JACKSON BAPTIST CHURCH
On August 11, 1971, 34 people met in the basement of a home on Oregon Avenue in Jackson, NJ. Their goal was to establish a church built on the foundation of the Bible and to make disciples for Jesus Christ. The little group had their first communion together the following month.
By October they were joined by Pastor Ken Kirby, a church planter with the Conservative Baptist Association, who shared their vision. Under his leadership, and with the Holy Spirit’s guidance, they worked hard to visit people and share the gospel. People began to respond. The church ministered to a diverse and unusual congregation as several families (as well as a group of young men from a nearby fraternity house) came to the Lord.
Spiritual foundation stones were laid through the decisions of this early group of believers. A missions’ outreach was established and the church began to support its first missionary families in February 1972.
God was working in the little church. The first baptism took place on May 21, 1972. By September of that year, the church incorporated. A fellowship fund was established to help to “share one another’s burdens”. Pastor Kirby recognized that leading people to Christ was a first spiritual step. However, it was important to make each believer a “disciple” – one who continued to learn at the feet of Jesus. The philosophy of “People Becoming Christ Disciples” – an ongoing, lifelong learning experience, began to take root.
Today, JBC continues that legacy as we seek to win the lost, build up individuals within the church and equip them to become disciples able to make disciples and carry on the mission of God in their communities.
While the church was growing spiritually and adding new people, it became evident that the home on Oregon Avenue was too small. The church began meeting at the Johnson School on Larsen Road. Then, in 1974, property was purchased on Bennetts Mills Road. Plans were adopted in May of the following year, and the church family began their hands-on labor – building a church.
The original building was dedicated on May 2, 1976 – it was the second day on the job for new pastor Carl Vereen. Under Pastor Vereen, and later Rev. Jack Benzenhafer, Jackson Baptist Church continued to grow. In 1995 with the arrival of our current senior pastor, Ken Underhill, growth continued. 10 years later Pastor Don Sodano was called as an Associate Pastor and 5 months after Jared Nicastro, became JBC’s first fulltime Youth Pastor. After 10 years of ministry both Pastor Don and Pastor Jared moved on to other ministries which necessitated the calling Pastor Jamie Wilson who currently serves as our Pastor of Youth and Families.
The building that had once seemed so large to the original congregation has now become our new education and nursery wing and “Friendship Hall.” In April 2006 we completed phase one of our building campaign, known as Building for Eternity adding our new sanctuary and other space to minister to the people that God is bringing in. The structure is the fulfillment of several years of sacrificial giving on the part of the current congregation. Phase 2 of the project, consisting primarily of a new gymnasium, state of the art church kitchen, and additional classroom space is on the drawing board.