Church History

When Erskine Dodson received the "Call of God" in his life for missions the only thing he knew at that point was that he had a burden for people.  He discerned that God wanted him to study at the Empire State Baptist Seminary for the ministry.  

It was while still a student, during his junior year, that God impressed upon his heart using Matthew 28:19 to move into the City of Syracuse.  His heart was burdened and he saw a need for a Bible teaching, preaching Baptist church with a born again membership in Syracuse.

On October 13, 1979 the first bible study was conducted at Montgomery Street Center.  One teenager from the community attended.  After two years of consistently teaching, only one person, Sister Essie Jackson, had committed her life to Christ and to this new ministry.  People would come and go but only one was committed at this time.  This caused a period of great discouragement with much temptation for Erskine Dodson to quit.  He told God in much tears that he could not go on and that it was too hard.  God dealt with him in his study that afternoon and reminded him that he was to sow the seed, water it, and trust God to bring forth the increase.  Taking new courage in the Lord, that following week God sent five more individuals into his life who desired the Word of God.   They got saved and were added to the fellowship and a Tuesday night Bible study was instituted in the house of Carmella Stokes.

God began to send families to the bible study who lived on the same street as Pastor and Sister Dodson.  Within a year after the experience in his study, God had saved and added to the fellowship several more people.  On February 13, 1983  they organized into the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church with 13 charter members.

The ministry moved from the community centers to the living room of the Dodson's house, then to their garage, into the Syracuse Hill Apartment's community center and finally to PEACE's Eastside Center  God was still adding individuals and families to the church and within a few years, the membership had more than tripled.     

On Easter Sunday morning of 1988 was the ground breaking ceremony for the church building.  That same week, the Church Builders Committee of Baptist Missions of North America began construction on Sovereign Grace Baptist Church.  On Christmas day, December 25, 1988 the first worship service was conducted in the new building.

On January 11, 1992, at the annual business meeting, Sovereign Grace Baptist Church took a step of faith and voted to become a fully self-supporting local church.

Erskine Dodson left Sovereign Grace in 1999  to accept a teaching position at  Crossroads Bible College in Indianapolis, Indiana. 

The next pastor was Anthony  McGraw.  Pastor McGraw served between 2001 - 2003. During his tenure improvements were made to the property and a much needed boiler was installed.   Pastor McGraw resigned and various men were used to supply the pulpit.   

From 2004 - 2005.  Brother David Berry, a minister licensed and recommended by Central Baptist Church supplied the pulpit. 

The next man to pastor Sovereign Grace was  Charles McGowan.   Between 2005 and 2006 Pastor McGowan lead the church to do a great outreach into the community surrounding the church. 

The next man to fill the pulpit was James Parker who was recommended by Central Baptist Church.  Pastor Parker served for the next seven years, from 2006 to 2013.  During this time, Sovereign Grace paid off the mortgage and became debt free.


In 2013 Brother Steven Burch was recommended by North Syracuse Baptist Church to supply the pulpit until the first Sunday in June 2016. 


In June 2016, the Lord called the Rev. James Mathis Jr. to begin serving as the Senior Pastor of Sovereign Grace Baptist Church, where he currently strives to shepherd God's people with Christ at the center.

WE ARE BUILDING Together As Christ Transforms our Lives 

Luke 6:46-49