HACKENSACK, NJ - After almost three years without a permanent pastor, New Hope Baptist Church has installed a new spiritual leader.

On Sunday, Rev. Dr. Drew Kyndall Ross officially took the helm as New Hope’s eighth senior pastor. He was elected to the post by unanimous vote in December 2018 and has been leading Sunday services since the start of the New Year.

“It’s a very exciting time,” Ross said of his new role.

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Inspired by his uncle, a clergyman, Ross accepted his call to the ministry at age 14 and was licensed to preach at age 17. In June 2010, at the age of 24, he was ordained. A year later, Ross founded Resurrection Church in Pikesville, Md., where up until December, he served as senior pastor.

Aside from being a preacher, pastor and professor, he is also chief executive officer of a graphic design and marketing company that serves churches and businesses across the country. 

Ross also wrote a book called “Overcome: a 90-Day Jump Start to Developing a Healthy Lifestyle,” which is about his 100-pound weight loss journey that led to changes in his diet and lifestyle.

Prior to welcoming its new leader, the church held a month-long pastoral installation celebration filled with events, such as a banquet dinner, and guest preachers Rev. Gregory Jackson, Rev. Dr. Vernon Walton, Rev. Dr. Marilyn Harris and Rev. Jerry Carter, Jr.  On Sunday, Ross was officially installed during services at the Berdan Place church.

The 32-year-old said, “It’s not about just preaching from the pulpit on Sunday mornings. I often say that I want to provide a balance for how I express my gift and calling.”

Besides working to meet the spiritual needs of his new congregation, Ross wants to meet the ones of his new home. Some of his church plans include a fellowship hall and expanding in areas of community outreach.

Still a recent transplant from Maryland, Ross said he’s adjusting well to life up north.

“Baltimore is more of an urban metropolitan city, so Hackensack is a breath of fresh air. It’s been a really good adjustment,” he said.

“I tell my friends that Hackensack is a southern style city in a northern area. There’s such an amazing feeling of southern hospitality even though it’s so close to New York City. I really like it,” he said.

Bergen County, Ross said, “is different than what I’m used to.”

“I come from an urban area where the crime rate is high, where drug and alcohol use are on the rise and where there’s a lot of poverty. When I look at Bergen County, the issues I’m used to are not as prevalent,” he said. “In Baltimore people are falling away from going to church. Here, it’s more about getting people to serve in the ministry and community.”

The nearly century old church has a congregation of about 200 members. Following the August 2016 retirement of Rev. Dr. M. Frances Manning-Fontaine, the church has been led by interims Rev. Dr. Norma Fair-Brown and Rev. Kevin Jones. Manning-Fontaine, the first woman to lead an African American Baptist Church in the state, retired after 23 years of service.

Andrea Oates-Parchment, president of the search committee, said: "Rev. Drew Kyndall Ross was unanimously voted on as the eighth senior pastor of the New Hope Baptist Church of Hackensack New Jersey. Dr. Ross comes highly credentialed, which, is an inspiration to New Hope’s future - our youth. We as a committee felt that Rev. Ross’s vision for ministry includes all generations.  He also met the profile of what the congregation was seeking in a pastor; strong leadership, connectedness to church and  community, as well as a clear vision for the future. We believe that the church will grow stronger as a direct result of his leader ship and vision for the future.”