Tag: Dutch Reformed Church

Old Paramus Reformed Church                                              660 East Glen Avenue                                                          Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Old Paramus Reformed Church 660 East Glen Avenue Ridgewood, NJ 07450

Old Paramus Reformed Church

660 East Glen Avenue

Ridgewood, NJ  07450

(201) 444-5933

http://www.oldparamus.org/

http://oldparamus.org/home

https://www.revolutionarywarnewjersey.com/new_jersey_revolutionary_war_sites/towns/ridgewood_nj_revolutionary_war_sites.htm

Open: Please check the website for full hours

The Old Paramus Reformed Church at 660 East Glen Avenue

I have toured the Old Paramus Reformed Church at 660 East Glen Avenue in Ridgewood, NJ many times during the year. I have been on cemetery walks and talks during the summer. I have had Christmas services at the church during the Epiphany. I have also toured the grounds during Halloween when the Ridgewood Historical Society had lead tours at the church.

Signage from Route 17

During the Christmas holiday season I was so busy that I was not able to visit my local church. So when I was able to celebrate the Epiphany,  I visited the Old Dutch Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ. The Church is one of the oldest in both Bergen County, NJ and the State of New Jersey. It is especially beautiful during the holidays.

Paramus Reformed Church III

The entrance to the Old Paramus Reformed Church at Christmas time

It really was a nice service with music, the choir singing Christmas hymns and a bell service. It reminded me of my years at the Dutch Reformed Church in Woodstock, NY when I celebrated Christmas there. The whole church was decorated in holly and garland with Christmas trees in the corners and white candles lit in the corner.

Paramus Reformed Church

The Inside of the Old Paramus Reformed Church for the holidays

What I liked after the service was over was that everyone walked up to me to greet me. I was one of the younger people in the church and I guess that they were happy to see some young blood.

The services there are very nice and I thought the church with its wooden benches and older architecture made the service even more special. It was a combination of the decoration, the music, the songs and the friendliness of the congregation that made the last day of the 12 Days of Christmas special for me.

I had also been to the church a few years prior for a private cemetery walk through the back part of the church looking at the old tombstones, The church is the burial place of many of Bergen County’s original settlers so the headstones are very old. Some of the tombstones were made of sandstone and the other of shale. Many had not survived the weather after all these years.

The cemetery at the Old Paramus Reformed Church is an interesting place

The interesting part of the pre-Halloween walk was that the tour guide from the Ridgewood Historical Society told us the reason the cemetery was shaped the way it was today. The cemetery was placed around the original church and when the new church was built in 1800, the newer part of the cemetery was created. It is interesting to walk amongst the graves and look at all the names of the original families of Bergen County that included the Haring’s, Zabriskie’s, Terhune’s, Blauvelt’s, Van Ripper’s and Demarest’s.

The cemetery at the Old Paramus Reformed Church

The cemetery guide at the Old Paramus Reformed Church

If you get a chance to tour the church or the grounds you will know the reason why this is such a special church. Maybe it was the church’s rich history in Bergen County.

Paramus Reformed Church II

The History of the Old Paramus Reformed Church of Ridgewood, NJ:

The Old Paramus Reformed Church has a rich past. The congregation was formed in the year 1725. During the American Revolution, the Paramus Church was the site of  a Continental Army military post for four years during which clashes between American and British forces tool place. It was also in the original church building that  General George Washington held a session of the court-martial of General Charles Lee who disobeyed order at the Battle of Monmouth in 1778.  Washington had his headquarters here at the church a total of ten times during various days from 1778-1780.

Other noted Revolutionary War figures such as Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette, Anthony Wayne, Richard Henry Lee and Aaron Burr also were here from time to time during the war. From early colonial times, slaves were members of the church congregation, the upper galleries on both sides being designed for their use during services.

The present church building was built in 1800. An interesting feature is that the pews are numbered. The members of earlier days rented them on an annual basis. The most expensive were numbers 50-57 at $52.00 per year while the least expensive were numbers 38-100 at $4.00 per year> Needless to say, the less expensive pews are at the rear of the sanctuary.

On each side of the pulpit, there are three pews placed at right angles to the rest of the pews in the church. These were reserved for the Elders and Deacons (on the left and right respectively). These persons collectively are known as the Consistory, which is the governing board of the church. It was their duty to sit in these pews each Sabbath with their Bibles and copies of the day’s sermons to check on the “Domine” as to his conduct of the service as well as sticking to his sermon!

That tradition (as to seating) was kept alive for many years in Old Paramus by members of the Consistory who sat in the first pew facing the pulpit each Sunday. The only similar practice in use today is that the Elders serving Communion sit in the first rows on either side of the center aisle.

The decorated organ pipes in the rear of the chancel (choir loft) behind the pulpit date back to 1892. In that year, they were installed when the church received the gift of a new organ from a congregation member.

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The inside of the Old Paramus Reformed Church

At the top of the arch the pulpit, there is a Dove of Peace. The dove is made of wood and is hand-carved. The exact date of origin of the dove is unknown. One authority claims that, “The bird is an eagle and was a donation by Dr. Garrett D. Banta in 1800.” Records from the Consistory minutes read: 1874, August 3rd: Resolved that the Consistory thankfully recognize the kindness of Mrs. Catherine Wessella for repairing and regilding the Dove, which has been a part of the decoration of the old church.

There are three flags on the pulpit-the American flag, the Christian flag and the flag of The Netherlands, the last representing our Dutch heritage. In a similar vein, for many years the Dutch flag was flown under the American flag on the staff in front of the church. Today only the American flag is flown on the flag pole.

There are several plaques on the inside walls of the church. Some honor the ministers and others honor the various Consistories since 1725. Another just inside the front door notes that this church has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. In display cases you will find various bits of memorabilia concerning our history.

When attending Old Paramus Reformed Church, you will have come to a warm and comfortable historic church to your whole being.

On the church campus, you will find modern Educational Building which houses the church offices and facilities need for Christian nurture. Another building is the one-room church like schoolhouse. This building houses the Ridgewood Historical and Preservation Society and is known as The Schoolhouse Museum. It was built in 1872 and was used as a school until 1905. It contains many items of historical note to this area. Make it a point to visit this museum during visiting hours. You should find it to be a very interesting and reward visit.

The signage of the historical landmark status

So what kind of church is Old Paramus Reformed Church? It is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, the oldest Protestant denomination with a continuous ministry in America. The first church was established in New York City, then known as New Amsterdam in 1628. The Collegiate Churches presently represent the origins of that original Congregational. The best known is Marble Collegiate Church, which is where Dr. Norman Vincent Peale was the minister for fifty-two years. The Reformed Church in America (RCA) is an historic denomination coming out of the Reformation when the Church was “re-formed” and re-organized according to the teachings of the Word of God, the Bible. The Reformed Church of is Biblical in doctrine, semi-liturgical in worship. Presbyterian in government and evangelical in practice.

This year, Old Paramus Reformed Church celebrates 295 years of God’s Loving Spirit. Come join us next Sunday at 10:00am. We would be most happy to see you and you will surely feel rewarded for the experience.

(Disclaimer: This information was taken from the Church’s history and I give them full credit for the information).

‘Church on the Green’                                        (The First Reformed Church of Hackensack), the Church Cemetery and the Hackensack Green                                                                   42 Court Street                                      Hackensack, NJ 07601

‘Church on the Green’ (The First Reformed Church of Hackensack), the Church Cemetery and the Hackensack Green 42 Court Street Hackensack, NJ 07601

“Church on the Green” (The First Reformed Church of Hackensack), the Cemetery and the Hackensack Green

43 Court Street

Hackensack, NJ  07601

Bergen County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs

(201) 336-7267

(201) 342-7050

http://www.co.bergen.nj.us

https://www.facebook.com/pages/First-Reformed-Dutch-Church-Hackensack/107959952566397

Due to their national historic significance the church, cemetery and the adjacent Hackensack Green were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983. The Green dates back to 1696 and is one of the oldest public squares in NJ. A strategic point during the American Revolution, Hackensack was a small village centered on The Green, a public meeting place where public notices were posted. In the 18th century it was where punishments were inflicted on criminals and where the local militia trained.

General Washington headquartered here in November 1776, while he surveyed the local roads and bridges. On November 20, 1776, he led his army into Hackensack. The army camped on The Green as Washington made the important decision to continue the retreat from overwhelming British and Hessian forces. On March 23, 1780, the British raided Hackensack and burned the courthouse that stood on the Green at that time. Since 1715, a Bergen County courthouse building faced The Green in Hackensack, the County Seat since 1710, making it the historic heart of Bergen County (County of Bergen Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs).

Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack

The Cornerstone

The First Dutch Reformed Church congregation was organized in 1686, the oldest Reformed Dutch congregation in Bergen County and second oldest in NJ. (County of Bergen Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs).

During the first ten years, churchgoers worshiped in a private home outside the limits of modern-day Hackensack. The official name of the congregation was the “Dutch Reformed Church of Ackensack” and comprised thirty-three residents from Hackensack, New Barbadoes and Acquackanonk. All three of these townships made up most of northeastern New Jersey. Acquackanonk was located in the northern portion of modern Essex County. New Barbadoes was comprised of land west of the Hackensack River, while Ackensack was located to the east. In April of 1696, Captain John Berry (1619-1712), the proprietor of a large portion of land in northeastern New Jersey, donated two and three-quarter acres of his property to the congregation to support their efforts to build the church. Most of present-day Hackensack at that time was called “New Barbadoes Township” and Hackensack is thought to have gotten its unofficial name when the Church relocated to New Barbadoes and brought the name “Ackensack” with it.

The emergence of the Dutch Reformed Church in America developed from Dutch colonization of New York and New Jersey during the 17th century. Dutch settlement was prominent in these areas before the British took control of the area in the late 1600’s. Still, the Dutch were freely allowed to practice their religion in America, even under British sovereignty. The Hackensack First Reformed Church would become the second oldest Reformed Church in New Jersey and the first in Hackensack. Construction of the church was completed in the latter part of 1696.

John Berry’s donation of land was appropriately dubbed, “The Green” and the church soon became known as “The Church on the Green”. The first sermon was preached on November 15th, 1696, based on Psalm 26:8 “Lord, I have loved the habitation of thy house and the place where thine honor dwelleth.” Although the first church was largely completed in 1696, the steeple was not built until 1708. The entire structure was rebuilt in 1728 on the same site. These two early church buildings were thought to have been octagonal structures.

Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack III

The Back of the Dutch Reformed Church

In 1780, during the Revolutionary War, the British invaded Hackensack. They burned the courthouse and jail and threatened to destroy the Church on the Green, which was located adjacent to the aforementioned buildings. Fortunately, the church was spared. Dutch Colonial architecture with sandstone walls being the prominent feature of the building. Some aspects, especially the arched and pointed windows, appear to have Gothic elements.

The front of the church has three sets of double doors with similarly arched doorways and transom windows. This style was a precursor for many of the Reformed Dutch churches that were eventually build in New Jersey. Although the present-day building dates from 1791, the church was enlarged in 1847 and again in 1847 and again in 1869, thus containing newer elements.

The attached cemetery is original to the first building’s construction in the late seventeenth century but during the renovation in 1847, it was also enlarged. The neighboring service house was built in 1867 and was used as a Sunday school, lecture hall and chapel.

The churchyard cemetery features simple stone tablets and obelisks that are surrounded by a wrought iron fence. Some notable burials include General Enoch Poor (1736-1780), Colonel and New York Mayor Richard Varick (1753-1831), Congressman George Cassedy (1783-1842) and Congressman Adam Boyd (1746-1835). General Enoch Poor’s burial is especially noteworthy as he served alongside George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Additionally, both Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette were in attendance at Poor’s funeral. Enoch Poor’s gravestone reads: “In Memory of the Hon’ble Brigadier General Enoch Poor of the State of New Hampshire who Departed this Life on the 8 day of Sept: 1780 aged 44 years/Washington, Lafayette and a portion of the American army attended the burial of Gen. Poor. In 1824, Lafayette visited this grave and turned away much affected, exclaimed, “Ah, that was one of my Generals!” Poor died in 1780, before the close of the Revolutionary War, so this gravestone is clearly not the original.

Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack II

The cemetery at the Dutch Reformed Church

The Reformed Church was nominated to the National Register of Historic Places on April 25, 1983. Included in this nomination was the “Green”,  which is one of the oldest public squares in New Jersey. This area encompasses the Churchyard, the cemetery, the church outbuilding and the green area that is adjacent to the Bergen County Courthouse. There are a few monuments that occupy this space, including a statue memorial to General Enoch Poor, which was dedicated in 1904 and the Hackensack War Memorial, which dates to 1924. The church continues to be a prominent feature of the history of Hackensack through community and self-guided walking tours. In addition to this, there are yearly Memorial Day commemorations, where a wreath is placed over General Enoch Poor’s grave and a tour of the church is provided to the attendees of the celebration.

Surrounding the Green, there are a few other historical buildings:

*The Peter Zabriskie Mansion site at 50 Main Street.

*Archibald Campbell’s Tavern Site at 41 Main Street

*The Hackensack War Memorial

*Site of the Burned Jail

*The Annual Christmas Tree on the Green

Christmas Tree at Hackensack Green

Disclaimer: This information was taken directly from the Bergen County Historical Society pamphlet and the Clio Website on the First Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack and from visiting downtown Hackensack. Please call the church at (201) 342-7050 for details on visiting it. Please remember this is a resting place.