The Rev. Dr Glen Calvin Misick, a native of the Turks and Caicos Islands, is the newly appointed pastor of Old First Presbyterian Church of Newark, NJ.
Located in downtown Newark, Old First is the oldest registered church in the Garden State. It was founded in 1666. This appointment sets a long awaited precedent as Dr Misick is the first black pastor of the church, whose long line of spiritual leaders includes early Princeton University scholars like the father of the third US vice president, Aaron Burr Sr. and trustee Alexander MacWhorter.
Rev. Dr Glen Calvin Misick
Dr Misick, a New York resident and former pastor of the Harlem’s historic Church of the Master, is no stranger to New Jersey. He received his master of divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a doctorate of ministry from Drew University. His appointment begins a new era of spiritual leadership in Newark.
Old First Church has a rich treasure of authentic records, which declares that it is “the Church that founded Newark.” Dr Misick is aware of the history and leadership of “Old First Church,” once a thriving church of great prominence and influence, having established churches and colleges, such as Princeton University.
The church was once the seat of government for Newark, producing pastors that served as the first presidents of Princeton, Harvard and Yale universities. It was historically used as a regular stop on the “Underground Railroad,” which passageways through the church’s cellar are still accessible. The Church’s architectural interior design is noted as “breathtaking” and is listed amongst the archives in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.
Dr Misick was hired to stimulate growth in “Old First Church.” He will have the responsibility of balancing the Church’s membership and serving as a center for advocacy. Since the Church’s glory days, it lost most of its membership to attrition, leading up to and after the Newark riots, as well as a result of an aging congregation.
The Church’s congregation today represents one of the most diverse churches in Newark. Members and attendees have African-American, Latino, Asian, African, British, Irish, Italian and Caribbean heritage.
Dr Misick states that his major priority is to keep God in the forefront of the ministry. That being said, he is very clear that membership and worship attendance are key. Since he became pastor, the membership role is growing and he is scheduling new member’s classes monthly. He has also developed focus groups in an effort to develop what he calls “programs of significance” that will help bring about transformation in the Newark area.
With a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, along with forty years of ministerial experience, Dr. Misick will be able to address one of his greatest challenges of cross-cultural communication in his leadership role.
His first solo pastorate was with the First Congregational Church of Daytona Beach, Florida, which possessed a similar background to Old First Presbyterian as the oldest congregation in that city. He successfully helped them transition from a predominantly Caucasian congregation to African-American. Ironically, Old First Church was birthed in Connecticut as a Congregational Church. When it moved to New Jersey, it joined all other congregational churches in moving over to the Presbyterian denomination. Despite this move, the church still has elements of congregationalism in its polity. It boasts of its Charter, which was signed by King George of England.
Officials in the church and Presbyterian judicatories have pointed out that Misick’s experience in both denominations, as well as service in multicultural and multiracial ministries, makes him a good “match” for helping this church through its transition.
Dr Misick’s installation ceremony will take place at Old First Church, 820 Broad Street, Newark, NJ on May 19, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. The service will be led by the Presbytery of Newark and feature the Rev. Dr Deforest “Buster” Soaries, pastor of First Baptist Church in Somerset, as guest preacher.