About a year or so ago I had heard that
the pastor, Rev. Robert Barrowclough, was about to retire. I'm not
sure who replaced him though. (Newark Memories note: the new pastor
is Rev. Randy Van Doornik) The number of parishioners has dwindled
to around 50 or so mostly elderly persons. The church had just turned
150 years old last year.
The church was once home to many of Newark's famous "movers
and shakers" among them were the Ballantines, the Frelinghuysens,
and former United States Supreme Court Justice, from 1870 to 1892,
Joseph Bradley. The church was actually started in Bradley's home
in 1856, some fourteen years before he was appointed to the Court
by President Ulysses S. Grant. He had is own private pew in the
church. The pew and nameplate are still there.
I'll quote here from that newspaper: Rev. Barrowclough tells the
story of how the two church members influenced American History.
Bradley, as a Supreme Court justice and a member of a special electoral
commission, cast the deciding vote in 1876, breaking the tie in
the Electoral College between Rutherford B. Hayes and Samuel J.
Tilden. Hayes, the Republican, became President.
Freylinghuysen was a Republican senator at the time and it was
widely believed that he influenced Bradley's vote. "A presidential
election was probably decided on a train from Newark to Washington,"
said Barrowclough, "after the two men had worshipped together
at North Reformed church," he said.
One of the more famous preachers in the church was Abraham Polhemus
whose home still stands on Washington Street right next door to
the Newark Museum and which is rumored to have been one of the houses
on the "Underground Railroad."
There are beautiful Tiffany stained glass windows in the church
one of which is dedicated to the soldiers of the two World Wars
and another window which pays honor to one of the founders of the
church, Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, who went on to become a United
States Senator and also a Secretary Of State.
Like many churches in the inner cities this one has fallen on hard
times and I hope that somehow it is able to survive.