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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE UNION BAPTIST CHURCH
 
 
 

The Union Baptist Church has its origins in the Fourth Baptist Church of Elizabeth. Available records indicate that, as early as 1873, there existed a community of African-American Baptists named the Fourth Baptist Church. The Shiloh Baptist Church of our city was also organized out of that congregation. An attempt was made to merge Shiloh and Fourth into The Union Baptist Church. The merger failed, but a few families from Shiloh and the members of Fourth came together and formed The Union Baptist Church. The church was incorporated on March 11, 1891 and called the Reverend Joseph H. Bailey to be the first pastor. Land had been purchased on East Grand Street and work began on the first church building. The congregation had worshipped in "Old" Library Hall on Broad Street and continued to do so during construction of the new edifice. The cornerstone was laid in March, 1893 and the building was dedicated on June 25, 1893. The wood frame structure carried a belfry with a bell purchased from the McShane Bell foundry in Baltimore, Maryland. Rev. Bailey served as pastor until 1901.
 
 
The following pastors served Union after Rev. Bailey: Rev. William P. Lawrence (1901-1907), Rev. Henry H. Mitchell (1907-1909), Rev. Lewis W. Boyington (1909-1913), Rev. Lilburn C. Hurdle (1913-1922), Rev. Andrew D. Moore (1923-1930), Rev. Dr. Austin Alexander Lewis (1932-1968) and Rev. Dr. J. Wendell Mapson, Jr. (1969-1987).

The next rebuilding program took place, in the 1940s, during the pastorate of Dr. Lewis. The building program included the addition of a 30-foot extension at the rear of the original structure, the addition of a vestibule and balcony and the elevation of the building to provide a fellowship hall. Additional land was purchased adjacent to the church building and the bell tower was lowered from fifty feet to twenty-five feet above the street.
 
Dr. J. Wendell Mapson, Jr. accepted the call to Union on the second Sunday in May, 1969. Under Dr. Mapson's gifted leadership, several auxiliaries were added to the church and the ministry was directed to serve the present age. Dr. Mapson led the church in the building program that resulted in the erection of a new sanctuary and fellowship hall. Ground was broken for the new sanctuary on March 14, 1976 and Dr. Mapson led the officers, members and friends into the new sanctuary on December 26, 1976. The mortgage for the new sanctuary and fellowship hall was liquidated in 1983, ahead of schedule. Dr. Mapson instituted the first Christian broadcast over radio station WJDM in Elizabeth. He also initiated the Clothing Ministry, the Van Ministry, the Senior Nutrition Program and the state-licensed daycare center at Union.
 
These programs continue to form the core of outreach ministries at Union. Dr. Mapson's fruitful eighteen year tenure at Union ended in 1987 when he accepted the pastorate of the Monumental Baptist Church of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
 
On February 24, 1988, Union extended the call to R. Lenton Buffalo, Jr. Pastor Buffalo was installed as the ninth pastor of Union on June 5, 1988. Christian growth and service are at the core of our pastor’s vision for the church. The pastor has initiated a teaching ministry that is a blessing to our congregation and community. The Church School, three weekly Bible studies and the Vacation Bible School provide opportunities for development and growth of Christian character. The pastor has also instituted a Women’s Ministry. In addition to fund-raising, each fellowship of the church has a mission. This has resulted in the formation of a church pantry, increased visitation of sick and shut-in members, expansion of the van ministry’s mission and a monthly food ministry. All of these efforts have brought a new excitement to the church.

Union is on the move. We pray that God will keep us strong in faith, instant in duty and committed to “Walking, Working and Worshiping in the Power of Agreement”.