Chambers Memorial Baptist Church
"Before we renovate the community we must renovate the people"

About Us

2nd Oldest Church in East Harlem

Chambers Memorial Baptist Church was established in 1882 with the name Carmel Baptist Church. As the congregation grew the church itself was built in 1890 with a four story parish house next to it. The name was then changed to Harlem Baptist Church. The origin of people during that period was predominantly German.

In 1903 the late Reverend Adam Chambers became the Pastor where he served for 18 years. Rev. Chambers made the 1st level of the church a gymnasium; it was the first church in the city to have a gym. Rev. Chambers retired in 1921. In 1934 the name was changed in memory of their beloved Pastor to Chambers Memorial Baptist Church and has since kept the name. In the 1920’s African Americans and Latinos began to move into Harlem and into Chambers.

In 1958 Rev. Melvin E. Schoonover became the Pastor. He was disabled and wheel chair bound. Rev. Schoonover was much loved among the people; he had the heart of a true servant. One of our long time members remembers him visiting people’s homes where there was no elevator and him with no assistance bouncing up the steps leaving his wheel chair on the ground level just to bless a soul. He had a ramp built on the entry of the right side of the church which paved the way for many others with disabilities; and has been an asset today over 50 years later where we utilize it for our food pantry program.

In 1965 Rev. Ivy J. Cockerham became the first African American Pastor of Chambers Memorial Baptist Church. Rev. Cockerham also known as Doon to most people was a great Pastor, family man, extremely intelligent, friend, dancer, and cook, Bishop Edgerton says “he taught me how to make spaghetti”. Rev. Cockerham served for 26 years at Chambers among his many contributions God used him to deter gangs from violence. He is truly missed but will always be remembered.

Bishop Lawrence E. Edgerton Sr. was recommended to be the Assistant Pastor by Rev. Cockerham first and was so honored because some ministers are recommended by the congregation first then to the Pastor. In 1986 he was installed as the Assistant Pastor. In 1991 Bishop Edgerton was ordained as Pastor of C.M.B.C. He knew his work was cut out for him; the church and its people were in desperate need of renovation. He came in with a love for God spending countless hours everyday preaching and teaching salvation. The rumor was that the church was going to be condemned and needed to be torn down, Bishop Edgerton made that Devil a liar. Under his leadership a chair lift was installed, new windows put in, the leaking roof was replaced, the dark abandoned building was brought to light with beautiful chandeliers, marble floors, and wall to wall mirrors just to name a few, not to mention lives are being changed. For the past 20 years Bishop Edgerton has been serving as Pastor and continues the legacy of serving the community, especially its youth.

Chambers Memorial Baptist Church  219 East 123rd St.  New York, NY 10035-2021   (347) 600-9820  Email Us

Pastors of Chambers Memorial Baptist Church

1882 - 1887 Reverend Lewis Tyler (Founder)

1888 - 1892 Reverend Napper H. Hester

1903 - 1921 Reverend Dr. Adam Chambers

1937 - Reverend Dr. Addison B. Lorimer

1947 - 1956 Reverend Harry Stevenson

1956 - 1958 Reverend Jim Bartlett

1958 - 1968 Reverend Melvin E. Schoonover

1965 - 1991 Reverend Ivy J. Cockerham

1991 - Present Bishop Lawrence E. Edgerton Sr.



Elevator – Raising $100,000 to help seniors and the disabled

Soup Kitchen – Raising $50,000 to build a kitchen, ventilation system, equipment and furniture. Bless someone with a hot meal we need your support to bring it back!


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