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First Baptist Church of Perth Amboy, New Jersey is an Independent Baptist church that has served the community for over 200 years. Originally part of the American Baptist Convention, First Baptist Church slowly established itself as an Independent Baptist church in 1984 with the calling of Pastor William A. Gerak, Sr.
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Pastor Jose A. Santos was selected to be the forty-second pastor of the First Baptist Church in a unanimous vote by the membership after the Sunday evening service on Resurrection Sunday, April 4, 2021. His pastorate began on May 2, 2021.
Pastor Santos is no stranger to First Baptist Church. Having served as FBC’s Assistant Pastor for five years, the church congregation was familiar with his dedication and love for the congregation and the Perth Amboy community. Pastor Santos is a longtime native of Perth Amboy. He came to Perth Amboy from Puerto Rico when he was just 15 years old. Lacking spiritual direction in his life, he began hanging out with the wrong type of friends and eventually dropped out of high school. It was at this time that he began to experiment with drugs.
As a user of illicit drugs, it did not take long before he began to deal drugs on the streets of Perth Amboy where he continually encountered law enforcement and arrested for his substance abuse. Disgusted with how his life was turning out, Pastor Santos turned to “religion” by visiting all kinds of Christian and non-Christian denominations hoping that “religion” would change his life around. What he found was a continued emptiness that did not change his situation; and he found himself going right back into drug dealing. In 1994, after hearing a sermon on television regarding Jesus Christ able to bring forgiveness and salvation, Pastor Santos looked up in the phone book the name of the church that resembled the message he had heard on television.
That search led him to the First Baptist Church in Perth Amboy, NJ under the direction of Pastor William A. Gerak, Sr. Soon after attending the services at First Baptist Church, he saw his lost condition and asked Christ to save him. Shortly thereafter, he felt God’s call to preach while attending a Pastor’s Conference in Hammond, Indiana. He attended Hyles Anderson College in 1998 enrolling in their “Six Year Program” which allowed students without a high school diploma to obtain their diploma and college degree through the fulfillment of 160 semester hours. With three children, a wife, and a full-time job, Pastor Santos graduated from Hyles Anderson College in 2004 with an earned Bachelor of Science degree, with honors, in Pastoral Theology.
After graduation, he served in his home church, First Baptist Church in Perth Amboy, NJ, as an Assistant Pastor in charge of the bus ministry. He served faithfully in that ministry from 2004 to 2009 until God called him to a new ministry. In 2009, Pastor Santos joined the pastoral staff at Somerset Bible Baptist Church as Spanish Pastor. During this time, God continued to keep the burden of church planting on his heart, and in January 2015, he started Christ Centered Baptist Church in Plainfield, NJ.
Upon the news that his spiritual mentor, Pastor William A. Gerak, Sr., had passed away, Pastor Santos filled the pulpit on Sunday mornings while also maintaining the church planting ministry in Plainfield. On March 21, 2021, Pastor Santos was officially nominated as the next candidate for Pastor in which he would present himself formally as a candidate on Easter Sunday. After the evening service, the church membership was afforded the opportunity to question Pastor Santos about his vision and passion for the ministry. Afterward, the church voted unanimously to instill him as the next Pastor of the First Baptist Church.Pastor Santos resides in Perth Amboy, NJ with his wife, Marisol.
They have three children and three grandchildren. Their oldest child, Cynthia, along with her husband Angel, is currently serving the Lord at Stedfast Baptist Church in Groton, Connecticut. Their oldest son, Anthony, along with his wife Taylor, reside in NJ with their young daughter. Their youngest son, Jose, along with his wife Abigail, is currently serving the Lord as an Assistant Pastor at Somerset Bible Baptist Church. Pastor Santos’ life verse is 2 Timothy 4:6-7, which says, “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.”
Pastor William A. Gerak, Sr. became the 41st pastor of the First Baptist Church on April 1, 1984 when the congregation asked his church plant ministry, New Life Baptist Church in Fords, NJ, to merge with the established First Baptist Church. Pastor Gerak was involved in full-time ministry since the late 1970s. He is the longest-serving pastor of the First Baptist Church with just shy of 37 years in the ministry. In his ministry, Pastor Gerak emphasized the importance of the three essentials of the Christian life: church attendance, prayer, and Bible reading. He believed that these essentials were important for spiritual growth and taking believers to new heights with the Lord. In addition, he practiced these essentials daily as he spent many hours in prayer and Bible reading each day.
Pastor Gerak’s tremendous testimony to this was that he was found spending time with His Lord in the last few moments of his life.Born in Perth Amboy on August 3, 1948 to the late William and Susan Gerak, he was raised in the Avenel section of Woodbridge Township and has resided in Perth Amboy since 1984. Pastor Gerak graduated from Trenton State College (now the College of New Jersey) in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Elementary Education. He took further graduate work from Kean University earning 15 credit hours toward a Master of Arts degree in Educational Administration. After college graduation, he taught in the Woodbridge Public School system while politically campaigning for local district races focused on the Woodbridge, NJ area.
Before his conversion, he was raised in a religious home based on family tradition. "My father, a Baptist, had stopped going to church when I was just 4-5 years old. Until my junior year in high school, I had faithfully attended Sunday School and church, at which time I lost complete interest in any kind of church activity, religion, and God," he recalled. "For the next ten years, my life was selfishly lived and centered around the world."He trusted Christ as his Lord and Savior on November 27, 1975 while viewing a television program of a church service. "I saw clearly what a miserable life I was living," he said. "It was at that time, upon bended knee, I called upon Him to give me a new life...As old things began to pass away, all is becoming new." Six months later, he was baptized as a public profession of his faith at the Central Baptist Church in Avenel, NJ. It was there, under the ministry of Pastor Jim Gent, that he answered God’s call to the ministry. In 1978, he pursued church planting and started the New Life Baptist Church in Fords, NJ. Eventually that ministry, which met in a storefront, merged with First Baptist Church in Perth Amboy in 1984.On February 1, 2021, Pastor Gerak passed away while he was spending time with the Lord in prayer. Pastor Gerak's impact upon First Baptist Church will be felt for years to come as he introduced the congregation to many important ministries. The following are some highlights of Pastor Gerak's ministry to the First Baptist Church of Perth Amboy.
Established a Faith-Promise missions ministry with over 20 missionaries supported.
Established a bus ministry that has reached hundreds of children with the gospel.
Established the online outreach ministry by Livestreaming on Facebook Live.
Established an active outreach of personal evangelism throughout Perth Amboy.
Strengthened core doctrines such as Bible supremacy and preservation, the Baptist distinctives, and the Fundamentals of the Faith.
Pastor Gerak's life verse was Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”