In 1888, five Negro Baptist women, with great faith and courage founded Grace Baptist Mission in Mount Vernon, New York. Mount Vernon became home to blacks who left the south in search of a better life. In the places from which they had come, there was an old familiar institution which had held the southern black communities together; the church. The “promised land” could not be God’s land without God’s church. Thus, these five instruments of God, knowing that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”, began God’s work that was to become the Grace Baptist Church of today with more than 3000 faithfuls calling it home.
Grace Baptist Mission began humbly in faith. Its five members desiring to “awaken religious interest in their people,” rented the annex of Willard Hall on South Third Avenue. They pooled their small savings to pay the rent and before long, through God’s mercy, they receive help from persons interested in the Mission.
Soon after the Mission was founded, a Sunday School was begun with persons of all ages enrolled. The Sunday School expanded its work by conducting weekly industrial classes. These classes were the outreaching hands to aid and prepare the newly arrived blacks for job opportunities in the surrounding areas. As the small Grace Baptist Mission toiled to reach the growing population of Mount Vernon, God again sent help from the neighboring First Baptist Church.
In July 1891, the members of First Baptist Church held a meeting to make plans for the adoption of the work of the mission. As a result of the meeting, a subscription campaign was started for the purpose of buying a lot and erecting a chapel to house Grace Baptist Mission. In this connection, Miss Martha Wilson, founder of the Martha Wilson Home, donated a lot at Eighth Avenue and Third Street to First Baptist Church in 1892. Grace Baptist Mission called its first pastor, the Reverend J.L. Montague in October 1893. Under the leadership and spiritual guidance of Reverend Montague the Mission grew at a steady pace. Both the congregation and the Sunday School grew rapidly, an indication that the black population of Mount Vernon was growing at the same rate.
Martha Wilson Miss Martha Wilson donated the land at Eighth Avenue and Third Street to build Grace Baptist Mission in 1894