History of Our Church
1895 a group of 35 people known as the “The Little Prayer Band” began meeting in the home of Mack Jackson on West South Orange Avenue, in the Village of South Orange for the purpose of lifting their voices in praise to God.
Group seeks larger facility located the Old Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Home, located middle block between Valley Street and Sloan Street in South Orange.
1898 – The Reverend Albert Edward installed as ministry of The Prayer Band.
1898 – Name changed to “The First Baptist Church of South Orange.”
1899 – Church is formally organized and becomes recognized as an established body of believers.
1904 – The Reverend Spruell is installed as pastor.
1905 – The Reverend John Frank Tunston served as pastor.
1906 – The Reverend J.S. Bolden is installed as pastor.
1908 – On July 13, 1908, property at 103 Valley Street is deeded to the First Baptist Church for the sum of $1 property.
1913 – The Reverend James Daniel Cosby is installed as pastor.
1913 – Mortgage is lifted. Church is dedicated November 24th.
1928 The Reverend John Askew is installed as pastor. was called as pastor in 1928. His services lasted until 1931.
The Reverend Sydney Smith and The Reverend G.W. Long at age 26. He entered Hampton College at age 14. After two years, he transferred to Howard University where after five years he graduated with an A.M.A. degree.
1931 – The Reverend John Ellison is installed as pastor. He later served as president of Virginia University in Richmond, VA.
1934 – The Reverend George Gunther was installed as pastor.
1943 – The Reverend John Wesley Nance is installed as pastor.
1945 – The Reverend Leon H. Sullivan as installed as pastor at age 23.
Reverend Sullivan was a young dynamic and fearless leader. His youth and vitality attracted hundreds of people to its doors. Reverend Sullivan was elected president of the 1940’s “National March on Washington” movement. He was involved in speeches and marches for civil rights throughout Harlem, New York. Originally from West Virginia, Reverend Sullivan left New Abyssinia Baptist Church, NY to pastor the First Baptist Church. Reverend Sullivan challenged the status quo and brought awareness to unfair disparities in town. He is accredited for his many accomplishments in Civil Rights including successful tie ends with TasteCake in Philadelphia and a primary contributor and strategist in the Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott and the ending of Apartheid in South Africa.
1951 – The Reverend Edgar G. Thomas is installed as pastor.
1951 – Church Constitution created and instituted.
1986 – The Reverend Earl Middleton is installed as pastor.
1989 – Chris Northington is installed as pastor.
1994 – The Reverend Earl Middleton is installed as pastor.
1991-1998 From 1991 through 1998 several interim pastors served the First Baptist Church; The Reverend Ercel Webb. The Reverend Earl Thurmond.
1995 – The Reverend James Motle serves as interim pastor.
1997 – present In February 1997, the church called The Reverend Doctor Terry Richardson to serve as its next pastor. Under his leadership, over 1,400 persons have joined. The church has added two additional Sunday worship services, purchased additional properties, and developed mission and vision statements. With a passion to make and develop disciple for Christ, Reverend Richardson has reestablished a focus on community outreach and living out the gospel among humanity. The conviction to impact lives had given First Baptist a visible presence within South Orange and surrounding communities. The impact of First Baptist has grown internationally. First Baptist has taken the lead in building and supplying wells, schools, and libraries in third world nations under Reverend Richardson’s leadership. The church’s first foreign evangelism and medical missionary to trips to Ghana Africa and the adoption of a village has occurred under Reverend Richardson’s leadership. Local food programs and services for domestic violence victims, incarcerated youth, and the outreach support of local charities with the spread of the Gospel has been imbedded in the fabric of the church.