Wilburn C. Ferguson, a committed Christian layman who moved from Tucson, Arizona in the spring of 1957, began advertising in the newspapers for Southern Baptists in the Syracuse area to form a mission. The LaSalle Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Church in Niagara Falls, New York sponsored this new mission in Syracuse. On Thursday night, June 20th, a fellowship meeting was held at the Ferguson’s home. This would be the beginning of the First Southern Baptist Church of Syracuse.
A group of faithful laymen arranged for Sunday services to be held in a vacant church in Cicero, NY. Fifteen men, women, and children (5 families) met in this temporary facility until a permanent place was found on Cortland Avenue in Syracuse, (presently the Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ).
Reverend Paul Becker, a native of Syracuse, was called as the first pastor on July 14, 1957. God would add several new families to the church, and in October of that year the first candidates for baptism were Mr. Robert Burket, Mr. Henry Becker, and Mrs. Robert Furnace. On November 11, the church met for the purpose of incorporating as the First Southern Baptist Church of Syracuse, and the first constitution was also adopted.
The church voted to buy the Cortland Avenue property in May of 1958 for $45,000.
On October 13, 1963 the church decided to change its’ name from First Southern Baptist Church of Syracuse to Central Baptist Church. This was done to better reflect its’ mission to all people. Also in October of 1963 the church voted to relocate. The property at 347 Cortland Avenue was sold and the present church site, 1926 Midland Avenue was purchased.
The ministry of Paul Becker ended in early 1961 and the church called the Reverend John Tollison to succeed him. Rev Tollison served from late 1961 to the latter part of 1964. In the early months of 1965, the church called its’ third pastor, Reverend T. Bruce Dellinger. After a brief tenure, Reverend Dellinger resigned and in January of 1967 the Reverend Richard Bond was called to serve the congregation as pastor. Rev. Bond’s ministry was characterized by a strong emphasis on personal soul winning.
Rev. Dean Prewitt became the fifth pastor of Central in early 1975. After several months of service, he resigned to accept the Directorship of the Illinois Baptist Convention. Rev. Steve Turner, a young minister from the Buffalo area became the church’s sixth pastor. Rev. Turner served for two years during which time the church grew numerically and in the Word.
In December of 1978 the church called Rev. Leroy Gainey. During Pastor Gainey’s tenure, the church grew larger than it had ever been in the past. A food pantry and clothing distribution program was instituted. Additional property was also acquired in order to improve the church’s parking. In June of 1987 Pastor Gainey resigned from Central.
In September of 1988 Rev. Rickey Armstrong became the church’s eighth pastor. Under Pastor Armstrong’s ministry the church was led to improve the facilities of the Midland Avenue property. In 1992 the church also purchased additional property next door to the church, on the Midland Ave side. The down stairs portion of this property now servedas the church parsonage and the upstairs unit once provided housing for a newly started family of the church. Pastor Armstrong’s tenure ended in June of 1996 as he accepted a call to the Glendale Baptist Church in Miami, Florida.
After Pastor Armstrong left Central for Glendale Baptist Church, Pastor Milton Kornegay became the Interim Pastor. He served in this position from August 1996 to April 1998. In May of 1998, Central Baptist Church called Pastor Kornegay as its ninth Pastor.
Pastor Kornegay has committed himself to “making disciples,” spending much time in small group as well as one-on-one discipleship. In addition, it has been his desire to raise the level of leadership in the church and challenge each member of Central to become all that God wants him or her to be. Therefore, he recommended in May of 1999 that Central called Matthew Watkins to serve as Associate Pastor. The church agreed and called Matthew Watkins to serve as Associate Pastor.
Pastor Watkins resigned in June, 2006 and the church called David Booher to serve as Associate Pastor (Youth – Church Ministries). Pastor Booher served until June 10, 2012 and resigned to take a similar position at another area church. Central Baptist then called William M. Payne to serve as Associate Pastor (Youth – Outreach/Discipleship). Pastor Payne began serving July 1, 2012.
Under the ministry of Pastor Kornegay, the Central Baptist has continued to grow. Pastor Kornegay enlisted his father-in-law (Pastor James Parker, Sr.) to start a Bible Institute at the church. The Central Baptist Bible Institute has been operating since 2005. Pastor Kornegay emphasizes expository preaching and teaching; he counsels extensively, and seeks to train God’s people to do the work of the ministry. Due to ministry growth Central Baptist relocated to its present location at 124 Alden St. Syracuse, NY on January 12, 2014.