Golden Jubilee 2014
Fifty years ago Faith United Presbyterian Church was formed as the result of a merger of four separate Presbyterian congregations in Monmouth – Grace United Presbyterian Church, Second United Presbyterian Church, First United Presbyterian Church, and Ninth Avenue United Presbyterian Church.
Leading up to the 1964 merger, the Presbyterian denomination and the United Presbyterian denomination, similar in theology but separate in church government since the Civil War, had voted at their general assemblies to unite into one denomination.
When these two denominations united, the former First Presbyterian Church of Monmouth voted to change its name to Grace United Presbyterian. Shortly after that, two dynamic young pastors of the two largest congregations of UP churches in Monmouth, Rev. Donald Weems of Grace United and Rev. James Phillippe of Second United, suggested a merger of all five congregations of Presbyterian churches in Monmouth, including the West Side United Presbyterian congregation on South D Street. At first their efforts met with little enthusiasm, but eventually the financial merits of the idea took root and each of the five churches voted simultaneously in late 1963 on whether or not to join the merger. All approved except the West Side congregation.
Tracing the Roots of Faith United
Looking back over Monmouth’s history, we can trace the roots of these congregations which came together to form our church of today.
Grace United Presbyterian
Presbyterianism was the first religious denomination to bring organized worship to Monmouth Township, when the Reverend L. G. Bell, an itinerant minister, brought together 16 early settlers in 1837 and organized the First Presbyterian Church of Monmouth.
First United Presbyterian
Another church, First United Presbyterian Church was organized as the First Associate Reformed congregation in 1853, with services held in the Warren County Court House until its own house of worship was erected on West Broadway. That church was replaced in 1890 by a larger building at the corner of East Broadway and North 2nd Street.
Second United Presbyterian
A committee headed by the first president of Monmouth College, Dr. David A. Wallace, organized the Second United Presbyterian Church in 1862. Twenty former members of the First United Presbyterian Church became its charter members and named Dr. Wallace to be their pastor. Second United Presbyterian was built just a block south of the college campus, and the church and the college were thus linked together both geographically and spiritually. Its sanctuary is now a part of present day Faith United Presbyterian Church.
Ninth Avenue United Presbyterian
Ninth Avenue United Presbyterian Church was started as a mission of Second Church on the south side of town in 1895, with the Rev. J. F. Jamieson as its pastor.
Choosing a Site for Faith United
Because only the Grace and Second Church buildings were large enough to accommodate the combined 1200 membership of the four former congregations, choosing a permanent site was the first controversial matter to be decided.
The Second Church’s proximity to the college was weighed against the newly refurbished and redecorated sanctuary of Grace Church. In 1967, three years after the merger, it was agreed that the Second Church building would become a part of the new home of what had by then been named Faith United Presbyterian.
Under the agreement, the chancel and architecture of the former Grace Church was kept intact when the church was razed and rebuilt as the focal point of the new Faith Church Sanctuary.
Ninth Avenue Church was revitalized as Jamieson Community Center in honor of the church’s first pastor.
The West Side congregation, which did not join the merger, purchased the former First United Church and renamed it Heritage United Presbyterian Church.
Over the past 50 years, Faith United Presbyterian Church has been served by six called and installed pastors — Rev. Robert Buttrick, Rev. Pat Butler, Rev. William Rice, Rev. Jerry Hazen, Rev. Dr. William Myers, and Rev. Dr. Kathy Stoner-Lasala.
To honor and celebrate the Golden Jubilee, during 2014 our weekly church newsletter published a series of articles assembling the month-by-month Session Minutes for the year 1964 to remind ourselves of who we are and to treasure the work that was given to us by the grace of God to build this congregation and to discern God’s ministry for us moving forward.