Rev. Dr. John H. Spencer, Jr.
Rev. Dr. John H. Spencer, Jr. is a native of Tuscalosa Alabama and the third of eight children. His parents, the late Rev. Dr. John Herbert Spencer, Sr. and Mrs. Lillian B. Spencer instilled in him and his siblings, Otis, Paul, Marjorie, Lillian, Janice, Faye, and Simeon. a love for the Lord and a zest for learning. Dr. Spencer is a perpetual student, having received his Bachelor and Master degrees in Mathematics from Stillman College and the University of Colorado, respectively, and in 2007 his Doctor of Ministry degree from the Beeson Divinity School of Samford University.
Upon his graduation from the University of Colorado, he embarked upon a managerial career in the field of Telecommunications. Over a period of almost 20 years, he held a number of managerial and technical positions with a variety of companies including Mountain Bell, Bell Laboratories, AT&T, Western Electric and Integrated Network Corporation. However, during that time he continued his Bible studies and service as a Sunday School Teacher, Superintendent of Sunday School, and Deacon at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey. As his personal relationship with God grew, God initiated a career change for Rev. Spencer by calling him into the gospel ministry. He was licensed to preach the gospel in April of 1989 by Ebenezer Baptist Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, under the pastorate of the late, Rev. Lonnie Ford. Believing the call to the ministry was also a call to preparation, Rev. Spencer quickly enrolled in the Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he earned a Masters in Divinity degree. Later Rev. Spencer became the Assistant to the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Englewood, New Jersey under the late, Rev. Dr. J. Isaiah Goodman and on January 1, 1993 he became the Senior Pastor.
Rev. Spencer has preached throughout the United States, South America and on the continent of Africa. His love and service to Englewood and the community is evidenced by his many awards and past election to the Englewood School Board of Education. Rev. Spencer is a visionary, whose zeal for kingdom results pushes him to be on the leading edge of change. However, as an effective leader he operates on God’s time. He believes that biblical preaching, teaching, and love are the only foundations upon which a truly great house of faith can be built.
Under Rev. Spencer’s pastorate, First Baptist Church has continued as a powerful force in the community, expanding its ministry outside of the church walls. First Baptist has become the First African-American church to plant a new American Baptist Church in the State of New Jersey. Working with the American Baptist Convention of New Jersey and the Hispanic American Baptist of Union City, First Baptist participated in the birth of the first Hispanic Baptist Church in Englewood, Comunida de Fe Iglesia Bautista. Additionally, Pastor Spencer’s visionary leadership allowed First Baptist to become the first African-American church in Bergen County to participate in the Rotating Shelter program through the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless. Also, through his farsighted direction the First Baptist Church has become a member of the Stephen Ministry, a program that equips lay persons to provide distinctively Christian one-to-one care to those who are experiencing all kinds of life needs and circumstances, both in the congregation and community.
In 1999, under Pastor Spencer’s leadership a non-profit arm of FBC, the SonRise Development Corporation was established and in 2003 a house on property adjacent to FBC was purchased and rehhibilitated. The house, now called the SonRise House serves as a transition home for homeless women and their children. In addition to operating the SonRise House, the SonRise Development Corporation through SonRise Family Services offers programs specifically geared toward family relationships, fatherhood, computer literacy, and seminars to residents throughout Bergen County and His Invitation to Victory which is an HIV/AIDS education and prevention program for those infected or affected by the virus that causes AIDS.
As part of his commitment to world missions, Rev. Spencer established a relationship between First Baptist and the Baptist Church of Nyantanga, Rwanda through which First Baptist is able to provide both financial aid and spiritual support for our brothers and sisters in Rwanda. In 2006, Pastor Spencer completed the Lott Carey Foreign Mission Convention’s Pastoral Excellence Program. This course, underwritten by the Lillie Foundation, took place over a three year period. It allowed Pastor Spencer to travel to such places as the South American nation of Guyana, the Caribbean country of Jamaica and the African nation of Zimbabwe. On each trip, Pastor Spencer spent two weeks living and working with local church pastors fully sharing in ministry; helping for example with worship, hospital and home visitation, and other matters..
Rev. Spencer is a man who preaches and teaches the word of God under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. During First Baptist’s Sunday morning worship services, Wednesday evening Prayer Service and bible study classes throughout the week he is engaged in activities designed to carry out the church’s mission of allowing the Holy Spirit to work through him to turn pain into wellness, evil into good and death into new life.
Dr. Spencer is the President of the New Jersey Convention of Progressive Baptists, a member of the New York Ministerial Alliance, the Black Clergy Council of Englewood, Teaneck, and Vicinity, the NAACP, the Urban League of Bergen County, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity. He was also a former member of the Englewood Board of Education.
His greatest love, second only to God, is his family: wife, Debra; his sons John, III (deceased), William; daughter-in-law, Qianna and grandchildren, Aniya, William IV, John Cameron, Aubrey and Autumn.