Our History

The Newark Church of Christ

In 1936, six Christians from Pennsylvania came to Newark to live, but found no congregation of the Church of Christ at that time. Desiring to continue in the faith, they went to Jersey City to worship with the saints there. This group consisted of: Howard J. Johnson and wife, Earl Johnson and wife, Pearl Davis and Hattie Cannon.

About a year later, November 14, 1937, they began worshipping in Newark at 145 W. Market Street in the Cotton Funeral Home. They were under the direction of A. W. Hastings, minister of the Jersey City church, with Levi Kennedy who was the minister of the Harlem congregation at the time. On July 1, 1939, we moved to 27 Hartford Street, and the membership had increased to twelve. Due to the location, we desired to move and in December, 1942 we moved to 15th Avenue and Bedford Street. During this time, brother Hastings had to leave for the West and the work was left in the hands of brother Howard U. Johnson and brother Allan Jacobs. The membership grew to eighteen. Later brother A. C. Holt of Detroit, Michigan came quarterly and ministered to us.

In late 1943, we found a church building at 179 Court Street which was our meeting place for seventeen years. In 1944, we engaged a full-time minister, brother S. T. W. Gibbs, Sr., from Texas, with the assistance of the Manhattan Church of Christ until we became self- supporting. Our membership had increased to fifty-eight.

In 1948, we changed ministers, brother Owen Cathey of Chicago, Illinois became our minister. He labored with us for five years and the church increased to 105. Our next minister was brother Samuel Turrentine of Alabama. He served for years and the member ship grew to 120. In 1957, we engaged brother Aggie O’Bryant of this city to service as the minister. The membership increased to 150. On April 25, 1960, the down-payment was made for this present building, which was a tremendous step for us. Brother O’Bryant served until February 3, 1963.

We engaged brother Eugene Lawton from Terrel, Texas as minister of this congregation, beginning July 7, 1963. We have come a long way and the road is still ahead of us and there is much to do. We have a man at the front who is able to do all thing through Jesus Christ our Lord. On June 23, 1973, we started our first Radio Program for 30 minutes weekly on station WNJR. There have been over 2000 baptisms during his 31 year administration. The membership has increased to over 1300. In 1976, the mortgage on this building was paid off and we thank God for this achievement. In 1982, brother Leonard Bradly became our first full-time associate minister.

In 1977 central air condition was installed in the main and overflow auditoriums and some classrooms. In 1993, an elevator was installed in the building. The Lord blessed us to go on Cable Television in Jersey City on Sunday, April 3, 1994. This weekly, 30 minute program is very effective. In 1977, we baptized, 80 persons. In 1978, we baptized 146 persons, the highest number of baptisms in one year in the congregation history. We broke financial records, baptismal records, attendance records and love in action records. This is our annual baptism record: 1980 -115 baptisms; 1981 -124 baptisms; 1982 -88 baptisms; 1983 -68 baptisms; 1984 -113 baptisms; 1985 -60 baptisms; 1991 -93 baptisms; 1992 -94 baptisms; 1993 -81 baptisms; 1994 -70 baptisms; 1995 -104 baptisms, and 1996 -104 baptisms. We do not know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future.

The chartered members at Court Street were: Howard and Florence Johnson, Pearl Davis, Edward and Fay Mayo, Turner and Jesse Roberts, Inell Best, Arizona Greenlee, Essie Thorne, Lorena Brown, Allan Jacobs, Mary Sykes, Catherine Jones, Mattie Butler, Frank Johnson, Bessie Palmer, and Helen Johnson.