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From Teacher to Preacher: Whitesboro Pastor Has a Vision

Trunk or treat at the First Baptist Church of Whitesboro Oct. 29

By Christopher South

WHITESBORO – Although teaching and preaching are essentially the same, the newest pastor of the First Baptist Church of Whitesboro is making the transition from the classroom, teaching Global Studies and African American History, to the pulpit, where his focus is the Word of God. 
The Rev. Douglas H. Moore was born and raised in Montclair, and after teaching for seven years in Newark, he began teaching in Montclair. After 31 years in teaching, he said, he is a few years from retirement. 
Moore served in what the Baptist tradition calls a pastor-elect before being installed as the pastor in June. He began his ministry in 2013 at Fountain Baptist Church in Summit, while earning his Master of Divinity from New Brunswick Theological Seminary, where he is now working on his doctorate. 
Coming from an area where the Manhattan skyline is visible, Moore is shepherding a church that is the oldest institution in Whitesboro. Like many long-established churches though, it has been on the decline. 
“I inherited a church that has declined in members over the years. You know, a lot of saints have been called home to the Lord. It’s a church that has a small, but very faithful membership. And even though we’ve been here for 118 years, we see the need to relaunch and reconnect with the community,” Moore said. 
Moore said the church is making an intentional effort to do things outside of the building, such as the trunk or treat held Oct. 29. He said the church did a backpack giveaway just before school opened and is opening its doors to other outreach organizations.
“We are trying to partner with them in terms of providing services and meeting the needs of the community, whether that be through direct action or raised awareness about certain issues,” he said. 
Moore said this is part of the mission given to the church. 
“Christ has called us to be witnesses outside of the community. When you look at the Gospels, you encounter our Savior outside of the synagogue,” he said. 
Moore said that means meeting the needs of people outside.
“I guess what I’m trying to say is, too often we’ve been preoccupied with getting people inside the church. How are you gonna get people inside the church when they have things they are working through, that they’re dealing with, that they’re fighting through? You know, just so they can come and worship for two hours one day and go back to the same hell. When you have issues like homelessness, addiction, abuse, things of that nature…food insecurity–these are things that we need to speak to.”
“I know I’ve only been here a short time, so a lot of this I’m still figuring out, you know, I dare not sit before you and act as if I have all the answers, but I know, as the church, what we’re called to do. So we’re trying,” he said.
Moore said he is trying to be patient with himself and try to learn as much as he can about the community. He said he is getting a lot of help from organizations that work with homelessness and addiction, from the NAACP, and from the county prosecutor’s office. He said while he might not be in the wheelhouse of other community organizations, he feels First Baptist Church of Whitesboro can certainly make a contribution. 
“You have a lot of people in this area doing great things, you know, but everybody can’t do everything. So we’re finding out what our niche is going to be as a church in terms of providing service within the community,” he said. 
Moore said he was hoping to set up a program to help what he calls “returning citizens” – people who have been released from prison – to successfully reenter society. Moore said 95% of those in prison are going to “come home” someday – something most people don’t think about.
“We have a number of things that intersect with returning citizens. We have the issue of homelessness, we have the issue of addiction, we have the potential issue of recidivism. So, how can we be supportive of people who are coming home from prison, so they don’t end up in an encampment, or they don’t end up reoffending or they don’t end up falling back into a pattern of drug use?” he said. 
Moore said he is also aware of a lot of the history of Cape May County and taught it as part of the African American History curriculum at his school. He said he also learned about Whitesboro from his wife, Angela, who is from Cape May Court House. 
He said he learned a lot about the community he is now serving by coming down here, dating and ultimately marrying his wife. The couple decided to relocate to Whitesboro in 2021.
Thoughts? Questions? Call 609-886-8600 ext. 128 or email csouth@cmcherald.com. 

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