Who We AreLearn More About Historic First Church
At historic first church, you are shown the uncconditional love of Jesus christ the moment you hit the door. We are a diverse tapestry of imperfect people who don't claim to have all the answers but enjoy growing together and encouraging each other in our walk. We’d love to learn from you as well. We have genuinely kind greeters to provide helpful information and make sure you’re comfortable. Please feel free to come a little early before service for coffee, tea, doughnuts, and enjoyable conversation.
To have a diverse and inclusive church that serves the Crown Heights community and retains the multicultural worship experience of the Azusa Street Revival.
That Revival is where Pentecostalism was born in 1906 (Los Angeles). It's also where people of all races and walks of life came together to celebrate God's goodness under the power of the Holy Spirit--much like the multicultural Day of Pentecost in Acts 2: 1-12.
Our Core Values
We value maintaining a safe space for all people to receive spiritual and emotional support as well as healing and recovery.
We value and celebrate the diverse gifts of all people encouraging one other to use our gifts for the glory of God.
We value the power of the Holy Spirit for personal salvation, healing, and social progress.
We value the power of individual and corporate prayer.
Commission of jesus
We value the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19 which joyfully commits us to discipleship and community outreach.
We value integrity in our daily walk.
We value compassion toward all people.
We value working toward social justice and equality as Jesus did while knowing the difference between social justice initiatives and community outreach.
We value maintaining a strong sense of humilty rooted in love while serving all individuals.
We value not taking ourselves too seriously, having fun, and enjoying one another in fellowship.
Pastor Joseph D. Clemmons, Jr.Sr. Pastor
Reverend Clemmons graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.A. degree in Marketing and Communications. After years of success in the corporate world, while pursuing music and screenwriting, Rev. Clemmons decided to answer his call to ministry. While serving in the ministry of West Angeles Church of God in Christ in Los Angeles, he met his wife Mary who also has a heart for serving people.
In 2015, Joseph and Mary relocated to Brooklyn to begin serving at HFC while Rev. Clemmons studied at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. After graduating with a Master of Divinity degree in Transformative Leadership, Rev. Clemmons continued to serve at HFC as Executive Pastor until his pastoral installation 2019. He has submitted his doctoral dissertation at Colgate Rochester Crozier Divinity School with an emphasis on multicultural community engagement.
Pastor Clemmons’ vision for a holistic ministry that integrates discipleship, parishioner support, fellowship, community outreach, and evangelism has taken form in an exciting way. Though the pandemic brought challenges, it has also forced HFC to embrace new ministerial opportunities within the congregation and in the Crown Heights, Brooklyn community. With the help of the Lord and partnering parishioners, Pastor Clemmons and Lady Mary have led HFC to be a loving, inclusive church that enjoys serving people of all races and walks of life. By God’s grace, HFC continues to grow under Pastor Clemmons’ leadership as he emphasizes spiritual health and growth in his preaching and pastoral care. He is a loving husband and father of three adult children, Ajenai Adeyeye (married to Peter Adeyeye), Danielle Vaughan (married to Jeremy Vaughan with their 6-year old son, London), and Joseph Clemmons, III (engaged to Joanna Fletcher).
The Historic First Church of God in Christ has a rich history dating back to 1921 in Brooklyn, New York. Below is a summary.
1. Foundation and Early Years: The church's origins trace back to prayer meetings held in the home of Frank and Polly Clemmons on Bergen St. in Brooklyn in 1921. These meetings grew rapidly as people were saved under the power of the Holy Spirit.
2. Growth and Community Service: The prayer meetings eventually outgrew the Clemmons' home, so the congregation rented a space on Rochester and Dean St. and adopted the name "Brooklyn #1." The church served as a mission center, assisting transplanted Blacks who had recently migrated from the South, a situation the Clemmons themselves could relate to since they had recently migrated from North Carolina.
3. Connection to Azusa Street Revival: Frank Clemmons became well-known in New York City as a dynamic preacher and a friend of Charles Mason, the Presiding Bishop and Founder of the Church of God in Christ and a leader in the Azusa Street Revival. Frank Clemmons helped reconnect Charles Mason with William J. Seymour, the leader of the Azusa Street Revival, after they had lost contact.
4. Expansion and Renaming: In 1939, Brooklyn #1 purchased a bus garage, transformed it into a beautiful church, and renamed itself First Church of God in Christ of Brooklyn, NY, Inc. The church continued to grow and serve the community by meeting various needs, including clothing, food, and financial support.
5. Civil Rights Movement: The church played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement, with its leaders using the church as an information and strategy center to inform the Black community and recruit demonstrators for campaigns aimed at promoting civil rights and economic justice.
6. Leadership Transitions: Elder Frank Clemmons was consecrated as Bishop in the First Jurisdiction of Eastern New York in 1959. He later called his eldest son, Ithiel, to co-pastor the church with a new vision. Ithiel Clemmons succeeded his father and was followed by his brother, Rev. Dr. Joseph Clemmons, Sr., who continued the legacy of dynamic preaching and pastoral care.
7. Present Leadership: In 2019, Joseph Clemmons, Jr., the son of Rev. Dr. Joseph Clemmons, Sr., was voted in by the congregation as pastor and continues the church's mission of meeting community needs with the love of Jesus Christ.
Throughout its history, the church has remained committed to serving the community and promoting social justice, carrying forward the spirit of its founders and leaders. Today, the church's mission remains centered on demonstrating unconditional love to all people, just as it did when serving marginalized migrants in the early 20th century.
Glimpses of Former Leaders
The Early Years
The church's origins trace back to prayer meetings held in the home of Frank and Polly Clemmons on Bergen St. in Brooklyn in 1921. These meetings grew rapidly as people were saved under the power of the Holy Spirit. Soon the meeting became too large to be held in the Bergen St. apartment. These migrants from the South pooled their resources and rented a storefront on the corner of Rochestor and Dean St. in Crown Heights until they were able to purchase their own building.
Expansion and Renaming
In 1939, Brooklyn #1 purchased a bus garage, transformed it into a beautiful church, and renamed itself First Church of God in Christ of Brooklyn, NY, Inc. The church continued to grow and serve the community by meeting resident's needs including clothing, food, children's school after school tutoring, and financial support.
In 2019, Joseph Clemmons, II, the son of Rev. Dr. Joseph Clemmons, Sr., was voted in by the congregation as pastor and continues the church's mission of meeting community needs with the love of Jesus Christ.