To say Rev. Dr. Alvin Jackson was committed to his church would be an understatement.
The late pastor of St. Paul Baptist Church spent 63 years shepherding his flock, nearly eight times longer than the average first marriage (among those that end in divorce) in the United States. Jackson holds the distinction of having served as pastor of a single church longer than any other minister in the United States.
“That was his life’s work,” said St. Paul parishioner Dianne Robinson, who was baptized by Jackson as a child several decades ago. "That was, for many people, the only pastor they'd ever known or remembered."
Jackson passed away in January at the age of 92. He will be recognized for his “life’s work” during a special ceremony next month, during which the township will dedicate the length of Bannard Street in East Riverton in Jackson’s name.
“(Jackson) was obviously committed to the church and to the community,” said Mayor Ben Young. “He’s deserving of the honor.”
Rev. Victor Lee, who began leading St. Paul shortly after Jackson’s passing, said the church did its homework, confirming that Jackson was indeed the country’s longest-serving pastor at a single church. The next closest was a Florida pastor who served 61 years at his church.
“He was a dedicated man,” said Lee. “Dr. Jackson’s faithfulness in the Lord allowed him to be faithful to the ministry.”
Lee, who served under Jackson during the last two years of his life, said the late reverend worked tirelessly to forge relationships with the community—families, seniors, township officials.
“He tried to be a beacon of light in the East Riverton-Cinnaminson area,” said Lee. “He was a very focused, driven pastor, who really loved the Lord.”
Bannard Street won’t be renamed, Young explained, but Jackson’s name will be added to it.
The dedication ceremony will be held on Sunday, Oct. 6.
Lee called the occasion a “red-letter day, not just for St. Paul, but for Cinnaminson Township as a whole, and the Jackson family.”
The ceremony will be preceded by the church’s first-ever Community Day on Saturday, Oct. 5. Lee said the idea for the event stemmed from a desire to forge new relationships—and strengthen old ones—between the church and the community.
“We were just talking about how we have all these new people in the area,” said Lee. “This is an opportunity to introduce ourselves to the community. Let them know ... what St. Paul Baptist Church is all about.”
The event will start at noon and encompass the area along the River Line from Belleview Avenue and Bannard Street to Union Landing Road, and will include health awareness booths, information regarding social services, fun and games, food, and much more, a church release stated. Vendors are welcome.For more information or to participate, contact the church at 856-829-4552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.