Nazarene Baptist Church
Reverend George Russell
1896 - 1914
Nazarene Baptist Church of Nicetown came into fruition in 1896. A young Virginian, Reverend George Russell, was instrumental in the organization of Nazarene. Weekly prayer meetings were held at his home located at 3952 North Nice Street and as an outgrowth, that location became known as the First Colonial Baptist Mission of Nicetown. Reverend Russell had a strong desire to reach more people in the community and secured the services of Reverend Andrew Jones, an evangelist, to conduct revival. To accommodate these services, larger quarters were needed and the mission moved to Ponemans Hall at Germantown Avenue and Butler Street. As the congregation increased, the need for even larger quarters grew as well. Two houses were purchased at 4036-4038 North Nice Street and were razed to house the First Colonial Baptist Mission of Nicetown at a cost of three thousand dollars ($3,000.00.) Lively services were conducted at the mission by this band of steadfast Christians who preached, prayed and sang in spite of the trials, which they endured. The quest for recognition as a church by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania had now begun.
The first council of local churches refused to recommend First Colonial on grounds that Reverend Russell was not an ordained minister and that a First Baptist Church already existed in Nicetown. In light of the need for the mission to have an ordained minister, Reverend Russell went to his home church, Piney Grove Baptist Church of Halifax County, Virginia in 1895 and was ordained there by Reverend Charles Coleman. Next, a name for the church had to be selected. After many suggestions, “Nazarene,” submitted by Jennie Morton, was chosen. These pioneers again sought recognition as a church. Reverend George Russell, Critte Russell, William Reed, Philip Christian, Charles Coleman, Missouri Reed, Henry Coleman, Gordon Coleman, Sophie Coleman and Betty Coleman, all of whom had previously united with the Grace Baptist Church of Germantown were now commissioned to form a Baptist church in Nicetown.
A second council was called April 5, 1896, which included Reverend Gibson, Chairman, Reverend Reed, Reverend Morton Winston, Reverend Diggs, Reverend Gordon and Reverend Lee. On April 9, 1896, Nazarene Baptist Church of Nicetown became officially recognized by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with Reverend George Russell as its first pastor. On June 12, 1911, Nazarene was officially chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with Reverend George Russell, John Barber, Barney Barksdale, Charles Coleman, Nelson Brooks and Thomas G. Coleman as petitioners. After serving as pastor for eighteen years, Reverend Russell resigned in January of 1914.