History of Religions in Freehold Township
Compiled By Father Edward Jawidzik of St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church for Freehold Township Historic Preservation Commission. Compiled in 2003.
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church
3 Waterworks Road
P.O. Box 541
Freehold, NJ 07728
Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church was founded in 1867. A new structure was completed in 1988 and the Church was relocated to its present location.
Bethel Church was an Episcopal form of church government where Bishops of the African Methodist Episcopal Church appoint pastors. It is a worldwide church denomination with congregations in South America, Europe, Africa, Canada, Bermuda, the Caribbean Islands and the United States. Founded in 1787 by Rev. Richard Allen, the first leader who was a former slave. The African Methodist Episcopal Church is divided into 19 Episcopal districts.
It was under the pastoral leadership of Rev. Malcolm S. Steele that Bethel experienced its greatest progress, development and growth. Rev. Steele was appointed to Bethel in 1966 and served until his retirement in 2000.
The current pastor is Rev. James H. Foster.
Colts Neck Reformed Church
72 Route 537 W
P.O. Box 57
Colts Neck, NJ 07722
Email Colts Neck Reformed Church
The First Reformed Protestant Church of Freehold, now known as Old Brick Reformed Church of Marlboro, was founded in 1699. Preaching in the area that is now Colts Neck, however, was done in homes, barns and schoolhouses for the next 150 years.
The Colts Neck Reformed Church was organized as a sister congregation of the Freehold Church on Tuesday, April 22, 1856. The charter members of the congregation, 17 in number, were drawn from a number of other churches in the county. The official name chosen for the new church was the Reformed Dutch Church of Colts Neck, and the original building, 40 feet by 60 feet, was constructed on donated land. The first minister was Jacob S Wyckoff, who served from 1856 until 1864.
In August of 1866, the first Harvest Home Supper was held - a tradition that continues today as the Annual Election Day Dinner and Bazaar. A significant event in the life of the congregation occurred in 1872, when a revival was held in Colts Neck. At that time 78 persons were baptized, 102 were received in confession of faith and 194 souls.
The next 50 years show the emergence of certain "constants" in the life of the congregation: strong leadership in the Sunday School and in the growing Christian Endeavor Movement for young people, women's work with missionary support, strong preaching and pastoral care for the congregation, and attentive care for the congregation's facilities.
In 1906, a chapel was added to the church building. The stained glass windows in the sanctuary were installed in 1911. It was in the years immediately following World War II, however, that major changes were made in the church facilities.
In the 1960s, the area began to experience a rapid and sustained growth, which would impact the life of the congregation significantly. From 1963 to 1973 the congregation increased in size from 177 to 456 members. In 1984, what had been a 20-year expansion program was finally completed. The final step in 1995 made the building handicapped-accessible.
The present Pastor is Scott Brown.
First Assembly of God
272 Jackson Mill Road
Freehold Township, NJ 07728
The Freehold First Assembly of God Church dates back to a prayer meeting held in the (now historic landmark) Georgia Schoolhouse in 1928. The original members of the congregation came from a group that gathered at the Fort Plains Mission and then eventually started their own membership in 1934. With only a handful of members, an initial building fund of $7.50 and a tremendous faith in God, they were able to build the sanctuary located at the intersection of Jackson Mill and Georgia Roads in 1937, under the encouraging leadership of Pastor Reba Norcross.
Today, Freehold First Assembly of God has 2 services on Sunday mornings to accommodate the much-welcomed, ever-growing crowd of parishioners.
The present Pastor is Jeffrey W. Philhower.
First Baptist Church
81 W Main Street
Freehold, NJ 07728
Rev. James Challis founded the Freehold Baptist Church on November 28, 1834. The 92 members had been dismissed from the Upper Freehold Baptist Church. Their meetinghouse was at the site of the old cemetery, on what is now Barkalow Avenue, Freehold.
In 1844, with 157 members, they purchased property at the corner of Main Street and Manalapan Avenue. The new church was set back from the corner and completed in 1847. A parsonage was built on the corner in 1856.
The present Gothic-style church was dedicated in 1890, on the original parsonage site. The parsonage was moved to the site of the former church. The young men's room was added 6 years later.
On November 16, 1900, the Church changed its name to the First Baptist Church of Freehold.
In 1990, the members celebrated the 100th anniversary of the dedication of the present church building and initiated a campaign to refurbish their "Victorian treasure." The re-furbishing was completed in 1992.
The present pastor is Rev. William Frederickson.
Grace Lutheran Church
200 Park Avenue At W Main Street
Freehold, NJ. 07728
The full Grace Lutheran Church is a congregation of the New Jersey Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, a denomination with roots in America going back to the colonial period. It is also a partner church in the Lutheran World Federation. Grace Lutheran began as a mission congregation of the former United Lutheran Church in America on December 7, 1952, with a worship service at the Freehold Boro Y.M.C.A. In February 1959, the Rev. Robert Oberkehr was appointed by the Board of American Missions as the mission developer, and later became the parish's first pastor.
On October 11, 1959, Grace was officially organized as a parish at a liturgy held at the Park Avenue Elementary School. In July 1961, ground was broken at the intersection of Park Avenue and W Main Street in Freehold, and on March 11, 1962, the church building was formally dedicated.
In 1992 an addition was made to the building to house the Sunday school and meeting space. Grace Lutheran takes special pride in having sent forth 8 of its members into the ordained ministry of word and sacrament.
The current Pastor is Rev. Dr. J. Francis Watson.
Hope Lutheran Church
211 Elton-Adelphia Road - Route 52
Freehold Township, NJ 07728
In 1965, the Rev. Eugene Beutel drove through the Freehold Township area from his parish in Neptune, and he observed its rapid growth and saw possibilities for a new congregation. He contacted the Rev. John Houck, regional director of American Missions of the Eastern District of the American Lutheran Church.
After a demographic study of the region and a look at population projections, 6 1/2 acres were purchased and work began on the building and continued until November 1966.
In May 1966, the Rev. Albert W. Gibson, Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church in Baltimore, MD, was asked to be the organizing pastor by the American Lutheran Church. He accepted the challenge and moved with his family into the new parsonage in July 1966.
The first service was attended by 150 people and was held in the rain on September 25, 1966. Dedication of the building was held on November 27, 1966 and was attended by 265 people.
Hope Christian School was established in October 1967 for 4-year-olds. This nursery school is now attended by 156 children who are enrolled in half-day programs either 2 or 3 days a week. There are 4 teachers and 2 teachers' aides.
In 1975 the Education Wing was constructed, and in 1984 a new kitchen and Fellowship Hall were added and the sanctuary was remodeled. The Rev. Albert W Gibson retired in November 1997.
The Rev. Dr. Patricia S. Medley was called in September 1998 and was installed in December 1998. A second pastor was hired in September 2000.
Freehold Jewish Center, Congregation Agudath Achim
59 Broad Street
Freehold, NJ 07728
It appears that the earliest Jewish families settled in Freehold in the 1700s. The Freehold Transcript edition of June 14, 1895 includes an account of the First Jewish wedding. However, Jewish social and religious activities were minimal until 1905, when the waves of immigrants from Russia and Poland brought most of the original founders of Freehold's organized Jewish community.
With few exceptions, most of these Jewish immigrants settled in the area of Freehold known as "Texas." As soon as the necessary quorum for a Minyan was reached, a private house was rented at 20 First Street, where services were conducted for some time. By 1909, a small hall at the corner of Main and Court Streets was rented for High Holiday Services.
In 1911, a Charter was drawn up for the formation of an Orthodox Synagogue to be known as Congregation Agudath Achim Anshal, Freehold, New Jersey, and a lot was purchased at First and Center Streets. The Freehold Transcript of June 18, 1911 records that contracts had been let for the erection of a building 32 by 50 feet.
By the fall of 1911, the small wooden structure had been completed. Records indicate that the first Hebrew School began in September 1914.
Within 5 years, a 2nd floor was added to this simple building, and in 1920 the first Mikvah was built underneath the Synagogue. The sisterhood was formed in 1920, and social and cultural activities flourished with various groups meeting in the Synagogue. With the coming of the 1940s and the increase in membership from 40 to 100, a lot of 250 feet by 175 feet was purchased at the corner of Broad and Stokes Streets. The groundbreaking took place in June 1947 and by 1950, the building was in general use. The membership had now grown to 184 families.
In 1973 another major addition was undertaken to provide sorely needed facilities for the ever-growing membership. This expansion project was proven to be both aesthetically attractive and utilitarian, with its spacious Hebrew School classrooms, a Rabbi's office, plus a general office. An addition was also added to the sanctuary, doubling its size, which through the use of movable partitions may be divided into 4 classrooms.
Provided are inspirational high holiday services, traditional holiday observances, a daily Minyan, a model Seder for the Sunday School children, and a flourishing and highly regarded Hebrew School with an enrollment today of 240 children. The congregation sponsors adult education programs and classes. We also have an extremely active, energetic and well-attended youth group. Our membership rolls have grown to include 300 families.
The present spiritual leader is Rabbi Kenneth Greene.
Old Brick Reformed Church
490 County Road 520
P.O. Box 153
Marlboro, NJ 07746
Old Brick Reformed Church Website
Old Brick Church is part of the Reformed Church in America, which has the longest continuous ministry in the United States, and its roots in the early Dutch community, which contributed so much to our American culture. Our congregation is composed of men, women and children from many Christian backgrounds. We welcome all to join us and share our fellowship.
The present pastor is the Rev. Ben Lin.
- 1699: Establishment of First Congregation, at Gabat House
- 1709: First Pastor, Beginning of Record Keeping
- 1732: First Church Built on Present Site
- 1764: First American Pastor - Benjamin Dubois
- 1905: Installation of Stained Glass Windows
- 1955: Heat Installed in Church
- 1972: First Female Deacon - Joan Orr Preston
- 1991: Vacation Bible School Started
- 1999: 300th Anniversary of Congregation
Old Tennent Presbyterian Church
Tennent, NJ 07763
The roots of Old Tennent Presbyterian Church reach back to the border region of Scotland over 300 years ago. During the Restoration period, under Charles II, Scottish Presbyterians became the object of intense persecution. Caught between an autocratic crown and the avarice of landowners, an exodus began from this region that was to spread to the Highlands and Ulster and span 200 years. New Jersey was one of the most diverse and tolerant of the colonies and attracted many of these "non-conformers". By 1692, a small band of Presbyterians had built a tiny log church at "Free Hill," about 5 miles from the present sanctuary. The guiding light through this time was the Elder, Walter Ker. It was he who was instrumental in aligning the infant congregation with the newly formed Philadelphia Presbytery. This body ordained Mr. Boyd as the first pastor of the congregation: the first ordination of a Presbyterian in North America to the ministry of word and sacrament. It was also Ker who recruited the Tennent brothers, John and William, Jr. to the Free Hill Congregation.
Prosperity and the Great Awakening saw the congregation purchase the current property known as "White Oak Hill" and construct 2 buildings. The current Georgian structure was completed in 1751 using elements of the earlier (1730) meetinghouse.
This venerable structure has heard the thunderous words of the Great Awakening preachers: Whitefield, Edwards, Brainard, Frelinghuysen and Burr. It has witnessed the 1st communion of David Brainard's Indian Converts. It was granted, in 1749, the charter seal by King George II, along with the Presbyterian Churches of Allentown and Shrewsbury, NJ. It has sheltered the wounded on both sides of the Battle of Monmouth (June 1778).
Newly restored, Old Tennent Presbyterian Church continues to function as the worship place of the Tennent Congregation, affiliated with the Presbyterian Church USA., truly a singular treasure (on the National Register of Historic Places).
The present minister is the Rev. Dr. Hugh A. MacKenzie.
St. Paul The Apostle Orthodox Church
24 Burke Road
Freehold Township, NJ 07728
Prompted by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, Bishop John of NYSSA, in the Jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, assigned Father David Moriak to organize and establish a viable Orthodox presence in the vicinity of Historic Freehold and the Shore Area of New Jersey in July 1975. The fledgling mission was placed under the heavenly patronage of St. Paul the Apostle as a zealous and vibrant inspiration to its communicants.
On October 5, 1975, the First Divine Liturgy was celebrated in the facilities of the Laura Donovan Elementary School in Freehold. On April 14, 1976, a parcel of land was purchased from the Elkins family as a permanent site for the new parish. St. Paul Parish included diverse and varied Orthodox nationalities who continue seeking their salvation within its holy embrace.
In 1978, Father Kenneth Bachofsky was appointed to the parish. Under his guidance, improvements were made to the chapel, the icon screen installed and the garages converted into the kitchen and social hall.
On May 15, 2000, Father Robert E. Lucas was appointed Pastor with the mandate to construct a church and complete the parish complex. A building fund was initiated and pledges secured.
The parish is well known for its pierogi sales and periodic nut and poppy seed roll sales.
St. Robert Bellarmine Catholic Church
51 Georgia Road
Freehold Township, NJ 07728
On June 18, 1971, the most Rev. George W. Aur founded the new parish of St. Robert Bellarmine, with Rev. Thomas F. Dentici as its Pastor. Masses were held in local public schools from 1971 to 1975. On September 14, 1975, Bishop Aur presided at the blessing and dedication of St. Robert Bellarmine Parish Family Center.
Because of the rapid growth of the Freehold Township area, a new church was constructed and dedicated by Bishop John M. Smith on December 7, 2002.
The present pastor is Rev. Thomas J. O'Connor.
St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church
16 McLean Street
Freehold, NJ 07728
St. Rose of Lima Website
Sent from St. Paul's, Princeton, in 1850, Rev. John Scollard traveled to the Freehold area to celebrate mass. On November 10, 1851, a piece of land was purchased for the building of a frame church. Rev. Alfred Young, Pastor of St. Paul's in Princeton, served the parish between 1857 and 1860. Father Young purchased a plot of land to serve as a cemetery. After several mission priests, the Most Rev. James Roosevelt Bayley, Bishop of Newark, assigned Rev. Frederick Kivelitz as First Resident Pastor on January 9, 1871.
Father Kivelitz traveled by saddle horse to serve the Congregations of St. Rose and its missions that were scattered over an area of 125 square miles.
Father Kivelitz purchased a parsonage and built many churches for the missions of St. Rose. Saint Rose of Lima Church was blessed in August 1882. The present Rectory was completed in October 1931.
The dawn of a new millennium brought Rev. Richard Milewski, the present Pastor, to St. Rose of Lima Parish. Father Milewski's attention is directed toward keeping our liturgy vital, which is central to parish life; expanding the involvement of the laity; and building the spirit of community. His leadership continues to deepen the spirit of faith, love and humble service that has been the keystone of St. Rose of Lima Parish community from the beginning.
Second Baptist Church
133 Throckmorton Street
Freehold, NJ 07728
The Second Baptist Church was birthed into ministry in the House of Deacon David Paterson in 1895. As the mission grew, a larger facility was needed and a building was rented on Mechanic Street. By 1897, the Second Baptist Church was officially organized.
In 1904, the First Church Building was erected on Throckmorton Street and called its first pastor, Rev. D. H. Mitchell. In 1944, on the corner of Throckmorton and Haley Street, property was purchased and the building was renovated into an edifice.
In 1989, Pastor Paul M. McGuire began the work on a new church. The new edifice seats 550 people, with an educational wing and banquet hall.
In 1997, Pastor Andre McGuire had a vision for a daycare facility, Christian Academy, senior citizen facility and a homeless shelter. In 1999 the "I Beseech Thee Community Development Corporation", a non-profit corporation, was instituted to begin this work. The labor continues.
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
31 Throckmorton Street
Freehold, NJ 07728
The first service of this congregation was held on October 10, 1702, led by the Rev. George Keith in the Quaker Meeting House at Topanemus, a site very near the present Village of Marlboro. The meetinghouse and the 1-plus acres were given to "the Anglican Church established at Topanemus" by the owner. Construction of our present site in Freehold was begun in 1771. Unfinished when the Battle of Monmouth was fought, with the shell complete and steeple in place, it was used as a Storehouse by the Provincial militia and returned to the congregation in the early 1790s. At that time the interior was completed and worship services began.
Over the years the interior has been changed in response to liturgical changes in the Episcopal Church in America and the building has been enlarged to meet the needs of the congregation. The Parish House was added in the 1920s and serves as the primary location for our Christian education programs, outreach ministries, parish meetings and social affairs.
The present Rector is Rev. Francis N. Hebert.
Religious Society Of Friends (Quakers), Shrewsbury Monthly Meeting
P.O. Box 92
Shrewsbury, NJ 07702
We have added this denomination to our pamphlet because of the important role the Quakers played in the shaping and history of Freehold Township and Monmouth County.
The history of the Quakers in New Jersey dates back to before Freehold Township was incorporated. It is as follows:
- 1664: First Quaker Meeting in New Jersey
- 1672: First permanent Meeting House built in Shrewsbury, NJ
- 1695: Quakers purchased 1 acre of land at the corner of Kings Highway and the Burlington Trail. This is the current site of Meeting House in Shrewsbury.
- 1701: A Meeting House and Cemetery were constructed on the above site.
- 1717: Quakers purchase an additional half acre of land at Meeting House site
- 1727 to 1701: Meeting House burns, replaced by brick structure
- 1815: Brick structure burns
- 1816: Current Meeting House built in area now called Route 35 and Sycamore Avenue, Shrewsbury
- 1907: Shrewsbury Monthly Meeting canceled for lack of members
- 1942: Shrewsbury Monthly Meetings re-established
- 1968: Fire damages east side of building. Indoor plumbing and central heat added.
- 1996: The Meeting House is made handicapped-accessible by the addition of a ramp.
George Fox, the founder of the Religious Society of Friends, once visited us.
Our meetinghouse is listed on the State and National Registries of Historic Places.