Metro Baptist Church was born in 1974, as a small group of people began to pray and imagine a new church in Manhattan. Less than a year later, the small group organized and began meeting in an office building on the Upper West Side. In 1982, the community formally constituted as the Metro Baptist Church of Manhattan.
By 1984, Metro had outgrown its Sunday meeting space. The congregation began to seek a building in which to worship and organize the comunity ministries that had become central to the church's identity. They found a home at 410 W. 40th St. - an old Polish Catholic Church in the middle of Hell’s Kitchen. At the time, Hell’s Kitchen had a reputation as one of Manhattan’s seedier neighborhoods (A Metro pamphlet published in the 80s reads: “Homeless people down the block. Prostitutes on the corner. Crack dealers across the street. What a great place for a church.”). Metro relocated with a strong conviction that this was where God was calling them to be church. The day the building purchase was finalized Rev. Gene Bolin, who was Metro’s pastor at the time, stood across the street and prayed, “Lord, don’t give us this building if we can’t put it to use for people who need it 24/7.”
In the spirit of Pastor Bolin's prayer, a growing social ministry program developed, providing food, clothing and educational services to the community. In 1995, to continue and expand these programs, Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries was formally incorporated as the non-profit community ministry of Metro. RMM is named for Walter Rauschenbusch – an important theologian, social reformer, and Baptist minister who served in Hell’s Kitchen in the early 20th century. Rauschenbusch is regarded as a “father” of the Social Gospel – an early 20th century movement that emphasized salvation as both a spiritual and a social reality. Rauschenbusch believed that faith in Christ ought to prompt Christians to care for others and ultimately change their society in the way that Jesus imagined. He was passionate about the prayer, “Thy kingdom come to earth as it is in heaven.” Feeling a special connection to Walter’s theology and his Baptist heritage, while being located just three blocks from his old church (now a theatre), Metro named its social ministry “Rauschenbusch.”
Today, Metro is a congregation inspired by our heritage and energized to live into the hopeful future that stretches out ahead. We are a loving and growing church family that values diversity, creativity, openness and welcome to all, commitments to justice and peace, and active ministry to and with our community.