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Dedication ceremony held to commemorate Community Baptist Church’s home at historic building

Community Baptist Church in Northville now officially owns the 117-year-old church building on Sound Avenue where it’s been meeting for the past decade, and congregation members held a dedication ceremony for the building last Sunday.

The church bought the historic building in April from the Long Island Buddhist Medication Center across the street for $260,000, according to Pastor Andrew Montoro of Community Baptist Church. 

They had been leasing the Sound Avenue church since Oct. 3, 2010, and finally purchased it this year, according to Pastor Montoro. Between leasing and owning, Sunday marked 10 years in that location for Community Baptist Church.

The church and Buddhist Center buildings were both officially designated Riverhead Town landmarks in 1981 and both are part of the Sound Avenue Historic and Scenic Corridor adopted in 1975, according to Richard Wines, chairman of the town’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. 

He said the property initially had another church on it that was built in 1859 and destroyed by fire, having been burned down by its pastor at the time. 

Another church was built there around 1880 but it was hit by lightning in 1901 and also burned down. 

In 1903, Mr. Wines said, construction began on a new building, which is the one that remains today. 

It operated at Sound Avenue Congregational Church for many years, according to Mr. Wines, who said his mother went to that church. 

The Buddhist Center building was built in 1831 as a church. It later became a school and them became known as The Grange, a social group for farmers as well as a farmers’ cooperative that operated from about 1910 until 2000, Mr. Wines said.

It was purchased by the Buddhist Center in 2017. 

Pastor Montoro, 27, grew up as the son of a pastor in New York City and began preaching at an early age. He was a pastor for four years at Open Door Bible Baptist Church in Astoria before taking over at Community Baptist in June 2019. 

The church now has between 20 and 30 members, but that wasn’t initially the case. 

“The church was actually about to close last summer when we were down to about five people,” Pastor Montoro said. “They were without a pastor when I came here, and since then we’ve been seeing some of the older members coming back and we’ve seen some new people start coming, so it’s been exciting.”

“I’ve been coming here since last November when I met Pastor Montoro,” said congregation member Louise Wilkinson of Riverhead. “It reminds me of my childhood church.”