New Jersey history
Terrill Road Bible Chapel in Fanwood has an illustrious history. By the year 1870, a small group of 15 or 20 believers were gathering together in assembly fellowship in Plainfield. Of the original company, only one name is remembered, that of Louis Rhaume. Mrs. Elie Loizeaux was a step- daughter of his.
Later in the 1880s, Paul and Timothy Loizeaux with their families moved to Plainfield and met with this small group. They were the founders of the Bible Truth Depot, later known as Loizeaux Brothers Publishers. At about this time F.C. Jennings, a gifted writer and teacher, joined with the group. The assembly grew and the Lord blessed. A little later, J.D. Loizeaux, the Perrins, the Hardinghams, and the Maugers came into fellowship.
Toward the end of the 1880s, F.W. Grant, the well-known assembly leader and writer, came to Plainfield with his family and took his place among this group. (F.W. Grant’s sons, Fred and Frank, and some members of the Loizeaux family, were associated with a similar assembly in nearby Berkeley Heights, the Berkeley Heights Gospel Hall, which continued until World War II.) F.W. Grant produced The Numerical Bible while in Plainfield. Miss Emily Farmer, who assisted C.I. Scofield in the preparation of his well-known reference Bible, was also in the assembly for many years. During these years, the assembly was known as Bible Truth Hall in Plainfield, but was usually called the Front Street Meeting, denoting its location in downtown Plainfield at 331 E. Front Street.
Soon after the turn of the century, Samuel Ridout, another well-known author, came to Plainfield with his family, and came into fellowship. F.W. Grant and Samuel Ridout were successive editors of Help and Food. The Front Street Meeting was quite large at this time. After Mr. Ridout died in 1930, John Bloore assumed the editorship of Help and Food for twelve years. He perhaps more than anyone else was used to break down some of the party lines among brethren. The Front Street Meeting had been in the ‘exclusive’ camp, and with Mr. Bloore’s and others’ efforts, became an ‘open’ meeting.
Others in the meeting in the first half of the 1900s were James Parker; Hughes Fawcett; P. Daniel, Elie, Alfred, and Parker Loizeaux, the sons of Timothy Loizeaux; Fred and Frank Grant, the sons of F.W. Grant; the Armerding family; the Loughs; Carvers; Inglis Fleming; Ferdinand French; Walter Temple; and for a time, John Smart and R.E. Harlow. Those who ministered at the assembly comprise a veritable Who’s Who among the brethren.
Hillside Cemetery, located on the border of Scotch Plains and Plainfield, stands today as a memorial of many saints, including those listed. Their tombstones stand as a great tribute to God’s Word. The entrance of this cemetery is graced by the markers of three of the original Loizeaux family, whose inscriptions are written in French.
The Front Street Meeting built a new chapel in the neighboring town of Fanwood in 1957 and since then has been called the Terrill Road Bible Chapel. Others in leadership over the years include John Reid, Phillip Carter, John French, Ledley Perrin, Douglas Haggan, Robert Hansen, and William Patterson. The assembly has commended several people to the work of the Lord in Puerto Rico, to itinerant ministry, to Emmaus Bible College, and other areas. Terrill Road has about 110 adults and youngsters in attendance currently.
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The assembly that meets today at Cedarcroft Bible Chapel in South Plainfield has its roots in the Front Street Meeting, discussed above. In late 1898 or early 1900, several men with their families left that ‘exclusive’ assembly and started an open meeting in a storefront called the Liberty Street Assembly. Among these were F.C. Jennings, Sydney Perrin, Walter Hardingham, Joshua D. Loizeaux, Nathan Saunders, and Nicholas and Edward Mauger.
The Baehr family moved from Bronx, NY to Plainfield in 1912. A couple named Platts lived across the street from the Baehrs and sent Mr. Perrin to visit them. He told the Baehrs about the Sunday School at Liberty Street, and the parents realized this was the place they had been looking for. This was in 1918. Conrad Baehr and his wife Myrtle later became missionaries to China.
Mr. Perrin, the son of W. L. Perrin who owned an insurance company in New York, was a Sunday School superintendent; he picked up the children and bought bus or trolley car tickets for others who lived further away. Joshua D. Loizeaux took young people to the local rescue mission to help in the assembly ministries there.
Later, the Christians moved to a larger building and became the Washington Avenue Gospel Hall in Plainfield. For many years, F.C. Jennings had a Tuesday evening Bible class at the Westfield Assembly, which was a hive-off from the Washington Avenue Meeting. He would walk the five to seven miles to Westfield for these classes and take transportation home.
In the 1930s, the Washington Avenue Meeting moved to the Grove Street Chapel in North Plainfield. They remained there until buying property and building a chapel on Kenyon Avenue in South Plainfield in 1965, calling it Cedarcroft Bible Chapel. Leading brothers over the years at Grove Street/Cedarcroft include Frank Biffen, Rufus Hummel, James Van Duzer, Alfred Guzzetti, and many others. Kingsley Baehr is a resident worker for the assembly.
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When the Front Street Meeting broke from the ‘exclusive’ camp in the 1930s, ties between the two Plainfield meetings became strong, and there was much interaction between them. They formed monthly missionary meetings in Plainfield, alternating responsibility for the meetings. They fellowshipped regularly together for several years until the Front Street Meeting moved to Fanwood. The William Deans family, who had ties with both the Front Street and Grove Street meetings, left for Africa as missionaries in 1929, with a send-off from both assemblies. In 1940, the Front Street Meeting procured a printing press for the Deans in the Congo, with which to print Christian literature.
Captain Barlow, who had been a sea captain, became the New York dock captain of the Cunard Line and did much to help many missionaries with transportation and in other ways as well. He also helped start a monthly missionary meeting, probably in the early thirties, in a small meeting in Elizabeth. A light supper was served, and missionary letters were read, followed by a prayer meeting. The monthly missionary meeting outgrew the chapel in Elizabeth and was moved to the larger Kenilworth Gospel Chapel (see below) with the same format and attended by a sizable number of people from many different New Jersey assemblies.
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The roots of Woodside Chapel in Fanwood go back to the time of Walter W. Gill, who came to Westfield from Iowa to practice dentistry in the early 1900s. Mr. Gill was converted in 1918 at a Billy Sunday meeting. He longed to share the Gospel with others and began teaching in the church he attended in Westfield. Unfortunately, his message was unwanted, and he was denounced for sharing God’s truth. He did, however, find a group meeting in Plainfield who believed as he did the Washington Avenue Gospel Hall and he began to fellowship there.
He began a Sunday School in a Norwegian section of Westfield. The group met in various homes, including the home of Mr. and Mrs. John Hansen. Some were brought to the Lord through this effort, which was followed in 1921 by evangelistic tent meetings in that area. Mr. Hugh McEwen of Philadelphia came as the evangelist and God answered prayer in the salvation of several of these Scandinavian people. The new converts formed the nucleus of the Westfield Assembly. They rented an upstairs room on Elm Street in Westfield in 1924 and began meeting together for the preaching of God’s Word, fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and prayer.
For the next twenty eight years these believers met in four different locations in Westfield, seeking to serve the Lord in any way they could. Evangelistic meetings were frequent. A.P. Gibbs used his slides to present the Gospel to children. Many were saved. A small rented store on Cacciola Place provided a spot for gathering children on Friday nights to hear and learn the Scriptures.
In the late 1940s, the YMCA in Westfield was used as a meeting place, but as it did not provide good facilities for Sunday School or Gospel meetings, the group began looking in earnest for their own quarters. God finally provided property in 1951 on Morse Avenue in Fanwood. Woodside Chapel opened its doors in January 1952. Following the passing of Walter Gill, his son John (Jack) Gill faithfully led and shepherded this assembly until his home call in the early 1990s.
In 1954, the adjacent corner lot was made available and purchased. A year later the chapel was extended to twice its length and the basement and two classrooms were finished. In 1959 and 1960, the nursery, foyer, and side classrooms were added. A new auditorium was built a decade later under the able supervision of James Perrin.
Many godly men and women shared in this outreach to the neighborhood over the years, such as Albert and Arthur Mayer. Many well-known servants of the Lord have been commended from Woodside, including Len Brooks, Ed Christensen, Jack Fish, Fred Kosin, and James Stahr. Present elders are David Brooks, George Dick, Eugene Graber, John Jeffers, and Alan Schetelich.
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Henry W. Redfield had been active in a denominational church in Tarrytown, New York. By the late 1870s, he had become concerned over what he felt was an unbiblical system in the church he attended. After reading the Scriptures for many months, he became convinced that he would have to take an independent position where scriptural methods and principles could be applied. A series of letters dating from 1877 set out his convictions, essentially the same as those held by the brethren, though he knew nothing of the assembly movement.
By 1882, the Redfields had moved across the Hudson River to Closter, a community in the northeastern corner of New Jersey. Mr. Redfield and his wife invited a few friends to join them in a simple observance of the Lord’s Supper, and thus an assembly was born, probably the second oldest in the state, Bible Truth Hall in Plainfield being the oldest. Harvey Wadham was also involved in establishing the assembly.
Just before the turn of the century, when several key families in the assembly were about to move a few miles south to Tenafly, it was decided to relocate the assembly to that village. The Remembrance Meeting was held in a rented library room. The Christians called their meeting place Tenafly Hall. The Sunday School met in the railroad station. The assembly was incorporated under New Jersey law in 1908. The assembly later moved to its own building Washington Hall.
The Christians were energetic and evangelistic. Tent meetings brought many in. Others were reached through an unusual form of evangelism some of the men conducted daily Bible classes on the commuter trains during the long ride to New York City.
Through the years there has been a steady outreach in evangelism, missions, and humanitarian service. Alfred A. Kunz, one of the elders, founded and directed the Pocket Testament League. Missionaries were sent to Angola and Italy. In 1972, Henry Redfield, Jr. became one of the founding directors of El Nathan Home, then in Buffalo and now in Missouri.
The assembly now meets at Grace Chapel at West Clinton Avenue and Tenafly Road. Elders have included Alfred Kunz, Robert Watson, and Charles Steinhofer, among many others.
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A few miles north of Newark is Kearny. The original thoughts about an assembly in Kearny began in 1892, at a time when there was a very small meeting in Newark. Some of the brethren in fellowship in the Newark Assembly decided to hold tent meetings in the town of Kearny. When people responded, the brothers not only desired to establish an assembly there, but to develop a children’s work. The assembly moved through several rented buildings in the next several years and was subjected to persecution from ‘rowdies,’ as they called their antagonists. In March 1898, a small Sunday School work began in a home.
The assembly eventually located in the Good News Chapel in Kearny, which they apparently owned. A Mr. Spencer is considered the founder of the assembly, along with Mr. John Thomson Sr. Others who helped in the work were Mr. Oliver, Mr. Miller from Portland, OR, Mr. Wilson from Willimantic, CT, and Mr. Lyon from Great Britain, who arrived in 1903.
In about 1910, the meeting place was called the Kearny Gospel Hall. At some point, a separation into two groups occurred. One group took the name Kearny Gospel Chapel and the other reverted to the name Good News Chapel. Both groups were in Kearny.
In 1979, the two works recombined into one, and the building originally housing Kearny Gospel Chapel was sold to a day care center, and the newer building that housed Good News Chapel was renovated and the work became known as Kearny Bible Chapel. The assembly continues with this name and location.
Others who have shared leadership over the years include Messrs. Shearer, John Thomson Jr., Robert Gardner Sr. George Green, George MacLachlin, Robert Turner, William Watson, Robert Gourley, John Henderson, Sal Cristo, Lawson Mitchell, Jay Allen, and Thomas J. Turner. The assembly has commended workers to Africa, Spain, and Russia. About 100 adults and children attend Kearny Bible Chapel.
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Kenilworth Gospel Chapel has an interesting history because of its involvement with the beginning of the borough of Kenilworth.
In the late 1800s, commercial development in the area west of Newark and south of Orange was underway. A clothing company was one of the largest moving into the area, employing several hundred people. But these all lived in New York City, and transportation was a real problem. So, the clothing company decided to have a residential area built in what was then called the New Orange Industrial Park and sought bids for the development and construction of 100 homes. The successful bidder was the construction company owned by James Arthur of Philadelphia.
Mr. Arthur arrived in 1898 with a group of construction men, and these men with their families and a few already living in the area, were the founders of the borough of Kenilworth. But Mr. Arthur was a Christian, associated with the brethren assemblies, and many of those he brought with him were also.
In that same year, 1898, George MacKenzie, a 33-year-old immigrant from Scotland who had been saved in a New York City mission a few years earlier, had begun teaching at a Bible Institute in Philadelphia. Largely self-taught and having no association then with assemblies, he had discovered the New Testament principal of the oneness of the body of Christ, and began teaching this, which led to his early dismissal from the school. But the Lord had led him into the acquaintance of James Arthur, perhaps a year or two earlier, who then was associated with a small Presbyterian church. Recognizing his teaching and preaching gifts, Mr. Arthur invited George MacKenzie to teach them these New Testament truths. The group soon withdrew from the Presbyterian association and formed the West Philadelphia Assembly (later known as the Lansdowne Gospel Hall).
And so, it was that James Arthur brought with him to New Orange/Kenilworth a substantial New Testament church testimony. George MacKenzie, who had identified with the ‘Grant’ brethren by then, moved to the area at the request of Mr. Arthur in about 1905 and soon took up his calling as an itinerant preacher, traveling widely, and apparently living for a time in St. Louis.
In the early 1900s, it is known that a group of assembly Christians was meeting in a small building at 17th Street and Monroe Avenue; these were probably the group identified with Mr. Arthur, who are said to have met initially in various homes. In 1908, the meeting place of these Christians was in the Council Chambers of the present municipal building.
A few years later they moved to a store at 52 South 21st Street (now Orange Avenue). In about 1933, the Christians started a Sunday School work there. Upon growing, they decided they needed their own chapel. The lot at the corner of Newark Avenue and South 23rd Street was donated to the group by Howard Gillings, and ground was broken for construction in July 1936. Kenilworth Gospel Chapel was dedicated in December of 1936.
By consistent door-to-door visitation, series of meetings once or twice a year, and the use of able speakers at the Gospel meetings, the work grew. By the beginning of 1948 they had expanded their quarters and undertook a five-week Gospel campaign with Lester Wilson, then of Greensboro, NC. The assembly grew rapidly after that. Over the years, many additions have been made to the building, until now it extends from Newark Avenue to Passaic Avenue along 23rd Street.
Besides the MacKenzie, Arthur, and Gillings families, Mrs. Winnie Dyke is also remembered as having a strong influence in the early days of the assembly and conducted a home Sunday School. Fred MacKenzie, son of George MacKenzie, was a strong leader in the assembly for many years. He was president of The Fields and then Christian Missions in Many Lands (CMML). He became a leader among many assemblies and was influential, with many others, in breaking down the barriers between the ‘Grant’ and ‘open’ assemblies in the area. Kenilworth has for many years been counted among the ‘open’ assemblies. Other leaders over the years have included George Sharp, Frank MacMillian, Ben Hubinger, William Baxter, Alec Carver, William Arthur, and James Arthur, Jr.
Kenilworth Gospel Chapel now numbers about 125 adults and children. The assembly has commended Bob and Joyce Clark (jointly with Maplewood Bible Chapel), who have an extensive preaching and radio ministry. Others have been commended to the Philippines and South Africa.
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The village of Maplewood was blessed with an assembly of believers as early as 1913. At about that time, several families moved to Maplewood not having brethren backgrounds, and in searching for a fellowship where Biblical truths were expounded and practiced, joined in with the new assembly and became mainstays in the work.
For a while the Christans met in rented facilities in the center of Maplewood. Subsequently they rented a store front on Springfield Avenue, the main artery in town. Gospel texts were placed in the windows and were an effective means of spreading the Gospel. The work grew to the degree that the Maplewood Bible Chapel was built in 1938 on a triangle of land bordered by Lexington and Burnett Avenues. For several years following, it was perhaps one of the most progressive assemblies in the metropolitan New Jersey area. It was blessed with a host of young people, many with growing families, and many wise shepherds. The names of Low, Main, Myers, Mauger, Lough, Bellinger, Fortune, Humphries, MacKenzie, Brackenridge, Scheele, and others are part of the history of the assembly.
People still speak glowingly of the blessings derived by attending Charles Bellinger’s Bible study. Mr. Bellinger was the leading brother in establishing The Fields, forerunner of Christian Missions in Many Lands. During the 1940s and 1950s, Jack and Marge Wyrtzen and family lived in Maplewood and made the chapel their church home. Young Don Wyrtzen, who is now well known for his sacred music, started out by playing the piano in the Sunday School.
The work is not as large as it once was, but a faithful number still meet in the name of the Lord Jesus and have an outreach to the neighborhood through youth activities and DVBS. They are encouraged in the work by elders Grosvenor Rust, William Elder, Richard Magee, Lance Ellis, and Vincent D’Addio.
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Grace Chapel in Elizabeth was well underway in 1932 at 357 Morris Avenue, and known then as Bible Truth Hall. In that year, another assembly that had been meeting in a store front merged with Bible Truth Hall. James C. Manahan had built the Hall, with a meeting room on the first floor and an apartment on the second. When he died, he willed the building to the assembly. In leadership have been Messrs. Manahan, H. Carpenter, J. Troutman, Gibson, Avery, and now Bill Kother. Owen Hoffman was commended by Grace Chapel to the Lord’s work in Georgia. The assembly of about 25 people has an outreach to inner city youth, transporting up to 25 each week to the Sunday School.
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The assembly now at Central Bible Chapel in Palisades Park in the New York City metropolitan area, began in 1907 in a store front a few blocks from the present location at 14 W. Central Boulevard. Peter Steenland, Harry Ackerman, and Rollo Steenland were the leaders in forming the assembly, having left the multi-denominational Union Church of Palisades Park, which had become liberal. At the store front, it was known as the Palisades Park Gospel Hall and took its current name after moving. Active in leadership after these first men were L. Stanley Ford, George T. Mortland, Harold Buirkle, Edward Armstrong, David Swaim, and Ned Stephens. The assembly has commended workers to Paraguay, Poland, and the Philippines. About 45 adults and youngsters attend Central Bible Chapel today.
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Correspondence shows that believers had been meeting as an assembly without a specific name in the city of Hackensack in the New York metropolitan area since about 1905. How the assembly began has been lost from memory. Prior to incorporating in 1940 as Hackensack Gospel Chapel, the believers had met in rented space on State Street and on Main Street in the city, and probably in other locations as well. In 1940, the Christians erected their own building at the corner of Euclid and Terrace Avenues. At that time, there were no recognized elders, but the trustees for the incorporation were William Walsh, Collins Chivers, Florent Feltz, Wesley Schierloh, and Otto Speck, so these men would have been among the leadership.
The assembly was active during this period. It sponsored a 15 minute radio program each Sunday morning; regularly distributed literature in the neighborhood and had a Sunday School of over 100 students at times. Only a few adult neighbors would come to the meetings. In the late 1950s, desiring an outreach into the neighborhood, the believers invited Ernest Woodhouse to come as a resident evangelist.
Expansion of the building was impractical, so the believers agreed unanimously to relocate. At about the same time, a Family Bible Hour on Sunday mornings decided upon. The elders at that time were Benjamin Boonstra, Ernest Chick, Florent Feltz, Nazar Nazarian, Meno Nershi, William Walsh, and Cecil Whitaker. A site was chosen in a suburban area near Hackensack. The opening of Valley Bible Chapel, in Washington Township Bergen County, was on January 1, 1961.
The assembly has commended workers to the field in India, Bolivia, and Colombia. Residents have come to know Christ as Savior, and a strong youth program has seen conversions. About 130 attend Valley Bible Chapel. Current elders are John Molnar, J. Leslie Campbell, Kenneth Biswurm, and Robert Hayes.
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The assembly now at Brighton Avenue Bible Chapel began in about 1930 on North Park Street in East Orange and was known in the beginning as The Gospel Chapel. R.H. Muir was the principal person in the start-up, and has been followed in leadership by Alfred Moffit, Don Small, and Michael Pongracz. The assembly has commended John and Eleanor Sims to the work in Zimbabwe, and Bob Young to Zambia. About 55 adults and young people are in Brighton Avenue Bible Chapel today.
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Rutherford Bible Chapel in the New York metropolitan area began as an assembly in homes in the Rutherford area. In 1901, the Christians rented the basement of the Public Library and were known as Library Hall assembly. In 1915, they moved into a rented store at 37 Park Avenue. In 1926 the Christians moved to 118 Union Avenue, where they were known as the Rutherford Gospel Hall. In 1970, they purchased their own building at 161 West Passaic Avenue, and took the name Rutherford Bible Chapel.
Arthur Mauger, Alwyn Ball, Lyman C. Hershey, and Ernest Hageman were those who began the assembly. In addition to these, Walter C. Nearpass, Walter L. Nearpass, John Barlow, Henri Larrieu, and Gerard DeMatteo have been in leadership. Rutherford Bible Chapel has commended several persons to ministries in the U.S. and Canada. About 125 adults and youngsters attend the assembly.
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A few believers in fellowship at Grace Gospel Chapel in Jersey City, desiring to start a work nearer their area a few miles north, began Gospel Tent work in Union City with the help of Thomas Baird. Souls were saved and the group began meeting as an assembly in store fronts in Union City in October 1914. Dirk Janssen, Arthur Bowman, and Samuel Donnelly are among the names remembered as initiating the assembly. Later the believers met in a loft over a machine shop at 522 30th Street, Union City. They took the name Bethel Gospel Chapel and incorporated in April 1930. Finally, on October 1934 they erected a chapel at 3124 Summit Avenue, Union City, where they still meet.
Others in leadership have included Harold Brown, Franklin Spangler, Howard Klenk, Fred Holst, Edward Zogheb, Franklin Brown, and Pasquale Garafalo. Several from the assembly have been commended to the Lord’s work abroad. With the influx of Spanish-speaking peoples from Central and South America, the assembly is now bilingual. About 40 to 50 adults are in fellowship, with about 10 to 15 youngsters.
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Mountain Ridge Bible Chapel in Berkeley Heights began in 1962. The initial group of about six families, from assemblies in nearby towns, met at that time at the Mountain Park School for Sunday morning worship, Sunday School, and Bible Hour. All other services were held in the downstairs of the Howard’s home, which had been finished off by the brethren as a large meeting room. A week-long series of children’s meetings conducted by Mel Wistner attracted as many as 80 neighborhood children, giving ample indication of a wide open door for evangelism in the area. In 1966, the congregation, numbering about 60, moved into its own new building at 763 Mountain Avenue, its present location. In 1976, the congregation had increased to about 125.
Five families were active in the beginning of the work: Alec and Nancy Collette, Robert and Elizabeth Howard, Edward and Florence Kretzmer, and George and Alice Ingalls all sent out with the blessing of the Woodside Chapel in Fanwood and Edward and Christina Whittle sent with the blessing of the Kenilworth Gospel Chapel. Presently, 130 adults and children make up the fellowship. They are led by Scott Allen, Paul Gilkenson, Allen Goetz, Robert Howard, Douglas Tremper, and Paul Trimmer as elders. David and Judy Shoop are resident workers serving not only Mountain Ridge but also the many area assemblies in a teaching ministry. The assembly has co-commended and supported workers to Paraguay and Wycliffe Bible Translators.
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A few miles from Berkeley Heights is Summit, and there the Summit Gospel Hall existed for many years, finally disbanding in about 1957. Its time of origin is not remembered, but it was in existence by 1935, and probably many years before that. Leading brothers were Messrs. McClay, Glasgon, J.S. Hyde, and R. Collette.
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The New Jersey assemblies retain much of their corporate fellowship. Besides the monthly missionary meeting at Kenilworth, there is an annual Memorial Day outing established by Alex Breckenridge of the Maplewood Bible Chapel in the 1920s. At one time this outing pulled in up to 1500 people, and still gets 500 or more. The Women’s semi-annual Missionary Conference is shared by several assemblies. Grace Gospel Chapel in Jersey City has a rally the 2nd Saturday of each month, and the Kearny Bible Chapel has a rally the 4th Saturday of each month.
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The assembly of Christians presently meeting at the Fifth Avenue Chapel in Belmar, a town on the New Jersey shore south of New York City, originated in the mid-1920s by brethren from the metropolitan area of northern New Jersey and New York. These Christians desired to Remember the Lord during their vacations at the shore. A small store was secured for this purpose on South Main Street in Neptune near the old Neptune High School.
In about this time, several families moved to this area and an assembly was formed on an all-year basis. The home of August Handle in Asbury Park served as a meeting place. Mr. and Mrs. Dussman and Mr. and Mrs. Fred Hart from Eatontown, Mr. and Mrs. Nunzio Pizzulli from Long Branch, Miss Gertrude Ellliot from Bradley Beach, and Mr. and Mrs. James Wilson, made up the assembly.
About 1925, a room was secured in the American Legion Home on Bangs Avenue, Asbury Park, available for Sunday morning meetings. Thursday evening meetings were held in homes. When the Legion moved to Sewell Avenue, the assembly met in a room there. Robert Hazel and Stan Hart were saved and came into fellowship in 1928.
To conduct Gospel meetings, the Christians realized they must have larger quarters, and rented a store front on Ridge Avenue in Neptune. The assembly grew, and many of the well-known preachers of the time preached there. In 1935, they secured a larger store on Seventh Avenue, west of the Bradley Beach railroad station. It was at this time that monthly ministry meetings were inaugurated, continuing until about 1970. Annual conferences were held until about 1973. In 1940, the Christians purchased and refurbished an unused Episcopal Church building on Fifth Avenue in Belmar, where they are still located as the Fifth Avenue Chapel. F.C. Hart, A.T. Thorn, and Robert Hazel were mainstays of the assembly during the war years. Elie Loizeaux and Ed Turner were prominent in leadership later. Enlargement of the building was done in 1958 and again in 1980.
In the mid-1960s, the Christians helped establish Bethany Bible Chapel in the Silverton area of Toms River, 25 miles south of Belmar.
In about 1970, the committee of Christians Missions in Many Lands (CMML) purchased property in nearby Wall Township and moved into it in 1971. The move has been mutually profitable, because the Fifth Avenue Chapel has provided a convenient assembly for missionaries on furlough, and it has given the assembly a world view of missions.
Fifth Avenue Chapel has commended workers to Zimbabwe, France, Peru, South Africa, and Ireland. The assembly has about 140 adults and youngsters in attendance today.
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In 1953, a meeting place was erected by an assembly meeting in Toms River. That unnamed assembly lasted a few years. In 1964, a series of evangelistic meetings were held at the Fifth Avenue Chapel. Some people from the Brick Town and Toms River areas received Christ as savior at these meetings. These new Christians needed to be taught in the things of God, so Robert Hazel was asked to lead a weekly home Bible study, which continued into 1965. Then the Christians asked Boyd Nicholson from Canada to come for an evangelistic campaign.
At about this time, a children’s work had been started in a home and needed more room. The Christians procured space in a store, and a 6-12 Club was begun. Mel Wistner, the chalk artist, took the first series and seven children received the Lord. This encouraged the Christians to begin a new testimony in the Brick Town area. Thirty believers met as an assembly in June 1965 in the Britts Department Store community room, calling themselves the Brick Town Bible Chapel. In December, they moved to a home for the Sunday meetings and used Osbornville Elementary School for the children’s meetings.
Adam Miller and William Wilson were the acknowledged leaders of the assembly at that time. They found a choice piece of land on Church Road, Toms River, and the Christians purchased it. At that time, the name of the assembly was changed to Bethany Bible Chapel. While waiting for construction, the assembly met in a church building in Herbertsville for about a year. In May 1967, Bethany had its first meeting in the new chapel.
James Bechtle, Frank Jelley, Charles Myers, Mark Kolchin, and Dave Collette have been among the elders over the years. Bethany Bible Chapel has commended workers to the Lord’s field in Zambia and the U.S.A.
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Community Bible Fellowship in Beachwood, near Toms River, was formed in 1971 through the efforts of Rod Conover, John Wenteler, Gary Walter, and Bob Carver. Not a hive-off from another assembly, the group met initially in the Conover home in Toms River, then in several schools until the current building on Compass Avenue was purchased. Over 400 adults and youngsters attend Community Bible Fellowship.
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Bethel Bible Chapel in Red Bank a town inland from Long Branch, began in 1965, a hive-off from the Long Branch Gospel Hall. The assembly was started by G. Anderson, Pat Truglia, and R. Tirado. The latter two have been the elders. Bethel Bible Chapel has commended Robert Billings to work in the assembly, and David Dunlap to ministry in Florida. About 70 adults and children are in the assembly.
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There were Italian-speaking assemblies in Orange, Long Branch, Hoboken, Jersey City, and Hackensack in the 1950s. The believers meeting at Long Branch Gospel Hall and Livingston Gospel Hall today are primarily of Italian descent who now conduct their meetings in English. (See Ethnic section for a discussion of the extensive Italian work in the U.S. and Canada.)
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The assembly meeting today at Carter Road Bible Chapel in Princeton began in Trenton in about 1870. Mrs. Esther Hyde, Harry Matlack, Fanny Barlow, Mr. and Mrs. W.S. Jaeger, Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Sorter, Samuel Hannah, and Ira Fisher were among those who were involved in the early days of the assembly. Meeting first in a building on North Broad and Perry Streets in Trenton, the Christians moved later to a building on Bank Street, then into the Old Trenton Academy. After that for many years until 1932, the assembly met in the library of the WCTU building on East State Street, taking the name Library Hall. When forced to vacate, the assembly built Woodside Chapel at Huff and Brinton Avenues, Trenton. Evangelist Samuel Stewart was associated with the assembly for a time at Woodside Chapel.
In 1973, the Christians relocated to 193 Carter Road in Princeton, its present location. Leaders over the years have been W.S. Jaeger, Samuel Sorter, Edward Ristow, T. Bain Jackson, Samuel Hannah, Elwood Matlack, Ron Marchant, and Norman Fiess. Carter Road Bible Chapel has commended workers to Greece, Papua New Guinea, and ministry within the U.S.
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Hamilton Bible Fellowship in the town of Hamilton near Trenton began in 1991 as a hive-off from Carter Road Bible Chapel. Before coming to its current meeting place at Langtree School, Whatley Road, the assembly met at 5 Snowball Lane in Hamilton. Harold Neil, Sr., Harold Neil Jr., and Thomas Freeman were those who started the assembly, and who have shared the leadership. Hamilton Bible Fellowship has about 20 adults and youngsters in attendance.
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Marmora Gospel Chapel in the town of Marmora on the New Jersey coast south of Atlantic City, started in 1963 and has remained since then at its location on Lyndhurst Road. Ed Richmond and Raymond Henry were the principals in getting it started. In addition to those, Ed Smullen and Gilbert Leeds have been in leadership in the small assembly.
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An Atlantic City assembly began in 1920 through the efforts of James Kelly and a Mr. Smith, meeting then on Maryland Avenue as the Atlantic City Gospel Hall. The assembly moved in about 1940 to Ventnor, still in the Atlantic City area, where a Mrs. Thomas purchased a fraternity house at Troy and Monmouth Avenue for the Gospel Hall. The active workers there were Louie Villari, David and Jessie Phillips, Don and June Phillips, Lou and Arlene Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Crawford, Mrs. Thomas and her son Charlie, Edna Williard, and a Mrs. Felsberg.
Sometime after that, the assembly moved to the Margate area of Atlantic City and was located at Ventnor and Washington Avenues. From there, two assemblies developed. One became the Longport Gospel Hall at 2800 Atlantic Avenue, in which William Moon, Jessie and Arthur Davenport, John Fannan, Walter Brown, Nelson Williard, the Haughks, the Sunderlands, and Angus Weir were early leaders. In the late 1970s and 1980s, the leadership was Gustave Semrau, Roy Morrison, and Edward Niebch. The present overseers are Kenneth McCullough, Albert Amadio, and Todd Cherry. About 60 adults and children are in Longport Gospel Hall now.
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Linwood Gospel Chapel also derived from the Atlantic City Gospel Hall and is on New Road and Pierce Avenue in the town of Linwood in the Atlantic City area. Jim Kelly and Angus Wier were associated with Linwood in its early days. Other leaders over the years include Messrs. Bryson, Sunderland, Davenport, Wagner, Amos, Haugh, Bateman, Cook, and Greer. Linwood Gospel Chapel has commended a worker to Japan and has about 70 adults and youngsters in attendance.
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The Hammonton Assembly in the village of Hammonton, halfway between Philadelphia and Atlantic City, is remembered to have existed in the 1930s. Bob Stark and the Brownlees were leading families there.
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The earliest record of an assembly in Camden, across the Delaware River from Philadelphia, is in conjunction with a series of Gospel meetings advertised as: ‘Free Lectures on the Future of the Human Race, illustrated from a Large Chart,’ convened by William Beveridge and Alexander Lamb in September 1909.
This seems to be the root of the assembly which met in a rented room at the intersection of Broadway and Walnut Streets, for records show that on two successive Sundays, their total offering went to the support of the two mentioned servants of the Lord. Two further moves occurred shortly thereafter the first to 1259 Kaighn Avenue in September 1910 for one year, and the second to 2nd and Pearl Streets for six years. The assembly purchased a former Episcopalian building at 915 North Front Street in North Camden in October 1917, where it remained for the next 44 years. The assembly incorporated as the Gospel Hall Association in 1917 and became known as the Camden Gospel Hall. Also, in 1917, Mr. and Mrs. John McKay became the first commended workers from this assembly, serving in the West Indies.
Those signing the Articles of Incorporation in 1917, and thus who were probably among the leaders of the assembly, were James and Hugh Brown, D.H. Oliver, Alex Morton, Herbert Staats, and O.R. Ferguson. Other names appearing in the records of this time include J. Rothwell, Anthony Wilson, B. Brown, J.W. Snyder, and Robert Stark.
Herbert Rue was saved in 1921 through contact with the assembly and became a respected elder until his death in 1975. His co-worker Elwin DuBell was converted at the same time. In August 1924, William Warke was commended from the Camden assembly for ministry in the Gospel; Robert Surgenor was his understudy for many years. Others saved and becoming stalwarts in the assembly were Jack and May Draper and their son Robert. Such Gospel preachers as John Ferguson, Fred Nugent, Hector Alves, and Archie Stewart were among those who ministered at the assembly in the 1920s and 1930s. Andrew Harley in the 1930s and 1940s, and Charles Strom after 1950, were among the respected elders in the assembly.
Merritt, William, and David Curran and Eugene Higgins are among the many taking active leadership roles at the Camden Gospel Hall. Eugene Higgins was commended by the assembly to Gospel ministry in 1974. Active Gospel efforts in the 1950s and 1960s included weekly Saturday visits to the Philadelphia Home for the Indigent. Outdoor Gospel meetings were held for years at Broadway and Sycamore Streets, often on Sunday evenings just before the assembly Gospel meetings. Herbert Rue would often illustrate the outdoor message with chalk texts on the sidewalk. Ruth Fisher and Eleanor Cunningham witnessed to the women of the Spanish families then moving into north Camden. Sunday School outreaches were made into the areas of Grange and Haddonfield.
The deteriorating condition of both the Gospel Hall and the neighborhood led to the purchase of a lot on Caroline Avenue in the Pennsauken area north of Camden. Building was commenced in 1961, and the new Pennsauken Gospel Hall was completed in 1963. The assembly continues today at the same address.
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Barrington is on the south side of Camden. As early as 1912, several believers, including the Hocking family, lived in Barrington and traveled together via train, ferry and trolley from Barrington to Philadelphia to Remember the Lord with the believers at 20th and Dickinson, the so-called Downtown Meeting. Several of these men traveled to work together as well. They would bring their Bibles and have a Bible reading on the train. Gustav Eisle, a neighbor, traveled with them and became interested. He asked to join the readings and was soon saved.
Later cottage meetings were held in the homes of these believers by William Beveridge. The number of believers in this group grew during the period 1913 to 1915. On June 6, 1915, the group of about 25 believers met as an assembly for the first time in the Barrington Fire Hall at Haines and Second. This was the start of the Barrington Gospel Hall.
In 1919 or 1920, a church building on Kingston Avenue became available for use. It was bought by William Anderson and the assembly met there from 1920 through 1997. Some of the early overseers were William Moon, Samuel Hocking, David McClintock, and Tom McCobb. In 1928, Gospel meetings by John Conway and R.T. Halliday saw a large number saved. In another series in 1933 by Robert Young, William Scott was saved and who had a great influence on the assembly in the future. Shortly after that series, Robert Young moved to Camden for a series and saw others reached, including some who would make up the future of the Barrington assembly.
A strong bond has existed between the two assemblies at Pennsauken and Barrington through the years. Their histories in many ways are interwoven. Much of the recent growth at Barrington is attributable to Gene Higgins in his outreach work each summer. Some of the names of those who were a help to the assembly during its early years and who were instrumental in the preservation of the testimony include William Beveridge, George Duncan, David Oliver, Fred Watson, Robert Telfer, James McCullough, David Calderhead, John Watt, W.P. Douglas, Clay Fite, and the McEwens and Kellers.
The Barrington Assembly sponsored a New Year’s Conference through the 1930s, at which time responsibility was taken over by the Camden assembly. The Conference was held for many years at the Haddonfield Heights town hall and then the Haddonfield Heights high school. William Scott was a leader in the assembly for many years and served as Correspondent and Sunday School superintendent; he was a gifted and godly man who steered the assembly through some difficult times as well as times of growth. A.J. Higgins is the Correspondent at present.
The Barrington Gospel Hall on Kingston Avenue was sold in 1997 and a new building was occupied in 1999 at the corner of Barrington and Trenton Avenues. The believers met in the Legion Hall on Lord’s Day in the interim.
- Questionnaire responses and other correspondence
- A Condensed History of Kenilworth, written on the 50th anniversary of the town in 1957
- Article in The Trentonian, 3 January 1948, p. 10
- History of Berkeley Heights, 1977, pp. 251, 252
- Fifth Avenue Chapel, Year of Jubilee, 1941-1991
- A History of Woodside Chapel (Fanwood), author not identified; written perhaps in 1973
- One Hundred Years of Testimony for the Lord (Terrill Road Bible Chapel), by John Reid, Help and Food, Winter 1970-1971
- Valley Bible Chapel History, by Meno Nershi, 1998
- Looking Backward, by Mary A. Harry, January 1946
- Our Heritage: Assembly History in the Philadelphia Area, March 7, 1999; by David Curran and A.J. Higgins
- Letters of Interest, June 1948, p. 17; June 1950, p.26; November 1953, p. 3; May 1983, p. 16