The Siloam Presbyterian Church was founded in 1849 under the leadership of the Reverend Mister James A. Gloucester, a former slave. In 1849, Rev. Gloucester obtained permission from Presbytery to organize his religious Society into a church, thenceforth to be known as the Siloam Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn. For at least two years prior to that, the group led by Rev. Gloucester had been holding religious services as a mission under the supervision of the New School branch of the presbytery. In resistance to slavery, Siloam participated vigorously in the Underground Railroad, and escaped slaves were provided food, clothing, and refuge. It is a matter of record that John Brown stopped by on his way to Harper's Ferry and an offering of approximately twenty-five dollars, ($425.00) was raised for him to continue his work.
In the late nineteenth century, the church's Literary Union played a major role in improving civil rights for African Americans. Although it was organized at Siloam and held its meetings there, its ranks included many outside the church membership. The Literary Union successfully waged a campaign against segregation in the public school system, fought for the appointment of qualified Black school teachers, and labored to create sentiment for the passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U. S. Constitution.
Siloam continued to make progress under each of its eleven pastors. Siloam moved to its current location from Lafayette Avenue in 1944 under the tenure of Rev. George Shippen Stark. Stark served for twenty-seven years until his sudden death in November of 1947. By buying the Central Presbyterian Church building, Siloam moved closer to the growing African American population in Brooklyn that had been spreading eastward toward upper Broadway and southward toward Eastern Parkway. The militant contest for educational equality and human dignity in the late 1960s assumed a national dimension and Siloam Presbyterian Church played a large role, under the leadership of The Rev. Dr. Milton A. Galamison.
Rev. Eric A. Thomas, our Interim Pastor has the double-distinction of being the first pastor ordained in the long history of Siloam, and its first openly same-gender loving pastor. Rev. Thomas has been able to lead Siloam to a more secure financial footing, including the completion of some much-needed building repairs from the roof to the basement. In support of Siloam’s mission to support youth/young people, he has welcomed community partners including the Park Slope Soccer Club, Bed Stuy Kids (daycare) to maximize the use of the church’s parish house. New ministries have been established, including the Dorcas Outreach to feed the homeless (alongside our existing “Meet Your Neighbors” breakfast, Your Body is a Temple health and feeding ministry, and weekly Food Pantry). Outreach through the worship arts currently includes Good Friday – Seven Last Words of Jesus from the Cross worship – featuring all-women preachers with jazz interludes, Jazz and Social Justice worship services in partnership with Bedford Central PC, Lafayette Avenue PC, and First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, and commemorations of Martin Luther King Sunday with the Psi Lambda Omega chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, incorporated, and World AIDS Day in partnership with GMAD (Gay Men of African Descent) and TFAM (the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries).
Although the coronavirus pandemic has caused the membership to worship online through Zoom, Siloam remains spiritually rooted and grounded by the grace of God, even though we are temporarily separated physically. Our sanctuary continues to bear witness to the resurrection as we partner with Cory J. Vaughn-Daniel Funeral Directors and Brooklyn families without church homes to offer worship space for COVID-related home-going services. We are confident that God will guide us into our future, and that neither pandemics, nor protests, nor politics will deter Siloam from being representatives of God’s justice, peace, and love.
PASTORS OF SILOAM PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH
James A. Gloucester 1849-1851
Amos N. Freeman 1852-1860
C.H. Thompson 1860-1863
W.H. Dickerson 1886-1887 (Stated Supply)
W.H. Dickerson 1887-1892 (Installed)
W.R. Lawton 1892-1895
William Alexander 1896-1915
J.E. Harper 1915-1917 (Stated Supply)
J.E. Harper 1917-1919 (Installed)
George Shippen Stark 1919-1947
Milton A. Galamison 1948-1988
Sylvester L. Shannon 1990-2001
Darryl H. Young- 2004-2013
Eric A. Thomas- 2017- Present (Ordained)