A Brief History
In February of 1954, a group met to see if there was interest in having a Protestant church in town. By April 1, the group had canvassed the town, with the result that a need for such a church was determined, with Presbyterian representing the favored denomination.
The first worship service, conducted by Rev. Delwyn Rayson of the Presbyterian Synod of New Jersey, was held in Deerfield School at the end of April, with 120 adults and 30 children in attendance.
During the summer of 1954, a residence on Garrett Road was purchased for use as a manse.
The formal organization of the Community Presbyterian Church of Mountainside occurred on October 10, 1954, with 205 charter members from 105 families. Later that month, Rev. Rayson was installed as the first pastor.
An anonymous donor gave four and a half acres for the building of the church at its current location, and in December 1955 the congregation gathered for the ground breaking for the sanctuary. Just one year later, in December 1956, the congregation gathered again to dedicate the new sanctuary.
The following year, the current manse on the adjoining property on Deer Path was purchased.
Organizations began immediately, with a Chancel Choir, Junior Choir, Carol Choir, Sunday School classes, Junior and Senior High Fellowships, Bible study and adult discussion groups, Women’s Association, Men’s Club, Doubles Club, and Scout Troops all in full swing within the first few years.
With Sunday School classes meeting in members’ homes, on Saturdays, and in double sessions at the church, it became clear that more space was needed, and in September 1959 a new building program began. The new addition added over 4,000 square feet for the Christian Education program and was completed in November of 1960.
In October of 1960, the congregation voted to extend a call to Rev. Elmer Talcott who began his pastorate in January 1961, replacing Rev. Rayson who had accepted a call to a church in Honolulu, HI.
Pianos and a second-hand Wurlitzer organ provided music for services until the magnificent Aeolian Skinner pipe organ was installed and dedicated in May 1968. The second phase of the organ development program was completed in the early 1970’s, resulting in the beautiful and inspirational organ we have today.
The initial Memorial Garden was dedicated in the spring of 1971, and throughout the years additional walls have been added, with careful attention to grading and landscaping, to create a beautiful resting place for the remains of church members and beloved friends. The addition of stone benches and memorial teak benches make the Garden today a peaceful place for prayer and meditation.
Discussion of starting a Day Nursery School to serve the community began as early as 1960. Throughout the years, the fully accredited Nursery School has become a vital resource in the community and a generous partner to the church.
After many dedicated years of service, Rev. Talcott asked for early retirement, planning to use his time to work for peace. Rev. Robert Taylor served as Interim Pastor until September 1, 1986 when Rev. Christopher Belden became the third pastor of Community Presbyterian Church.
In all its 65-year history, the church, vitally aware of its Christian mission, has reached out to serve and witness in the larger community, and, at the same time, has ministered to its members’ spiritual, emotional, and social needs.
In June 2018, Dr. Belden retired after 32 years of dedicated service to the church and the community. In September 2018, Rev. Leigh Gillis came to serve as Interim Pastor, ministering to the congregation and leading the church through the process of calling the next minister of Community Presbyterian Church.
The Pastoral Nominating Committee invited the Rev. Anastassia Cooper to preach in February of 2020 and one month later, she and her husband David moved to Mountainside from St. Louis, MO in order for her to become the church’s fourth installed pastor.
Our facilities are in constant use by local community organizations in the Westfield area. In addition to our Nursery School, the church sponsors the local Boy Scout Troop 177. The local Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous groups meet in our facility. We host the NJ Potters' Guild show and sale once a year, and our facility serves as a polling place for government elections.
Mountainside Community Presbyterian Church
1459 Deer Path
Mountainside, NJ 07092
Being a community church, CPC offers its facilities and grounds to members and non-members alike for ceremonies such as weddings, funerals, memorial services, etc. The church's beautiful facilities and grounds are serenely suited for such ceremonies. Our wedding policy is below:
A WEDDING is one of the most important events in a person's life! Because of its religious nature, a wedding in the church should be carefully planned and a spirit of reverence should mark the entire service. For a downloadable resource on weddings at CPC, click here.
APPROVAL of the Minister is required before a wedding may be held in the Church, and arrangements should be made with the Administrative Assistant in the Church Office. The couple is expected to meet with the pastor for premarital counseling.
LICENSE- Application should be made for a license at least two weeks before the desired wedding date. The license should be presented to the minister at the rehearsal, the time of which should be arranged with the minister.
Use of Facilities
The Trustees make the use of the church's facilities available to church members as well as community groups and private citizens. Use of the facilities is at the discretion of the Trustees. Please thoroughly read our regulations/application for building use during the COVID-19 pandemic by clicking here.
Our Church works to meet the needs of its members and to minister to the needs of the community around us. New members are always welcome. We worship together as a community of believers. We support one another’s values and beliefs. We nurture the faith of all our members in a variety of ways including adult Bible education programs, choirs for both adults and children, youth programs, a nursery school and much more!
We are affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and are a community church located in Mountainside (near Westfield), New Jersey, 25 miles west of New York City. Information for our Nursery School may be found at: www.cpcnurseryschool.com.
We are a fellowship of believers who come together to:
- study and learn about God and ourselves
- serve God through serving each other, serving our community and joining with other Christians to serve the world
Our worship includes Scripture readings, prayers, a children's chat, a sermon and plenty of music.
Christian education at CPC includes Sunday School for all ages, a confirmation class, Youth Fellowship programs, adult Bible Study, our Women's Association, and our Men's Group.
Ministry in our church includes numerous opportunities for mission work both locally, nationally, and worldwide. Ministry to our own members includes taking flowers and Communion to those who are hospitalized, Christmas caroling at the homes of shut in members, and providing opportunities for fellowship and recreation.
On September 25, 1985, the Session adopted the following Mission Statement:
The Mission of the Community Presbyterian Church of Mountainside, NJ is to preach the Word of God, to increase the awareness and understanding of the Holy Spirit in our lives, to preserve and extend Christian attitudes and actions, and provide a witness to the love and power of our risen Lord, Jesus Christ.
This Ministry begins with Baptism, when the congregation assumes responsibility to the young for nurture, education and example, and continues as the church meets the spiritual, physical and psychological needs of its church family through all life's stages.
The Mission of our Church is to attract and care for new members of all ages, with particular emphasis on younger families and new residents. We further believe that God calls us to be an active participant in causes which improve the quality of life in the community and further the Kingdom of God to the ends of the earth.
Copyright 2016, Mountainside Community Presbyterian Church. All Rights Reserved.
Session Deacons Trustees
Sara Meissner Alison Little Saksena Carlos Gomez
Bonnie Canevari Roxann Haggerty Jerry Bryant
John Salvato Rich Jurgens Greg Meissner
Bill Haggerty Lisette Guzman Laurie Weeks Thomas
Lee Christensen Terri Giordano Ted Hansen
Diane McCurdy Kimberly Schoenknecht Scott Kersey
Nick Bradshaw Connie Fayen
Alice Gillman Louise Sgarro, Treasurer
Julie D. Fristensky
Dear CPC Family,
I write to you with Good News today. Today is a beautiful day, for our congregation that has weathered the awful storm of COVID-19, and we’ve made it through. We made it through the stormy seas to calm sunny waters, and the sun is shining today as the Lord’s spirit is too. Allow me to share with you our updates on Phase II reopening.
Your Session has approved new protocols for our campus. Expect the following updates:
-No masks indoors, except for children aged 2-12. (If you wish to wear them, we support that too!)
-No social distancing required. Pew dividers will be taken down, and distance in fellowship won’t be required anymore. You can take your seats however close to a neighbor as you’d like.
-Singing- for now- will only be done with the choir, with masks off. Fauci says congregational singing will be for Phase III. We may sing outdoors, however, so expect some summer worship in the garden so we can sing.
-Communal touch surfaces will be reintroduced. We will pass offering plates, we will use Bibles in our pews, and we will have bulletins again. Praise be!
-If you need to come on campus or to the church offices during Nursery School hours, please contact the office in advance. We need each visitor to use only the side door to keep contact with the students at a minimum.
-Coffee hour will resume on June 13th, and during the summer we will host more, preferably outside.
-Church boards can meet in person on campus now.
-All outside vendors will need to fill out the facilities use request form and will receive updated guidelines from the Trustees.
We are excited to share these new guidelines with you. Phase II has arrived, and we look forward to Phase III coming soon…hopefully. Together we hope and pray that progress against this virus continues. Looking forward to seeing your faces in worship!