“That They May Be One, Even As We Are One” -John 17:22
In June 1975, after serving seven and half years at the New Salem Baptist Church, Reverend Joseph C. Aiken, Sr. resigned as pastor, stating “he would remain to fulfill his obligation with them until his resignation was effective on July 9, 1975.”
On June 12, 1975, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Bishop Joseph C. Aiken, Sr. and twenty-nine believers organized the Upper Room Missionary Baptist Church at the Quaker Friends Home, Germantown and Cambria Streets. The first worship service was at 2948 Germantown Avenue on Sunday July 17, 1975. This establishment housed less than one hundred parishioners and served as the foundation for this ministry. The church began to grow and found it necessary to make plans for a larger facility. Reverend Joseph Fuller, pastor of Mount Sinai Tabernacle Baptist Church, served as an advisor to Bishop Aiken and congregation continually reminding the church of the necessity to remain unified.
In search for a place of worship, we set our sights on a church building located at 10th & Rockland Streets. The price of the building was $82,000.00 with a sale value $150,000.00; however, the ministry was in its infancy and funds were not available. Bishop Aiken contacted his longtime friend, Mr. Jacob (Jack) B. Baratan, owner of Temple Reality, soliciting his assistance for a more affordable facility. Through divine intervention, Mr. Baratan told Bishop Aiken about a building located at 7236 Ogontz Avenue. After much prayer, Upper Room claimed the building on January 7, 1976. With God’s favor, Mr. Baratan allowed the congregation to worship in this facility for 9 months without a single payment. After some initial renovations, the sanctuary was prepared for worship. We marched in on March 28, 1976, and made settlement September 6, 1976, with a deposit of $14,000.00. The establishment of Upper Room’s ministry in this particular building was especially significant, as the structure used to be an x rated movie theater. Remarkably, within three and a half years we burned the mortgage which was purchased for $25,000.00.
The late Deacon John Davenport, who was a major contributor toward our settlement, presided as Chairman of the Deacon Board. Our beloved Deacon Davenport served his Upper Room family unselfishly until his death. Through his guidance and the efforts of willing workers, the construction of the church was well underway. The men and women worked untiringly on the carpentry and general maintenance of the church.
Notably, Bishop Aiken served without a salary for six months and later received a meager stipend for approximately two years. Whether in lack or abundance, Bishop Aiken has worked selt1essly as the Shepherd of this house, making several personal sacrifices to fulfill God’s vision for this local church body.
Over the past 43 years, the Church has grown exponentially in spirit in spite of size. With over seventeen Ministries, Ordination of two sons as pastors, Licensing of several Ministers and ordination of many Deacons -the Upper Room church family has as its greatest commission to win souls for Christ and contribute to the building of God’s Kingdom. Garnering the reputation as The Friendliest Church in Town, there is definitely a sweet spirit in this place, and with the favor of God and leading of the Holy Spirit, this ministry will continue to “Build a Kingdom Focused Church”.
Passing the Torch
As Bishop Aiken’s health began to fail, he decided to retire and pass the torch to his youngest son Carlton Leon Aiken, Sr. Pastor Carlton Aiken was supposed to be installed in November of 2011. Unfortunately, on July 5, 2011 God in His infinite wisdom took Bishop Aiken home to Glory before he could see Rev. Carlton Aiken be installed as the new pastor of Upper Room Missionary Baptist Church. Pastor Aiken was gloriously installed on October 1, 2011.
Pastor Carlton Aiken is married to the lovely Brandee Elizabeth Aiken. They are the proud parents of four children Carlton Leon, Jr., Christian Lee, Kennedee Elizabeth and Chase Liam. They are the custodial parent of 5; Adrienne, Donna, Calvin, Catrina and Shekira Dunbar. And continues to extend.
We have also started renovations. We have completed a new Men’s and Ladies room, as well as a Family for changes babies. We are also working on other areas, kitchen and offices, Nurse’s room and more.
We have continued do what the Lord would have us to do. As Pastor Carlton Aiken always talks about the scripture Genesis 37:24 being in the pit, but truly God is with us and we are constantly climbing up. Through Pastor Carlton Aiken many souls have come to Christ.
We have added more ministries since last year which include Event & Planning Ministry, Audio & Video Ministry, Performing Arts, Parents and Fund Raising.
On Saturday, March 24, 2012 there was an unveiling of the street sign on Tulpehocken at Ogontz Ave. being name ‘Bishop Joseph C. Aiken Way’
Pastor Aiken is his father’s son, he is a marvelous songster who can bring you to your feet. He is a dynamic preacher, giving God’s word to all who will open up their heart and let the Lord come in. He is full of the Holy Spirit and it shows in all that he does.