Our Church History
In 1941 UEAG Church was started with 10 ladies and 1 man. There existed a Ukrainian church in the City of New York and when they learned that there was a group of Ukrainian Christians in Newark, NJ, they sent Pastor Fred Smolchuk to Pastor this small congregation.
The church initially gathered in a rented a building on 9th Street in Newark (rented from an Italian congregation) where Fred Smolchuk pastored for 4 years (1941-1945).
During this time Pastor Smolchuk heard that there were many displaced Ukrainians in German camps. He went to Germany as a missionary to minister to these displaced persons and met a passionate Pentecostal evangelist Andrew Dawidiuk. He and Andrew were in the camp together with his wife Luba and two daughters. In 1949 Pastor Smolchuk returned to Germany and visited the camps together with Andrew Dawidiuk.
He processed a petition for Pastor Dawidiuk to come to Newark and take his position as Pastor because he was now the Chief Presbyter of the Ukrainian branch of the Assemblies of God. By 1951 the Dawidiuk family migrated to Newark.
In 1956 they were able to purchase a plot of land on 20th Street in Newark and built their own church. Pastor Dawidiuk had such a passion for winning people for Christ, and keeping families together.
In the early 1960’s Pastor Dawidiuk travelled to South America as a missionary, visiting Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. He saw how difficult the living conditions were in these countries and started to invite everyone to come to America. Not only did he invite them, but he sponsored and helped many. Migration started immediately and over 100 families came to the church. The church outgrew the building in Newark and they very quickly started to prepare for a larger building by purchasing an abandoned commercial building on Stanley Terrace. This building wasn't made for a church, but the members quickly gathered their resources to make it a beautiful place to worship. The building committee started up a fund where members contributed $1/day for the construction project. (We are proud to say that the church building is fully paid for.)
We moved into this church building in 1973. During this time the church had more than 300 members + booming ministries through the late 80’s in to the early 90’s. The church had a passion for the music ministry and developed a decorative band that consisted of; wind instruments (about 30 men), a string orchestra also of about 30 people, an adult choir, a youth choir, and huge children’s Christmas productions. It was during this time that we saw the need to expand and purchased the additional buildings in the back where our youth held monthly concert outreaches, what we now call today the fire-escape.
The Radio ministry was established by Leonid Jakobczuk in 1973 and has ministered to the Ukraine with a weekly radio program for over 40 years. Many have responded to the gospel call. Praise God! Not only did we minister to the people of Ukraine via radio, but we also sent out clothing and literature to radio listeners who wrote us expressing their needs. To this day we continue to send shipments to families in the Ukraine, who write us requesting clothing and more.
From 1989-1991 the Nation and many of our families were in financial crisis. The cost of living in New Jersey made it difficult for families to stay and approx. 70 families moved South to the Carolinas because it was much more affordable.
Pastor Dawidiuk always had a love for the Ukraine and her people. Very frequently he would pray for the Ukraine and it’s freedom. The church sent out many missionary teams to the Ukraine over the years, while the Ukraine was still under the communist leadership of the former Soviet Union. Finally, in 1991, the Ukraine became an independent country and there was religious freedom.
Although, we started as a Ukrainian speaking church, we grew to embrace many people from all over the world. Currently, we have people from almost twenty countries. We preach the “Good News of the Gospel” and try to be God’s hands and feet in this area. In 1992 we started up the Pantry ministry, distributing to several needy families in our own congregation. Now, we receive monthly deliveries from both the government and state agencies at no cost, receive a grant from ShopRite each year to purchase additional food products, and now reach approx. 200 needy families from our community each month.
Over many years our church understood that in order to reach our community here in Union and the region around us, we had to open the doors wider. As a result, in 2017 UEAG Church became Living Word Church. In an effort to open the doors wide for all to hear the Gospel, our church chose a name that would accomplish just that. Living Word Church is a place for everyone to come and worship God together. With ministries available for our youngest children to our elder saints, we are excited to see how God is using our church to make a difference today. God is moving in power!
And you haven’t seen anything yet…