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One early morning in 1882...


J.D. Brockett arrived in Jersey City from Charleston, South Carolina. It was there he met Mr. Farrell who invited him to his home for a meal and lodging. He noticed Mrs. Farrell, Mrs. Lucy Smith, and Mrs. Ware participating in their spiritual services every night and was so moved that he decided to join them and establish a mission. They soon moved on to rent a church on Barrow Street, and in this building, the name Bethesda was officially adopted. The church was incorporated in 1890.


Between the years of 1916 - 1945, several pastors were called to serve. However, in 1946, Bethesda called our most beloved Pastor, Reverend John W. Wright, Th. M.D.D. His call was made official in 1947. Reverend Wright was appointed to the Medical Center Hospital in 1950 as Chaplain. In 1963 he was made Head Protestant Chaplain.

In 1964 he became the first Black minister to give the invocation at the 88th Congress in Washington, D.C. He was also the Chairman of the Board of Managers for the Glen Gardner Hospital for Geriatrics in Glen Gardner, NJ.

In early 1964 Bethesda purchased a new building and parking lot on Mercer Street. After it was completely renovated and rededicated, Bethesda members marched into the edifice on September 27, 1965. Bethesda celebrated its 90th Anniversary on October 15, 1972, with the burning of the mortgage.


In 1995, after the death of Reverend John W. Wright, Reverend Henry W. Maxwell was officially called to service. During Reverend Maxwell’s tenure, improvements were made to the administrative and financial systems, and a Mass Choir was formed. Reverend Maxwell resigned in September 2003.


As Bethesda searched for a new pastor at the beginning of 2004, we were blessed to have the support of Minister Janet Broome, Minister Betty Grant, Minister Millicent Gertrude, our Church Clerk, Robin T. Munn, and Rev. Leon M. Porter, Sr., who served as our Interim Pastor.

In June of 2004 Bethesda called Reverend Vincent L. Thomas and officially installed him as Pastor. His vision for Bethesda was outlined in his Transition Manual. Our Youth Ministry was reorganized with three groups: Rising Stars, Giant Slayers, and Frontline Soldiers, to better engage the different age groups. Pastor Thomas formed a Seniors Ministry. Two new Trustees were appointed in 2006: Debra A. Irving and Patricia Smith.

On November 13, 2007, a fire erupted in the basement of the Church, causing extensive damage.

In 2008 Annette Bronner was appointed Trustee. Trustee Chair Sarah Gertrude relocated to North Carolina in 2009 and Debra A. Irving was appointed Trustee Chair. In September 2018 Karen Sims was installed as a Deaconess.​ Reverend Vincent L. Thomas resigned in September of 2018 and relocated to Virginia.


Bethesda continued to flourish, with the support of our Associate Ministers, Min. Gloria Walton, Min. Stella Banks, and the Leadership Team: Trustee Chair, Debra A. Irving, Trustees Patricia Smith and Annette Bronner, Treasurer, Tracey Hood, and Church Clerk, Robin T. Munn.


In 2019 Bethesda began the search for a new pastor under the guidance of Rev. Dr. Ralph Branch, Pastor of Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, Newark, NJ, and Moderator of North Jersey District Missionary Baptist Association. His support was invaluable as we searched for a new pastor. Our Pulpit Search Committee was Chaired by the late Denise Brown and committee members were Rosemary Allen, Jacqueline Mayes, Annette Bronner, and Patricia Smith.


Bethesda called Rev. Marion Phillips, III as Interim Pastor in October 2019. In addition to pastoring Mt. Sinai Missionary Baptist Church in Newark, NJ, he willingly agreed to take on the added responsibility of shepherding Bethesda.


In March 2020 the world experienced the effects of Covid-19. As the world shut down, Bethesda worshiped via telephone conference line. By week two Rev. Gloria Walton introduced Bethesda to Zoom and Rev. Phillips continued to guide the flock of Bethesda throughout the pandemic.

Under the continued guidance of Rev. Dr. Branch, Rev. Marion Phillips, our Associate Ministers, Rev. Dr. Stella Banks, Rev. Dr. Gloria Walton, and our committed Search Committee, Bethesda resumed the search for a new pastor in the fall of 2020. On June 19, 2021, Rev. Dr. Jonnel R. Green accepted the call as Pastor-Elect of Bethesda Baptist Church accompanied by his beautiful wife, Minister Janiqua Green.


Reverend Dr. Jonnel R. Green was ordained on Sunday, August 6, 2022, at Mt. Olive Baptist Church in Hackensack, NJ. On Saturday, September 10, 2022, Reverend Dr. Jonnel R. Green was installed as the 10th Pastor of Bethesda Baptist Church in Jersey City. The installation was held at Monumental Baptist Church in Jersey City, NJ.


We have truly accomplished much, and honor the accomplishments of our forefathers, but we will not be content with yesterday. We will march boldly into a brighter and even more promising future. Prayer is the key and faith unlocks the door and as Bethesda continues—our door will always be open for you to come and worship with us.

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