One morning in 1882 Reverend J.D. Brockett arrived in Jersey City from Charleston, South Carolina. After leaving the train, he stopped and conversed with a porter whose name was Mr. Farrell and asked him where he could get a decent meal and a lodging place. Mr. Farrell sent him to his home.
After staying there a while and noticing how Mrs. Farrell, Mrs. Lucy Smith and Mrs. Ware carried on their spiritual services every night, Reverend Brockett decided to establish a mission. So, here began a mission at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Farrell, which later materialized into Bethesda. This mission was carried on until it moved to Gregory Street. Afterward, they rented a Church on Barrow Street. In this building Bethesda received its name.
In 1890 the Church was incorporated and a little later Reverend J.C. Butler came to us. He built a new Church in 1902 with the Pastor of Parmly Memorial Baptist Church, which was located at 456 York Street, Jersey City, NJ. Reverend Butler served until ill health caused him to resign in 1916 and return to his home in Washington.
In 1916 Reverend Prince C. James came to Bethesda from New York City and served the Church until he was called officially in 1917 to become the Pastor.
An interim Pastor had to resign due to ill health.
In 1921 the Reverend Thomas H. White of Clifton Forge, Virginia came and served the flock until 1922 when he was officially called as Pastor.
Next, Reverend Edward P. Dixon from Virginia became the new Pastor after leaving Gethsemane Baptist Church of West New York. He served until his death in 1941.
In 1941 we called Reverend Paul C. Jarrell of Kearny, NJ as our Pastor. He served until 1945.
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 Jersey City 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. The building was originally a Ukrainian Church and then a neighborhood bar. After it was completely renovated and rededicated, Bethesda members marched into the edifice on September 27, 1965. The cornerstone was set on October 31, 1965.
Bethesda celebrated its 90th Anniversary on October 15, 1972 with the burning of the mortgage. A parsonage was purchased on Gifford Avenue in Jersey City, where the Pastor and his family resided.
In 1995, after the death of Reverend John W. Wright, Reverend Henry Ward Maxwell of Jersey City, NJ was officially called to service. Reverend Maxwell resigned in September of 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 and our dedicated Church Clerk, Robin T. Munn.
In June of 2004 Bethesda called Reverend Vincent L. Thomas from Tabernacle Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. In 2005 Reverend Thomas was officially installed as Pastor.
On November 13, 2007 a fire erupted in the basement of the Church, causing extensive damage. The building was sold in 2015. Bethesda’s worship services are currently being held at Zion Baptist Church, 521 Bramhall Avenue in Jersey City, NJ. We are searching for a permanent Church home.
By the grace of God, Bethesda Baptist Church will celebrate its 136th Anniversary in October 2018.