Middlebush Reformed Church

Middlebush Reformed Church

Coordinates: 40°29′50″N 74°31′42″W / 40.4972°N 74.5284°W / 40.4972; -74.5284
Country United States
Denomination Dutch Reformed Church
Website MiddlebushReformedChurch.com
Founded March 19, 1834 (1834-03-19)

Middlebush Reformed Church known as "the church with the red doors", is located at 1 South Middlebush Road at the corner of Amwell Road.[1][2] It is the fourth oldest church in Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey.[3][4] It was organized in 1834,[5][6][7] and the New York Times noted their first church was built in Colonial times and was one of the landmarks of the region.[8] Middlebush is an unincorporated area and community located in Somerset County, New Jersey. The Middlebush Village Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places on April 25, 2007 as district #07000384.[9]

The church is a Reformed Church part of Reformed Church in America in the Christian Protestant denominations formally characterized by a similar Calvinist system of doctrine.



Middlebush Reformed Church
Location: 1 South Middlebush Road, Franklin, New Jersey
Built: 1834
Part of: Middlebush Village Historic District (#07000354)
Designated CP: April 24, 2007[10]

It was organized by Dutch settlers on March 19, 1834 in the Colonial Farms area of what is now Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey.[11] The initial three member committee included the first Reverend of the church Jacob Schultz.[12] The settlers had "migrated from Manhattan Island seeking more tillable land".[13] Residents were previously traveling to Reformed churches in Hillsborough, New Jersey; Franklin Park, New Jersey; or New Brunswick, New Jersey.[14] The few Dutch families initially met in a barn "in what is now O'Connor's Beef 'N Chowder House on Amwell Road" owned by the Voorhees family.[11] One descendant, Mary Amanda Voorhees, "Miss Amanda", later served as the church's organist for forty-five years.[7] "[S]ervices continued there until 1835, when the white frame church was completed".[11] Three locations for the church building were considered: one on Amwell Road north of the current location, one on South Middlebush Road south of the railroad tracks, and the current location on the corner of South Middlebush Road and Amwell Avenue. One acre of land was given for the church lot and about five more acres continuing along South Middlebush Road were purchased by the church. The acreage was divided into smaller lots and sold off in 1839. The cornerstone of the church building was laid on June 7, 1834. During construction, the search for a pastor began. Jacob Schultz, the pastor at Whitehouse Station, New Jersey and Lebanon, New Jersey was contacted. The new church building was dedicated on February 30, 1835. The final cost was $3,989.[3] Schultz was formally installed as pastor on December 30, 1835.

Lightning destroyed the church building on July 2, 1917,[11] the New York Times noted part of the furniture was saved and the loss was estimated at $50,000.[8] Congregation members who lived nearby rescued furniture and the church membership book. A kerosene lamp was saved, and is currently hanging in the church.[11][14] Planning for the new building at the same site started immediately but construction was delayed by World War I.[7] The Gothic revival building was rebuilt using stone from the Martinsville, New Jersey quarry.[7][14] The church was rededicated in 1919.[7]

In 1972 the church set up a "mini" school.[15]

In 2003 the church started a community living nativity scene in 2003 and has continued to date, it includes "four scenes from the Bible and ends with the birth of Jesus Christ".[16][17] The annual Christmastime event includes "costumed characters, live animals and carollers".[16]

The church celebrated their 175th anniversary in 2009.[14] They buried and sealed a time capsule to be opened at the congregation's 200th anniversary in 2034, 25 years later.[5]


Pastors have included the following:[4]

  • Jacob I. Schultz, 1834-1837[12][18]
  • John Addison Van Doren, 1838-1865[12][18][19]
  • George Swain, 1866-1868[12]
  • Stephen L. Mershon, 1869–1874
  • James Le Fevre, 1875-1902[20]
  • John A. Thomson, 1902-1920 [18][21][22]
  • Frank A. Langwith, 1921-1926[23]
  • Harold W. Nelson, 1926-1928[18][24]
  • Russell W. Shepherd, 1928-1930[18]
  • Marinus Den Herder, 1931-1932[18]
  • Cornelius Van Leeuwen, 1934-1937[18]
  • Frank A. Langwith, 1937–1948
  • David W. Jenks, student, 1949-1952 [18][25]
  • Vernon L. Dethmers, 1952-1960[18]
  • Charles B. Bridgman, 1961-1973[18]
  • Ronald L. VanderBeek, 1974-1986[18][26]
  • John J. Arnone, assistant, 1981–1982
  • Gerald L. Vermilye, interim, 1986
  • Taylor Holbrook, 1986-1998[18][27][28]
  • Ross Rettig, 1999-2001[18][29]
  • George Montanari, 2002-current [18][30]


  1. ^ "Church celebrates 175th anniversary". MyCentralJersey.com. February 27, 2009. http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20090227/NEWS/90225057/1010/newsfront. Retrieved 2010-03-11. "Middlebush Reformed Church, known as 'the church with the red doors,' is celebrating its 175th anniversary ... Middlebush Reformed Church is at Amwell and South Middlebush roads, Somerset." 
  2. ^ Directory of churches in New Jersey, Volumes 14-21, New Jersey Historical Records Survey Project, 1941.
  3. ^ a b "Our History". Middlebush Reformed Church. http://www.middlebushreformedchurch.com/about/our-history. Retrieved 2009-12-24. "The first settlers traveled to New Brunswick, Six Mile Run and Hillsborough to attend Dutch Reformed Church services. About 1830, a plan for organizing a Dutch Reformed Church in Middlebush was suggested. Four years later, a group of people gathered at the home of Ralph Voorhees (presently O’Connors Colonial Farms Restaurant) and began to organize a church. A Consistory of four Elders and four Deacons was ordained and soon after, thirty-nine members were dismissed from the three churches mentioned earlier to become the nucleus of the Dutch Reformed Church at Middlebush on March 19th, 1934. It is the fourth oldest church in Franklin Township." 
  4. ^ a b The Middlebush Reformed Church. http://books.google.com/books?id=5VaoHAAACAAJ&dq. 
  5. ^ a b "Through Tradition into Mission at Middlebush Reformed Church". Words from Wes. Reformed Church Press. 23 March 2009. http://www.rca.org/Page.aspx?pid=5431. Retrieved 23 December 2009. "This year, 2009, is the church’s 175th anniversary. ... Anniversaries of congregations like Middlebush are deeply meaningful." 
  6. ^ Centennial historical account of the Middlebush Reformed Church. 1934. http://books.google.com/books?id=wR0uGwAACAAJ&dq. 
  7. ^ a b c d e William B. Brahms (1997). Franklin Township, Somerset County, NJ: A History. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 0966858603. http://books.google.com/books?id=uTrobtvfWPUC&pg=PA83&dq=%22Middlebush+Reformed+Church%22&lr=&ei=28MzS_y_KpHWyQS6r9mcAg&cd=12#v=onepage&q=%22Middlebush%20Reformed%20Church%22&f=false. 
  8. ^ a b "Lightning Destroys Historical Church, New York Times, 4 July 1917.
  9. ^ Historic Preservation Office List of New Jersey and National Registers of Historic Places in Somerset County, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  10. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2009-03-13. http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natreg/docs/All_Data.html. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Mary Ann Bourbeau (August 3, 2008). "Congregration [sic] in Franklin begins 175th anniversary celebration". MyCentralJersey.com. http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20080803/NEWS/808030372/Congregration-in-Franklin-begins-175th-anniversary-celebration. Retrieved 2010-03-11. "In a tragic turn on July 2, 1917, the steeple was struck by lightning in the middle of the night, and the church burned to the ground. ... A kerosene lamp also was saved, and that lamp, now run on electricity, is currently hanging in the brown stone church." 
  12. ^ a b c d Richard Holloway Steele, Historical discourse delivered at the celebration of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the First Reformed Dutch Church, New Brunswick, N.J., October 1, 1867, pp. 27, Published by the Consistory, 1867.
  13. ^ Words from Wes: Through Tradition into Mission at Middlebush Reformed Church Reformed Church Press, 23 March 2009.
  14. ^ a b c d "Franklin church celebrates its 175th anniversary". MyCentralJersey.com. March 25, 2009. http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20090325/NEWS/903250346. Retrieved 2010-03-11. "Members of Middlebush Reformed Church have created a memorial room to hold artifacts and mementos from the church's 175-year history. ..." 
  15. ^ Greenberg, Lenore (May 28, 1972). "Mini School Helps In Class Disorders". New York Times. http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F30F13FC3E5E127A93CAAB178ED85F468785F9. Retrieved 2010-03-11. "In the alternate-school part of the program, a "mini" school was set up in the Middlebush Reformed Church, which has a white congregation in a semirural ..." 
  16. ^ a b "Church in Franklin to host annual living Nativity", Mary Ann Bourbeau, MyCentralJersey.com (combined website of Home News Tribune and Courier News), 4 December 2009.
  17. ^ "Living Nativity being staged in Somerset", MyCentralJersey.com (combined website of Home News Tribune and Courier News), 5 December 2008.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Our History: MRC Pastors". Middlebush Reformed Church. 2000. http://www.middlebushreformedchurch.com/about/our-history/pastors. Retrieved 11 March 2010. 
  19. ^ "Obituary". New York Times. June 26, 1910. "Tho deceased, who was the daughter of tho late Dr. Aran Doren, a pastor of the Middlebush Reformed Church, was 70 years of ago. ..." 
  20. ^ Rossiter Johnson, John Howard Brown, The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans, Volume 6, The Biographical Society, 1904.
  21. ^ Tom Kindre (2004). The Boys from New Jersey. Trafford Publishing. p. 9. ISBN 1412025923. http://books.google.com/books?id=8_Uay0ppE2sC&pg=PA9&dq=%22Middlebush+Reformed+Church%22&lr=&ei=BHeYS8q2MaOEywTF8LH6Cg&cd=16#v=onepage&q=%22Middlebush%20Reformed%20Church%22&f=false. "He lived with his uncle, John Thompson, who was a minister at the Middlebush Reformed Church, and at that time, with funds as they were, he lived in the ..." 
  22. ^ The Purple and gold, Volume 20. Chi Psi Fraternity. 1903. p. 158. http://books.google.com/books?id=xy4UAAAAIAAJ. 
  23. ^ Rutgers alumni monthly, Volume 1, Issue 4. Rutgers University. 1922. p. 108. http://books.google.com/books?id=O7bmAAAAMAAJ. 
  24. ^ Guide to Vital Statistics Records in New Jersey, Volume 2. New Jersey Historical Records Survey Project. 1941. http://books.google.com/books?id=am4KmJ05vSAC. 
  25. ^ "Students Will Join in Service at Church". Schenectady Gazette. February 10, 1950. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=q6E0AAAAIBAJ&sjid=ioUFAAAAIBAJ&pg=2522,1268527&dq=middlebush-reformed-church&hl=en. Retrieved 2010-03-11. 
  26. ^ The acts & proceedings of the General Synod, Reformed Church in America, Volume 54. Reformed Church in America. General Synod, Reformed Protestant Dutch Church (U.S.). General Synod, The Board of publication and Bible-school work.. 1974. p. 228. http://books.google.com/books?id=1nTZAAAAMAAJ. 
  27. ^ Directory and financial reports, Volume 77. Reformed Church in America. General Synod. 1997. p. 227. http://books.google.com/books?id=KXjZAAAAMAAJ. 
  28. ^ The acts & proceedings of the General Synod, Reformed Church in America, Volume 68. Reformed Church in America. General Synod, Reformed Protestant Dutch Church (U.S.). General Synod, The Board of publication and Bible-school work.. 1988. pp. 10–21. http://books.google.com/books?cd=2&id=foXZAAAAMAAJ. 
  29. ^ Directory and financial reports, Volume 80. Reformed Church in America. General Synod. 2000. p. 275. http://books.google.com/books?id=mXvZAAAAMAAJ. 
  30. ^ LeRoy Koopman (2005). Taking the Jesus road: the ministry of the Reformed Church in America. p. 154. ISBN 0802831257. http://books.google.com/books?id=VHkhXZylfKcC&pg=PA154&dq=%22Middlebush+Reformed+Church%22&ei=ZKszS_ZFpYLMBI3q6LgB&cd=6#v=onepage&q=%22Middlebush%20Reformed%20Church%22&f=false. "Montanari later accepted a call to the Middlebush Reformed Church in Somerset, New Jersey. ..." 

Further reading

  • Centennial historical account of the Middlebush Reformed Church, Middlebush, N.J., 1834-1934. Middlebush Reformed Church (N.J.), 1934.
  • Historical discourse delivered at the semi-centennial anniversary of the Reformed Church of Middlebush, N.J. James Le Ferve, Daily and Weekly Home News Printing House, 1884.
  • Favorite recipes of the Middlebush Reformed Church, Middlebush Reformed Church (N.J.), Cookbook Publishers, 1978.
  • Writings on American history: Volume 38 of Carnegie Institution of Washington publication Annual report (American Historical Association), KTO Press, 1938.
  • The Churches speak on--women's ordination: official statements from religious bodies and ecumenical organizations, J. Gordon Melton, Gary L. Ward, The Churches speak series, Gale Research, 1991, 0810376474, 9780810376472.
  • Historical discourse delivered at the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Reformed Church of Middlebush, N.J., John A. Thomson, Published by the Consistory, 1909.
  • Historical discourse on occasion of the centennial anniversary of the Reformed Dutch Church of Millstone, Edward Tanjore Corwin, J.J. Reed, Printer, 1866.
  • Pre-revolutionary Dutch houses and families in northern New Jersey and southern New York, Rosalie Fellows Bailey, Holland Society of New York, Dover Publications, 1968.

External links

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