The Cresskill Congregational Church traces its origins to a nondenominational Sunday School started in May 1856 under the leadership of a college student, Alexander
McKelvey. The group met in the Coley house on County Road in Tenafly. Over many years, the Sunday School met in various places in and around Bergen County.
Many members who had attended the Sunday School lived in and around Cresskill. While there were a few churches in the surrounding towns, there were none more conveniently located. It was then decided by these members to organize a church in Cresskill. So, under the leadership of Mr. Alfred Sneed, a student from the Missionary Alliance in Nyack, a meeting was held to organize a church. On March 21, 1907, the Gospel Church of Cresskill was organized with 59 charter members.
Mr. Sneed was called as its first pastor but he soon resigned and sailed to India to devote his life to missionary work. Following Mr. Sneed, Mr. Alexander Fraser became the new pastor. During his tenure, the church voted to become associated with a denominational body, the Congregational Church, on September 10, 1910.
Our church has a deep commitment to faith in God as we believe worship and service go hand-in-hand. Each Sunday we meet to worship and praise our living God who then sends us out to share the gospel of Jesus Christ within our various communities. The gospel we share is experienced through our love for others. One of our mottos of ministry is likened to something St. Francis of Assisi once said. He said, "Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words."
For over 100 years, our church has shared the gospel as love and in service of others. For example, the Ladies Aid Society, which actually began prior to the church's official gathering, raises money for local charity support to the church and community. We provided ministry and support during World War I to the troops stationed at Camp Merritt. Our congregation created several small group social societies to include the Ingleside Society comprised of young women who met regularly in members homes to promote social cohesion and spirituality. The town's Senior Center began in our basement for years before moving into its new building one street over. During the 1950s and 1960s, our church hosted a Couple's Club to promote friendship among couples of the church.
Honoring our traditions of service and taking social activities to heart, we continue our mission to be a community-minded church welcoming all into our community of faith. Today, we continue the be a community church. We regularly sponsor local AA meetings, displaying artwork from the local high school art classes, and host the Artists Circle where local artists can paint, share their work, fellowship, and share their work within the community. We provide a health and wellness center for the care of the body, soul, and mind.
Beginning in 2010, we direct and lead an LGBTQ youth support group called The Rainbow Cafe which provides a safe space for gay youth to be educated on issues of self-esteem, anti-bullying strategies, and learning how to make better decisions. We also host area-wide dances for the kids to mingle and socialize. As a result of our success, we have consulted with other churches to start their own chapters across New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut.
We also have outreach and mission opportunities. Our Mission Committee manages our various mission projects while engaging in one of their own: dispersing donations to non-profit agencies in and around our community. We also support many church festivals, art shows, and various seasonal festivals including our extremely popular Strawberry Festival in June and our Pumpkin Sale in October that are both mainstays in our community. We also have a flea-market style thrift shop called the White Elephant with inexpensive household items for those seeking to fill their houses with authentic old-world charm.
We also provide you with practical hands-on opportunities to help the poor and unfortunate by hosting of dinners for the homeless at a mission in nearby Hackensack, NJ and spending the night with the homeless at various churches. We support Church World Service and offer various church-wide projects that allows everyone to get involved in helping others.
Today we continue to have a progressive and faithful presence in and around our community. We do that in a variety of ways to include the use of various technologies in worship, the email distribution of weekly eNewsletters that keep our members informed, providing free church-wide Wifi use, maintaining a dynamic website with sermon podcasts, and a hosting a Facebook Church service that meets online every Wednesday afternoon.
Together, we are also growing in our faith by making the way of Jesus central to our faith journey. We do this through worship, discipleship, and by engaging our faith with our community through charitable acts of service. For we believe that it is our continuing responsibility to grow the kingdom of Christ as we continually seek new ways to promote Jesus' extravagent welcome. We invite you to journey with us as we share our love and support together.