Monumental Baptist Church History
Founded in June 1900 in Jersey City, New Jersey
Monumental Baptist Church had its beginning in a store front on 349 Johnston Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey in June, 1900. The Church was known as Mizpah Baptist Church. At its organizational meeting, Reverend William Edwards was named pastor and R. V. D. Cole was named church clerk. Rev. Edwards resigned after one year of service.
Reverend C. H. Garlick was called to pastor the Church; after two years he resigned. Dr Garlick, a native of Williamsburg, VA, pastured Bethany Baptist Church in Newark and Fountain Baptist Church in Summit before being called to Monumental. He left here to pastor Churches in Northern New England. During his ministry, the name of the Church was changed from Mizpah Baptist Church to Monumental Baptist Church; and Monumental was united with the New England Convention in 1902.
In August of 1903, Rev. William Sylvester Smith was called to be the Pastor of Monumental Baptist Church. He was installed on October 1, 1903. Dr. Smith pastored First Baptist Church in Madison, NJ before coming to Monumental. At First Baptist Church, Madison, Rev. Smith's first act was to incorporate the Church, then lead them to build the church structure which is still there today. At this time, he received the call from Monumental.
Under Dr. Smith's leadership, Monumental took on new dimensions and the membership grew. On September 16, 1904 Monumental was incorporated; on February 11, 1905, 116 Lafayette Street was purchased for $1,750.00. Three hundred ninety six dollars and fifty cents, including interest was paid on the mortgage in 1905. Monumental was also united with the North Jersey Baptist Association and the Afro American Baptist State Convention in 1905.
The one story building, which housed Monumental Baptist Church was raised in 1908 to make it a two story structure. In 1916, it took the shape that it held until the program of expansion of the 1940's. The Rev. Dr. William Sylvester Smith served as Pastor of Monumental for over forty years and played a vital role in the lives of the church members and others in Lafayette and Jersey City. On September 20, 1943, Dr. Smith passed to his eternal reward.
Rev. William Fitzgerald, a longtime member of Monumental, was called to be the acting pastor. He served energetically until his death in 1944. During his ministry, a mortgage was liquidated and the Church was shingled.
In November 1944, the young assistant pastor of Kaighn Avenue Baptist Church in Camden, New Jersey was extended the call by Monumental to become her Pastor. Rev. Ercel Franklin Webb accepted the call and installed as Pastor on the First Sunday in December of 1944.
During Dr. Webb's 42 years leading Monumental, the church underwent many changes; gifts were given annually to the United Negro College Fund, schools, missions, and many other benevolent causes. Financial support was given to local and national agencies that aided the surrounding community.
Rev. Webb felt that as a Missionary Baptist Church, we should support folk in their fields of Christian endeavor. Education was another important item on his and the Church's agenda. The Education Fund was formed to aid and encourage our youth and adults to further their education beyond high school. As the membership grew, we were urged individually and collectively to become economically sound, save money, purchase homes, accomplish something in life, and be an example for someone else to follow. Dr. Webb retired from Monumental in January, 1986.