baptist Church. During his tenure, membership saw a substantial increase. The number of auxiliaries grew, and a new church was built on Roxboro Street.
After the death of Reverend Croom in 1963, Union Baptist Church called Dr. Grady D. Davis, Sr. to serve as the 8th Pastor. Dr. Davis’ magnetic personality was evident, and the church’s membership continued to grow. In March 1990, after having served for twenty-six years, Dr. Davis transitioned from labor to reward.
Nearly two years later, in January 1992, Reverend Kenneth R. Hammond was installed as the 9th Pastor of Union Baptist Church. In his first ten years, more than fourteen hundred individuals united with Union Baptist Church. Then, in September 2000, Union Baptist Church moved into its current worship center and administrative space. Reverend Hammond retired after twenty-six years of leading Union Baptist Church to new heights in ministry.
In March 2017, Union Baptist Church called Reverend Prince R. Rivers to serve as its 10th and current Pastor. Pastor Rivers is guiding the church to move to the next level while still honoring its historic and humble beginnings in a log cabin on Corporation Street.
In the words of the hymn writer Thomas O. Chisholm, “Morning by morning new mercies I see; All I have needed Thy hand hath provided, Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!” Union Baptist Church can truly say that it’s by Gods’ grace and mercy that we remain a house of prayer, striving for excellence without exception, quality without question, committed to the cause of Christ.