The nation’s oldest Baptist church sustained damage when an out-of-control automobile came onto church property and crashed into a set of brownstone steps that had been in place for more than 300 years.
A car descending a steep hill behind First Baptist Church in Providence, R.I., overshot a turn before crashing into the stairs and a railing leading to one of the entrances of the original building completed in 1775. The structure is the third meeting house for America’s oldest Baptist church, founded by Roger Williams in 1638.
The church, which also goes by the name First Baptist Church in America, reported the damage on Facebook and welcomed donations to help with necessary repairs.
“As much as possible their hope is to reconstruct it with the original stones,” Pastor Jamie Washam told WPRI television in Providence. “We also want to maintain the integrity and historical nature of the structure as well.”
Washam, who served at Underwood Memorial Baptist Church in Wauwatosa, Wis., before accepting a pastoral call from the Rhode Island congregation in 2015, said it isn’t the first time a car traveling on the notoriously hazardous road has ended up on church property, but before now none has ever struck the building.
The driver was reportedly unhurt and walked away from the crash.
The good news, church leaders posted on Facebook, is “all the other doors work just fine” and the building is structurally sound. “See you for Christian Ed at 10 and service at 11!” the posting concluded.
The First Baptist Church in America is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island and the American Baptist Churches/USA. The church actively supports organizations including Baptist World Alliance and the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.