In 1854, the First Baptist Church of South Providence and Fifth Baptist Church joined to form Friendship Baptist Church. In 1897 the church relocated to its present location on Broad Street and changed its name to Calvary Baptist Church. There was always a mission emphasis and in the early 1900’s a large membership. A distinguishing feature was the closeness of personal relationships among the people.
In the first quarter of the 20th century, there was an increased understanding among the Baptist churches that those outside of the church needed help beyond preaching. Many churches developed Institutes, which provided services to the community. This was before there were many libraries, recreation or craft programs and other organized groups. Calvary did the most in this area and as a result people were drawn into the church building and eventually into the church itself.
In the 1960’s the growth of the church’s Outreach Program evolved into a full-fledged independent agency, South Providence Neighborhood Ministries. It is a Neighborhood Action Program of National Ministries, American Baptist Churches USA and is supported by Calvary and many other churches. It is housed in the lower level of the church.
A new influx of members came in 1968 when South Baptist Church burned and the members joined with Calvary. Over the past few decades African Americans and Burmese joined the church, followed by the welcoming of Hmong from Laos, West Africans, Haitians, Hispanics and others making Calvary today a truly multicultural and multiracial congregation. Iglesia Hispana el Calvario began in 1974 and continues to share the facilities.
Calvary Baptist Church is a member of the American Baptist Churches of Rhode Island, American Baptist Churches USA, the Rhode Island State Council of Churches and the Rhode Island Organizing Project.
Since 1897 there have been eight pastors and three interim pastors who have served.