The history of Messiah Baptist Church dates back to the spring of 1892. The first worshipers met at Calvary Methodist Church on North Clinton and William Streets. Some of the founding members decided to move to another site located on Maple Avenue and Church Street and there they incorporated the name North Clinton Baptist Church. Reverend George Reed was the first pastor.
With a handful of members, the church saw growth during the early years. In 1897, North Clinton Baptist Church was registered among religious societies and granted charter in the Essex County Hall of Records. Deacon Richard H. Foster, Chairman of the Deacons, was responsible for initiating the charter. The organization of the church included a seventeen member Board of Deacons and a ten member Board of Trustees.
Reverend Edward B. Samuels followed Reverend Reed as pastor and the church moved its worship site to 523 Main Street. In October 1904, the church once again moved to its current location, 13 Oak Street in East Orange, New Jersey. The acquisition of the property was attributed to Reverend Samuels. Church members and the Board of Trustees raised funds to purchase the property and historical records show that the mortgage transaction was completed in the early 1920’s. Reverend H.M. Hutching followed Reverend Samuels and under his pastorate, the interior of the sanctuary was remodeled and refurbished.
In 1952, Reverend N. Spencer Glover was called to pastor North Clinton Baptist Church. His first order of business was the purchasing of the property next to the church at 17 Oak Street. In 1954, North Clinton Baptist Church was officially changed to Messiah Baptist Church . Because of the phenomenal growth during Reverend Glover’s tenure, a new sanctuary was built in 1965 to accommodate Messiah’s increased membership. Reverend Glover served Messiah faithfully for 16 years and in 1970 he resigned as pastor. That same year, Messiah extended a call to Reverend Harry L. Batts.
Under the pastorate of Reverend Batts, Messiah’s growth continued with the installation of a baptismal pool, installation of central air-conditioning unit, expansion of the church parking lot, formation of the Messiah Baptist Church Federal Credit Union, a daily food program that provided hot meals for the hungry in the East Orange community, and the burning of the church mortgage. In August of 2003, after serving the Messiah congregation for 33 years, Reverend Batts resigned as pastor. A search committee was formed to lead the church in selecting a new pastor and in May of 2004, Reverend Dana P. Owens became the 12 th pastor of Messiah Baptist Church.
A search committee was formed to lead the church in selecting a new pastor and in May of 2004, Messiah extended a call to the Reverend Dana P. Under the pastorate of Rev. Owens, Messiah has witnessed growth in its Sunday Worship Service, Christian Education classes, Music Ministry and community involvement. New ministries have been formed under his leadership, along with the licensing and ordaining of women into the ministry and Diaconate. Messiah has also partnered with UHIP (Urban Healthcare Initiative Program) to provide medical care to the underprivileged in East Orange and Essex County.
Lastly, a new spiritual theme was created by Rev. Owens, Messiah Movement, to emphasize the importance of the church being on the move for Christ.