Latham Community Baptist Church began as a result of the vision of several Albany area churches that organized into the Albany Baptist Council. The dream began in October 1957, after a survey showed that Latham would be an opportune place for a new church since the community was growing rapidly. The Albany Baptist Council informed the Hudson River Association of its findings and intent, and after deliberation, the Association, comprised of 30 churches, engaged the Rev. Henry Habel of Schenectady to recruit and organize this new church. Rev. Habel began his work on September 1, 1958.
A five-acre lot was purchased on Forts Ferry Road, a former cabbage field; small house meetings began. Worship services were temporarily held at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Albany. This small, new congregation secured a loan from the American Baptist Home Mission Society. The groundbreaking ceremony was held on May 3, 1959. The cornerstone ceremony held on September 27, 1959. The first full day of services was one week later. Some of the traditions that were started that first year are still carried on today, such as the Birthday Party for Jesus and Vacation Bible School.
The Rev. Habel serviced until February 1963. The second pastor, Rev. William T. Cornelius, began duties on October 1, 1963. He worked hard to strengthen the church and give pastoral care to the people until May 15, 1973. During this time the church began a sports program that grew to 175 boys and girls. The church opened a community nursery school in 1967. In 1969, LCBC began an after-school program for children in grades 4-6. In 1972, a summer program to address the spiritual, recreational, and employment needs of the youth was established.
A parsonage was purchased for the pastor in 1963 in the surrounding neighborhood with a loan secured from the New York State Baptist Convention. However, the parsonage was sold in 2012 since it was no longer being used.
The Rev. Peter Bolster served as pastor from 1973-1978. He continued to expand the church’s activities in the community. LCBC saw its greatest growth during Pastor Bolster’s pastorate. Both the congregation and the physical size of the church grew, with the building of an addition. He involved the church in the CROP walk, bike trips, and backpacking trips.
The Rev. David Foulk served a ten-year term following Rev. Bolster. He broadened the church’s ministry to include jail ministry, nursing home services, food pantry work, as well as mission trips to Haiti and the Crow Indians of Montana.
The Rev. Phillip Miller-Evans served from September 1989 through August 1994. He helped the church experience a variety of worship styles. During that time a new sound system was installed and services were taped for distribution to shut-ins. He also began a Bible study at an adult home. A counseling service was also established during that time.
The Rev. Charles Williams began service in March 1997. Pastor Williams continued the tradition of our church pastor being the chaplain for the Verdoy Fire Department, his previous experience as a fire fighter and EMT were an asset to the community. He was instrumental in involving LCBC with the Interfaith Alliance and other outreach programs, such as the Ahana House.
The Rev. Linda Rackliffe served from 2004 through April 2008. Pastor Rackliffe reactivated the prayer group with the lunch hour group and started an evening group for the daytime workers. She encouraged the youth by attending many of their special interest events, athletic competitions, and extracurricular activities.
During the lapses between ministers we have been blessed by the service of dedicated interim ministers. We have been blessed by the service of two talented interim pastors since 2008. For more information on our current pastor, please see the “Meet Pastor George Stefani” section under the “About Us” tab.
We continue to offer Bible Study classes, Vacation Bible School, support at least 15 mission projects, Christian camping, youth conventions, American Baptist women’s group, and provide representation on several community boards. LCBC sponsors the local Boy Scouts (Troop 279) and Cub Scouts (Pack 66) who are a very active asset to the community and our church. The Two-by-Two Nursery School continues to hold classes throughout the week.