Friendship Baptist Church
WE’VE COME THIS FAR BY FAITH!!!
In the year 1924, several families were inspired to establish a Missionary Baptist Church in the center of Bayonne, New Jersey. In 1925, these pioneering Christian workers, Deacons Jules Gray, Charles Simmons, Jesse Simmons, Jonnie Jones, Simon Brown, and the Rev. and Mrs. J. W. White rented a small vacant store located at 47 West 19th Street As their first official meeting place. This former store housed the newly organized Cosmopolitan Baptist Mission, as well as the hopes, aspirations and prayers of its stalwart organizers.
The mission membership grew so rapidly that within a very short period of time, it met all of the necessary requirements to become a constituted Missionary Baptist Church. The “Church” adopted the name Friendship Missionary Baptist Church.
Rev. J. W. White Served as Friendship’s first Pastor. The Rev. D. C. Duncan (second) was called to pastor Friendship on May 5, 1926. By then the church had relocated to 545 Hudson Blvd., now known as John F. Kennedy Blvd. Rev. Duncan resigned after 11 months of service. Friendship’s (third) Pastor was Rev. Walter R Burton. Once again Friendship’s membership increased and the decision was made to purchase property in Bayonne with the goal of building a worship facility.
In early 1928 Friendship purchased a lot; locate at 90-92 West 20th Street, with a brick building on it. Central heat and a baptismal pool were installed as the membership continued to grow.
Many trials lay ahead for the church. In 1929 the stock market crashed and its effects were felt throughout the nation, the community of Bayonne and the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church congregation. As a result it became increasingly difficult for the members to continue to support the church financially.
The church property, a symbol of pride for Friendship members, was repossessed in 1934. Afterwards, Rev. Burton soon tenured his resignation after having served Friendship for seven years and seven months. By early 1935, the church had only 37 members.
Undaunted by the fact that the church was in such dire straits, the Rev. Albert J. Tibbs of Keyport, New Jersey answered the call to serve as (fourth) pastor of Friendship on March 2, 1935. In accepting the charge, he stated that he did so out of our need and as a challenge to his faith. Under his leadership the church was able to purchase property at 22-24 West 20th Street (see upper Left picture) in 1937.
On September 2, 1939, Rev. C. H. Watkins answered the call to serve as (fifth) pastor of Friendship. Rev. Watkins continued the work of his predecessor, and the church continued to prosper. Under his leadership, enrollment grew, the property was paid for and the church purchased its first parsonage located at 76 West 26Th Street. Rev. Watkins served Friendship faithfully and fervently until his resignation in 1954.
In December 1954, Rev. L. R. Gibson answered the call to serve as (sixth) pastor to the Friendship Congregation. Rev. Gibson was the guiding light behind the steady growth of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church for over 38 years. Building improvements were numerous, including an eight room extension onto the existing church property, the creation of a library, the addition of a parking lot, and extensive renovation to the church interior. Rev. Gibson retired as Pastor of Friendship in 1993.
Upon the retirement of Rev. Gibson, Rev. H. Gene Sykes answered the call to serve as (present) pastor for Friendship. Under Pastor Sykes’s leadership the church has continued to grow in the areas of membership, spirituality and community service. Under his leadership, we have also been able to build a new 22,000 square foot facility located at 41-45 West 20th Street The new facility includes a new sanctuary that seats 500, a day care center and a three story office tower to house our ever expanding community outreach activities.
Under the leadership of Pastor H. Gene Sykes, Friendship Baptist Church has accomplished and still operating many community outreach projects in the City of Bayonne:
- The Bayonne Community Action Project, a 501 C 3 Community Housing Development Organization (CHODO) that has developed 18 units of affordable housing
- The Day Care Center which helps many working parents by charging affordable rates
- Every year in November, distributed over 100 “free” Thanksgiving Dinners
- Offer “free” breakfast before the start of Sunday School classes
- Offer Bible Studies on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the year
- Developed and Sponsors a Program called Hope for the Homeless (where we collect items such as clothes/toiletries) and package everything for a Homeless Shelter during Christmas
- Provide a Coat Drive for Community
- Offer Men’s Fellowship for the Men of the Community – Every 2nd Saturday
- Perform Dramas such as Holiday Plays (during Christmas/Easter)
- Hold Candle Light Service (during Christmas) for the Community to unite as a Light of Hope
- Educational Plays – Black History Month
- Working with the Community and holding “NAACP” monthly meetings every 2nd Tuesday of the month.
As we look back from where we have come, we can truly say that “God has brought us safe thus far and by His grace we will continue to build on a legacy of service to God and the community.
For further information, please visit our former pastors page
Further information about Friendship Baptist Church, please visit us at How To Become A Member