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Our History

Founder, Reverend Raphus Phillip MeansOn Monday, May 29, 1961, a meeting was held at the home of the late Professor Alex Bradford to discuss plans for a new church. The Pastor and members had vacated the premises at 224 West Kinney Street, Newark, New Jersey on May 28, 1961. This meeting was called to order by our Founder, Reverend Raphus Phillip Means.

On November 30, 1970, Reverend Matthew Agustus Zimmerman, Sr. was chosen to be the new Pastor of Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church.

The church continued to grow and prosper under the leadership of Rev. Zimmerman. Realizing that the church home at 261 Hunterdon Street would not be able to keep pace with our growth, Rev. Zimmerman organized the Building Fund and set about locating a new church home. Having always been a believer in the power of prayer, Rev. Zimmerman was led to our present church home. His prayers were answered when, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we were able to purchase this church home at 88 Lyons Avenue, Newark, New Jersey, valued then at more than one-quarter million dollars. The first worship service was held on May 24, 1976.

Reverend Matthew A. ZimmermanIn February 1999, Reverend Matthew A. Zimmerman retired after an extended illness. A pulpit committee was formed and was headed by Deacon Anthony Tucker and Trustee Junius Williams. The committee consisted of church members at large and members of the joint board. From February 1999 through October 1999, the church received each Sunday candidates who provided sermon for candidacy. The latter part of October the committee was lead by prayer to recommend Reverend Allen S. Potts as the churches next pastor. On November 15, 1999, the membership of Greater Abyssinian elected to call Reverend Allen S. Potts as the churches third pastor. Through much prayer and guidance of the Holy Spirit Rev. Potts accepted the call. On the following day God called Reverend Matthew A. Zimmerman, Sr. from labor to reward with the assurance of knowing that the Pastorate of Greater Abyssinian was under capable leadership.

Reverend Allen S. Potts came to Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church from Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Newark, NJ where he served as Assistant to the Pastor and Minister of Operations. He holds a Masters of Divinity Degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School. With God's help, in just a little over one year Rev. Potts has made substantial developments in the life of this church. Recognizing God calling us to become “A Church Determined to take Jesus Seriously.” He formulated and enhanced the following;

  • Enhanced the Mid-Week Bible Study
  • The Allen S. Potts Liturgical Dancers
  • The GABC Women’s Ministry
  • The GABC Budget and Finance Ministry
  • Initiated Lenten Season Observations
  • Initiated New Member’s Training Ministry
  • Increased the Building Fund two fold
  • The GABC Men’s Ministry
  • Acquiring cost effective Church Insurance
  • Acquiring a Certified Public Accountant
  • Computerizing the Church’s Finances
  • Completed the Baptism Pool Area
  • Acquisition of New Church Van
Greater Abyssinian Baptist Church
88 Lyons Avenue, Newark, NJ 07112
Tel: (973) 923-5205 | Fax: ( 973) 923-5118

Ministerial Staff
Rev. Dr. Allen S.Potts
Senior Pastor

Rev. Thomas & Evangelist Denise Richards
Associate Pastor

Evangelist Edna Barfield
Assistant Minister of Prayer

Evangelist Doris Mincey
Rev. Emma Key
Min. Andrew Carter

Dea. John & Vicki Thornton
Chairman of the Deacon Ministry

Trus. Donald Butler & Ellen
Chairman of Trustee Ministry

Trus. Antwoine Jones

Trus. Deborah Foreman
Financial Secretary

Chairman of Welfare Committee


Sis. Shaun Keyes
Church Clerk

Bro. Harold Shaw / Bro. Purnell Eason
Bus Transportation

Bro. Derrick Whyche
Church Musician


Dea. Gene Harper & Dorothy
Dea. Nathaniel Thompson & Jacquelyn
Dea. Anthony & Valerie Colter
Dea. Christopher Daney
Dea. Robert Stephens
Deaconess Joyce Bond
Deaconess Karen Martin
Deaconess Jennifer Mills
Deaconess Earvient Clark
Deaconess Faith Clinton
Deaconess Cynthia Stephens


Trus. Stanley W. & Helen Anderson
Trus. Morris Clowney
Trus. Earl Dawkins
Trus. Michael & Niambi Ivery

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