FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF VAUXHALL
First Baptist Church, formerly called Union Baptist Church, was born in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Noah Wellman in what was then called Hilton Heights, New Jersey in 1906. As the community and the church grew, there was a need for a larger place of worship, and on July 16, 1908, the first church, which was located on Oswald Place, was completed under the pastorate of Rev. Isaac Johnson. It was during this time that the first Deacons were ordained, the first Trustees were installed and the first choir was organized.
In 1909, the first pulpit was presented to the church by the A.M.E. Church of Millburn, New Jersey. In June, 1910, the first cornerstone was laid, and the Missionaries were organized by Mrs. Lillian Sutton. Between 1906 and 1913, three pastors, Rev. H. Harper, Rev, Johnson, and Rev. Edward Bell guided the development of Union Baptist Church. On June 15, 1913, the church called Rev. James Garfield Bryant to lead the flock. He was the fourth pastor of the church.
The first usher board was organized in 1915 under the leadership of Hileary Eason, Sr. Four years later, in 1919, three lots were purchased on Hilton Avenue for expansion of the church. In that same year, a ground breaking ceremony was held, and the members marched from the old church on Oswald Place to the new site on Hilton Avenue. The new building was completed in 1924, and the mortgage was burned in 1944.
In 1948, the church’s name was changed from Union Baptist to First Baptist Church. Rev. J.G. Bryant, who had been called in 1913, served as pastor of the church for 39 years and 7 months. Many souls were saved under his leadership, the church was financially sound and plans were being made to remodel the front entrance of the edifice.
Rev. Bryant died in 1952, and for approximately 2 years, the church was without a Pastor. However, on June 6, 1954, Rev. Robert Harrison was called as the fifth pastor of the church. He joined the community from Culpepper, Virginia. Rev. Harrison served as pastor for three years. It was during his tenure that Mrs. Madeline Carrington organized the First Trustee’s Aids, and the first nurse’s unit was organized by Mrs. Mary V. Wilson.
In 1958, Rev. Elmer William, the sixth pastor, accepted the pastorate of the church. Rev. Williams had an outstanding personality and was keen on missionary and community outreach. On December, 4, 1964, Rev. Williams ordained Rev. Clarence Alston to the ministry. Rev. Alston, our brother in Christ, was pastor of the Antioch Baptist Church in Springfield, New Jersey. At the close of 1966, the membership was over 300, and Rev. Williams had baptized 101 persons. In June, 1968, Rev. Williams accepted the pastorate of Sixth Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,
On July 1, 1971, Dr. Franklin accepted the pastorate as the seventh pastor of First Baptist Church. Dr. Franklin accomplished many things during his first year as pastor, and in 1972, he began a church wide tithing program. Dr. Granville Seward conducted a one week tithing workshop, and the fruits of the tithing commitment were soon seen. The membership grew exponentially under Dr. Franklin’s leadership and, plans for a new church were made. Dr. Franklin presented the vision to the membership in 1973, and on August 10, 1980, the members marched into their new edifice.
Dr. Franklin has served as the Pastor of this Citadel of Hope for 49 years. His accomplishments include: purchase of a passenger van, new member classes started, leadership intensives held for persons elected to office, creation of the J.G. Bryant/Lillian Carter Scholarship Fund to name a few. On December 19, 2004, Dr. Franklin ordained Rev. Dorothy Jean Jones to the Gospel Ministry. Rev. Jones, who is a graduate of New Brunswick Theological Seminary, became the first woman in the history of the church to receive such elevation.
In February 2010, the church hosted the New Vision Leadership Conference, and during the same month the church donated $15,000.00 to the American Red Cross on behalf of the Haitian Relief Fund.
Under Dr. Franklin’s direction, the church has grown spiritually and provides a haven for anyone seeking to learn about the Word of God.