CHURCH HISTORY

 

The beginning quote from the historical page of the 100th Anniversary booklet of the Union Baptist Church reads, “Surely, they must have had a burning desire to build this church”. Indeed that desire was great. Cambridge, Massachusetts in the last quarter of the 19th century was a bustling city for African Americans. The end of slavery and the Civil War brought many opportunities for work for southern blacks, and with the rise of industrialization, work was aplenty in the city. A steady stream of former slaves and sharecroppers, particularly from the Tidewater area of Virginia, came to the Boston area to fill the many domestic and service labor jobs vacated by Irish and Italian immigrants as they headed to the factories in New England. They joined with the population of free blacks already living here to bolster the economy in Cambridge with their sweat and toil. Into this mileau,   Union Baptist Church was born.

Union had its earliest beginnings in prayer meetings held in the basement of Mr. and Mrs. Clayborne Underwood Miller, 371/2 Hastings St, in October of 1878. Samuel O. Weems, Cambridge historian of the early 20th century, gathered an oral history from a daughter, Mrs. Alice V. Jones. “I was a little girl when I saw a group of people meeting in our kitchen and my mother told me they were getting ready to build a Baptist church in Cambridge for the colored people.” After about two months, the kitchen prayer meetings moved from Hastings Street to the corner of Main and Clark Streets, where Mr. James Thornton, a coal dealer, offered his half-basement cellar for a meeting place. Soon the number swelled to more than 70, many of them members of Twelfth Baptist church, and relieved that they didn’t have to walk or horse-car ride to the church, which at the time was located on Phillips Street in Boston. With a desire to build burning within, they secured the help of Rev. Grimes, then pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church, to petition the American Baptist Association for a charter. That petition was granted April 18, 1879.
They immediately named their church “Union”, believing that in “Union” there is strength. In three years, the membership grew to approximately 300; its first pastor, James Horatio Carter, was secured; the location moved from the coal basement to Harmony Hall (at the corner of Main and Pearl Streets); and sufficient money was raised to build the church on its current site.
Union Baptist Church has historically been a church of the community, with serving God at its heart. A quick glance at its activities, gleaned from news accounts, tell of a fellowship that took the education of its children very seriously, and held social uplift at the forefront of its mission. The family of first black graduate of Radcliffe, Alberta Scott, were members, the family of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, founder of the Palmer Memorial Institute in Sedalia, NC, were members, as well as other prominent people. During times of distress, Union could be counted on to be of assistance to those who were suffering in the community. Soup kitchens, coal in the winter, clothing drives, were a part of its civic contribution.
 

The following is a list of clergy who held the post of Pastor:

  • Rev. J. Horatio Carter – 1879 – 1886
  • Rev. Dr. Jesse Harrell – 1886 – 1915
  • Rev. James W. Brooks – 1916 – 1917
  • Rev. Charles D. Douglass – 1917 – 1923
  • Rev. Dr. Clanton Clay (C.C.) Somerville – 1924 – 1928
  • Rev. Dr. F. Havis Davis – 1928 – 1947
  • Rev. W. Marvin Gibson – 1948 – 1957
  • Rev. Herbert O. Edwards – 1958 – 1961
  • Rev. William J. McKissick – 1962 – 1966
  • Rev. Rev. Robert Clark – 1967-70
  • Rev. Dr. Herbert O. Edwards – 1970 – 1972
  • Rev. Dr. Melvin G. Brown – 1975 – 1985
  • Rev. Jeffrey L. Brown – 1988 – 2009
  • Rev. Paul R. Ford – 2011 – 2017
At present Union continues to be a “Lighthouse to the Community”, with a vibrant and lively Sunday worship, and a commitment to serve out our enthusiasm for Jesus Christ in our everyday lives.

PASTOR

JARON S. GREEN

INTERIM PASTOR

 

Jaron S. Green has served in the community for over 20 years. He is a mentor, counselor, and social change advocate. He serves, with honor, as the Interim Pastor of Union Baptist Church of Cambridge, Massachusetts. An ordained preacher and anointed leader, his life and ministry are strengthened and supported by his loving wife, Concetta M. Green, and their family. Pastor Jaron Green earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri, with studies concentrated in Biblical Studies and Social Science. He holds a Master of Education in Counseling Psychology, and is currently completing his Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership studies at Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

MINISTERIAL LEADERSHIP

 
REV. DR. CHERYL TOWNSEND GILKES 
Assistant Pastor for Special Projects
 
REV. DR. LORETTA SAINT-LOUIS 
Associate Pastor for Congregational Care
 
REV. DR. CHARRISE BARRON 
Associate Minister
 
MIN. DEBBY ANN MOSLEY 
Associate Minister