Eighty one years ago, the Union Baptist Church was organized through the merger of two parishes in the City of Passaic, New Jersey. The Ebenezer Baptist Church located at 315 Oak Street and the Greater St. Paul Baptist Church April 4, 1936 at 8:30 pm.
The Rev. L. K. Jackson from Ebenezer Baptist Church and the Rev. W.L. James from Greater St. Paul Baptist Church rendered their resignations as pastors two months prior to April 4, 1936. At that time the total combined membership consisted of approximately two hundred. The two churches met at 315 Oak Street with a permanent council. The council consisted of pastors from two associations; the New Hope Missionary Baptist Association and the North Jersey District Missionary Baptist Association. Rev. Dr. C.P.Harris, Pastor of the Mt. Ararat Baptist Church, Rutherford, NJ, was chosen as chairman to preside over the meeting with Rev. James H. Penn as secretary. Rev. Harris declared the meeting open for business. A motion prevailed that the churches would be governed by the ruling of the council.
The Chairman then called for the minutes from each church, which were read and approved by the council. It was motioned by Rev. M.A. Swann and seconded by Rev. W. H. Culbreath that we would proceed to organize a church. The chairman explained the consistency of a Missionary Baptist Church. Being without a leader, the following officers were elected: Bro. Clarence Glover; Chairman Board of Deacons, Bro. Thomas Harvey; Chairman, Board of Trustees, Bro. Lucius Walker, Church Clerk, Bro. Edward Glover, Treasurer, Bro. H.M. Napier, Sunday School Superintendent, Sis. Mollie Walker, President of Missionary Circle, Sis. Jane Johnson, President of Usher Board, and Sis. Daisy Glover, President of Choir. It was motioned and carried that the church name would be the Union Baptist Church. The new Union Baptist Church then assumed the responsibilities of the Ebenezer Baptist Church.
In September 1936, the Rev. O.D. Henry from Buffalo, New York accepted the church's call to the pastorate. Along with his dutiful wife, Rebecca at his side, he pastured from 1936 to 1942 and they were held in high esteem by the entire Passaic community. The church grew rapidly and the membership increased from one hundred and fifty to approximately five hundred. He opened up many doors for the black community in his quest for civil rights. After six years of service, Rev. O.D. Henry resigned as pastor.
From June 1942 to November 1943, the church was without a pastor. However, services were still held and God continued to bless and watch over the church. During this period, under Professor Jack Hamilton's expert directorship of the choir and with Mrs. Marjorie (Jackson) Shropshire lending her talents as organist, they kept Union out of financial depression by giving concerts with the choir, guest choirs and singers from all over the country. The church was able to build a Baptistery, a kitchen and choir room in addition to paying off its obligations and starting a bank account.
In November 1943, Union Baptist Church extended a call to the Rev. Theodore Haskins Alexander along with his lovely wife, Mrs. Mable Alexander. His ministry began at the Bethlehem Baptist Church, Newark, NJ. in September 1935 as an assistant to Rev. S.A. Wilson. After serving for one year, he was called to the Antioch Baptist Church of Newark, NJ, in 1936. After completing two successful years there, he was called to the Second Baptist Church of Keyport, NJ, in 1938. While there, he labored untiringly doing great work in religious and civic groups.
At the time of his call, worship was still being held at 315 Oak Street. The church was in need of renovation and under his leadership, a magnificent edifice was restored at a cost of $25,000.00. In addition to the beautiful structure, the interior was beautified and modernized at a cost of approximately $9,500.00. The church also purchased a parsonage and two other properties. During his pastorate many auxiliaries were organized. The membership increased tremendously and the church grew both spiritually and financially stronger.
After holding services at 315 Oak Street for twenty-eight years, Union purchased the Northside Christian Reformed Church and parsonage at 219 and 221 Myrtle Ave. at a cost of $110,000.00. The church was occupied on September 27, 1964 with a congregational march on that Sunday morning from 315 Oak Street. There, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held and the congregation entered the church and the first worship service began, giving glory and honor to God for all of his goodness
There were many deacons, deaconess and trustees that served under the leadership of Rev. Alexander. Deaconess Marjorie Shropshire served as church organist over forty eight years, Mother Mollie Walker and Mother Harvey were recognized as Mothers of the Year, just to name a few. Our youth were kept busy with positive role models leading them. They went to conventions with the Sunday School and went on bus rides to Twin City Skating Rink. In 1974 in a newspaper article, The Herald news quoted Rev. Alexander as saying, "religion helps us to be fair and concerned about others as well as ourselves, Our children are not our church of tomorrow, they are our church of today. We must do all in our power to hold onto them."
Seven ministers were ordained from the Union Baptist Church membership namely, Rev. Lucius Walker, St. Paul Baptist Church, Passaic, NJ, Rev. Freddie Roberson, Christ Temple Baptist Church, Paterson, NJ, Rev. Frank England, Second Timothy Baptist Church, Passaic, NJ, Rev. Ronald Durham, Anderson, NJ, Rev. Henry Carter, Union Baptist Church, Kenilworth, NJ, Rev. Hugh M. Napier, Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Passaic, NJ and Rev. Lucius Phillips, Jerusalem Baptist Church, Trenton, NJ.
In October 1982, Rev. Alexander retired and became pastor emeritus. He was honored with an Appreciation Service on March 27, 1983. On July 15, 1983 God called Pastor Alexander from labor to reward, leaving to mourn his loss, his wife, Mrs. Mable Alexander, family, friends and the Union Baptist Church family. The home going celebration was held on July 18, 1983 with the eulogy rendered by the Rev. Dr. R.A. Laws, Pastor of Mt. Lebanon Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY and the Rev. Dr. A.M. Tyler, Pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church, Paterson, NJ. His memory will always live on for his service to God and mankind.
Once again, Union Baptist was without a pastor. Under the leadership of Deacon Ned B. Wright and the official family. Union remained steadfast and continued God's work. "We walk by Faith".
After a careful search and much prayer, the church extended a call to Dr. Ronald W. Johnson, who began his pastorate at Union on February 3, 1985. Dr. Johnson came to Union from the Jones Memorial Baptist Church of Philadelphia where he pastured for eight rewarding years. He brought to Union his wife, Myrtle Alice, and his young son, Craig Noel. Dr. Johnson is a product of the Elizabeth New Jersey Public School System.
Many auxiliaries were added, the Deacons and Deaconess Boards increased. Union now have women on the Trustee Board, a first in the history of Union. In the music department, the late Mrs. Garcia Alston was the Minister of Music and Gary Hutchinson assistant minister of music, Jackie (Williamson) Webb-Ferguson the director of the choir. After God called Sis. Alston home in 2002, Craig Johnson became Minister of Music. Also added under the leadership of Rev. Johnson, the Leaders Council, New Members Committee, Board of Christian Education, Prayer band, Male Ushers, Hospitality Ministry, Tape Ministry, Camp Union, Dorcas Missionary, Office Secretary, Youth Advisory Board, Wednesday Bible Study, Male Chorus, Youth and Adult Praise Dancers, The Praise Team, and a Food Pantry. Thanksgiving dinners were provided and also the Annual Angel Project Tree providing Christmas and Christ to the children of incarcerated parents. Three Associate Ministers were added, Rev. Gloria Killings, the late Rev. Conrad Jackson and Minister Robert Walker.
In 2002, the renovation of our church was started. Mylar and Company of New York was hired to do the work. A new front was added, the building was bricked, they moved the front of the church closer to the street and allowed us to go up and down the stairs with a new entrance, improved the roof, installed a elevator in the front of the building, a ladies and gentlemen rest rooms was installed in the front of the church. A tape ministry room and Deacon's room was also installed. The sanctuary was completely renovated, Central Air Conditioning installed, modernized restrooms and the Pastor's study. A Secretary's office was built and equipped with the latest office equipment. A food pantry was built. Improvements were on the Summer Street and Myrtle Avenue properties and also the church parsonage. We purchased two church vans, and installed a new parking lot.
The Cornerstone was laid March 29, 1987.
October 31, 2010 Rev. Johnson retired as Pastor. He served 25 fruitful years as under shepherd. On Friday, November 12, 2010 he answered the divine call of our Savior and went home to get his reward. He leaves to cherish his life, his devoted wife, Myrtle Alice, his son and daughter, Craig and Samantha; his twin grandsons, Joshua Craig and Jayden Ronald; a host of family, friends and Union Baptist Church Family.
Saturday, May 21, 2011 the block of Myrtle Avenue corner of Burgess Place to Summer Street was dedicated in honor of Rev. Johnson, naming it REV. DR. RONALD W. JOHNSON WAY.
Today, we are blessed to have four founders of Union still with us; Sister Lorraine McClain, Missionary Carrie Walker, Trustee Edward Generals and Brother Harry Johnson. UNION BAPTIST IS A BLESSED CHURCH!!!...."TO GOD BE THE GLORY!!"
The Historical history today of Union Baptist Church is far more than a building. It stands as a beacon of light that reaches from earth to heaven. We hear the voices of praise from our forefathers and mothers. Since the inception in 1936, the Lord God touched the hearts of the people in Passaic to build Him a house of worship. A church built on the foundation of Unity in Jesus Christ for seventy seven years.
Today, at Union Baptist Church our motto is "Unity @ Union", with a mission of "Building Lives through Biblical Principles" and our vision statement is that "We believe Unity @ Union is our Christian mandate. We strive in all of our endeavors to proclaim the Gospel of Christ, Promote the Cross of Christ, and Portray the Love of Christ. Ephesians 4:1-16.
For generations it has been a church of loving, faithful people. From our earliest beginnings with 150 members in 1936 on 315 Oak Street to our present day membership at 221 Myrtle Avenue, God has always been faithful to Union Baptist Church.
As we embark into our future we will remain faithful to our God, the memories of those who came together for worship on April 4, 1936, the journey God has blessed the Union Baptist Church family with three former Pastors; the late Rev. O.D. Henry, 1936 to 1942; the late Rev. Theodore Haskins Alexander, 1943 to 1983; and the late Rev. Ronald Walter Johnson, D.D., 1985 to 2010.
Once again Union Baptist Church was without a Pastor, but remained faithful to the spreading of the Gospel of Christ for generations to come. Through our journey, together we have experienced many new beginnings and survived many challenges, yet we remained unified and committed to Christ. The pulpit committee sought a prospective pastor to recommend to the membership. After a careful search and much prayer, in December 2012 the church extended a call to Rev. Kortney L. Haigler.
Rev. Haigler accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior at a very young age. He began using his gifts in the ministry at the age of nine. November 1999, Rev. Haigler affirmed his call to labor for the Kingdom of God. He was licensed to preach the Gospel on August 6, 2000 at the age of twenty years old. Through it all he realize that "for many are called but few are chosen" (Matt: 22:14) he was ordained into the ministry on November 19, 2006.
On Sunday, April 28, 2013 Reverend Kortney L. Haigler was installed as the fourth Pastor of Union Baptist Church along with his family and wife, First Lady Sabrina Haigler. As the Shepherd/Teacher for Union, Rev. Haigler was serving at the Grace Chapel Baptist Church in Paterson as an Associate Pastor under the leadership of Pastor Gregory L. Wilson. He has served and labored as an Associate Minister, Musical Administrator, coordinator of Worship and Word Service and the initiator of the Youth Explosion Ministry for the Mount Olive Baptist Church in Jersey City. He also served as the Youth Pastor of the Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Jersey City, NJ. Reverend Haigler was called and accepted the call into Pastoral Ministry of the Victory Baptist Church in Camden, NJ. in January of 2010.
Since his call to pastorate at Union, Rev. Haigler has taken in over seventy-five new members, baptized at least twenty-five candidates, his vision was to develop a Multi-Purpose Computer Lab which has been established, he incorporated a Covenant Prayer Partner Ministry, a Ministry Development Workshop, he rebuilt the Youth Ministry, Men's Ministry, Sunday School, he also incorporated a Public Relations Ministry, developed a Youth Outreach Sunday called "Youth Explosion", trained two new trustees, and installed Rev. Gloria Killings as Dean of Ministries.
With these accomplishments added under the leadership of our new Shepherd/Teacher, Rev. Kortney L. Haigler, has cast a vision during the month of September 2013, that Union Baptist Church will embark into the future with a "New Vision". Union will be launching a new journey with a new
recreated Church Website, a Church Prayer Line, a Voice/Tele-Broadcasting system and the launching of a new Facebook page to stay connected to the cyber world. Pastor Haigler is "Casting the Vision".
During September 25th thru September 29th, 2013, Union will be having a Revival Service and Re-Dedication Ceremony marking forty-nine years since the congregation entered the Union Baptist Church at 221 Myrtle Ave. Passaic, NJ and held its first worship service on September 27th, 1964.
As we Re-Dedicate our lives, and the Ministry of the Union Baptist Church to the God of our Salvation, we move forward united in Christ with a Godly Mission and Mandate to serve our Lord and the Community at large.