ABOUT OUR PASTOR
Rev. Reginald W. Williams Jr. is the first of three children born to Dr. Reginald Sr. and the late Atty. Marcelle H. Williams. He was born and raised in Chicago, IL, into a family, which acknowledged and affirmed a spirituality that serves God by serving God’s people, particularly in the cause of liberation. Rev. Williams shares his life and love with Mrs. Nikita Nichelle Williams. Together they have two daughters: Miss Nia Mar’Celle Williams and Laila Imani Williams.
Rev. Williams comes academically equipped. After graduating from Whitney M. Young Magnet High School, Rev. Williams matriculated through the School of Business & Industry at the Florida A & M University where he graduated, cum laude. Upon graduation, Rev. Williams followed his mother’s footsteps into the field of law, and completed the University of Wisconsin Law School where he received several honors for his community involvement.
In November of 1998, Rev. Williams acknowledged and accepted God’s Call on his life to Christian ministry, and enrolled at the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University in the fall of 1999. He completed this program and received his Master of Divinity degree on May 11, 2002. Upon the completion of his degree requirements at Virginia Union University, Rev. Williams, was called to serve the Trinity United Church of Christ under the pastorate of Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr., as the Associate Pastor for Justice Ministries. In September of 2008, Rev. Williams was called to serve as pastor of the First Baptist Church of University Park, IL.
Rev. Williams has been awarded numerous honors and commendations for his commitment to people and the process of bringing about social justice. He served as Social Actions chairperson for the Florida A & M University NAACP college chapter, as well as Community Service co-chairperson for the Beta Nu Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. He was honored by the Wisconsin State Bar as the Public Interest Law Student of the Year for 1998, in addition to a number of other honors bestowed upon him by the University of Wisconsin Law School. He has participated in world conferences and meetings such as the
4thand 5th African/African-American Summits held in Harare Zimbabwe (1997), and Accra, Ghana (1999), respectively.
Rev. Williams has been a monthly columnist for the Trumpet Newsmagazine. Rev. Williams’ works have been published in the Winter 2005, and Summer 2006 editions of The African American Pulpit, as well as the book, Blow The Trumpet In Zion, a collection of the proceedings at the inaugural Samuel DeWitt Proctor Pastors Conference. Rev. Williams was also honored as a member of “Who’s Who in Black Chicago” for the year 2008, and the 2011 Martin Luther King, Jr. Image Award for service to the Community by the South Suburban Martin Luther King Jr., Celebration Committee.
Rev. Williams is the co-author of To Serve This Present Age: Social Justice Ministries In the Black Church (Judson 2013), and a contributor to the book, Church on Purpose (Judson 2015).
Rev. Williams’ passion is for social justice through a spiritually centered and culturally relevant praxis that brings liberation to all of God’s children!
Nikita N. Williams, J.D.
Nikita N. Williams is a woman of faith called to the ministry of music. She is a music ministry leader with over 10 years experience ushering in the spirit through song. She believes that God speaks to us through music of all genres of Sacred music. Nikita seeks to bring fusion to the music that God has created using all that God has gifted to us. She is a worshipping member of the First Baptist Church of University Park, a passionate member of the First Baptist Church Music Ministry, Sacred Fusion and the One 4 Christ community choir.
Nikita is the wife of Pastor Reginald W. Williams, Jr., First Baptist Church of University Park, a mother of two beautiful, active daughters, Nia (11) and Laila (8), and a licensed attorney and corporate compliance professional. Nikita has a bachelor’s degree in music business and a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.
On November 2, 1960, a group of Christians met for prayer and started a mission in the Chicago Heights area. On November 5, a call was made to Brother William Powell, the Associational Missionary who met with the group. The first services were held on Sunday November 6, 1960 in the home of Brother Howard Pentecost. There were 44 present for the morning service and 33 present for the evening service. On November 13, the Sunday School and Training Union were added and meetings were held in the Chicago Heights Municipal Building. The Rev. Harold Lassiter was called as mission pastor and church named Central Baptist Church.
November 16, 1960 marked the beginning of a church when the Harvey Missionary Baptist Church (Now Central Baptist Church in Olympia Fields) voted to constitute the mission and adopted the church constitution. On August 12, 1961, the mission met and was constituted as a church. The Rev. Harold Lassiter was called as the first Pastor with the church having 59 charter members. October 19, 1961, the church purchased a 3 acre site on Exchange Street in Wood Hill, IL. The name was changed from Central Baptist Church to First Baptist Church of Wood Hill for incorporation; and later to First Baptist Church of Park Forest South. The groundbreaking ceremony was on July 1, 1962. The first anniversary was held August 12, 1962.
Rev. Kenneth McDaniel began his tenure as Pastor on November 13, 1966. The church held dedication services for the new church on September 2, 1973. September of 1974 began the
Pastorate of Rev. Hurstle Laxton. On November 14, 1962, the church left the Chicago Heights Municipal building and held its first services on the present site.The church name was changed in 1977 to the First Baptist Church of Park Forest South. As the community of Park Forest South began to change so did the name of Park Forest South. Park Forest South’s name was changed in 1984 to University Park, IL. Shortly thereafter, First Baptist Church changed its name to coincide with the name change and was appropriately named the First Baptist Church of University Park.
After the service of Pastor Laxton, Rev. Ronald Shipley, Rev. Paul Tripp, Rev. Michael Taylor, Rev. Rick Wolfe, Rev. Everett Anthony (interim), Rev. Michael Arroyo, and Rev. Dr. Sam Enyia (interim) served First Baptist Church as her pastor. In 1988, Rev. Rodgers W. Jackson was called to serve this congregation as Pastor.
Under the Pastorate of Dr. Jackson, the congregation grew numerically and in ministry. In 1989, the church expanded and added .65 more acres of land. Under the Pastorate of Dr. Rogers Jackson, the College of Christian Education, and discipleship Training was initiated, and the Sunday School more than doubled in attendance. To accommodate the growth, the parking lot was expanded, a church van was purchased for outreach and ministry, and in 1993, the church added an 8:00 am worship service. The church also added 12 more acres to its property for a total of 16 acres of land on which the church sits.
In 2000, Dr. Jackson bid farewell to First Baptist as its beloved Pastor as he went to succeed his Pastor at the Immanuel Baptist Church of Chicago, Illinois. Succeeding Dr. Jackson was the Rev. Tony Banks (interim), Rev. Dr. James Warren in 2000, Rev. Walter Harris (2001), and the Rev. Dr. Clifton Montgomery in November 2002, and Rev. Walter Harris (interim) again in 2006.
In June of 2008, the First Baptist Church called the Rev. Reginald Williams, Jr. as her 12th Pastor since its inception. First Baptist Church has seen many highs and lows, many mountains and valleys. However, through it all First Baptist can truly say, “We’re Still Here” seeking to serve God by serving God’s people. To God Be the Glory for the things God has done!
The Cross: The Cross of Jesus Christ symbolizes the greatest degree of love. As Jesus states in John 15:13, “Greater Love hath no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” This model of ministry of the Master invites and challenges us to live that kind of selfless and sacrificial love, as our Mission Statement says, “in worship, witness, and works.”
Gye Nyame: The symbol immediately shadowing the cross is an Adinkra symbol, which comes from West Africa. Adinkra symbols are a sophisticated series of symbols, which have meaning. The symbol on our logo is called Gye Nyame. This symbol symbolizes the Supremacy of God. The saying attached to the symbol says, “Except God, I fear none.” This speaks of the Omnipresence, Omnipotence, and Omniscience of God!
The World: You will finally notice that behind the cross and the Gye Nyame is the symbol of the world. This is the world that God loved so much, that John 3:16 says, God so loved the world that God gave God’s only son! This is the world that God loves. This is the world that God sent God’s son to show us how to live. This is the world that we are called to serve according to the mandate of the Master. For Jesus says in Mark 16: 15(NIV), “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Jesus also says in Matthew 28: 19-20, “Go and make disciples of all nations… .” This is the world that God has told us to serve.
These three symbols, when seen together, exemplify and express further that which God has led us to be as a congregation. With the model of love shown on the cross, under the all-seeing eye of the Supremacy of God, while living in this world that God loves, we will “Live the love of Christ in Worship, Witness, and Works.”