Brief Historical Review
The First Baptist Church of Río Piedras was the Puerto Rican “Antioquia”. Among Baptists, it was from here that the gospel work spread to other places. On February 23, 1899, the work of the American Baptist Churches in Puerto Rico officially began with a sermon preached at the City Hall of Río Piedras. On July 11 of the same year, the First Baptist Church of Río Piedras was formally organized under the pastorate of Rev. Hugh P. McCormick sponsored by the American Baptist Home Mission Society (ABHMS). Since 1899 the church has owned twelve pastors, another dozen associate pastors, and many missionaries. For 45 years the Church was ably led by the Rev. Francisco F. Colón Brunet whose outstanding work in the community of Río Piedras, and throughout the island, continues to bear fruit. Under the pastorate of Rev. Cristino Díaz Montañez developed housing for the elderly and people with functional diversity, a school for pre-school and elementary levels, a parking lot to serve the student, worker and commercial community of the area, new action groups were organized such as the “Club de Oro”, the Ushers, the Prayer Groups and the construction of the new church building (1977). In 2002, the Rev. Dr. Guillermo Otero-Hermann, called the Rev. Aida Castillo to fill the position of Associate General Pastor. During her pastorate, the congregation affirmed its commitment to service through “Crecer Social Action Ministry” and the Rayitos de Esperanza (Little Rays of Hope) Children’s Ministry (Today called “Rayitos”). Since April 2012 the Rev. Pedro Hernández became Interim Pastor for 14 months. In April 2014 the church named Rev Laura I. Ayala Álvarez, the first woman to hold this position, as General Pastor. Under her leadership we continue to grow in spiritual disciplines (i.e. Bible study, prayer, and fasting) as well as in the work of proclaiming the good news of Salvation to every creature. After Hurricane María (2017) she has affirmed and redefined our role in the middle of the Rio Piedras community. Seventeen thousand (17,000) plates of food served between September and December 2017, more than 15,000 gallons of purified water distributed in 28 municipalities, 354 roofs built and 7 houses (2018-2019), 8 weeks of summer camp for 42 boys, girls and young people (2018), among many other service opportunities. After the earthquakes of January 2020 we served churches in the southwest of the Island providing emergency food, water filters, hygiene kits, and more. Through the pandemia, we kept serving providing hot meals for the homeless and the nearby community, and emergency groceries. As community youth and kids could not access virtual classes due to the lack of equipment and internet access, our sanctuary has been since October 2020 the space where they come to access their classes. Thanks to local and US donors 85 tablets were distributed.
Thus we enter a new time to continue worshiping our God and serving the community in his name, and beyond, with much rejoicing and enthusiasm, always under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This church, which was born in the hall of the Old Town Hall of Río Piedras, which took its first steps in the municipal theater and in the Old “house of the vaccine” on Roble Street, built its first temple in 1904 on Brumbaugh Street, where it stayed until 1975 to make room for a new temple.
Today, due to the physiogeographic, political, economic, social and demographic changes that have altered the surroundings of Río Piedras, the church faces new ministerial opportunities. We continue to be active in ministry, welcoming our neighbors, strong in our faith and militant in our testimony of Jesus Christ’s love and good news. By completing 122 years of uninterrupted service to the Lord Jesus Christ, the First Baptist Church of Río Piedras continues being, today more than ever: "the church in the heart of the city with the city in their hearts."