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Vermont Avenue Baptist Church was formed as the Fifth Street Baptist Church in 1866 by a group of men and women who had been attending Nineteenth Street Baptist Church. They were led by Reverend John H. Brooks, who served as pastor from 1866 until 1884. Brooks, trained as a blacksmith and shoemaker, first led services at various private homes. The church secured the present site on Vermont Avenue and erected a small wooden building. The cornerstone for a new brick building was laid in 1872. From 1885 until 1910, Reverend George Wellington Lee led the church, greatly expanding the congregation. The church officially took its current name in 1890. In the 20th century it was very active in mission work in South Africa. The Vermont Avenue Baptist Church of Zululand was dedicated outside of Durban, South Africa, in 1979.

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