On This Day in UB History: May 23 (New York City)

Owen Gordon (left) and Clarence Kopp.

Owen Gordon (left) and Clarence Kopp.

Over the years, many United Brethren from Jamaica moved to New York City, and requests were made to start a Jamaican UB church in the Big Apple. In 1985, the Board of Missions agreed to explore the idea.

On May 23, 1987, Bishop Clarence Kopp and Owen Gordon met in New York City with about 50 United Brethren people from Jamaica, many of them from the Battersea UB church. They met in the Bronx, where most of them now lived. Others came from Queens, Brooklyn, Pelham, Mt. Vernon, and Long Island.

Gordon, who had pastored in Jamaica for 16 years, knew nearly everyone at that meeting and had baptized 15 of them. He reported that 46 people at the meeting committed themselves to help start a new church, and that they were quite enthusiastic about it.

It was decided to send Jamaican pastors on a rotating basis. First up: Owen and Francis Gordon, who arrived in April 1988 and stayed for three months. They were followed by Donald Dacres, who stayed through the rest of 1988. Basil Dunkley arrived at Christmas to replace Dacres.

The congregation remained small until 1992, when Simon White, another minister from Jamaica, became pastor. The church became firmly established under his ministry, which continued until 1998.

Linton Thomas, who held an annual conference license in Jamaica Conference, became the pastor in April 1998. The next year, First United Brethren Church in the Bronx was accepted into Mid-Atlantic Conference, and Thomas transferred his ministerial credentials from Jamaica Conference. Thomas remains pastor of this congregation, which averages about 100 people in attendance.

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