Georges Road Baptist Church celebrates 175 years of engaging the community

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Fellowship Hall, Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Sanctuary of Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Fellowship Hall, Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Sanctuary of Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF
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Georges Road Baptist Church, North BrunswickPHOTOS BY JENNIFER AMATO/STAFF

NORTH BRUNSWICK – To mark its 175th anniversary, Georges Road Baptist Church is inviting community members to celebrate with its congregation.

On Nov. 18, service will be held at 10 a.m., followed by a special dinner starting at 11 a.m. in Fellowship Hall.

“When someone new comes into our church … people make every effort to welcome you and to really make you feel at home,” Pastor Norman Walter said.

Walter has led the congregation for the past 12 years, though the first article of the original church covenant was initially adopted on Jan. 20, 1843.

A meeting to organize the church was held at the home of John T. Bennett on that day, during which the name Georges Road Baptist Church was selected. The Articles of Faith and the Covenant were revised and recorded, according to the history of the church.

On Jan. 23, 1843, the documents were approved by a council of seven Baptist churches, and shortly after, the church was formally received into membership in the East New Jersey Baptist Association.

The pastor of the “mother” church, Greenleaf Webb, arrived in New Brunswick to start his ministry on April 13, 1821, at the First Baptist Church of New Brunswick. A revival followed several years later, nearly doubling the size of the church, according to church records. Other revivals came in 1828 and 1831, but “the great revival” was in 1837, adding 160 members to the New Brunswick church alone.

The missionary spirit was carried into North Brunswick, and by 1842, meetings were being held in a school house led by Webb and others from New Brunswick, according to church documents. Since country roads sometimes became impassible, people would continue on foot.

Currently, the church has a sanctuary, a community room and a Fellowship Hall, while also offering Sunday School classes, the Little Scholars preschool and Wednesday night Bible study for its 90 congregants.

“We try to make the church open to everyone,” said Walter, who leads with his associates, Joan Sanislow and George Alercon. “We don’t want to make everyone a Baptist but we do want to be a beacon of light.”

Alercon takes part in hospital visitation as well a jail ministry, during which he speaks Spanish to prisoners and helps present Christmas gifts to the prisoners’ children.

The Angel Tree ministry of the church accomplishes something similar, asking congregants to wrap new toys for the children of prisoners.

“It’s a wonderful time of tears,” Walter said of the party held for the children.

There are also mission programs run through the American Baptist Churches of New Jersey, collecting a fellowship offering once a month for people in financial need. Clothing and food are also collected as needed.

“We’ve had miracles where we’ve been really able to help people,” he said.

Georges Road Baptist Church sometimes partners with Grace Church of North Brunswick, and recently lent the sanctuary to a Korean congregation on Sundays.

“It’s wonderful,” Norman said. “That’s what my life is. It’s not a job. It’s a wonderful privilege to serve and join other people in our area.”

Georges Road Baptist Church is located at 440 Church Lane, North Brunswick. For more information, visit www.grbcnj.com/.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.