Our Church History

In the summer of 1948 a Christian delegation led by the Reverend Thomas Felton LaMarr, former associate pastor of the Hopewell Baptist Church, New Jersey, met to organize the SmyrnaMissionary Baptist Church. The first Sunday morning service was held at 336 High Street, Newark, NJ.

On November 20, 1948 the church was recognized by the North Jersey District Missionary Baptist Association's permanent council and was officially dedicated thereafter. SMBC then worshipped at the Court Street YMCA until the church moved into 308 Bergen Street in 1952. The 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s represented a time of growth and development in the life of the church. There was consistent and stable church growth and several auxiliaries were added to the church. The church also celebrated its mortgage burning at its 25th Church Anniversary in 1973. After founding and serving SMBC for 32 years, Reverend LaMarr passed away in 1980.

In 1982 the Reverend W. Constance Eural was called to succeed Rev. LaMarr and he served as pastor of SMBC for about two years before he resigned. In 1984 SMBC called Reverend Francis E. Gilliard as pastor. The church continued to grow and even more auxiliaries were organized within the church. In 1993 SMBC suffered a great loss as 308 Bergen Street was condemned and ordered to be demolished by the city of Newark as one of church's walls collapsed during a major renovation project. During this period, a major internal crisis occurred within the church also causing a church split and loss of membership. The church then began to rent space for worship at St. Rocco's Catholic Church, NewarkNew Jersey and held a 7:30am worship service. Afterward, SMBC accepted an invitation from the late J. W. Brown to utilize the Humanity Baptist Church for a 7:30am worship service. In 1998 SMBC purchased 358-362 15th Avenue, Newark, New Jersey, a neighborhood club formerly known as the "Red Flame". The building was renovated for worship services and the building was given the name, "The Smyrna Baptist Church Worship Center" to remind members that this was just a temporary place of worship. The 1st worship service was held on September 6, 1998.

In June 2001 Reverend F. E. Gilliard resigned as pastor of the Smyrna Missionary Baptist Church. The challenges of the 1990s and the absence of a pastor continued to affect SMBC as there was a significant decline in attendance for morning worship services. The church began an arduous process of searching for its new pastor. On Wednesday, February 12, 2003, after much prayer, screening, and interviewing, by God's appointment and a majority vote of the membership, Reverend John H. Gamble Jr. was called to the church's pastorate.

Since Rev. Gamble has been pastor, the church's membership has doubled, its worship has been revived, and its auxiliaries (now called ministries) have been rejuvenated. The church has outgrown the worship center and is now preparing to build a new sanctuary on land it acquired in the late 1990s: property located on Springfield, 16th, Morris, and Hunterdon Avenues.

Statement of Faith

Contact Us

  •  358 - 362 15th Avenue
       Newark, NJ 07103
  •  973-273-0744
  •   smyrnanewark@gmail.com

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