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Where Did We Come From?

In the year of our Lord 1919, a small group of Christians living on Hickman Road in Claymont, Delaware, were inspired and encouraged by Margaret Roane to form a prayer group. As a resident of the community who visited her neighbors regularly, Mrs. Roane saw a need for them to come together to start a church for Baptist Christians.

The meetings were held one night a week and Sunday mornings at the home of Philip and Margaret Roane and Robert and Lula Johnson. They sang, prayed and studied the Scriptures.

The Reverend Robert H. Butcher of Elmwood, Pennsylvania - a close friend of Brother and Sister Roane - was invited to assist them in organizing a church. Under his leadership, the first officers were appointed and the membership totaled fifteen adults and children.

A two-room brick building stood on a hill behind Hickman Road and was donated to the residents of the community by the Worth Steel Company. However, one room of the building was not being used. Sister Margaret Roane, who worked for the wife and president of Worth Steel, asked for and received permission for the residents to hold church services in that portion of the building.

Under the leadership of Reverend Butcher, on Sunday afternoon, May 22, 1921, the first service was held in the “little school house” and the congregation organized as the Union Baptist Church. Reverend Butcher was elected as the pastor and Sis. Margaret Harns was the secretary. Without a piano, an organ or even a tambourine, the congregation joined in singing. During the call for membership, nine persons joined.

The membership continued to grow under Reverend Butcher’s leadership until his resignation in 1925. Subsequently, Reverend Daniel Heath was called and pastored the church for fourteen years. When Reverend Heath resigned, the Reverend John Hayes was called and pastored for nine years. Reverend Vernell Bland, an associate minister of the church, served after Reverend Hayes until Reverend Herman L. Brooks was called to pastor on April 11, 1948.

Worth Steel Company commissioned the W.D. Haddock Construction Company of Wilmington, Delaware, to build a church site across the street in front of the homes on Hickman Row. The groundbreaking ceremony took place on Sunday, February 6, 1949, with Reverend Herman L. Brooks presiding. The building was leased to the church for $1.00 per year.

Reverend Brooks pastored for seven years and resigned due to failing health. Reverend Otis A. Herring officiated until Reverend A. H. Harrison was called to pastor. Reverend Harrison pastored for six years.

Reverend Otis A. Herring, an ordained son of the church, served as interim pastor from January to July of 1963. He was installed as pastor on the second Sunday in September of that year. At the time of his installation, the church only had two deacons (Brothers Hollan Trotter and Joseph L. Crumpler), $150 in the bank, a yearly budget of $2,000, a membership of approximately 60 people, a structured lease from Worth Steel Company at a cost of $1 per year and two choirs (the Senior Choir and Pastors Aide Chorus).

Pastor Herring labored diligently and untiringly. In September 1963, the church building in Claymont, Delaware was sold and the members had until the third Sunday in December to locate another place for worship. On the fourth Sunday of the same month, services were held at the YMCA at 10th and Walnut streets in Wilmington, Delaware where services were held for three years. During this time, the church started a building fund drive. As a result of combined efforts, a lot was purchased at 26th and Pine streets in Wilmington, Delaware at a cost of $6,000.00, which the congregation liquidated in less than one year.

Groundbreaking for the new edifice was held on May 24, 1964. The construction of the new edifice began in September, 1966. The church was occupied in March, 1967. The total cost for land and building was over $100,000.00, which included the main sanctuary, recreational annex, and the day care facility. The total cost of the main structure was liquidated in less than three years. Under Reverend Otis A. Herring, the church grew spiritually and financially, and under his leadership the church increased in membership.

The Union family began to plan for a new sanctuary in 1974. A vacant lot at 26th and Carter streets was purchased for $15,000 and a magnificent bricks people sanctuary was build a cost of $700,000. The dedication and opening services were celebrated October 23rd - November 6th of 1977; the theme, “A Dream Unfolds.” The theme song, “The Lord Has Brought Us a Mighty Long Way," was written by the late Brother Leander Morris. Upon inhabiting the new edifice, the church began restructuring and new ministries were established.

In September of 1992, church suffered a soul-searching blow when the congregation divided. More than 50 percent of the members started a new fellowship while the remaining congregation maintained its 20 auxiliaries. Yet, they continued outreach ministries; and remained committed to the membership of the Union Baptist Church.

Another blow was suffered when on July 12, 1996, Reverend Otis A. Herring departed this life after a long illness and 35 years of service to the Union Baptist Church, the community, and the city of Wilmington.

The next two years were difficult and trying times for the Union Baptist Church family; but the Lord saw us through. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Deacons Ministry, ten associate ministers, faithful trustees, officers and members of the church, we endured the loss and grew numerically and spiritually.

The church went into prayer and selected a pulpit search committee of 11 members, chaired by Deacon Ronald Davis, Sr. The committee, after reviewing over 100 resumes, and completing an extensive search, met Reverend LaBarron F. McAdoo, Sr. On Sunday, April 26, 1998, he met the congregation and preached his interview sermon “Can You Stand To Be Blessed?” Union Baptist Church, by vote accepted the Reverend LaBarron F. McAdoo, Sr. as its pastor. Reverend LaBarron F. McAdoo, Sr. and wife, Angeleatha; along with their children; LaBarron, Jr., Mychal DeJuan, and Mekayla Dominique were welcomed as the marriage of a new pastor and membership consummated.

Pastor McAdoo, a native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee accepted the call, relocated to Delaware June 1st, and on June 6, 1998 preached his first Pastoral Sermon as Senior Pastor of the Union Baptist Church. The sermon was entitled “Come Out With Your Hands Up.” From that time, he has been committed to the Developing Dynamic Disciples. He came to us with the goal to “… pastor and the body of Christ throughout the entire community, to seek, find, and to recover the lost sheep of God and lead them to Christ…” Moreover, “…. to continue as our fathers have before us in endeavoring to build-up the spiritual and educational level of God's people with sound biblical teaching and preaching; making us better equipped to complete the mission that God has purposed through us”.