Here we will tell the story of the beginnings of our church and how we became what we are today.
The Annandale Reformed Church was established in 1866 when four families petitioned the Raritan Classis (the governing body of the Reformed Church in America), to form their own local church. The motivation, it is said, was they didn’t want to make the long four-mile journey to the Reformed Church in Lebanon.
Back then, Annandale was a railroading hub known as Clinton Station. That helps explain the original name of the church: The Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Clinton Station.
The cornerstone of the building was laid on August 6, 1868. Construction was completed within five months, January, 1869. That makes our building on the corner of West & Beaver Streets the only permanent home our congregation has ever known.
The first pastor was Reverend J.A. Van Dorn (1869-1873). We have had twenty-six ministers in our history. The three who were called the longest were Chester A. Moore, sixteen years (1927-1943); John Arnone, fourteen years (1986-2000), and Frank Landwith, ten years (1948-1958).
We have had seminary students, as well as retirees, lead us as ministers, but no women—yet! Women clergy have been allowed in the RCA since 1972. Many of our women have served as elders and deacons.
The parsonage was built in 1887 where it still stands at 21 West Street (it is now a private residence). Also, about this time the church's name was changed to its current one. A system of pew rentals was put into effect in the 1870’s to cover operating expenses and to pay off the building’s cost. A new bell was placed in the belfry in 1896, which still calls people to worship today.
A Women's Auxiliary was formed in 1904. We still have an active women's group today.
The first choir was formed in the 1920's. It had two sections, Jr. and Sr. choirs, lasting through the 1970’s. A children’s choir is still formed today to sing during the Christmas and Easter season and for our annual Children’s Day in June.
The original three-manual M. P. Moller Pipe Organ, manufactured in Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1925, was rebuilt in 1966 and upgraded in 1992. To supplement our sound, we purchased a Yamaha S90XS music synthesizer in 2011. We also have an exquisite Yamaha baby grand piano.
Our original polyglot illustrated Pulpit Bible was used until 1949. It was replaced by an acid-free paper King James Version, donated to the church by Mr. & Mrs. George Lawrence in memory of their son, James Wesley Lawrence. A second-hand Revised Standard Version was added in the mid-1970’s. At present we use a (new) NRSV – New Revised Standard Version.
Changes in the building over the years have included removal of the spire, circa 1906, installation of the stained glass memorial windows in 1913, a renovation of the kitchen in the late 1950's, and the sanctuary in 1968.
From 1980 to 1990 the Annandale Reformed Church was yoked with the High Bridge Reformed Church, sharing a pastor and several of its ministries, since neither church had the financial resources to support a full time minister.
The building was given ‘historical landmark’ status by the New Jersey Heritage Commission in the 1980‘s—permanently placed on the state register of Historic Places. It has been the subject of photo shoots by noted photographers Frank Greenagel and David DeFreese, among others.
Fellowship Hall downstairs was refurbished in 1995.
We sold the parsonage in the late 1990’s when we realized it was outdated.
A ramp to make our church fully accessible was added in 2005.
In 2008 we painted the sanctuary with funds that were raised through pledges and donations from the congregation over a period of two years.
In 2010 the church added an outdoor Memorial Garden to enhance the church grounds and to witness God's gifts in nature. We added air conditioning to the main sanctuary in 2011.
In 2012, we installed internet wireless capacity. In 2013, we used money from a generous bequest to purchase a new, more vibrant, outside sign.
Other recent gifts and bequests have allowed us to repair a leaky bell tower; remove our underground oil tank in favor of a new double-walled Roth above-ground tank; install a new wood-grained floor in Fellowship Hall; and convert our hot water tank with an on-demand, propane-fired heater.
Our motto is “New Life in Christ.” The familiar yellow figure that accompanies the words was designed in 1994 by current member Cheryl Mulligan.
Our mission statement was drawn up by current elder Lynn Hughes. “We are a family in Christ, called together by the Holy Spirit to serve God in our community. We are placed here to worship, to nurture and serve, and to make the joyous life in Jesus Christ more accessible to our neighbors.”
Our church has enjoyed a long heritage and many years of God's blessings. We continue to minister to our community today and into the future.