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General Index

Our History

A synopsis of the history of Metropolitan Baptist Church

Forging the Foundation

On January 20, 1938 a small group of persons met at the home of Deacon and Mrs. Fred O’Bryant at 31 Prince Street, filled with the determination to grow spiritually and a need for peaceful worship, they created what is now known as Metropolitan Baptist Church (MBC).  

On January 23, 1938 a total of 142 persons were present for the first service, held at 123 Prince Street - the first home for the new congregation; the sermon was delivered by the Reverend W. A. McCloud. 

During the early stages of organizing the church, “Mt. Moriah Mission” was selected as the name for the group until a permanent charter was approved.  An official board was set up with Deacon Fred O’Bryant as the Chairman of the Deacon’s Board, Financial Secretary, Deacon Jeremiah Smith; Treasurer, Deacon Oscar Wilson, other Deacons were William Sims, John Smith, Clinton Israel, James Dargon and Mannie Shipman.  Chairman of the Trustee Board Cleveland O’Bryant and other elected Trustees were William Harrison, Charles Helm, Levy Standford, Samuel Smith, John Washington, Jasper Slaughter, John Magwood, Solomon Williams and John Wynn.

May 11, 1938 at 11:00am a down-payment was made towards the purchase of 32-34 Prince Street.

June 3, 1938, 22 members of the Permanent Council of the North Jersey Baptist Association met at 123 Prince Street and the “Mt. Moriah Mission” was renamed Metropolitan Baptist Church.

Commitment to ministry

Metropolitan developed various organizations within the church such as “The Big Wheel”, lead by Deacon Fred O’Bryant, Sunday School, Deacon James L. Dargon, Superintendent, W.M.W., Mrs. Mary Parker, President, B.T.U. Mrs. Alma Slaughter President, Deaconess Board, Mrs. Lulu Smith, President, Women’s Home Missionary Society, Mrs. Hattie Mitchell, President, Male Ushers, Trustee Charles Helms, President, Female Ushers, Mrs. Bazzie L. Ford, President, Senior Choir, Mr. Alex Gardner, President, Mrs. E. Harris Shelton, Directress.

For the year 1938 the financial report was $5,739.96; at the end of the year the cash balance in the bank was $3,278.00.  Reverend C.H. Broadnox was the Acting Pastor until Reverend Matthew T. Waters accepted the call to lead MBC on December 1, 1938 and on February 5, 1939 he took charge as Pastor.

February 11, 1940 the congregation marched from 123 Prince Street to its new building at 32-34 Prince Street.  May 12, the cornerstone was laid by the Prince Hall Masons, F&AM. 

April, 1942 t he Church was renovated and re-decorated and in December the first Hammond Organ was purchased and installed.    Sadly, on October 24, our beloved pastor Reverend Matthew T. Waters was called from labor to reward.  The membership had grown to 1,390 under his leadership.

In 1943 MBC ran smoothly under the supervisor of the officers with the assistance of Reverend Cephas V. Orndorff.

April, 1944 Reverend Benjamin Franklin Johnson of Goldsboro, North Carolina accepted the call as our Pastor and took on leadership of the Church.  On April 30, the final payment of $4,358.00 was made and a mortgage burning was held.  Later in 1944 the parsonage at 400 Bergen Street was purchased at a cost $9,000 to be used as a Community Center.  By the end of the year the membership had increased to 1,313.

In 1948, 29 Broome Street was purchased.

In 1956, the Junior Church was birthed.

A larger congregation

December, 1967 member had grown to 5,321 with assets exceeding $250,000.

New Beginnings

In 1967, Reverend B.F. Johnson installed the Baptist Deacons Convention of New Jersey, under the Presidency of Deacon Lee G. Davis; the first annual session was held at MBC.

1968 – 1975 a new Parsonage was purchased on Wilbur Avenue; the Sunday school grew, the Missionary Society continued to function adding many Circles and services, Deacon Leroy Hunt, the Deacon’s Board Chairman designated four major fund-raising days:  The Church Anniversary, Building Fund Day, Men’s Day and Women’s Day; a new organ was purchased and major building improvements and renovations were made.

1776-1978 The first Church Mini-Bus was purchased and the properties at 25 and 38 Prince Street were also purchased.

In 1982, Reverend Charles L. Sanders was called as the assistant to Reverend Johnson.

In 1984, the lot on South Orange Avenue, from Broome to Prince Street was purchased; a second Mini-bus was also purchased.

In 1985, the first computer was installed.

In 1987, a video camera, accessories and corresponding equipment was purchased.

March 27, 1988 members marched to Springfield Avenue & Broome Street for the groundbreaking ceremony of the new edifice and education building.

In 1990, the foundation of the new Church was laid on the site now known as 149 Springfield Avenue. 

December 1, 1991 a bond drive was launched to complete the financing of the new Church Building. 

June 14, 1992 our beloved Pastor, Reverend Benjamin Franklin Johnson was called home and Reverend Charles L. Saunders became our interim Pastor.

September 12, 1993 the Church marched from 32-34 Prince Street to 149 Springfield Avenue, under the leadership of Reverend C. L. Saunders, Deacon Willie R. Burke, Chairman of the Deacon’s Board and Trustee Hubert Graham, Chairman of the Trustee’s Board.

The Church Edifice Sanctuary seats approximately 1700, the Chapel seats 100, B. F. Johnson Fellowship Hall and Kitchen, Learning Center with numerous classrooms, an audio room with state-of-the-art equipment, and a gymnasium with a regulated basketball court.

Beginning Word and Life Application

February 5, 1995 Pastor David Jefferson, Sr., was called to become the spiritual leader and he was installed on June 11, 1995. 

When he commenced his ministry at Metropolitan, Pastor Jefferson emphasized two important themes:  building our spiritual foundation and knowledge of the word. He preached and taught on these themes and began to build a pastoral team sharing the vision and mission of Metropolitan Baptist Church. A visible demonstration of his guidance was the commencement of Family, Friends & Relatives Day, Prayer, Praise and Bible Study was instituted, Employment Ministry, Feet and Banners of Praise, Spiritual Leadership training and Life Application Classes. 

A new phase of Metropolitan’s capital campaign was launched in 1996. Soon after, under his leadership the chapel, fellowship hall and gymnasium were completed and the bonds were paid off. At that time the outstanding mortgage on the facilities amounted to several million dollars. The congregation enthusiastically agreed that in God’s grace this debt would be reduced to zero by 2005. In August of 2005 the mortgage was paid off. The congregation participated in a special Homecoming Service, September 18, 2005 in celebration of God’s faithfulness.

Positioned for the future

The church was revitalized to focus on outreach programs and evangelism. Existing ministries were revamped and a number of new ministries begun. All are within Metropolitan’s vision and mission as we aspire be Disciples of Christ.