Early in the 19th century when Englishtown, NJ and its surrounding areas were known for their quality farm products, i.e. potatoes, fruits, etc. the yield of the products was high in their season and the pay for the harvest was fair.
People from the innermost parts of the South began to migrate North, leaving there meager home environments. Many of them left their families behind to care for themselves while they travel North in search of work that they might be able to raise their standards of living. After arriving in New Jersey and securing work, they began to settle down to live a new life. On their days off from work, they would gather in a group and discuss the problems of life and finally concluded there was one thing missing in their lives and that was their spiritual heritage was not being addressed. They were all of the Baptist faith. There was not a Baptist church in Englishtown or nearby for them to attend.
During their anxious moments for a spiritual revival, a young man appeared on the scene. This young man presented himself as a Minister of the Gospel in the Baptist faith. He wasted to establish a Baptist church. News began to spread over the community very quickly. This young man’s name was Rev. Ananias Williams. Rev. Williams began to canvas the community in order to get organized. Among the ones canvassed, he discovered some were former officers in their churches in the South and thus he had a nucleus to work with.
Old Ship of Zion Missionary Baptist Church Established:
The first meeting was called and held in the home of Mr. Leonard and Mary Walker on March 6, 1949. There were eleven (11) members present. Rev. Williams presided over the meeting, finding a name for the new church was among the many concerns on the agenda. Sis. Clara Bunkley made a suggestion that the church be called the “Old Ship of Zion Missionary Baptist Church”. After some discussion, the name was accepted. The Rev. Ananias Williams was named as the first pastor.
Temporary Church Quarters:
All subsequent meetings and services were held at the home of Brother Thomas Ivery, Pension Road, where there were more spacious quarters. After a period of eight (8) months a parcel property on Jamesburg Road was purchased. With all hands working, a wood frame building approximately 20 feet by 30 feet was erected as the church. An old pot belly stove supplied heat, a make shift lectern with odd chairs adorned the pulpit, and make shift benches served as pews.
Leadership and Present Building:
Rev. Williams served as pastor until his resignation in late 1952. The next leader of the church was Rev. Mascot Gardner. Rev. Gardner served until late 1954. Rev. Phillip Faison was called to pastor in late 1954 and served as pastor and leader for forty (40) years until his death in June, 1994. The transition of the membership and friends from the wood framed building to the present edifice was made in October, 1956 under the leadership of Rev. Phillip Faison.
Rev. Lees Y. Lewis who served the church for a number of years as assistant pastor, was elected and installed as pastor on October 23, 1994. Rev. Lewis served until September 14, 2008.
For approximately three (3) years, faithful Old Ship of Zion members prayed for, sought after and chose a pastor. The Rev. Frederick Q. Smith, was elected pastor on Tuesday, April 5, 2011. The pastoral installation service was originally scheduled for Sunday, August 28, 2011; however the installation was postponed due to Hurricane Irene. Rev. Smith was subsequently installed as pastor on Sunday, October 9, 2011 at the Deacon’s Union of Monmouth, NJ.
To God Be the Glory for all that he has done to the establishment and growth of the Old Ship of Zion Missionary Baptist Church!
Old Ship of Zion Missionary Baptist Church
629 Buckelew Ave
Monroe Township, NJ 08831
PO BOX 426
Englishtown NJ 07726
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Sunday Morning Worship: 10:30 A.M.
Sunday School: 9:00A.M.