The Second Baptist Church, the oldest black Baptist church in El Paso, Texas, was established in 1884. The brick edifice that is its current home was erected between 1903 and 1907 at Second and Virginia Streets, standing at the intersection of the city’s Mexican American neighborhood, the black American community, and downtown El Paso.
Second Baptist’s history began in the summer of 1884 when E. M. Griggs, a Dallas missionary, was commissioned by the Baptist Home Mission Board of New York to establish churches for black residents in far west Texas. After canvassing the total population of 25 African American El Paso residents, Reverend Griggs identified five residents who were self-declared Baptists. These five residents: Mr. and Mrs. Joe Pollard, Thomas Gaines, Calvin Neal, and George Duval, established the first black Baptist church in El Paso under Rev. Griggs.
The five founding church members worshipped in a small rented one-room adobe house, with Calvin Neal officiating as the interim pastor. In 1886, each of the five members donated $10.00 which was augmented by a $200 donation from the white First Baptist Church of El Paso. With that money they purchased a lot on Utah Street. After worshiping in a temporary building, in 1888 the congregation, with a $400 loan from the Baptist Home Mission Board and contributions from prominent families in the larger community, built a permanent edifice at 515 Utah Street.
Beginning in 1903 Reverend J.T. Hill led the congregation in constructing a new building for $25,000 at the Church’s current location on Second and Virginia streets. That building was completed in 1907. A church bell was installed and rung through the years on special occasions. In 1918, a parsonage at 311 Tornillo Street was purchased, which provided a residence for the Church’s ministers for many years. It was sold and another parsonage was purchased at 5804 Dolphin Street.
Reverend H. A. Rogers, formerly of Chicago, Illinois, became pastor of Second Baptist in 1923. One year later he