The History of Our Church
This year we are celebrating the 145th year of our church. In 1868 a group of twenty people from Bricksburg (now Lakewood NJ) petitioned the Newark Presbytery to organize a church and from this humble beginning the First Presbyterian Church of Lakewood was born.
In 1870 the small congregation erected a little chapel and built the shell of our present sanctuary with its fine spire pointing heavenward. However, the interior was not completed until 1884. The central part of the present sanctuary was first used for worship in 1884. Before that time, the congregation met in what is now Fellowship Hall. The North Wing was added in 1892. The Manse, which is now the office, was erected in 1900 and its first occupant was the Rev Butler. Gaslight fixtures which are still visible between the windows in the sanctuary were in use until electric lights were installed in 1909.
The passing years have brought about many changes. In 1954 we purchased the beautiful Moller pipe organ which has added so much to the ministry of music. In 1964 our Educational Building was dedicated.
Many commemoration ceremonies have marked important milestones in our history: in 1918 the Golden Anniversary, in 1928 the Sixtieth Anniversary, in 1948 the Diamond Jubilee, in 1958 nine decades of Discipleship and in 1968 our Centennial Celebration, truly a memorable occasion.
More recently we celebrated our 120th year in 1988, our 125h year in 1993 and our l40th in 2008. Plaques with the names of all the fuIl time ministers serving our congregation are hanging on the walls in the sanctuary.
For 145 years our church has maintained an unbroken continuity of Christian faith. Led by dedicated ministers many people have served God faithfully. We, the present members should do no less to continue through our prayers and service this glorious heritage.
Rev Alfred Henry Dashiell DD (1871-1888)
Rev Charles Henry McClellan DD (1889-1900)
Rev Courtlandt Patterson Butler DD (1900-1927)
Rev John Herrick Darling (1927-1935)
Rev Melvin Raymond Campbell (1936-1938)
Rev Albert Henry Manus (1939-1950)
Rev Robert Earle Dubois (1951-1958)
Rev Gordon Shelley (1959-1972)
Rev Dr Thomas Andrew Sebben (1973-1985)
Rev Tyler L Easley (Interim) (1986-1987)
Rev Vance Wiley Torbett III (1987-1993)
Rev David John Eisenmenger (Interim) (1994-1995)
Rev Lee David Donow (1995-1999)
Rev Martha Campbell (Interim) (2000-2003 (March))
Rev John Godocik (Retired) (2003-2005)
Rev George McDonald (Part-time Stated Supply) (2006-2007)
Rev Alan Chaves (Stated Supply) (2007 (6 months))
Pastor Dennis C Booth (Temporary Stated Supply) (2008(June)-2011)
Rev Terry Fouse (Communion minister) (2008-2012)
Pastor Rick LaFever (Commission Ruling Elder) 2013-
The name “Presbyterian” comes from the Greek word presbuteros, or “elder.” Our very name reflects the fact that we are a democratically-governed church, with most decisions affecting the local church being made by Elders elected by the congregation.
Nine Elders (who are ordained to their task) comprise the Session, our church’s governing board. Session members serve for three-year terms, and may be re-elected for a second consecutive term. The Pastor serves as Moderator of the Session.
“The Ordination of Elders in a Scottish Kirk,” by John Henry Lorimer, 1891.
Nine Deacons (who are likewise ordained to their task) comprise the Board of Deacons, who engage in ministries of “sympathy and service,” reaching out in caring ways to the lonely, the shut-in and the economically disadvantaged. An elected Deacon serves as Moderator of the Board of Deacons.
Lakewood First Presbyterian Church is part of the Presbytery of Monmouth, 47 churches in the central New Jersey area, whose elected representatives (ministers and elders in equal numbers) come together approximately once a month for worship and to conduct business.
Monmouth Presbytery, in turn, is part of the Synod of the Northeast, comprising Presbyterian churches throughout New Jersey, New York and New England. Selected representatives from Presbytery travel each year to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), the highest governing body of the church.
Although Presbyterian governing bodies have elected Moderators who chair meetings, we are not a “hierarchical” church in the sense that we have permanent ruling officers such as bishops. Nor are we a “congregational” church, in which the local congregation decides everything by popular vote. Rather, we are proud of being a “connectional” church, one which offers a combination of the pure democracy of the congregational meeting and the measured, deliberative judgment of elected officers, seeking God’s will collectively as they meet and pray together.
Principles of Presbyterian church governance are laid out in our Constitution, which includes the Book of Confessions and the Book of Order. In addition, the Lakewood First Presbyterian Church has its own set of By-laws.