Bible Study Classes
Sundays at Pastor’s House from 5-7pm
Summer class dates: TBD
2nd Thursday of the month
The origin of the Montville Reformed Church dates back to 1756, when the church was first organized in Old Boonton. Meetings were originally held in a log schoolhouse, and shortly after a church building was erected. At first there was no regular minister serving the church until the Rev. David Marineer was called to serve at Boonton, as well as at Acquackanonk and Pompton.
In the early years, a minister would often serve a number of churches in the area and there were often times when the church was without a dedicated minister. From 1762 to 1767, the Rev. Cornelius Blaw of the “Conferentic” party served the church, in addition to those of Fairfield, Totowa and Pompton. From 1772 to 1791, the pulpit was occupied occasionally by Rev. Hermanus Meyer, who was the settled pastor at Totowa and Pompton Plains. In 1794, the church united with one in Pompton Plains in calling the Rev. Stephen Ostrander, who preached at Old Boonton one quarter of the time for about seven years.
When the Rev. Ostrander became pastor, the church took the necessary steps to become incorporated. In doing so, the records stated the following: “We, the ministers, elders and deacons of the Dutch Reformed Congregation at Boonton do certify that the said congregation is named the First Reformed Dutch Congregation at Boonton; and we hereby wish the same to be recorded in the clerk’s office of the county of Morris, agreeable to an act of the Legislature of the State of New Jersey passed November 25, 1789; as witness our hands and seals this day of November, 1795.”
The document was signed by Stephen Ostrander, V.D.M., and by Lucas Von Beverhoudt, Jacob Kanous Sr., Jacob Romine, and Michael Cook as elders. Other signatures included Jacob Kanous, Jr., Frederick Miller and Henry Mourison as deacons. In 1801, the congregation appointed a committee consisting of Silas Cook, Edmund Kingsland, Richard Duryea and Henry Van Ness. They were authorized to purchase property for a parsonage. On the 13th of April that year they bought a house from Samuel Stiles and about 22 acres of land at Lower Montville, near the residence of Richard Duryea. It is said this parsonage was occupied briefly by the Rev. W. P. Kuypers, who preached from 1801 to 1805 at Old Boonton. Little use was made of this parsonage, however. The records show that Silas Cook, Henry Van Ness, and Edmund Kingsland, a committee appointed by the congregation, sold it on February 8, 1805 to Dr. George Wurts, who resided there about thirty-five years until his death.
After 1805, the church appears to have been occasionally served by preachers from other churches. Alden’s Register reports that the pulpit of the church at Boonton was vacant in 1810 and 1811. The Rev. John Duryea, who was settled at Fairfield, occasionally preached at Boonton from about 1812 to 1816. An elderly parishioner, Levi Stiles, once recalled an incident connected with Mr. Duryea’s preaching at Boonton. In the beginning of the War of 1812, in the course of his sermon one Sunday, suddenly digressing, in an animated appeal to the people he broke forth with the exclamation, “Young men, one and all, gird on your swords and rush to the war!” This, Mr. Stiles stated, surprised many and offended some of those present.
About this time, the congregation began to consider a new church building. In order to have it more central to the congregation it was determined to build at the present location in Montville. To prepare for this, the church at Boonton was taken down, in order that some parts of it might be used in the new structure. In 1818, a new church was built at the site on the north side of Church Lane and directly opposite the present church.
It opened for service in 1819. Four-tenths of an acre for the church site and for a cemetery was obtained from Garret Duryea. The church building was completed before the deed for the land was made out, which bears the date October 8, 1819. The dimensions of the newly constructed church building was about 30 by 50 feet, two stories in height, had a steeple in the front of the building, and was finished inside with a double row of pews on each side of a central aisle, with a side and end gallery. Built after the old style with a heavy frame of white oak timber, it was a very substantial building. This structure served the congregation for 38 years. When it was removed in 1856 most of the timber in the frame was found to be sound, although some of it had been in use in the church structures at both Boonton and Montville for nearly a hundred years.
After the move of the church building to Montville, the first minister selected as pastor was James G. Brinckerhoof in 1824. Differences arose in the congregation related to doctrinal points and a division within the congregation resulted. A portion of the congregation, with whom Mr. Brinckerhoof sided, chose to separate themselves from the Montville Church and formed an organization that they called “The True Reformed Church.” This group soon erected a house of worship after about two miles south of the existing church’s location on the road to Pine Brook.
The congregation, small in the beginning and without much growth in membership, maintained its organization for over half a century. It had a small house of worship, kept in good repair; had weekly meetings but had no settled minister for many years. Although the church ultimately disbanded, the old cemetery on Changebridge Road across from the municipal building remains.
After the division in the church at Montville, the pulpit was occupied by a series of ministers who served for a handful of years at a time. First, the church was served by the Rev. Abraham Messier as a supply minister for about two years, then by the Rev. J. Ford Morris and the Rev. John G. Tarbell for a short time. Next, the Rev. James G. Ogilvy occupied the pulpit for about one year. The Rev. Abraham Messier returned to the Montville church again, but this time as pastor at Pompton Plains and this church for about three years to 1832. Next came the pastorate of the Rev. Frederick F. Cornell, continuing about three years to 1836; the Rev. John Woods was then pastor about a year; and the Rev. Jeremiah S. Lord about four years to 1843. During the four-year pastorate of the Rev. Lord, the present parsonage at the corner of Church Lane and Change Bridge Road was purchased along with 27 acres of land. Thereafter, the Rev. John L. Janeway served the church for about seven years to 1850, and the Rev. Nathaniel Conklin followed for about eighteen years from 1851 to 1869. One of the first acts during the ministry of the Rev. Nathaniel Conklin was the building of a new church across the road from the former structure, near the site of our present, church. Constructed in 1856 at a cost of $5,000.00, this building served our congregation for 82 years.
Through the late 1800s, the pastorate of the Montville Reformed Church continued to be served by a series of ministers. These ministers included:
Rev. Luther H. Van Doren (1870-1874);
Rev. Isaac Henry Collier (1874-1879);
Rev. James Kemlo (1880-1883);
Rev. Jacob 0. Van Vleet (1883-1889);
Rev. Charles L. Clist (1889-1891);
Rev. George A. Luckenbill (1892-1895);
Rev. Abram Matties (1895-1902).
The turn of the century saw continued changes and growth at the Montville Reformed Church. In 1902, the Rev. J. D. Taylor became the minister of the congregation. It was during his tenure, on February 4, 1903, the Ladies Aid Society was formed to provide a source of financial help to the church as fell as create an atmosphere of Christian concern and bringing into closer relationship the women of the church. Over the years, the name of the society changed to The United Women of the Montville Reformed Church to the name by which it is known today, the Women’s Guild for Christian Service.
In 1905, a new minister assumed the pulpit at the Montville Reformed Church, the Rev. Elkanah Duck. Pastor Duck, who served through 1911, was the first member of the congregation who owned a motorized vehicle, a “narrow, hard rubber-tired, topless buggy type, one seated carriage.” This vehicle was battery powered and had been purchased through a mail order house.
The ministry of the Montville Reformed Church was next served by the Rev. Maurice G. Nies (1912-1913) and then by the Rev. James Mulder (1914-1916). Church records show that a group of male church members formed a cemetery association an February 26, 1916 to care for the cemetery of the church. This continued until 1950 when the present association, the Montville Reformed Church Cemetery Association, was organized.
After a time from 1917 to 1918 during which the church did not have a regular minister, the Rev. M. Eugene Flipse became the pastor and served from 1919 to 1921. Thereafter, the Rev. Ralph G. Korteling (1922-1924); the Rev. Eldred Kuizenga (1925-1927); and the Rev. Garret M. Conover (1927-1931) served the congregation. During this time, on November 27, 1925, the Women’s Missionary Society of the Lower Montville Reformed Church was organized at the home of Mrs. John Van Riper with seventeen charter members. Records, however, indicate that the society may have actually gotten its start forty-five years earlier in 1880 by a group of women. In either case, the Society continues to serve the church today. On June 18, 1926, the Society held its first strawberry festival which was held annually until 1942 when it was canceled due to gas rationing, sugar shortage and other restrictions imposed by the war. However, in June of 1946, the festival was resumed and the tradition has continued to this day.
In 1933, the Rev. Donald M. Wade was installed as minister at the Montville Reformed Church and would become its longest serving pastor, guiding the congregation for 36 years. Early in his tenure disaster struck the congregation when the church building was destroyed by fire in the early morning hours of June 28, 1938.
On the Sunday following the fire, worship services proceeded as usual in the Methodist Church, which was located at the time in the building next to the Montville Museum on Taylortown Road. Immediately, the congregation set about the task of planning and rebuilding the Montville Reformed Church building. In April of 1939, the present Georgian colonial church building was dedicated. The present building was constructed entirely with insurance money, totaling $27,500.
In 1943, during World War II, the Rev. Wade entered the Army and served as a Chaplain in the Pacific theater. After his tour of duty, he returned to the Montville Reformed Church in 1946 and continued as minister until his retirement in 1969.
In 1956, the Montville Reformed Church celebrated its 200th Anniversary. At that time, the need for a new Educational and Fellowship facility at the church was identified and a fund raising campaign was initiated. The Building Fund goal of $60,000 was raised from members, affiliates and friends of the church. Upon reaching the funding goal, groundbreaking ceremonies were held on Sunday, March 17, 1957, following morning services. A dedication ceremony for the new facility was celebrated on February 22, 1958 by the Rev. Wade.
At Christmas time of that same year, a new tradition was begun at the church with the initial Christmas Pageant being performed by the Sunday School students. This tradition has been joyously maintained and continues to this day.
Upon the retirement of the Rev. Wade in 1969, the Rev. Lewis E. Kain became pastor of the Montville Reformed Church. Like Pastor Wade before him, Pastor Kain served as minister of the church for a long and dedicated tenure. His service continued for 29 years until 1998.
After a lengthy search, the Reverend Charles Bigelow was installed as the next minister of the Montville Reformed Church in 2000. “Pastor Chuck” brought his deep faith, infectious smile, and an endless inventory of corny jokes (by his own admission) to our Sunday worship services. Reverend Bigelow served as our spiritual leader until his retirement as 2014 came to a close. He and Debbie returned to their midwestern roots and currently reside in Michigan, where they are enjoying life with the grandkids and a seemingly ever-growing supply of St. Bernards to keep them occupied.
In July 2008, the Bell Tower Committee was convened to raise funds for the restoration of our historic church icon. The project goal was to raise $40,000 in 40 months. It took only 26 months to reach that figure! Prayerful thanks to everyone who contributed. We may be a small congregation but we have a big love for our church.
Our church’s beacon of sound underwent its first major renovation after 70 years of service. It was constructed and dedicated back in 1938, after the church suffered a devastating fire. The 1,000-pound bell is as much a part of church culture as our congregational families.
The restoration is now complete and our bell has never sounded better. It proudly carries out its historic purpose of ‘ringing true’ in calling us to worship. We hope you’ll continue to enjoy its melodious tone.
Below is a 5-minute video of our church bell’s history.
November 2013: the church took a big technological leap of faith and installed a high-definition projector and screen to offer a multimedia experience to our worship services.
Spring 2016: another new chapter opened as the Reverend Thomas J. Henion Jr. was installed as pastor. His first worship service took place the week after Easter, and we look forward to his spiritual guidance for many years to come. It doesn’t hurt that he’s ‘supported’ by his beautiful wife Ashley, and two of the cutest boys in Montville, sons Noah and Elijah.
We dedicated a new church organ on March 11, 2017, thanks to the fundraising power of our congregation and a very gracious donation from Dieter and Eleanor Weissenrieder, who performed the prelude prior to worship service. Our new organ allowed us to bid adieu to the Smithsonian-worthy predecessor that was a mainstay at our services for 35 years (dedicated back in 1982). Maxine Alstrom, our Music Director, produces a “joyful noise” each Sunday as the music sounds sweeter with each hymn played. Joyful noise, indeed!
And, finally, Montville Reformed Church proudly boasts the latest in humanoid-temperature-and-humidity-control… yes, our sanctuary is now air conditioned! A big thanks to some generous donations that supported this much-needed upgrade during Summer 2018.
Bible Study Classes
Sundays at Pastor’s House from 5-7pm
Summer class dates: TBD
2nd Thursday of the month
Montville Reformed Church
9 Church Lane
Montville, NJ 07045
Phone: (973) 263-0530
Fax: (973) 263-3421
Sunday Worship Service 9:30-10:30am.
Child Care for pre-schoolers is available during worship service in our "Cradle Roll."
School-age children join the congregation in the sanctuary at beginning of worship, and are escorted to their Sunday School classes following "Children's Pastoral Message."
Upcoming Bible Study Classes
Sundays at Pastor’s House, 5-7pm
Summer dates: TBD
2nd Thursday of the month