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It all began in a small barn located at the corner of Essex Street and Rochelle Avenue in Rochelle Park. During that time, a Sunday School was meeting in this barn. 51 students attended and the collection was reported to be $2.95. During the next year, the attendance swelled to 59 and the name “First Reformed Sunday School” was chosen. Due to the increasing attendance, the Sunday school later moved to the former Lincoln School, which was erected in 1892 and located where the present municipal building now stands on Market Street in Saddle Brook. At that time, Saddle Brook was Saddle River Township. The name change became official on January 1, 1956 after residents voted to change the name in a referendum on November 8, 1955.
In 1895, the Sunday school purchased 4 lots on Ackerman Ave. which is now part of our existing property. The cost for these 4 lots was $265. When the Sunday school was ready to build their own structure, they consulted the Classis of Bergen for guidance and assistance in financing. Unfortunately, the Sunday school couldn’t qualify for a loan because they weren’t a corporation and the Classis couldn’t help because they were not a “church”. With Classis help, it was decided that a church should be formed. “The name “First Reformed Church of Rochelle Park” was chosen on November 2, 1900. At that time, the church was organized with 11 charter members and 6 consistorymen.
The original chapel was built in 1900 and completed in early 1901. The total cost was $2,000. The First Reformed Church was the first church constructed in today's geological Saddle Brook. The first worship service would be held on May 5, 1901 with the Rev. George MacPherson Hunter being ordained as our first pastor. He served until 1904. With money raised by the Sunday School and Ladies Aid Society, a bell was constructed by EA Williams Sons and Foundry, which was based in Jersey City.
An education building was constructed adjacent to the original chapel in 1925 to accomodate the increasing Sunday School enrollment and fellowship activities. That building was destroyed by a tragic fire on December 20, 1952. Soon after the fire, in a fundraising effort known as "Operation Onward", our present sanctuary was built where the education building once stood. The cornerstone was placed in 1953 and the new building was dedicated on June 20, 1954.
The original chapel was demolished in 1976 due to structural issues and an antiquated heating system. Hearts were saddened as the bell and stained glass windows were moved into storage. The bell was later lugged out of storage and rededicated during the 90th Anniversary celebration on May 4, 1991. The original stained glass windows were also taken out of storage and rededicated to the Glory of God on October 10, 1993. The beauty of these windows can be appreciated in the Narthex, Good Shepherd Entrance, and the Clements Room.
The Lord has blessed us through years of struggle (The Great Depression, World War II, fire and flood). The founders of our church passed on a history of strong compassion, caring, and a concern for our members and all of our brothers and sisters throughout the community and the world.
History Last Updated on September 28, 2019