Happy Anniversary Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church!

On October 22, 1882 a committee from Presbytery came to the home of the Rev. Dr. Charles E Knox in Point Pleasant and received ten letters of profession of faith from various families. Rev. A.H. Dashiel of Brickburg Church (now Lakewood) read the Confession and Covenant to which these persons gave their consent. Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church was then declared regularly constituted with these ten members and placed under the Presbytery of Monmouth.

Last Sunday, October 21 we celebrated our 136th Church Anniversary. An all church brunch was held in Wilton Hall with birthday cake even! During this time, we viewed a presentation on the New Beginnings mission study. Plenty of exciting times ahead!


Rejoice, people of God!

PASTOR: We trace the roots of our church to the year 1882. But the history of the area goes way back since the homeland of the Leni-Lenape tribes included all of New Jersey. They shared their homeland with the Dutch, Swedes, Finns and British who came to settle here.

ELDER: The designation Point Pleasant may be traced to a crew member of the ship Half Moon under the command of Henry Hudson, an Englishman in the service of the Dutch Republic. The sailor in question was a Robert Juet, who noted in his journal: “This is a very good Land to fall with and a pleasant Land to see.” Point probably derives from one of the meanings of Manasquan. European settlers found the area ideal for fishing and farming in the 18th century. And in the 19th century, Quaker Thomas Cook Jr. opened his farmhouse to visitors who desired to spend time at the shore. But it wasn’t until Captain John Arnold built a roadway to the ocean in 1870 and the first bridge over the Manasquan River in 1875 that the way was paved for Point Pleasant Beach to become a popular summer destination.

PASTOR: It was the summer of 1882 that Rev. Charles Knox invited a few families to meet at his summer home in the Jersey Shore for prayer and fellowship. New comers to the community inquired about starting a Presbyterian Church in theCommunity and so, on October 22, 1882, a committee from Presbytery formally organized the Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church. So today we say:

Children: Rejoice, people of God!

People: We give thanks and praise to God for our ancestors’ desire to ground their lives in God and center their days in worship.

ELDER: Point Pleasant Beach was officially incorporated in June of 1886 and by that time a church building was in full use. In August of 1889 plans were made and approved for renovations that included adding heating – so people could worship in cold weather and not freeze to death – also taking care of a leaking roof and adding a vestibule. Can you imagine that the assembly room, which we call our Fellowship Room, was completed in October 1929, the year that the Stock Market crashed?

PASTOR: In December of 1957 we acquired the Education Annex and the manse for $25,000. The adjacent lot to the grounds – on the corner of Atlantic Ave – that allowed us to create the beautiful playground – was purchased in 2005 for $215,000 (to date we only owe $66,000). So today we say:

Children: Rejoice, people of God!

People: We recognize that change is hard but inevitable. May God grant us the wisdom to know when to break with the past and when to honor the past.

ELDER: In 1889 the congregation called its first Installed Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Leslie Cunningham, but he died unexpectedly 8 years later (October 1897). Since then God has called to this church 12 pastors. We like to remember Rev. John Townley who was installed in 1926 because during his 31 years tenure lots of good things happened: the membership grew from 198 to 546; the first Boys Scout troop was chartered (1929 – 90 years next year!); Also during those years the Board of Deacons was established, there were 12 elders in Session and Presbyterian Women became an official group.

PASTOR: The Rev. Kenneth Chittick is still fondly remembered. He was installed in the summer of 1958 and he also served for 31 years. Within one year, the Couples Club was started. The next year plans were put in place to build a Christian Education Building. And in 1961 it was dedicated at a cost of 136,000. By 1970, when membership reached 1,010 members. Session grew to 18 members, there were 15 Deacons then and 12 Trustees. In 1964 the first Assistant Pastor was called. And in September 1982, Sara Hoey and Bill Shoppell were appointed as Organist and Choir Director and the music ministries flourished under their leadership.

ELDER: Carlos Wilton was installed on November 11, 1990 and served for 27 years. Ecumenical renewal of worship took place during those years and the PC(USA) went through a difficult season of discernment. Our connection with Monmouth Presbytery became stronger thanks to his ministry. In 2009 the Point Beach Prep Pre-School opened its doors with a wonderful program for younger children. The Volunteer Village was set up to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. So today we say:

Children: Rejoice, people of God!

People: May God give us perseverance to withstand tough times and to draw from this spiritual heritage to find the courage to face the challenges before us.

PASTOR: In the early 1900s some people objected to the Boys Choir wearing white robes since in those days not even the ministers wore robes apparently. Now we wear robes. The 1960s brought disagreements about music, the culture, the war, and yet the church continued to thrive. There was a disagreements about moving to a unicameral structure in the 1990s, today hardly anyone remembers it. Deciding to buy the Atlantic Avenue lot was trying, but it proved to be a good thing. The official stance to allow for same sex marriages at the church was only approved this past Summer.

ELDER: And now we are planning for where God is going to lead us in the future. From time to time the congregation has had to face new challenges and new beginnings and in doing so we find the fulfillment that comes through discovering gifts in ourselves. So today we say:

Children: Rejoice, people of God!

PASTOR: May God give us the vision to see beyond today and strive for those spiritual achievements that can shape the faith of our children and our children’s children.

People: May God enliven our spirits that we may praise and worship God in spirit and in truth, grateful for all of God’s blessings to us, and particularly for this holy place full of memories, inspiration and support. And so today we say: Rejoice, people of God!