When five people met on December 29, 1959 at 85 Hawthorne Avenue in East Orange, New Jersey, for the purpose of organizing a church, they were armed with nothing less than faith and obedience to the voice of the Lord – essential ingredients when you are to do God’s will. God had spoken to Elder Limmie Forbes, instructing him to establish a church, and letting him know that there were many souls who were lost who would only be saved through his ministry and the founding of this house of worship.
Those present were Deacon Robert Walden, Mother Emma Whidby, Sister Marjorie Edmundson, Brother Frederick B. Harris and Elder Forbes. At the close of the meeting, this church had been named Faith Temple, for it was truly founded upon faith, and not by sight.
Services for Faith Temple during its infancy were held in different homes, including those of Mother Driscoll, and Church of God. While services were being held from house to house, sometimes once or twice a month, a few members joined. Some of the first were Sisters Josie Forbes, Mary Melvin and Mary Grantham.
Soon, Pastor Strong and members of Providence Baptist Church in Orange, New Jersey, invited us to hold services there. Elder Forbes was overjoyed, because he had not been able to praise God as freely as he had desired while being bound in the homes. Now he would be able to give vent to the Holy Spirit to his heart’s content. But only one service was held there, for we were told we made too much noise. Again, we had to go back into the homes. Mother Jamie Brimage, who was not a member then, but who later joined this church, opened the doors of her home for services. The way seemed dark, but by faith we kept toiling on.
Elder Carter, whose church was located on South 12th Street in Newark, allowed us to hold service there one night, and many attended who were employed at the Orange Memorial Hospital.
Soon, Elder Strong and Providence Baptist Church relocated to 41 North Clinton Street in East Orange. We were again asked and given the opportunity to worship in their building two Sunday mornings and two Sunday nights, and to share the expenses with them.
It was on North Clinton Street that this church really begin to progress. Our first revival was held there; our first Deacons and Mothers were ordained there: James Lassiter and James Leftdwrige, Lessie Lassiter and Mary Leftdwrige. Our first Pastor’s Steward, Treasurer and
Church Clerk were elected. Our first choir was also organized. Mr. Samuel Fields attended our service and offered to play for the church free of charge. He later united with the church and faithfully served as the church pianist until he relocated to North Carolina. Our Usher Board was organized there too. We were really growing and going on in the name of the Lord.
On the second Sunday in October 1960, the officers and members of The Original Freewill Baptist Conference of America, Middle Eastern District, came from North Carolina to formally induct the church into the said conference. This was an occasion of grave importance. We were the only Original Freewill Baptist Church in the surrounding area. We were a happy church family that day. The Lord was blessing us mightily and Ole Satan was mad. After many blissful services at 41 North Clinton Street, at the end of the year 1961, we were asked to vacate the building. We had recently purchased a new gas heater, but we left it there. To us, it seemed we were being treated so cruelly, but the Lord was yet on our side.
Early in 1962, we relocated to a small building at 120 South Day Street in Orange, New Jersey. This place
was completely furnished with a pulpit, piano, offering table and even pews. We could just walk right in and begin to praise the Lord. Miss Bessie Blount who lived in the adjoining building heard us rejoicing, came in one New Year’s Eve and was saved. Many other important events happened at this location. Deacon James Leftdwrige was called to preach, our first minister; two more deacons, John Exum and Stanley Flamer were ordained; and Sister Mary Exum was added to the Mother’s Board. One of the most memorable events took place on a Sunday night, while Reverend Noon was preaching. Having been convicted by the Word of God, and being frightened by the lights going out, eight people united with the church. This place on South Day Street was called Holy Ghost Headquarters. Many united with the church on their first visit.
In April 1963, Elder Forbes’ home church, Leventon Chapel, informed us that they would be attending our Quarterly Meeting service. Something had to be done, we needed a larger place. After a short, prayerful search, the Lord gave us a place at 312 Bergen Street in Newark.
On the first Sunday in March 1963, we moved from 120 South Day Street in Orange to 312 Bergen Street in Newark. We had plenty of space, but many other things were not as we desired. We spent many days and nights in service without heat, while on the outside snow and ice were on the ground. The members were so sincere in seeking the Lord; He kept their children well in spite of these uncomfortable situations.
On Bergen Street, our first female minister was called to preach, Sister Betty J. Rouse. It seemed that the Lord moved in a greater way than ever before. Many received the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Many other preachers were called and started preaching from there. Two more Deacons and Mothers were ordained there, Brother John Coley and Brother Wiley Farmer; Sister Lara Coley and Sister Rena Farmer. Many wonderful and great things happened on Bergen Street. They will continue to live in our hearts.
At last the time came when we felt we should have a place to call our own, we had worked hard and suffered long. Many times, it seemed nothing would come our way, but this was FAITH TEMPLE, and we knew that if we held out deliverance would surely come.
On the second Sunday in October 1966, Elder Forbes, members and friends formed a motorcade at 9 o’clock a.m. and left 312 Bergen Street in Newark in a procession led by a Newark policeman, who led us to Main and North Clinton Streets in East Orange. There, we got out of our cars (except the drivers), formed a double line led by two East Orange policemen, and we walked quietly and prayerfully to 97½ Summit Street in East Orange. Here was the place we could call our own.
Faith Temple remained at 97½ Summit Street until our building was destroyed by fire. To the church family, this seemed to have been a most unfortunate incident, being that we could not see from the shock of it and recognize a blessing in disguise. Magnifying the problem was the fact that our Pastor and many of the members were attending the Annual Conference in Washington, D.C. Who was to report the distressing news to our Pastor that once again, we were without a church building? Our Pastor had thoroughly taught us that the church is really within the heart, so we reminded ourselves of this, and determined that we would remain faithful to God and to each other.
During these trying times, many of the neighboring churches allowed us to hold services in their buildings. After a short time, Pastor Forbes received an invitation to hold service at our present location, which at that time was the First Reformed Church. Reverend DeYoung was the Pastor. Our first service was held here the second Sunday in November 1969, and there was no heat. “Maybe the Lord was reminding us of from whence we had come”. Nevertheless, the Lord continued to bless us while being situated at the corner of Main and Halsted Streets in East Orange, New Jersey, and now we call this
home. We have learned well that whatever God allows to happen, good or bad, we should be thankful because He can see all the way into the future, and He knew we would need a church with these accommodations. The membership has grown tremendously, and each Sunday our church is graced by the presence of many members.
During the 40 years at this location, our church has grown physically, numerically, financially and spiritually. We’ve had ministers, deacons and deaconesses ordained, and one of the original founders, Deacon Robert Walden, has returned to claim this as his church home. A number of branch churches have been established, a Northern Union, Sunshine Band and Bible Church
School Convention, a Choir Convention, Mission Station, Northern Division of Usher Board and Women’s Home Mission Convention, Reach-out Prayer Tower Ministries and Radio Broadcast, are all now in existence as a result of this, the Mother Church’s founding. This growth and development was a result of God’s blessings. God has allowed us to purchase all property from the corner of Main Street to the railroad track, to be overseer of 33 churches and 20 schools in Haiti, West Indies, including churches in Africa. Our church also supports the Mission in Africa. We have 41 functioning auxiliaries and 800 members on roll, of which two-thirds are active. We have been blessed to pay off our church mortgage, remodel the sanctuary, dining area, the ladies and men’s bathrooms and lounge, and to purchase a new sound system. New ministers, church officials and new members have been added to the church. These facts are not stated as words of boasting, but we are saying, “To God be the glory for the things He has done”, as we need to be reminded sometimes to make known His deeds among the people.
Many of our members have retired and relocated back to North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Virginia. An extension church was established by Bishop Forbes in 2003 in Wilson, North Carolina, born with Faith Temple No. 1 and Faith Temple No. 2 members.
In 2003, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Forbes appointed Elder Arinzor Blue to serve as Assistant Pastor. Elder Blue faithfully served both our Pastor and the church. In 2013, Bishop Forbes retired as Pastor of the church. Elder Arinzor Blue was installed as Pastor of Faith Temple #1 and Faith Temple 1&2 Extension Church on Saturday, December 7, 2013. Elder Blue’s ability to teach and preach the unadulterated gospel enables us, as a church family, to continue to grow spiritually.
On May 30, 2015, he was appointed as Bishop-Elect by Bishop LaVaughn Hughes, Sr., Presiding Bishop of the Middle Eastern District Original Free Will Baptist Church of America and on October 31, 2016 he was installed as a Bishop in the Middle Eastern District Original Free Will Baptist Church of America.
Faith Temple #1 has experienced steady growth in its membership and has achieved numerous noteworthy accomplishments. The church has a youth summer camp, conducts faith-based workshops and seminars, hosts annual community days, conducts street crusades, and facilitates social and community outreach services. The church also has Narcotics Anonymous meetings for recovering addicts in the community.
On January 22, 2010, we celebrated our Jubilee, 50th year Church Anniversary in a banquet held at the Wilshire Grand Hotel in West Orange, New Jersey, with 300 plus in attendance. Many of our members, who had moved away as far as California, returned home for this great milestone celebration.
The fellowship, love, and concern that our Pastor Emeritus, present Pastor, and church family share assures us that God is pleased with the way we are serving as the light of the world. With this assurance, and through the teachings of the scriptures by our Pastor, we proudly proclaim that Jesus is Lord and head of the church, and one day is coming back for His Bride.