The name Shiloh holds a very significant place in theological history.

Shiloh, generally understood to refer to the Messiah, crops up repeatedly throughout the Scriptures. Genesis 49:10, states for example: The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh came; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.

Shiloh also is identified as a central Palestinian town during Biblical times. Translated to mean tranquil and secure, it is identified in Judges 21:19 as being “on the north side of Bethel and east of the highway that goes from Bethel to Shechem and to the south of Lebanon.” Located in the territory of Ephraim, ancestor of one of the 12 tribes of Israel and the younger son of Joseph and Asenath, Shiloh was the site of a yearly feast honoring the Lord.

The First Black Baptist Church in Rockville Centre, the Shiloh we – and previous generations of saints – call our place of worship has been a source of spiritual substance and more since the turn of the 1900s. Shiloh’s colorful history goes back a ways. Today, it continues to chalk up milestones, one after another.

Through the years, many have served Shiloh well, nurturing it to where it’s evolved into a neighborhood institution. Their names are too numerous to mention but Shiloh wouldn’t be the church it is today without their tireless dedication. Any historical retrospective of Shiloh, however, would be remiss without mention of a handful of figures who have played pivotal roles in the church from day one to now.

Shiloh’s founding mother, Glendora Hankins, immediately comes to mind, as does the late Rev. Morgan M. Days, and our beloved present day shepherd, Pastor Herman Washington.

Little is known of Hankins except that she called the very first meeting that eventually led to Shiloh being formed. It’s not clear either where this meeting in June 1907, took place. But without suitable places to hold subsequent gatherings, Hankins and her supporters took turns meeting weekly in each others homes. A couple of Hankins’ associates, Mr. and Mrs. Wiley, hosted the first service in the form of a mission in their home.

Rev. A. Hill, pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church of Jamaica, New York, moderated the mission, launching a membership recruitment drive. Counting the four from Rev. Hill’s church, the membership soon grew to sixteen. Yet without holding a building, they were the church. They called themselves Shiloh. Then they elected the first officers and after that organized several ministries. A new meeting place, 158 Merrick Road, was also designated.

The exact date is sketchy, but in a relatively short time, the Shiloh family – still in it’s infancy – purchased a lot at 87 Banks Avenue, Rockville Centre. Picture1Pleased with the work of these humble saints, the Lord rewarded them with a building. In return for their blessings, they wasted little time transporting the structure to the site where they proudly set it down. Applause followed their accomplishment. Recognition, too. Shiloh, after all, was the first Black Baptist Church in the village that earlier was known as Near Rockaway before taking its name from a local mill owner and civic leader, Mordecai Rock Smith. It also was the first Black Baptist Church in Nassau to own property. July 25, 1907, the day Shiloh Baptist incorporated, marked yet another key milestone in it’s storied history.

Sis. Gertrude Ulmer fondly recalled Shiloh’s early days. “To get to the basement, you had to go outside the building,” said Sis. Ulmer, whose father, Benjamin Jenkins, was chair of the board of deacons and whose mother, Ophelia, was pregnant with her while she served on the choir. Like its successor, the first Shiloh was the a house of worship known for harmonious, spirit-filled music. “It was the first church around with a pipe organ,” Sis. Ulmer, recalled.

Under the Pastorate & Administration of Rev. Hill

  • Officers
    • Deacons
      • Bro. William Wiley
      • Bro. McDonnel Small
      • Bro. John Tyler
    • Trustees
      • Bro. Paul Lee
      • Bro. John Hankins
      • Bro. Arthur White
    • Treasurer
      • Bro. McDonnel Small
  • First Baptism (in reservoir in Oceanside)
    • Mrs. Rose James
  • First Communion Set & Pulpit donated by the First Baptist Church of RVC
  • Senior Choir Organized 
    • Elsie Macbell, President
    • Dr. Marcus Burrell, Musician
  • Deacon Benjamin Jenkins, Chairman of Deacons (1923)
    • Served for 25 years 
  • Deacon Herman Smith, Chairman of Deacons (1948) 
    • Served 3 years 
  • Deacon Benjamin Jenkins, Chairman of Deacons (1950)
    • Served 24 years 

It wasn’t all a picnic for Shiloh, however. There were minor setbacks. Rev. Hill’s resignation, for example, sounded a sour note among the membership. But Shiloh prevailed under the leadership of subsequent successors, including Rev. Dudley, Rev. Harrell, Rev. Spencer Miles and Rev. Arthur Wainwright.

Under the Pastorate & Administration of Rev. Spencer Miles

  • Sunday School Reorganized
  • Bible Classes Established
  • 5 Ministers Ordained
  • 6 Evangelists Licensed
  • First Organ Obtained
  • Became Active in the Eastern Baptist Association
  • Auxiliaries Formed
    • Prayer Band
    • B.Y.P.U.
    • Junior Ushers
    • Busy Bee Club
    • Senior Missionaries
    • Deaconess Board

Rev. Morgan M. Days accepted the call to lead the church in 1937, some three decades after Shiloh was first incorporated. The church grew rapidly under his guidance. Ulmer, who just turned eight at the time, was baptized by Days soon after his arrival.

Two years after Days took over as Shiloh’s leader, the mortgage on the property was burned. Less than a decade later in 1945, Shiloh purchased property on the corner of North Centre Avenue and Willoughby Street, the site of the present church. Picture2By 1951, a campaign to raise money for the construction of a new church was in full swing, attracting widespread support from neighboring residents and church members. Days, who was well loved in the community, received generous contributions, cash and sweat. The men of the church, short on funds but not on commitment, laid the floors and built the steps, making it possible for the cornerstone to be laid by 1953. The new Shiloh was completed in June 1954. It was dedicated June 22, four years after it was built.

As well as cash, many of the churches and neighboring businesses contributed furnishings to Shiloh, Ulmer said. One church pitched in pulpit furniture. Picture5Another, the B-Line bus company, contributed an organ, she said, noting that her sister, Clara, was the pianist at Shiloh for more than three decades. Ulmer said she can still hear the bell, which tolled every Sunday before service and at 12 on Watch Nights.

After almost 50 years of dedicated service, Pastor Days submitted his resignation in October 1985 due to failing health. He served as Pastor Emeritus until his death in 1987. In May of that year, the village of Rockville Centre honored Rev. Days by renaming Willoughby Street, Morgan Days Lane.

morgan

Under the Pastorate & Administration of Rev. Morgan M. Days

            • Mortgaged burned for Banks Avenue Property
            • Ground Breaking for new church, 1948
            • Foundation Laid, 1953
            • New Church Finished, 1954
            • New Church Dedicated, 1958
            • Purchased Land from Urban Renewal
              • Established Rosa Lee Young Child Care Center
            • Celestial Choir Established
            • Young People’s Choir Established
            • Women’s Christian Service Club Established
            • Junior Church Established
            • Usher Board Re-Organized
            • Angelic Choir (absorbed the Young People’s Choir)
            • Church School Re-Organized
            • Busy Bee Club, Re-Organized
            • Courtesy Committee Established
            • Pulpit Altar Boys Established
            • Host & Hostess Committee Established
            • R.O.S.Y. Club Established
            • Days’ Ensemble Established
            • Shiloh Youth Mass Choir Established
            • Men’s Club Organized
            • Male Chorus

Shiloh, under the able leadership of Rev. Reginald E. Greene, its ministers and its board, led by Deacon William Sandefur, continued on an upward and progressive course along its kingdom-building journey. Rev. Greene and Rev. Alton Jones served as interim co-pastors for about two years. Rev. Greene was elected pastor in February 1987. He served until October 1988.

Under the Pastorate & Administration of Pastor Reginald Greene

  • Renovations of Kitchen and Restrooms

In search of a new shepherd, Shiloh stretched out its arms, beckoning to Pennsgrove, New Jersey, where Rev. Herman Washington answered the call.Pastor 2 Rev. Washington, who grew up in Philadelphia, got his early religious education alongside his late father, Rev. Julius Mosley, Pastor of the Saint Stephen’s Baptist Church.

Rev. Washington served as Associate Minister of the Beulah Baptist Church of Philadelphia and as pastor of the Hopewell Baptist Church, Pennsgrove, New Jersey, for eight years. Rev. Washington was handed the Shiloh helm in June 1990.

Since then, the structure past generations of Shiloh saints toiled, long and hard to fashion into the building we worship and fellowship in today, continues to be lovingly preserved under Rev. Washington’s leadership. Since his arrival at Shiloh, Rev. Washington has reorganized and established numerous ministries, including, New Member’s Classes and Curriculum, the Shiloh Worship and Arts Ministry, the Women’s Ministry, Men’s Fellowship, Wednesday Evening Bible Study, The Shiloh Foundation, Spiritual Life Conference, Church Training Institute, Happy Homes Ministry, to name a few.

Surely, the spirits of Shiloh past – pleased with the direction of the legacy they handed down, must smile with pride from the place they once occupied in the pews. Picture4Not only because the heirloom they gave every ounce of effort they could to create is in capable hands but more importantly because of Rev. Washington’s constant reminder that the church is neither this building, nor its pews. The church, like the first Shiloh – which had no pews, pulpit or even walls – is you and me.