Good Neighbor Baptist Church had its humble beginnings in 1971 at 432-434 Springfield Avenue, Newark, NJ. It was formed out of the fellowship of the Good Neighbor Cathedral by the late Madame Louise Scott-Rountree and pastored by Rev. Malachi David Rountree. The church’s name was changed and a new church body was formed, Good Neighbor Baptist Church.
The National Newark and Essex Bank partnered with The American Baptist Extension Corporation along with two other banks in a pilot project to lend Good Neighbor $94,000.00. It was through securing these loans and the sacrifices of Rev. Malachi D. Rountree and his late wife, Madame Louise Scott-Rountree, joined by family and a few dedicated friends who stepped out on faith and used their valuable resources, which within three (3) months enabled the purchase of Good Neighbor Baptist Church for $270,000.00. In 1971, twenty (20) members opened the doors to the church, located at 100 Chancellor Avenue, Newark, NJ.
In 1973, the W.J.R. (Wilson, Johnson, Rountree) Club was formed. Twelve (12) members came forth with $1,000.00 each and purchased shares that aided the acquisition of the Claireese Hotel, a 24 unit hotel, and two adjacent buildings. The club helped to secure all payments to be made on time. It was the capital from this project that assisted Good Neighbor with its financial obligations.
Rev. Rountree served as Pastor at Good Neighbor from its birth in 1971 to 1981. Under his leadership the members defined its mission in the service of the Lord as one of providing family-like membership, good neighbors to one another and community outreach. At the height of his ministry, more than 200 souls worshiped as part of the Good Neighbor Family.
Building upon their experience from Zion Hill Baptist Church in Newark, the late Moses Rountree, Sr. became the first deacon and chairman of the Deacon Board. The late Deacons Perrie Wilson and Marlon Wilson served the church faithfully and Deacon Marlon Wilson was also the first Superintendent of Sunday School.
The late Sister Geruth Rountree was the first "Church Mother" and the first Chairwoman of the Deaconess Board. Madame Louise Scott-Rountree founded the Hospitality Committee, served on the Prayer Band, worked with the Deaconess Board, and was founder of the Floral Club. She also served jointly with Sister Geruth as the first Chairladies for Women's Day.
The late Sis. Elease Wilson-Archibald was President of the Usher Board and member of the Senior Choir. Her daughter, the late Rev. Jewel Boone McKoy, was the first Church Clerk and after ordination, became Assistant Pastor until 1985, when she was called to serve as the Pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Westwood, NJ.
As Trustees, the late Moses, Jr. headed the Trustee Board and the Cain's, Doris and the late Douglas, were also appointed to this board, wherein Doris served as Financial Secretary for many years. In 1992, Moses Rountree, Jr. was ordained as a Deacon, and served faithfully. Sis. Cain is a member of the Adult Choir and the Geruth Rountree Scholarship Committee. Deacon James Wallace currently serves on the Deacon Board. Sister Louise W. Rountree was a member of the Adult Choir and once served as a Deaconess. Former Trustee Lawrence Wallace resides in Katy, TX and Bro. John W. Rountree resides in West Orange, NJ.
From 1983 to 1994, Rev. John Theodore Teabout served as Pastor of Good Neighbor Baptist Church. Through his guidance, building on the principles upon which the church was founded, the congregation continued to grow spiritually and in number, the Youth Department expanded, the mortgage was burned in 1993 and the members moved forward prayerfully doing God's will.
November, 1994, Rev. Dr. George Allen Blackwell, III became the Pastor of The Good Neighbor Baptist Church and was officially installed in March of 1995. Under Pastor Blackwell's direction, a redefining of one's spiritual aspirations and dedication has been occurring. Spiritual growth is the members' foremost priority! The sanctuary was renovated in 1996, a Children's Church ministry formed, weekly community food bank, weekly senior fellowship club, numerous capital projects were completed resulting from the on-going “Tree of Life” campaign initiated in 2002 and in 2019, the first women Deacons were installed. God has truly blessed Good Neighbor throughout the years.
Many of our founders have gone home to be with the Lord: Brother June Wilson, Sister Lissie Wilson, Deacon Perrie Wilson, Brother Romeo Wilson, Sr, Deacon Marlon Wilson, Sis Elsie Wilson, Sister Beulah Wilson, Sister Elease Wilson-Archibald, Brother Walter Douglas Cain, Madame Louise Scott-Rountree, Sister Geruth Rountree, Deacon Moses Rountree, Sr., Rev. Jewel Boone McKoy and Deacon Moses Rountree Jr.
Although God has called fourteen of the founders home, three remain members of The Good Neighbor Baptist Church and three have moved away or united with other churches. We, the Good Neighbor family, must never forget their great contribution; for their willingness to answer a call to do a great work for the up-building of God’s Kingdom. Today, so many of us that worship here have richer lives, and we shall always be grateful.
Sis. Geruth Rountree