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 Presbyteriancongregation 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 eight Ministers of Word and Sacrament — Rev. Robert Buttrick, Rev. Pat Butler, Rev. William Rice, Rev. Jerry Hazen, Rev. Dr. William Myers, Rev. Dr. Kathy Stoner-Lasala, Rev. Charles Cunningham, and Rev. Brandon Ouellette.
This building’s original congregation, known as Second United Presbyterian Church, was founded in 1862 specifically to serve Monmouth College, with the college’s first president, David A. Wallace, serving as its first pastor. Another MC president, James Harper Grier, also served as Second Church pastor, and the legendary Gracie Peterson was the first of several choir directors from the college faculty.
The three other United Presbyterian congregations that in 1964 merged to create Faith Church–First, Grace, and Ninth Avenue–also had direct ties to Monmouth College through their membership and missions. Today, Monmouth College faculty, staff, students, and alums continue to play an active part in Faith Church’s ministry, worship and Christian Education.
For college students, Faith United can be a place where you can be yourself, worship, study, volunteer, and feel loved by God. We invite you to be our special guests. . . find friends, young and old, ask questions, find some answers, and be free to serve others.
Students have participated in the choir, in teaching, in advising youth group, in worship, and in serve. Please contact the church office at 734-5129 if you want more information or are interested in participating in any of these or any other activities.
Occasional fellowship events, luncheons, and cook-outs are held throughout the year. Specific information will be available through our e-newsletter.
Students are invited to become affiliate members at Faith United, a status which allows nearly full participation at Faith United while maintaining membership in a home church. Contact the church for more information.
Memorial Christ Window
Faith United Presbyterian Church
Dedicated May 24, 1998
The Christ Window in the balcony is intended to complement the cross hanging above our chancel. The window was created by Reinarts Studio of Winona, Minnesota and was funded entirely by memorial funds. The window is designed to be interpreted vertically and horizontally. The top triangle symbolizes God as maker of the heavens and earth. The down-stretched hand of God receives response in the praying human hands in the bottom right frame.
To the left beneath the creation of stars and planets is the Nativity. The Star of Bethlehem is above the manger. The light of Christ floods the stable. Beside the manger are the sheep. Their presence can be interpreted in a number of ways.
Beneath the Nativity is Baptism. The font of water can remind us of water gushing from the rocks of Meribah where God responded to the pleas of the Israelites, or the promise of living (running) water given to the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. The dove echoes the presence of the Spirit at the baptism of Christ. The seashell is an ancient sign of baptism symbolizing the death and rebirth of Christ. The staff represents the coming of the Shepherd of Israel. The falling water empties into a baptismal bowl and beneath are the vestments of the church’s ministry.
Below the Baptism is the Wedding at Cana. The sanctity of marriage is honored b the wedding rings and the bottles of wine. The empty wine bottles are replaced by the new wine of Christ. The changing of water to wine is the first miracle or sign recorded in the Gospel of John.
Beneath the wedding frame is the story of the Good Samaritan. The scandalous nature of the parable is reflected as the priest and the Levite pass ghost-like in the background. The figure of the unanticipated and unacceptable Samaritan bends in love to take care of one who has been beaten and stripped by robbers. “It’s a pieta!” exclaimed one viewer looking at the figure of compassion. The Christ-like resemblance of the victim is surely intentional.
The bottom right pane represents the Sermon on the Mount. People gather below the Ten Commandments at the base of the mount. The praying hands represent the Lord’s Prayer and the teachings on piety. The scales represent the higher justice which here Christ calls forth from the disciples. The candle reminds us that Christ’s disciples are “the light of the world.”
The second pane from the bottom on the right side represents the miracle of the Calming of the Sea. The sea is an ancient symbol of the chaos within nature that is beyond human control. The boat from ancient times represents the church. The Greek letters of chi and rho are the first two letters of the word Christ.
Above the Calming of the Sea is the window of the Lord’s Supper. The chalice, bread, grapes and wheat remind us of countless stories and parables in Scripture but focus most graphically upon the sacrifice of Jesus’ life and the continuous presence of God with us.
From the chalice a cross extends into the frame of Resurrection. Christ comes forth from the tomb as the guards sleep. The force and violence of the world is transcended by the love and power of God as life comes forth from death.
When the windows are viewed horizontally, the Nativity and Resurrection belong together defining the new creation in Christ. The Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are the sacrament panes. Cana and The Calming of the Sea are the “sign” or miracle panes. The Good Samaritan and Sermon on the Mount remind us of the teachings of Christ. Numerous parallels of symbols can be found throughout the Christ Window. It is all right to play with these!
In the Middle Ages windows were designed to tell the story of the Gospel in a time when knowledge of the Bible was scarce. Our hope is that these windows will be able to do the same for years to come.
Funded by Memorials Honoring Designed by Window Committee
Carroll Brown Reinarts Studio Lolla Ballard
Jean Hogue Winona, Minnesota Harlow Blum
Katherine Nagel Frame Construction: Dennis Rhodes Isabel Marshall
David McCrery Lighting: Gary Crandall Carl Shaub
Jean Martin Consultant: Lewis Laughead Jerry Hazen
Ralph C. Walters