These pastors are a part of our church's rich legacy. We praise God for their individual contributions to the physical and spiritual development of the Rehoboth Church of God (formerly the Blue Hills Church of God.)
Psalm 150:1-6 / Ecclesiastes 3:14 …“I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that people will fear him” (NIV).
Our founder, Peter Constantine Barrett’s life epitomized that “a great man of faith has walked among us”. The Rehoboth Church of God, formerly The Blue Hills New Testament Church of God, located in Hartford, Connecticut, was founded by the late Reverend Dr. Peter Constantine Barrett and his wife Daphne Barrett in 1965. It holds the distinction of being the first Church of God in Hartford. Reverend Barrett emigrated from Jamaica, West Indies, to the United States via England. As a visionary, he started house-to-house prayer meetings with his wife Daphne and son Andrew in their Sterling Street apartment. The church was officially organized at 69 Oakland Terrace in Hartford.
As the congregation grew, the Lenox Theater located at the corner of Lenox Street and Albany Avenue, Hartford, Connecticut, was rented for worship services. Thereafter, the Vine Street School was rented for worship services. In June 1967, they began renting the Seventh Day Adventist church at 79 Vineland Terrace. The first morning service was held at this location with approximately 25 members in attendance. The generous support of the first Board of pledged their homes as collateral, which made it possible for the membership to purchase the first property in 1968.
Motivated by his love for the Lord and passion for winning souls, Reverend Barrett served tirelessly. In large part, the church’s growth can be attributed to his integral ministry in the community. He found jobs and housing for incoming residents, provided loans (from his pocket) to needy individuals; directed those with immigration issues to legal experts, and offered pastoral counseling. The first Church and Pastor’s Council (Deacon Board) consisted of Reverend Fennis Huggins, Reverend Robert Skinner, William Wolliston and Terrance DeBeatham. As families such as the Birthwrights, Colberts, Dwyers, Grants, Henrys, Huggins, McNichols, Myries, Smiths, and Wollistons joined the congregation, the membership increased.
The Lord blessed, the congregation exceeded the building’s seating capacity, and a new facility was needed. While walking pass the synagogue at 339 Blue Hills Avenue, Pastor Barrett prayed that God would give this building to the church. In 1975, Reverend Barrett’s prayer was answered and 339 Blue Hills Avenue became the new church home. The Lord added to the church membership and blessed the church financially. Its ability for more community services increased. One of hallmarks Pastor Barrett’s community outreach included a weekly radio broadcast. His opening line, “Hello, this is Pastor Barrett”, was welcomed in the community each Sunday morning.
Pastor Barrett was the first black minister to be inducted (posthumous) into the Hall of the Prophets, a prestigious honor within the Church of God denomination. Reverend Barrett went home to the Lord on June 30, 1987.
“The ministry of a true prophet of God does not cease with his death, but in fact should become the impetus for others to take up the torch and carry on…”
The Lord then passed the torch to the Reverend Dr. L. Martin Wright in August 1987. Reverend Wright, his wife Sonia, and their three children, served the church with distinction. Pastor Wright had a burden for souls and an effective evangelistic ministry. He implemented the church’s first tent crusade. In 1990, Pastor Wright supported the Spiritual Crusaders’ live recording of their album entitled “SOLD OUT”. During his tenure the following ministries were instituted and continue to have a tremendous impact in the community:
- Prison Ministry in Somers, Connecticut
- The Better Way Substance Abuse Ministry
- Helping Hand Food Ministry
In February 1992, Reverend Wright was appointed Overseer of Southern New England and became the first black Overseer of a multicultural region. The building expansion project was birthed under his leadership and was later executed by his successor.
The vision continues! In March 1992, the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah McIntyre and his wife, Nysia Rose, picked up the mantle. The seasoned ministry of the McIntyre’s was introduced to the congregation. Like his predecessors, Pastor McIntyre was impassioned to evangelize Hartford. He was an exceptional teacher, a great communicator of the gospel, and a renowned musician. He conducted music lessons that enriched the congregation.
The Lord blessed the church tremendously. Four worship services were held on Sundays, including Sunday school, overcrowding was a challenge. However, the limited building facilities did not impede the community service ministries seeing the need for yet more space, the building renovation and expansion began in 1997. Pastor McIntyre temporarily moved the church into the Lewis Fox Middle School for what was called the “Wilderness Season”. Pastor McIntyre was not privileged to see the completion of the building expansion for he became ill and went home to be with the Lord on November 17, 1997.
God would again send a great man of God. Reverend Joseph Jackson served with his wife Elaine and two sons. He was a gifted orator of the gospel and an adept administrator. As the first pastor in the newly renovated facility, located at 339 Blue Hills Avenue, he had the arduous responsibility of bringing the congregation back from the “Wilderness season” and settling into the new building. The edifice was dedicated on June 13, 1998.
The Lord saw it fit to send us another shepherd in 1999, the Reverend Dr. Joscelyn A. Williams, and his wife Norma. Reverend Williams lead the church with a servant spirit for over 13 years. Out of his desire to provide individuals with a more intense study and application of the Word of God, he established The Peter C. Barrett Bible Institute, in 2001. Once missionaries themselves, Pastor and Lady Williams have an unabated love for the foreign fields. In 2001, Reverend Williams led the church in adopting the building of a school as a mission’s project. It was completed and the Norma Williams Academy was dedicated in 2002. Under his leadership the church’s mission’s project is focused on establishing a community center for troubled teens on the island of Jamaica.
Pastor Williams’ continued the emphasis of “reaching the community” was reflected in the church’s motto, “It is a place to belong, a place to grow, and a place to serve”. Knowing that the Lord was leading, in 2003, the property located at 1170 Blue Hills Avenue was purchased.
In August 2005, the Tent Crusade – Operation Compassion - was held and more than 400 families were recipients of the gospel, food items, and health services. As the Lord blessed the church, it became necessary to relocate to a new site that will foster greater opportunities for growth and ministry. Again, the church had to relocate during another construction period. For one year the worship services were held at the Lewis Fox Middle School and then Quirk Middle School.
The construction of the new church in Bloomfield, CT. marked a new beginning for the church. The Blue Hills Church of God started a journey with a new name The REHOBOTH Church of God,
Gen. 26:22 “…For now the Lord hath made room for us and we shall be fruitful in the land”
The celebration of the newly constructed edifice began on October 25, 2009, starting with the final service in Hartford. Pastor Williams and the Church celebrated this new era of ministry by marching from 339 Blue Hills Avenue to the new location –1170 Blue Hills Avenue, Bloomfield, CT - on October 31, 2009. The first worship service was held on November 1, 2009. The celebration culminated with the joyous dedication service on November 14, 2009. “Look what the Lord has done”.
In November of 2012, Rev. Williams and his wife Norma retired from pastoral ministry to the next season of their lives in Florida.