Rev. Kelmo C. Porter, Jr., Beloved Pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church, Dies at Age 85
SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ (from http://www.Tapinto.net) — Scotch Plains/Fanwood is mourning the passing of Dr. Kelmo C. Porter, Jr., pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church, who died late Friday at age 85.
The eldest son of the late Rev. and Mrs. Kelmo C. Porter, Sr., was born and raised in Jersey City, where he attended public school. He earned his B.S. degree in religion and Christian education from New York University, where he also earned his M.A. degree in religion and anthropology. He later received his Doctor of Divinity degree from the Trinity Hall College and Seminary in Springfield, Illinois.
Rev. Porter served as the pastor of the Trinity Temple Church of God In Christ, in Montclair, from early 1954 to 1963. From late 1963 through 1964 he served as the Pastor of the First Church of God in Christ in Newark, where he also was the executive director of the Newark Senior citizens commission’s “Golden Age Project” for nearly a quarter century.
In August 1966, he became pastor of St. John’s Baptist Church (2387 Morse Ave.) in Scotch Plains, where he served his congregation for nearly 50 years.
Our church, a Christian church, according to the point of view traditionally held by Baptists, is a company of regenerated persons baptized in profession of faith in Christ Jesus, united in covenant for the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for worship, instruction, the observance of Christian ordinances, and service as the gospel of Christ requires.
— Bishop Dr. Kelmo C. Porter, Jr., Senior Pastor
“I am deeply saddened on the passing of my dear friend, Reverend Kelmo C. Porter, Jr. the spiritual leader of Saint John’s Baptist Church since 1966, and our community as well,” said Scotch Plains Mayor Kevin Glover, a longtime family friend.
“Pastor Porter was a kindred spirit having ministered for over 60 years. He was a founding father of the Scotch Plains – Fanwood Ministerium that continues today to influence goodwill bringing together persons of all faiths and ethnic groups, providing support for those in need,” Glover added. “To his family and to the St. John’s congregation, please know that we will always keep him and you in our hearts and prayers. On behalf of the entire community, let me extend to his loving family our deepest sympathy.”
Recently, the Scotch Plains Council and Mayor Glover authorized a street sign in honor of Rev. Porter that will be placed near St. John’s Baptist Church.
“Reverend Porter was an icon of the community,” said Dr. James Checchio, whose father, former Mayor Mauro Checchio was part of the groundbreaking ceremony for the church. “My dad always felt comfortable at St. John’s because of Rev. Porter. He felt everyone was accepted there. The ties between the black community and the Italian American community in town became stronger because of Rev. Porter.”
Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr also expressed sorrow at the passing of her friend.
“Reverend Porter was a tremendous presence in Scotch Plains and Fanwood. His booming voice commanded respect, admiration and a tremendous flock of followers, which I was proud to be one of,” said Mayor Mahr. “For the last 12 years, I have enjoyed being in his presence and was in awe of his talent to move people both spirituality and socially. I want to extend my condolences to his family and congregation, yet celebrate a life well lived. He left a deep imprint on all of us.”
Rev. Porter was married to the former Shirley Green of Jersey City, NJ, for more than a half century. They are survived by three children; Curtis, Lance, Lisa, and grandchildren, Taralauryn, Danielle and Lance II.