First Baptist Church of Teaneck
Past to Present
In the history of First Baptist Church of Teaneck the first worship service was held in the Teaneck Masonic Hall on Sunday, October 20, 1935 at 11:00 AM. Twenty persons composed the congregation. Most were relatives and friends of the preacher, Reverend Lester Van Saun, a former banker who was attending Bible School. On December 18, 1935, this group met at the home of one of the Believers for the purpose of organizing the First Baptist Church of Teaneck. Reverend Lester Van Saun was elected to serve as pastor and various church officials were established, with the adoption of the Church Covenant and the Article of Faith. On February 22, 1936, regular weekly prayer meetings began in the home of its members.
In 1936, Mrs. Maria E. Decker, opened up her heart and offered this present parcel of ground as a gift to the service of the Lord. On November 3, 1936, the church was established, operating and dedicated on its present location, as recorded by the Bergen Record; “First Baptist Church of Teaneck was dedicated last night before a capacity crowd that gathered in the new edifice at 1592 Teaneck Road.”
In the 1940’s, as a result of the great migration to the Northeast Area, many people settled in Teaneck, looking for a church near their residence, the church family began its course of integration. Due to the steady growth of attendance, it became necessary to add to the old structure. In 1963, the addition of the church building, which became the main sanctuary, was completed. Reverend Lester Van Saun continued to serve as pastor until his retirement in March 1972. He completed thirty-seven years of continued faithful ministry.
In 1973, Reverend Mamon C. Langston succeeded Reverend Van Saun as the second Pastor of First Baptist Church of Teaneck. Under Reverend Langston on September 23, 1973, the church’s name was changed legally to theFirst Baptist Church of Teaneck, Incorporated. During his leadership the church constitution and by-laws were incorporated, two choirs and several auxiliaries were formed. Reverend Mamon C. Langston served as Pastor until he resigned in 1977.
In 1978, Reverend Thomas Williams succeeded Reverend M. C. Langston as the third Pastor of First Baptist Church of Teaneck. During Reverend Williams’ pastorate, the mortgage on the church was burned, additional property was purchased for a parking lot, the first church van was purchased, ministries were formed, and in 1987, the plans for the renovation of the church building began. He served the church and the community for eleven years as Pastor untilhe resigned in1989.
In August 1990, during a thunderstorm the church steeple was struck by lightning and subsequently the church caught on fire. Unfortunately, the fire consumed much of the church and the renovation blueprints were destroyed.
In January 1991, Reverend Kevin Jones became the fourth Pastor of First Baptist Church of Teaneck. Under Reverend Jones’ leadership the church added parking facilities, purchased a church van, and the old church building was demolished and a beautiful new edifice was built. During the construction of the church the congregation worshipped at Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church in Teaneck. The new church was dedicated on July 27, 1997. The formation of the dance ministry was under Reverend Jones leadership, as well as other new ministries. Four ministers of the gospel were licensed under Reverend Jones. He served as Pastor for twelve years until November 2003 when he resigned to pastor Sharon Baptist Church in New Brunswick, N.J.
The third Sunday in December 2003 Reverend Marilyn Monroe Harris was asked to preach at First Baptist Church of Teaneck. In January 2004, Reverend Harris was elected to serve as Interim Pastor of First Baptist Church of Teaneck. On March 13, 2005, Reverend Marilyn Monroe Harris was installed as the fifth pastor of First Baptist Church of Teaneck. Along side Reverend Harris came her husband, Brother James E. Harris. Brother Harris became First Baptist Church’s first Gentleman serving faithfully until God called him home on December 14, 2007. Reverend Harris is a committed minister of the gospel who believes in helping people to grow spiritually, intellectually and socially. She is determined to make a difference in the lives of people through preaching, teaching praying and serving. As Pastor, Reverend Harris stretches the Christianity of the peoples at First Baptist and challenges us to be a vessel of agape love, to forgive, be accountable to self, God and others, to be a hilarious giver, have enough faith and love to leave or comfort zone and tent doors for true evangelism. Under her ministry new ministries were created: Cancer Ministry, CDC (Cornerstone Community Development Corporation, Follow-Up Ministry, Foundation Building Christian Institute, God’s Anointed Musicians In Training (GAMIT), Media Ministry with CD;s, Men’s Ministry that includes book studies and Bible study, Men’s Usher Board, Men of Valor Men’s Choir, Prison Ministry, Public Relations, Security/Parking Lot Ministry, Women of Wisdom Dance Ministry, Those Dancing Preachers, Young Adult Ministry, Senior Ministry, full day (9-4) Vacation Bible School, new scholarship opportunities for college students and a Chess Club. Also under Reverend Harris leadership, the church’s by-laws have been restructured, a building fund program has been instituted, a mortgage was burned, a church van was purchased, one of our ministers was ordained, as well as membership increased and First Baptist Church went to two services (8:00AM – 11:00 AM) for over a year and then decided on one 10:00 AM service to reestablish one Christian fellowship.