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Trinity Temple SDA Church History
This document contains a revision of the original Church History printed in the 1988 Church Directory and additions made by the current church historians.

Trinity Temple Seventh-day Adventist Church, now located in the heart of Newark’s Central Ward, has a long and colorful history that spans nearly a century. Organized in the early 1900s, the first meetings were held on Chestnut Street at member’s home in 1922. The group relocated to Rutgers Street around the time that Elder Durant led the congregation as pastor.

Membership growth warranted the need for a new building. With approximately 300 members and under the leadership of Elder Wilmot Fordham, the group purchased a property at 308 Bergen Street for $22,000 in 1923.

Church leaders in the 1920s and 1930s included Elder Campbell, John Wagner, Sr. (1930 – 1935), and Harvey W. Kibble, Sr. (1935 – 1941). Other church officers included, Elders: Prothro, Coburn, and Gray; Deacons: Joe Louis, McMillian, Ellington, Brown, and Baker; Deaconesses: Simmons, Smalley, Ponder, Williams; and Choir Directors: Geneva Carter and Cora Brown.

During Pastor Harvey Kibble’s tenure the church established a one-classroom school in a building attached to the sanctuary. At that time Ms. Florence Williamson served the school as both teacher and principle. As the student roster grew more grades were added and other teachers joined Ms. Williamson, including Ms. Vera Bradford Braxton, Ms. C. Cluff, Ms. Josephine McQuerry, and Ms. Goldie Petress.

Trinity’s growth continued, and it outgrew its current location. Now under the leadership of Pastor Jethro Lester, a site was purchased at 35 Hillside Street to be Trinity’s new home. A number of years passed before the dream of building the new sanctuary was realized, during which John Wagner, Jr. and Leon Cox served as Trinity’s pastors. Finally, while the church was under the leadership of Pastor Paul Cantrell, not only was the building completed the mortgage was also paid off!

Now under the leadership of Pastor John E. Collins, the church continued its work in the community by preaching the gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. After Elder Collins the congregation was led by Elder John Wright for four years. During that time more emphasis was put on Christian education, and a new building was purchased in Hillside, New Jersey at 1500 Maple Avenue, Trinity Temple Academy’s home to this day.

Elder Charles Joseph arrived at Trinity in 1976, and soon engaged in a construction project aimed at building a new sanctuary. Properties north of the Hillside Avenue location were acquired, and plans were in place to commence building the new church. But Elder Joseph’s tenure came to an abrupt end; nevertheless, the work continued under the leadership of his successor, Pastor Alvin M. Kibble.

Pastor Alvin Kibble joined us in September 1977, and hit the ground running. He developed a plan that included the retirement of the school mortgage and giving to a Church Building Fund. Additional properties were secured; the existing church was renovated; and by faith a large parking lot was built to accommodate both the existing church and the new sanctuary soon to be built.

After Pastor Alvin Kibble Trinity Temple was led by Pastor S. Peter Campbell, who came to us in July 1986. In September 1984 Pastor Campbell called a meeting where he challenged the church to raise $50,000 in addition to the $42,000 it already had in its Church Building Fund in order to pay off a $90,000 loan against church properties. The church got to work, and within two months, in December 1984, the debt was paid in full!

Now that the church was debt-free, the members were driven to raise $70,000 by May 1985. That same year Pastor Campbell presented architectural drawings, financial plans and a loan request to the Allegheny East Conference Executive Committee for review and approval. The Committee approved the plans, the Columbia Union Revolving Fund granted the loan, and In January 1986, building groundwork was broken.

10 months later, in November 1986, Trinity Temple was poised to enter its new sanctuary. Pastor S. Peter Campbell led church officers, city officials and Trinity Temple’s 1,600 members and guests on a victory march to the beat of the Newark Pioneer Pathfinders’ drums from the old to the new sanctuary.

Dubbed the “Community Pastor,” Pastor S. Peter. Campbell was well known in Newark and surrounding areas. He joked that he could park his brand new Mercedes by a fire hydrant in front of the City Hall building in the heart of Newark and nothing would happen to it! His involvement in the community and relationship with community leaders such as Mayor Gibson, Trinity Temple member Dr. Ralph Grant, who at the time was president of the city counsel, and Judge McDonald, was a tremendous help in helping building the nearly $1 million sanctuary.

Pastor S. Peter Campbell left us in 1989. Over the next 16 years Trinity continued to grow and to preach the Gospel under the leadership of Pastor Haywood Weatherford (1989 to 2001), Pastor Malcolm Taylor (2001 to 2004), and interim Pastor Henry Fordham (2004 to 2005). With the explosion of the Internet in the nineties and the world’s transformation by means of technological advancements, Trinity saw fit to use technology as a conduit to establish a worldwide presence. The Communications Department launched a website and used it to share church information and preach the gospel. www.trinitytemplesda.org

Trinity is currently under the Pastoral leadership of Dr. Norman Kenneth Miles, Sr. Dr. Miles came to us in December 2005, and over the past 3 years has put strong focus on Trinity’s spiritual growth and on expanding its influence in the community. Under his guidance, along with Assistant Pastor Carl Alexander Brewer I, the church leadership initiated a series of faith-building programs aimed at strengthening our spiritual muscles.

We have the annual 30-day fast, a period during which church members are challenged to abstain from a favorite food, a favorite pastime, etc while engaging in prayer and Scriptural meditation. We have the annual 7 Last Words, which takes place during the Easter season, where we meditate on Christ’s 7 final words on the Cross. We have spiritual gift inventories, where members’ spiritual talents are assessed and they are encouraged to be good stewards.

The church also engages in building its community. An annual Back to School program kicked off in 2007, where parents from the community are invited to bring their children for instructions on how to help them succeed in school. Children are challenged to aim high and build better futures through education, and parents are encouraged to partner up with them. At the end of a brief presentation the church distributes hundreds of bags filled with books and other school supplies. The program draws residents of Newark and surrounding areas who otherwise might have never set foot into Trinity. Annual toy drives enable hundreds of underprivileged children to have toys every holiday season. The Community Service Department continues to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help the downtrodden. Countless similar programs are in place to test our spiritual sinew and foster growth.

In 2007 Trinity initiated The Nehemiah Project with the goal of maintaining the church’s properties. To date this initiative has funded sanctuary maintenance and is paying for the renovation of the building west of the sanctuary. Once completed, the building will be a community outreach center which will provide counseling and teach survival skills to community members and better equip them to deal with life’s many challenges.

Trinity Temple now owns properties extending the entire block from Clinton to Avon Avenues, plus the Parking lot across the street from the sanctuary. We take to heart our Savior’s warning that to whom much is given much is also required, and have a burning hankering for reaching out to and saving those whom the enemy of souls holds captive. Throughout its long history Trinity has remained a beacon of hope in its communities. With God’s blessings and our pastors’ leading, we pray that it will continue to spread God’s Word until that great day when our Lord’s voice will cry at last, “Well done!” Then together we will all say, “This is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation” (Isaiah 25:9, KJV).

To God be the Glory!

Church Historians,
March 30, 2009