The Reformed Church of North Brunswick pauses today to fete its founding as a community chapel 50 years ago and to begin the celebration of its anniversary year.
The observance will continue until next April, the 25th anniversary of the congregation’s affiliation with the Reformed Church in America.
Today’s anniversary will be marked by a return visit of the Rev. Emmett Waite to the church’s pulpit. Reverend Waite was pastor of the church from 1935 to 1942. The North Brunswick congregation was his first pastorate after graduation from New Brunswick Seminary.
The organization that was to become the Reformed Church of North Brunswick was founded in 1919. A small group of residents had been holding weekly prayer meetings in each other’s homes. They decided to buy land and build a church.
On May 16, trustees to head the project were chosen, with John Hunt as chairman. Three of them—J. Burr Herbert, Archibald Van Pelt and Isaac Vander Water—were appointed to seek out available land, and the group was granted a charter in the name of “The North Brunswick Religious and Civic Association.”
Within a year, two groups of ladies were organized in the community to raise funds for the project, and in 1920 land was purchased one block north of the present church.
At about the same time, a Sunday school was started in the home of Mr. and Mrs. George Sweimler. Known as the “Berdipes* Corner Union Sunday School,” it soon filled, then overflowed its meeting place in the Sweimler home.
To fill the need for a larger meeting place, the North Brunswick Religious and Civic Association purchased the former Sunday school building of the New Brunswick Presbyterian Church razed the building and rebuilt it on the land they’d purchased a year earlier, It was ready for use in September of 1921 and served all groups in the community-including North Brunswick’s first Boy Scout troop, organized in 1928.
In 1925, a group was appointed to take charge of religious services at the chapel. From this time on, the congregation enjoyed close association with the Reformed Church Seminary in New Brunswick, although it didn’t affiliate with the Reformed Church in America until 1945.
During times when the chapel didn’t have a regular pastor, its pulpit was filed by students from the seminary. Its first pastor was the Rev. Felix Daley, who accepted a call as part time pastor, Under his leadership the chapel was dedicated for religious services in March of 1926,
Reverend Daley served the church until 1929, and was followed in the pulpit by a Reverend Judd, who had to resign because of ill health in 1932, The church was served by seminary students for three years until Reverend Waite was called in 1935. He was followed in 1942 by the church’s third full-time pastor, the Rev. Leroy Nixon. During his period of service in North Brunswick, the congregation became affiliated with the Reformed Church in America.
Less than a year after the affiliation, the church purchased land at the corner of Cedar Avenue and Laurel Place from North Brunswick Township, There, more than 10 years later, the congregation built its present church.