June 23, 2017

RUTHERFORD CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

251 UNION AVE

RUTHERFORD, NJ 07070-1415

201-438-6324 

  

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Church History

 

Laying of the CornerStone  |   Easter Eggs  |   Ministry of the Sign 1976  |   Ministry of the Sign 2006

 

The following text was reprinted from a newspaper article published October 26th, 1924.

 

IMPRESSIVE CEREMONIES ATTEND CONGREGATIONAL CORNER STONE LAYING 

Local Fraternal Organizations Participate in Exercises --- Mayor Harry R. Brown Delivers Address -- New Structure to Provide Center for Civic Activity in the West Side 

 

A more beautiful setting for the corner stone laying of Rutherford Congregational Church and community center could not have been imagined than the one which greeted the friends and neighbors of the West Side last Sunday afternoon. The autumnal skies were clear as crystal and the air balmy as a summer's day. Considerably more than one thousand people assembled. The splendor of the occasion was heightened by the presence of a large contingent of the following local fraternities: Commandry, in full uniform; Boiling Springs Lodge F. & A. M.; Eastern Star, and De Molay. Everyman's Bible Class furnished the music, Mr. John R. Thomas led the congregational singing, and Miss Madeleine Borschneck sang solos.

 

The exercises commenced promptly at three o’clock, and were opened by the singing of America by the audience which was followed by the' invocation, pronounced by Rev. Charles Ross, of the Presbyterian Church. After singing of the hymn, Onward, Christian Soldiers by the audience, Rev. Norman W. Pendleton, of the Congregational Church, extended a word of greeting to his fellow ministers, to the Mayor and to the fraternities. This is essentially a .neighborhood church,” said Mr. Pendleton, and he thanked the good folks of Rutherford for their interest and support. Thereupon he introduced Hon. Harry B. Brown, Mayor, who was most cordially received, and who, the audience was pleased to note, had made considerable progress towards recovery from his recent severe illness. Mayor Brown, congratulated the members of the Congregational Church on the progress which had so far attended their efforts, and pledged to them the assistance of the Mayor and the Borough Council in every way possible.

 

Mr.Bland, president of the West Side Improvement Association, spoke briefly and fittingly regarding the keen interest which, his association had in the church’s undertaking, and. expressed his well-wishes for the successful completion of their work. Mr. Stanton T. Lawrence, Secretary of Boiling Spring Lodge, recounted the intimate connection between the Masonic fraternity and the Christian church, and traced the early history of Congregationalism in this country, paralleling the spread of Masonry.

 

The West Side’s highly respected and most esteemed friend and neighbor, Rev. H. E. Luccock, whose inspiring words following the destruction of the old edifice by fire gave the people a new hope and a broader vision, admonished the people that they had the privilege not only to watch the game of erecting the building, but, in addition, the duty to get into the game and play. Mr. Harry B McGown, acting president of the board of trustees of the Congregational Church, expressed the thanks of the official board for the untiring devotion and assiduous labors of the people of the community in helping to make the vision of a church of' larger service a reality. He mentioned that a canvass would presently be made to raise ten thousand dollars to coyer the cost of furnishings.

 

Scripture Reading was given by: Rev. Lester Glee, who, at the morning session of Everyman’s Bible Class, evidenced his interest in the people of the West Side by urging all his hearers to be present at the ceremonies.

 

Prayer was offered by Rev. Elizabeth Padgham, minister of the Church of Our Father. To Miss Padgham and the members of her church, the Congregational communicants owe an everlasting debt of gratitude.

 

At this point, Rev. Mr. Pendleton announced that several members and friends of the church had made memorial gifts to the new building, including pulpit furniture, communion service, communion table, kindergarten furniture, .etc. It is known that a number of other residents of the borough desire to present gifts in the nature of church furnishings, as a memorial to some deceased loved one.

 

The principal address of the afternoon was delivered by Dr. J. T. Stocking, Pastor of Christian Union Congregational Church of Montclair. Dr. Stocking declared that no great movement was ever instituted that did not have in back of it the power and influence of the church. Behind the great business enterprise, the practice of jurisprudence and the learning of the schools was the inspiration of religion.

 

Following Dr. Stocking’s address was the formal ceremony of the corner stone laying, participated in by the pastor of the church, officers of the church and of the Building Committee. In a copper box, measuring six by six by twelve inches, were deposited “certain documents of historical record and memorials of faithful service in the building of the Temple.” The box was hermetically sealed and securely cemented in the corner, stone.

 

After the singing of the doxology, benediction was pronounced by Rev. H. C. Lytle, pastor of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

 

In his address of greeting Norman W. Pendleton, the-pastor, said, in part: “This is to be a neighborhood church, of, for and by the people of the West Side. If the West Siders use it, it will be a strong, serviceable institution.

 

“A neighborhood church must be a community church. It may be linked with a denomination so as to have a part in the world wide work of the church, but locally it should be utterly free from any sectarian spirit. This will he a community church. Intellectual freedom and liberty of conscience will be a genuine practice. This will be a church where men of various creeds and differing opinions, may get together to worship God, to search for the truth, to serve humanity. The emphasis will not rest upon ancient creeds but rather upon present living, loving action

 

President Brown said: “The church will come to it’s true joy and power when it everywhere proclaims that all who "share the Christian purpose are thereby made members of the Christian fellowship.

 

“You may accept the Apostles Creed, or reject it; you may bring the Westminster Confession with you or pass it by, but if you desire to follow Jesus, to develop the Christ spirit in your life, and to apply the Christ principles to the problems of the world, you are one of us.

 

The business of the community church is not to sit in judgment on man’s opinions, as if seeking an excuse to keep him out, the purpose is to throw a circle of love around men and draw them together in unity of purpose for the common good.

 

We propose to bring men together on the Golden Rule, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, that together we may help each other to develop the loving heart of Christ's Good Samaritan.

 

Abe Lincoln could not join the church of his day, because he could not conscientiously subscribe to the creed required. ‘But’ said he, ‘if any church will set up as its membership requirement the great command of the Master, Thou Shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself,’ I will join that church with all my being. This will be Lincoln’s kind of a church.

 

Beside the House of God will stand the house of the people. The community house, a place where Jew and Gentile, Catholic and Protestant, may gather to develop a deeper understanding, a finer friendship; a place where a brotherly atmosphere may be created and programs worked out for the betterment of the borough, where clean moving pictures, wholesome entertainment and famous lecturers and public men shall add their bit to the fullness of life in this community.

 

“Let me live in a house by the side of the road, Where the race of men go by They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong, Wise, foolish - so am I. Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat, Or hurl the cynic's ban? Let me live in a house by the side of the road And be a friend to man.

 

We hope that this church and community center will be a house by the side of the road, where men will gather with minds wide open to all that is good and true, that warm hearts will beat in sympathy to human need, and that the grip of the glad hand will be a sacred ceremonial."

 

When the cornerstone of the Rutherford Congregational Church was laid on October 1924, the following items were placed inside it.

 

  • Holy Bible
  • Autographed photograph of Hon. Calvin Coolidge, President of the United States, presented to the Rutherford Congregational Church by the President.
  • Photograph of the former church
  • Photographs of former ministers
  • Roster of members of the church and the following organizations
  • Board of Trustees
  • Board of Deacons
  • Building Committee
  • Sunday School
  • Ladies Aid Society
  • Women's Missionary Auxiliary
  • Young Women's CLub
  • Men's Club
  • List of contributers and pledgers
  • Historical sketch of church   
  • Card of invitation to cornerstone laying ceremony
  • Charred records recovered from old church
  • Map of West side of Rutherford
  • Copy of Rutherford Republican containing article relating to the cornerstone laying.  Issue from 10/24/1924.
  • Copy of Passaic Daily News of 10/24/1924
  • Church service bulletin
  • Building Committee letterhead
  • Silver coins symbolic of the countries from which contributions were received by the building committee.