HOW THE UNITED PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH OF WEST ORANGE CAME TO BE
The sun rose on Easter Sunday, April 4, 2010 to celebrate the risen Son of God. It also rose on a new church, born that day out of three historic Presbyterian churches of West Orange.
Patterson Memorial Presbyterian Church, Ridgeview Community Church, and St. Cloud Presbyterian Church are part of the universal church and of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and each was a unique neighborhood church established at least a century ago.
Patterson Memorial Presbyterian Church (PMPC): PMPC started out in 1903 as the West Orange Chapel—a Sunday School mission of Central Brick Church, East Orange, to the Edison factory workers living in Tory Corner. Soon, its members built a building at 80 Washington St. and in 1927 the congregation became a church in its own right. PMPC always prided itself on encouraging education, presenting a quality music program, and sharing a love of home-cooked food with the community.
Ridgeview Community Church: One hundred years ago, a group of neighbors decided a church should be established in the South Valley Road area, prompting one resident to donate the property at the corner of South Valley and Meeker Streets for a small chapel, which was primarily used for church school. A Presbyterian Church was officially organized in 1911. By the 1920's the chapel was too small and the current sanctuary was built and completed in 1928. Ridgeview called the Rev. Betsey Crimmins, its first woman pastor and the first in West Orange, in 1984. The Rev. Karen S. Hybertsen, Ph.D. was called as Ridgeview's pastor in 1993, becoming Ridgeview's longest serving pastor, serving until 2009.
St. Cloud Presbyterian Church: St. Cloud Church was founded in 1877, on the model of an “English Countryside Church.” The 21 charter members determined that the weekly trip from the “First Mountain” to the First Church of Orange was too difficult, and established St. Cloud on the top of the mountain. Among the charter members were Civil War veterans Gen. George B. McClellan and Gen. Randolph B Marcy, and businessmen Eugene. Delano and John Crosby Brown. The Adams Chapel is named for Dr. Adams and the Education Building was donated, in 1910, by the daughter of John Crosby Brown.
These three Presbyterian congregations in West Orange have a long history of serving Christians in West Orange, each having been established as a neighborhood congregation in different sections of the town. The clergy, elders and members of the three uniting Churches began working together in the 1990’s --although their history of working together informally extends back at least twenty years--on practical matters, like developing a common newsletter, and in joint worship celebrations of Pentecost and Worldwide Communion. The collaboration grew into weekly clergy meetings, special joint worship services, Lenten studies and discussions, social gatherings, hands-on mission projects and the joyful music of combined choirs.
In the winter of 2007-2008, the three Uniting Churches began working towards a vision of one community in Christ and towards a new model of ministry. In 2009 the three Uniting Churches began worshiping together at the St. Cloud site, now known as the West Orange Presbytery Center. In February 2010, each of the three congregations voted to dissolve and the members resolved to form this new, united church.
The United Church promises to work together in ministry as disciples of Jesus Christ, bound to him and to one another as a part of the body of Christ in our congregation, recognizing the new opportunities to serve God that arise when we visibly unite our people, gift, and talents in ministry.