First Baptist Church of Rahway, 177 Elm Ave., Rahway, New Jersey 07065 is a multi-cultural congregation that has a Blended English Service on Sunday Mornings, a Latino Service at 12:00, and a Service in Telugu at 3:30PM. For more information, call (732) 388-8626. Or click here to send an email. If you wish to help the Mission and Ministry of First Baptist financially click the Donate Button.

Monday, May 24, 2010

NYTS Dialogues discusses Pentecost, immigration

The Rev. Dr. Dale Irvin, president of New York Theological Seminary, discusses Pentecost and immigration at NYTS Dialogues. Cited in the work is the position paper by ABC-USA.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

ABCNJ puts out position paper on immigration

American Baptist Churches-New Jersey has come up with a position regarding immigration. For more information, got to the denomination's website.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Justice and Mercy

Justice and Mercy


War, huh, good God y’all, what is it good for – absolutely nothing.

This is a song from my childhood – and because it was in a recent movie my kids walk around the house singing it. Things get much weirder as we get older.

They think the song is funny, because the movie was a comedy, but for me it brings up memories of Vietnam and the era of war protesters. Since I was a kid I have vague memories of those days; protests on TV, images of the war, Nixon resigning, arguments at school (I was a loyal Republican in 5th grade). Today I have a better understanding of what went on. Several people I have met over the years served in Vietnam. Russ talked about terrifying helicopter rides, midnight rocket attacks and endless rain. The thing that impressed me the most from Russ was his powerful hatred of the Vietnamese. Twenty years removed and he still called them gooks. He was unashamed in his disgust for an entire people. If this is the result of war then I think that the song is true – what is it good for – absolutely nothing.

Yet, what good is the sentiment of an antiwar song when someone tries to set off a bomb in Times Square? The next time it happens I could be there, or one of my children. When I saw that story the first words out of my mouth was; kill them. Self preservation makes a person very militant. Jesus said; “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Jesus was a man of mercy. However, Jesus also said this about people who sin and do evil; “They (angels) will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Jesus was also a man of justice. So, when we are considering going to war against terrorists and other assorted nasties, should we follow Jesus and love them? Or, should we follow Jesus and send them to their just reward?

Justice is needed because people do evil in the world. Our country cries out for justice against the people who attacked us on 9/11. We cry out in anger because of all of the innocents hurt and killed on that day. At the same time, the world cries out for mercy. The Indian Ocean tsunami caused all of us half a world away to give all that we could to those who had suffered from that tragedy. When people suffer in a war ravaged place like the Sudan, mercy should be the principal that guides our actions.

The leaders of our world do try and avoid war. We organize economic sanctions, international tribunals and insert peace keeping troops. The history of these interventions is mixed. When innocents are attacked, justice demands that we do something, and mercy demands that we do it with love. All of us need to figure out how to balance the two. In the meantime, keep singing those old antiwar songs and, give peace a chance.

The Rev. William Whitehead is a graduate of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He is an ordained reverend within American Baptist Churches and serves as the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Rahway. For more information, go to

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stelton hosts Church/Neighborhood Yard Sale

On SATURDAY, MAY 22, Stelton Baptist Church, 334 Plainfield Avenue, Edison, New Jersey 08817 is holding its first-ever Church/Neighborhood Yard Sale. There will be wonderful bargains on furniture, home accessories, books and much more. For more information, call Pastor Kathleen Tice at (732) 985-0822, or e-mail her at

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Just Show Up

Every time I walk into this Nursing Home I can’t believe how terrible is smells. The place looks clean, but it smells like an outhouse. Thank God my parishioner is outside smoking. I don’t like the smoking part but the atmosphere outside is healthier than inside. I’m a pastor and once a month I just sort of, show up. Sometimes I am expected, and sometimes I appear out of the either. Sometimes my parishioner greets me with a warm smile and sometimes I get the distinct feeling my presence is not appreciated. Either way, I regularly hop onto my proverbial pony and ride the circuit to visit my parishioners. Its wonderful work, if sometimes smelly, and a great blessing for myself and my people.

Accepting People
I walked into the house and there were stacks of newspapers everywhere. It was like walking down a Home Depot isle with boxes on the storage shelves stretching high into the sky. There was a path that wound between the stacks of pulped and reformed trees. The path led to a chair for me and one for her. We sat and talked about this and that, surrounded by the stories that enfolded her life. In between the pages were murders, wars, the ups and downs of the stock market. Stacks and stacks of cartoons, obituaries and, pre-owned certified hardly used cars for sale. Here was the history of the local civilized world my friend and I lived in. And here it was slowly turning yellow, along with its caretaker. I tried not to let the newspapers distract me too much. Instead, with all of the people I visit I try and focus on them. In every home there are items that draw my attention. We all have some quirky things in our private spaces. So my job is to focus on the person and accept everything about my friend and her living space even if it includes a few old newspapers.

The Steelers just scored a touchdown. Our conversation about the comings and goings of her grandchildren paused for a brief moment while we took in the celebrations. This lovely older woman always had football on when I came calling on Sunday afternoons. We would talk while the running backs dodged and weaved on the field of dreams. Since we lived in Pennsylvania the game was always either Pittsburgh or Philadelphia. Crowds bundled up against the cold while we sat in our warm and comfortable chairs. I think she would have loved to go to one of those freezing games, but she needed a special chair that lifted her into a standing position as well as a chair lift to get up the stairs. We sat and talked, and every once in a while cheered. It was a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon despite the games obvious distractions. It never crossed my mind to ask if she would turn off the game. I didn’t mind if the game interrupted us every so often. I adjusted my comfort level to hers and we were both fine. Watching a football game while visiting with someone is a bonus.

Honoring the Past
He jumped out of his burning bomber over Denmark. When he landed he broke his leg. I thought parachutes were supposed to prevent that kind of thing. Local people turned him over to the Germans. Another myth, the locals were on our side, shot to pieces. My parishioner spent a freezing/starving year in a German prison camp. Then they kicked him out and sent him on a bizarre journey. As the war neared its end the Germans cleared out their prisoner of war camps and sent all of the prisoners away from the front. The fact that they were surrounded and there was no place to go didn’t matter. After hearing this story I took a history book out of the library that documented this strange episode. At the end of World War II hundreds of thousands of people were wandering across Europe trying to survive. My parishioner walked with his comrades across Germany. They begged for food from locals. They slept outside in the winter. They stayed a night in a functioning concentration camp. They ended up in a forest against a river they couldn’t cross. They made huts out of tree branches. He still had pictures of his home in the woods. Finally they were rescued by the US Army. An amazing and hair raising tail that I will never forget. His story along with many others has helped me to better understand and honor war veterans. Not having lived through these experiences, the next best thing is to sit and listen to the epic stories they have to tell.

Her eyesight deteriorating, she talked to me about what her eyes had seen through many long years. We talked about Scranton and the surrounding area. She related all of the changes that had happened and all of the people who had come and gone throughout her life. On the wall there was a picture that caught my ever curious eye. It was a picture of President and Mrs. Clinton, autographed in gold ink. I asked about it and was surprised by the answer. My friend was Mrs. Clinton’s nanny when she visited her relatives in Scranton. Hillary Clinton spent many of her childhood summers in our lovely valley. When they entered the White House they sent the picture to this old friend who had seen so much in her long life. My friend’s eyes had seen this young woman growing up, and now she saw through the eyes of her memories.

Being There
I visited him every month for years at the VA Hospital. Alzheimer’s was very advanced and he didn’t know who I was, or where he was, or whether I was there or not. I said hello and talked about people he knew at church. I hoped I would get a response if I mentioned familiar things. At first this worked but over time the responses disappeared. So I talked as long as I could think of things to say, one way conversations are very difficult. When I got ready to go I left a business card with a note and date on it. I did this for the family. There were always new photos on the wall so I knew that they came and visited too. They needed to know that someone cared for this man who sat day after day and just existed. Everyone needs someone who cares.

Two in the morning we were in the hospital chapel. We prayed some and spent the rest of the waiting period talking about whatever came into our minds. His wife was having an emergency operation. She had been seriously ill for months. When I got the call I figured I was going to be doing a funeral. I’m happy to say that she recovered from this terrible illness. That night though, we had no idea what was to come. So we sat and talked and prayed. It didn’t matter what we talked about. What mattered to my friend was that someone was there.

So, Just Show Up
An old pastor once told me that most of ministry was just showing up. I’ve tried a lot of things since that conversation. I have given away Bibles, knocked on doors like an insurance salesman, started programs, and Bible studies. Despite all of this, visiting people has always been the most successful of my efforts. And it’s so easy. I knock on the door; do a little bit of talking and a lot of listening. People need to be listened to. People need to know someone cares for them. People need to be honored. So that is what I do, and I hope you will too with your friends and relatives. It’s great work if you can find it.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Prayer Conference Call

Prayer Conference Every Tuesday Night. 218-862-7200, Code 484632. Call in anytime between 8 and 9PM if you have a prayer concern.

Upcoming Church and Neighborhood Yard Sale at Stelton

Stelton Baptist Church of Edison is having a church and neighborhood yard sale on Saturday, May 22, starting at 9:00 a.m. Some of the items available will be books, craft kits and supplies, furniture, clothing, small appliances, and various household items. Sale will be at Plainfield and Division streets, across from the Edison library.

Stelton Baptist is a member of ABCNJ's Raritan Association. For more information, go to the church's website.

Monday, May 3, 2010

May Music Festival Report

If you missed it, the May Music Festival was awesome. We had a good sized group and people were singing, clapping and praising God. It was hosted by our Praise Group, Colors of Faith. Londra sang lead on most of the songs, and she was helped out by Heather and Betsy. Kevin and Bill played guitar and added some singing to the festival. Richard on bass, Akebe on drums and of course, our director Phyllis on the keyboards. Special thanks to our invited guest performers. First Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church choir. They were just great. Also, the FBC Telugu musicians have been getting better and better. And the father daughter combo, Kevin and Heather Orsini sang a few inspirational songs. Thanks to everyone who helped; Michael with announcing; Betsy with food; Josh Ortiz, Raj Ram and George Taylor with testimonies.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

ABCNJ seeks to fund ESL programs

ABCNJ's Public Mission Committee has received a Palmer Grant to enhance the language instruction opportunities for people living in the Garden State. The primary focus of the new grant is to prepare adults for the workplace. ABCNJ is seeking to launch two to three "English for the Workplace" classes during 2010.

For more information, go to ABCNJ's homepage.