For a number of years the idea had been considered to put aside rivalry and unify three existing independent Baptist organizations, operating in the same vicinity and dedicated to similar objectives, mission and educations. They were motivated by the idea that through their amalgamation, they could bring about unity, greater fellowship, and a more effective program for the Kingdom of God. They planned to create a new body, which would become a formal member of the Empire Baptist Missionary Convention of New York, Inc. of which the Rev. Dr. George H. Simms, Pastor of the Union Baptist Church, Manhattan, was then president. In the month of September 1955, the idea to unify came to fruition.
The three organizations involved in the merger were the General Baptist Association, the Progressive Baptist Association, and the Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester and Staten Island Associations (MBWSIA). The Progressive and the General Associations had pre-existed the MBWSIA, but were smaller and less powerful than the younger organization. The initial call meeting for their amalgamation was held at the newly relocated Southern Baptist Church, 12-16 West 108th Street, Manhattan, Dr. C. B. Wilson, Pastor. This was the first meeting of any Baptist organization at the church.
Representing the three associations in this historic triple-merger were The Rev. J. A. Polite, President of the General Baptist Association and Ms. Eva S. Bonaparte, President of its Women's Auxiliary, the Rev. E. M. Moore, President of the Progressive Baptist Association and Ms. Lillie M. Gibson, President of its Women's Auxiliary, and the Rev. Dr. O. Clay Maxwell, Jr., Moderator of the Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester and Staten Island Association and Ms. Ida M. Townes, President of its Women's Auxiliary.
The Session was marked by a harmonious spirit of love, joy and peace. It was an evening of praise and thanksgiving. After a period of devotion, it was voted that Dr. A. L. Hughes would preside at the session and the Rev. Walter L. Harding should act as Recording Secretary.
Having taken the Chair, the Rev. Hughes gave a brief account of the status of Baptists in New York and pointed out that the time had come when all Baptist organizations of New York should be united to do the Lord's work.
The session was then opened for suggestions for the new name that would include the three organizations. After many proposals had been rejected, the Rev. David N. Licorish, an officer of the Manhattan, Bronx, Westchester and Staten Island Association, suggested the name, The United Baptist Missionary Association. It was voted upon and unanimously accepted. From that evening, the three organizations became the United Baptist Missionary Association (UBMA).
The first landmark session of the Association was held October 25, 1955 at 10:00 A.M., with the Southern Baptist Church, Manhattan. At this session, the Rev. Dr. O. Clay Maxwell, Jr., Pastor of the Baptist Temple, Manhattan, was elected the first Moderator of the UBMA.
Among those also elected were:
Thus, the journey began.
The new association comprised the following auxiliaries in addition to the Parent Body:
The Women’s Department
The Ministers’ Wives and Widows
The Sunday School
Baptist Training Union
Baptist Youth Fellowship
The Nurses Unit
The Young People’s Department
The Laymen’s League
The Hospitality Committee
On April 11, 1957, the Association became legally incorporated as the United Missionary Baptist Association, Inc. (UMBA). It is now known as the United Missionary Baptist Association of New York and Vicinity and its Auxiliaries, Inc.
Throughout its 50-year history, UMBA has been led by a succession of eminent Moderators. In grateful appreciation, we acknowledge:
Rev. Dr. O. Clay Maxwell, Jr.
Rev. James A. Polite
Rev. Ivor M. Moore
Rev. Lonnie H. Bristow
Rev. Daniel Nickerson
Rev. Earl B. Moore
Rev. Hunson Greene
Moderator, 1984 – 1987
Rev. Kenneth L. Folkes
Rev. Edward E. Johnson
Rev. John L. Scott
Rev. Nelson C. Dukes, Jr.
Moderator, 2000 – 2003
Rev. Isaac B. Graham
Rev. Lee A. Arrington
Rev. Carl L. Washington, Jr.
Rev. Anthony Lowe
Currently, UMBA has approximately 161 churches of which 114 are active. Its sessions are held quarterly, and are hosted in turn by participating churches with the Annual Session being held in October. Officers are elected every year at the Annual Session and can serve four years consecutively and commence their term of office the following January to coincide with the fiscal year of the Association.
We the member churches of the UMBA give God the glory as we march towards the threshold of the 21st century. We will keep in mind our mission to nurture and pass on this rich spirited heritage to the oncoming generations. We realize that we do not go alone, for the eternal God is our refuge, and we are underneath His everlasting arms. Let us be guided in our endeavors by the words of the Apostle, Paul, who urges us to "do all you have to do without complaint or wrangling. Show yourself guileless and above reproach, faultless children of God in a warped and crooked generation, in which you shine as stars in a dark world and prefer to the word of God." (Phil. 2:14-16 NEB)
The Church's Call, Commission and Committment to Christ! (Ephesian 4:1-6)
Vice Moderator – Rev. James A. Polite
Pastor, Thessalonia Baptist Church, Bronx, NY
Treasurer – Rev. Dr. A.L. Hughes
Pastor, Macedonia Baptist Church, Manhattan
Corresponding Secretary – Rev. Walter L. Harding
Pastor, St. Luke Baptist Church, Manhattan
President Women’s Department – Ms. Eva S. Bonaparte
Mount Sinai Baptist Church, Bronx, NY
President of the Youth Department – Ms. Anna Mae Robinson
Macedonia Baptist Church, Mount Vernon