History of the Church

First Genesis Baptist Church, Inc.

The Humble Beginnings (1974-2024)

50 Years of Church Ministry

A vision, dedication, faith, trust, ambition, desire, and integrity-all describe the marks of a humble beginning for the First Genesis Baptist Church.

The church origin began at the home of Rev. and Mrs. Clarence Gavin on June 5, 1974 at their kitchen table. The kitchen is where so much love is shown to everyone who enters.

The meeting was opened by Rev. Vincent Minter who read Psalm 90. Prayer was offered by Rev. Clarence Gavin then the business started with brainstorming to identify the church’s name.  Several thoughts were shared;  St. Marks Missionary Baptist, Macedonia Missionary Baptist, Holy Ghost Missionary Baptist Church, First Genesis Baptist Church, Exodus Missionary Baptist Church. The name submitted by Tanya Gavin was chosen:  The First Genesis Baptist Church.

As most churches are formed, a governing body was immediately put together.  At the June 5th meeting, it was motioned and second that Mr. Samuel McCullough, Mrs. Mary Ann Gavin, Mrs. Lillie Gavin, and Ms. Queta Gavin were temporary Trustees.  Also, the motion was carried to make Mrs. Lillie Gavin, President and Mr. Samuel McCullough, as Treasurer.  Furthermore, it was carried that Mr. Samuel McCullough be the first Deacon and he was responsible for leading devotions. Tanya Gavin was the first Minister of Music with Claren Gavin as her assistant.  Rev. Vincent Minter was the first Superintendent of Sunday school.

At the start, the few members served as heads of various posts.  Mrs. Lillie Gavin became the President of the Usher Board and Toska Gavin the Secretary of Sunday school.  Rev. Vincent Minter served as Assistant Minister of the church.

This small band of twelve members represented the founding members of the First Genesis Baptist Church.  They were young, energetic, dedicated and committed. The number also represented the twelve disciples. The members were Rev. Clarence C. Gavin, Pastor; Rev. Vincent Minter, Assistant Minister, Superintendent of Sunday School; Mrs. Mary Ann Gavin, Trustee; Mrs. Lillie P. Gavin, Trustee President and Usher Board President; Deacon Samuel McCullough, Trustee;  Ms. Tanya Gavin, Minister of Music; Ms. Claren Gavin, Assistant Minister of Music; Ms. Toska Gavin, Sunday School Secretary; Ms. Queta Gavin, Trustee; Ms. Thais Gavin, Member;  Ms. Janice Howard, Member; Mrs. Ophelia Minter, Member.

It was 1975; the church grew by leaps and bounds.  Many new members were added to our church roll at 57 Bartlett Street.  These new members soon took on leadership responsibilities, helping to keep our family intact.  Sis Mary Britt became the Superintendent of the Sunday school and Mother Vera C. Smith was our first mother on the Mother’s Board.  The Mission Board was formed and grew under the presidency of Sister Bernadine Jones.  The choir was established under the directorship of Brother Samuel McCree.

From 1974-1977, the church resided at 57 Bartlett Street, growing in God’s grace before  the move to 292 Hudson Avenue.  The church motto was “To Serve This Present Age”. Services were as follows: Sunday school 9:30 am to 10:45am, Morning Worship 11am to 12:30pm, and  Bible Study from 7pm to 9pm on Thursdays.

There was a number of auxiliaries busy working in the vineyard. The First Genesis BTU was one of the strongest and most active in the Rochester area.

Some of the auxiliaries established during the humble years from 1974-1978 along with a fine ministerial staff were: Deacon and Deaconess Boards, Mission Board, Mother’s Board, Pastor’s Aide, Publication Committee, Scholarship Committee, Senior Choir, Harembee-Aires Choir, Sunday school, Trustee Board, Usher Board, Youth Choir, Youth Ushers and Missionaries.

Some of our first members (1974-1979) who are still very active are: Rose Babers, Angela Thompson, Stacy Harvey; Alma Coles, Eyvette Hayes;  Lillie P. Gavin; Janice Howard, Patricia Walker, Marge Chappell, Shirley Burnett, Pam Pearson, and Lois Brown.

Rev. Clarence C. Gavin

Growing in Grace

The membership grew from 1980-1989.  We had several divinity students who we grew to love and cherish. The first divinity student from Colgate (“the Hill”) was Rev. Wayne Davis and his wife Norma.  There was Rev. Michael Graham, the saxophone player and Rev. Christopher Bullock.

There were many upgrades to the church during this period.  The Fellowship Hall was renovated with a new floor, lighting and baptismal pool.  In 1979-1980, the roof was re-shingled.  Two neighboring lots on Wilson Street were purchased to provide more parking space. The original mortgage was burned during the morning service.  What a blessed event! Also, we purchased pews (those connecting wooden chairs were difficult to sit on) and new carpeting was installed.

It was a time when some of the members explored other leadership opportunities and established another church and formed the Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church.  However, we knew that we were a strong, spirit filled and a God loving family. We embrace this change as something very positive.

Regeneration

We were getting land-locked and so we purchased the buildings at 300-316 Hudson Avenue and 7 Helena Street.  We saw numerous changes within our surrounding community. Our membership had grown to over 350.  There were consistent ministers on the roster as many of them came from within the body.  Deacons, ushers and the like had this yearning to do the will of God and spread the good news.  Our last divinity student came in 1993, completed his studies and returned to Washington, D.C.  To get our parishioners to and from church activities, we purchased a new 15 passenger van.  There were many upgrades to the church including a new furnace, computers and air conditioning.  Our members learned about stewardship and first fruit offering.  Many of our members started to really trust God as evidenced by tithing.

We embarked on spreading our world mission focus.  The Catholic Charities group was funding people from Sudan and asked Pastor Gavin if he could assist with the sponsorship.  We immediately turned the properties at 300-316 Hudson Avenue and 7 Helena Street into housing units for these refugees.  There were 34 people that came to the USA under the sponsorship of First Genesis Baptist Church.  Those people found employment and education and started making a way for themselves and learning about Jesus.

The Trustee and Deacon Boards collaborated with Pastor Gavin to plan the renovation of our sanctuary.  After much determination and hard work, we entered a new sanctuary with a large balcony in the fall of 1999.  There was “stars” on the ceiling, new pews and other furniture, sound system, extended choir loft, carpet, furnace enhancement with electrical upgrades.

Transition

Through 33 years as pastor, Rev. Clarence C. Gavin accomplished much. Many souls were saved; marriages performed; births and deaths celebrated and rejoiced.  It was time to search for a new pastor; one who enhanced the founding pastor’s vision and one who could truly be a servant of God and teach His word.

On January 10th 2008, the church led by the Holy Spirit called Rev. Dr. Fredrick Johnson Sr. as the second pastor to lead the First Genesis Baptist Church. Dr. Johnson, his wife and three children were members of Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Johnson used the existing church foundation to continue the work of the kingdom of God and shared with the congregation the vision for First Genesis Baptist Church.

The First Genesis vision is to be a teaching and worshipping community where Jesus Christ is Lord while making disciples for the kingdom of God. The ministry vision includes the building of a campus facility which will contain a Family Life Center, administrative offices and training facility for Christian education.

The church transitioned from auxiliaries to ministries for the kingdom of God. There was a change in names such as Pastor’s Aide to Willing Workers; BTU to Youth Ministry. The church developed new ministries to support the growing membership such as the FAITH Ministry, Kingdom Women, and Women of Destiny. Community Outreach ministries such as Straight from the Heart the ministry that provides clothing and meals for community residents. The Alpha and Omega ministry which is a jail diversion program focused on the development of youth. The First Genesis Development Corporation was re-commissioned to work on community based projects that are focused on church ministry and community outreach.

The Christian Education offering was reorganized. The Understanding God’s Word (UGW) program graduated 60 students. Bible study took on a new look, instruction moved from the fellowship hall to the sanctuary. Bible study was extended from one offering to two offerings on Wednesday and renamed Word Alive from 7pm to 8:30pm and Hour of Power from Noon to 1pm. The Genesis Leadership School extended from annual courses to semi-annual courses while expanding the course offerings that solidify the Baptist tents and meet the needs of the church membership and community.

Two vans were purchased to meet the needs the membership and community. The result is transportation is provided to Sunday worship service, Wednesday bible study and ministry fellowships.  The building at 292 Hudson was in need of a new roof and the church membership pooled its resources and replaced the roof and chimney, what an awesome God!

One deacon was ordained and three deacons in training were added to the deacon board. Seven evangelists were licensed to assist with outreach, teaching ministry of the word. The church expanded its church fellowship to include Baptist, Methodist and Pentecostal churches for we all are one body in Christ. First Genesis Baptist Church has a rich history embodied with love of individual, passion for the disenfranchised, individual integrity and stewardship and commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord.

On March 15th 2020, the nation was impacted by the Global Pandemic of COV19 and a national shutdown was declared. To meet the challenge Dr. Fredrick Johnson and a group of Deacons and Trustees gathering and through prayer and the divine will of the Lord, the church moved forward through the pandemic. The church immediately shifted to a virtual worship experience to ensure continued connection to congregation and community. The Lord blessed First Genesis in the pandemic, the church continued and expanded its community outreach through meals for families. During the pandemic, the church was able to begin and completed the total renovation of the kitchen and upgraded the digital media and sound, investing more than $250K, during the global pandemic.

During the pandemic blessed the church, ministry and community by exalting Christ, equipping the Believer for the work of ministry and embracingl the community that we serve.

Let us continue to move forward with God’s vision in hand, making disciples for the kingdom for the best is yet to come.

Bishop Fredrick Johnson Sr

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Rev. Dr. Fredrick Johnson Sr. is senior pastor at First Genesis Baptist Church a progressive and dynamic ministry that has adopted the themes from Matt 6:33: “A Church on the move with Gods Vision in Hand – Making Disciples for the Kingdom”. The church has adopted the three-fold approach to ministry: 1) Exalting Christ, 2) Equipping the Believer, 3) Embracing the Community. Dr. Johnson is a visionary and servant leader serving over 29 years in ministry believes in the infallible word of God, power of the Holy Spirit, the sovereignty of God’s eternal promise and that Jesus is Lord. Under his leadership he has ordained Nine to the Diaconate Ministry and ordained Twelve ministers into the Gospel of Jesus Christ and three Elders.

During his 16 years pastoral tenure at First Genesis Baptist Church, the church has experienced organic membership growth, witness the spiritual growth of members and the embracing the paradigm of community wholistic ministry. Over the past 16 years, the church has spearheaded the expansion of the church campus and facility capital improvements totaling more than $1.5 million dollars. The church and its nonprofit housing development corporation – First Genesis Development Corporation(501c3) has begun a $45M community capital project, partnering with private and public institutions which will include 45 single family homes and 95-unit senior luxury facility.

Dr. Johnson has earned Bachelor of Science from Delaware State University and Executive MBA (Saunders Business School) from Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT). Theologically and biblically, he has earned his master’s degree and Doctorate from Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan University. His doctoral dissertation is titled: “Economic Empowerment by an Urban African American Church: Individual and Community Transformation: A Model for the 21st Century”.

Dr. Johnson is professor of Christian Ministry and Director of Black Church Studies at Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan University, teaching graduate and doctoral students in Leadership, Church Administration, Pastoral Care and Economic Development. Dr. Johnson serves as member of the Rochester Baptist Ministers Alliance, National Baptist Convention and American Baptist Church of Rochester Region. Kingdom Dominion Covenant Ministries Fellowship, duly consecrated
Dr. Johnson a Bishop in the Lords Church and serves as General Overseer and mentor for pastors, ministers, and servant leaders across the country.

Most importantly, Fred Johnson, is a native of Brooklyn, New York. He is married to Evangelina (Gail) Johnson, his childhood sweetheart. Gail has over 29 years as an Educator in the Rochester City School District. Together they have been married for 33 years and have three adult children; daughters Jasmin and Brandy; and son Fred Jr. and granddaughter Braelynn.

Dr. Johnson is a 29-year member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc. His motto is: “Just serve and let God do the rest”.

First Lady Evangelina (Gail) Johnson

First Lady Gail Johnson is the wife of Dr. Fredrick Johnson, pastor of the First Genesis Baptist Church. They have been married for twenty years and have three children; daughters Jasmine and Brandy; and son Fred Jr. She is a native of Brooklyn, New York.

Gail is an educator in the Rochester City School District; she has a passion for the education of children to encourage them to reach their God given potential. Gail has earned a Bachelors of Science from Delaware State University; Masters in Elementary Education from Nazareth and Masters in School Administration from the State University of New York at Brockport.

She participates in the Women of Destiny and Kingdom Women ministries at First Genesis Baptist Church and supports her husband in the expansion of the Kingdom of God.