In May of 1984, God blessed us with our sixth pastor, Reverend Keith Marshall Williams, Sr. who preached his first sermon on June 3, 1984. Pastor Williams was blessed with a great variety of educational and ministerial experiences to prepare him at a young age to be Nazarene’s under shepherd. He graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree and in 1981 graduated from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary of Philadelphia with his Master’s of Divinity degree. He traveled to the Far East and Africa with Sports Ambassadors, a missionary basketball evangelism team. He also taught Bible studies and served as chaplain of Philadelphia’s professional sports teams. Pastor Williams came to Nazarene from Mount Olive Baptist Church in Glassboro, New Jersey. His strong expository preaching and teaching have enabled the church to continue to grow spiritually, numerically and financially. Christian Education was expanded to include many specialized ministries including Youth, Singles, Men, Women Marriage and Senior Saints Fellowships. During the summer months, evangelistic outreach services are held outdoors to reach the community. A campus outreach ministry was established at Temple University, which significantly added to the young adult population.
Under Pastor Williams’ pastorate, many improvements and repairs were made to our past edifice including an air-conditioning unit, a computer with laser printer, 20 new properties, two new vans, two church buses and a new audio system and sound room. Improvements at the Nazarene Center include a new boys’ cabin, replacement windows in the main house and a new well.
From the inception of the church’s building program, development continued. Members, quite conscientious in supporting the building program for many years, were anxious to move forward in deciding what form of expansion should take place. The Master had his mighty hand in the decision as Pastor Williams began to share his vision of a new edifice with the Nazarene family and stressed the importance of uniting on one accord. The overwhelming majority was steadfast in its desire to build a new edifice, sufficient with all of the amenities for worship and ministry development at the corner of Germantown Avenue and Lycoming Street and plans began immediately.
With God as our leader, Pastor Williams, Deacon Board Chairman, Ralph Vaden, Trustee Chairman, James E. Rhone, Deacons, Trustees and church family, meetings were held and on April 25, 1990, a Building Fund Kick-Off Banquet was held at the Beulah Baptist Church, with Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Sr., Pastor Emeritus of the Grace Baptist Church of Germantown, as speaker.
To guide the church through the entire development/construction process, Cruse Development Consultants were hired. The Madison Design Group of Columbia, Maryland was hired as the architectural firm and E. Allen Reeves, Inc., a local firm, was hired because of its vast experience in building churches in the Philadelphia area. The professional team was then formulated and member Susan C. Moody, Esquire, Church Counsel, recommended that Carolyn Gaines serve as legal counsel for the project. Anita T. Conner and Associates were hired as accountants. Construction was financed by PNC Bank who joint-ventured with minority owned United Bank of Philadelphia. Construction began in November 1994. The foundation of the building was completed rather quickly as a result of a very mild winter in 1995 and the Lord blessed the relatively smooth construction period. The saints of Nazarene marched into their new edifice on May 25, 1996 surpassed the joy experienced at the official ground breaking service on November 19, 1994. One of the first official business decisions in the new church in 1994 was the election of three females to the Board of Trustees: Juanita Ogburn, Zella Michael and Cynthia Malachi White.
The music ministry continues to flourish under the leadership of the first appointed Minister Of Music in Nazarene’s history, Deaconess Joyce Erlinda Drayton who has served Nazarene musically for over 49 years and is the only member musician who has accompanied and/or directed every singing unit in Nazarene. For over ten years, Wilida Luff has served as director for the Nazarene Chorus, Young Adult Choir, Church School Choir and Male Chorus.
We are currently supporting 26 missionaries. Fifteen are home-based and 11 are foreign based. Several overlap and serve both home based and foreign.
Under the leadership of Pastor K. Marshall Williams, Sr., a Capital Stewardship Committee was developed followed by the organization of other ministries including: Teacher Training, Men’s Discipleship, Women’s and Pastor’s Bible classes, Old Testament Bible Class, Recovery From Losses of Life Class, Christian Etiquette for Teens (now Teen Shop), Widow and Widowers Fellowships, College Outreach and Spiritual Brothers & Sisters ministries. The Missions and Evangelism Department was expanded to include the Life Threads Clothing and sheepfold ministries. Under the Department of Public Worship, the Audio Visual and Tape Ministry, Glorifiers Of God Praise Dancers, B.E.L.I.E.V.E. (Because Emmanuel Lives I Have Victory Every Day) Mime Ministry and a Mass Choir were organized.
In 1998, Nazarene united with the Greater Philadelphia Baptist Association and the Baptist Convention of Pennsylvania/Jersey. In 2002, the congregation hosted the largest meeting of their state convention. Other affiliations include the Pennsylvania Eastern District Congress of Christian Education, Germantown Congress of Christian Education, Pennsylvania Baptist Convention, Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Federations of Bible Classes, and Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention.
In 1996, the Nazarene Community Development Corporation (NCDC) was organized with James E. Rhone as its first president. Deacon Lawrence Collins is its current president. The NCDC is partnering with the church in a community beautification project to be completed this year. It also sponsors the Education Through Culture Program that provides enrichment and service outings and activities to young people in the congregation and surrounding neighborhoods.
Nazarene Baptist Church has achieved its present status first and foremost as a result of our Heavenly Father’s faithfulness to us through the years and second, as a result of the devoted, loyal service of our under shepherd’s officers and members. We give God the glory for all He has done and for His sustaining power. We trust the Savior to continually lead us as we strive obediently to be “doers of the word and not hearers only,” Knowing that: “… it doth not appear what we will be, but we know that, when He shall appear, we will be like Him: for we shall see Him as he is.” (1st John 3:2). Nazarene is “Still Praising God and Abiding in the Faith.” (Psalm 84:4b; John 15:5).