By DEBORAH ANN TRIPOLDI
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Change is on the agenda for the Rev. Dewaine Frazer of First Seventh-day Adventist Church. Frazer joined the church in 2017, and has new ideas for the congregation, including a new pulpit, more community outreach and a brand new website set to launch in January to engage its members.
Frazer comes to Montclair from Dupont Park Seventh-day Adventist Church in Washington, D.C. where he served as the associate pastor.
Frazer and his wife, Kristyn are going through some of their own changes too: the recently married couple moved from Washington, D.C. to Warren County in August of 2017, shortly after he began his work in Montclair.
Although it’s over an hour commute for Frazer, the Montclair community is very important to him.
While taking on this task he is also pursuing his doctorate in ministry focusing on church leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C. Currently Frazer holds a master’s degree in pastoral studies with a emphasis on church development from Oakland University.
One of the things Frazer wants to see change is an element of foreboding in the area around the church: it sits on the corner of Mission Street and Elmwood Avenue, and there has recently been a spate of crime on Mission Street, he said. So during his first few weeks with First Church (Montclair) he held an ice cream social as a outreach to the community.
“We rented out a truck and purchased 200 ice cream cones, to bring some positive to the community; engage the community,” he said.
Another change he’d like to see is operational.
“Since I moved here our vision is to get a new building. We’re trying to find a new building in Montclair. All things are possible,” said Frazer. But, he said he wonders, “If we move to another location will the community miss us? Would we be turning our back to those desperately in need?”
Frazer also wants to increase membership by 20 percent in the next five years. Starting the Sabbath School a little later has already helped with that, he said.
“The biggest challenge here is getting people to buy into this new vision. I’m not trying to shatter what we have been doing, but help us be better and also be sensitive to their thoughts. I’m not trying to change for the sake of change,” he said.
Other changes included moving all the chairs for lectures off the sanctuary platform. “They now sit in the front. Everyone sits together. Some people were upset, but now they see,” he said.
He also replaced the pulpit with a new transparent one.
Frazer is excited and passionate about instituting community initiatives with the ministries at the church, each focusing on a specific issue. For example, programs will help Alcoholics Anonymous, deal with teenage pregnancy, help transition previously incarcerated men into society and career/job fairs.
“We are not looking for quick results. …More ministries will be working together and there will be more alignment of what they do,” Frazer said.
The First SDA Church’s current service, which includes a health fair in August, soup kitchen and food pantry, and a partnership with MEND (Meeting Essential Needs with Dignity) will continue, he said.
Church members also go house to house giving out Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards. “It’s not just about service in the sanctuary, but service in the community.” he said.
First Seventh-day Adventist Church
15 Elmwood Ave., Montclair
973-746-1911 Lobby: 973-746-1388
Sabbath School: 10 a.m.
Worship Service: 11:30 a.m.
Wednesday Prayer Meeting: 7:30 p.m.
Membership size: 263
Average Saturday attendance: 205