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Colts Neck Reformed Church

Historic Havens: Old Brick Church and Colts Neck Reformed Church

By Lori Draz

As we celebrate the Christmas season, history reminds us that the desire to freely practice your religion of choice was one of the primary motivations to settle and fight for sovereignty in this new land. We are blessed that so many remarkable historic houses of worship have not only been preserved but continue to serve as active congregations of numerous faiths throughout the county. This month, we’ll visit two, but there are many more to explore. 

Many of the area’s earliest settlers, dating back to 1670, were the Dutch. These early families mainly came from Long Island, and by 1699, there were enough begin organizing congregations. This takes us to the roots of Old Brick Reformed Church in Marlboro. Serving this emerging congregation was no small task. Three ministers from Brooklyn, rotating weekly, would make the often perilous journey to preach, so a permanent solution was sought. 

Church records began on Oct. 9, 1709 when the Reverence Joseph Morgan was installed as pastor of the “Reformed congregation of Freehold and Middletown,” and the first church was built on what was then known as Hendrickson’s Hill, in the old village of Marlboro. In 1731, a larger church was built on the site of the present Sanctuary and served the congregation until that building was taken down in 1826 to build the larger and present structure. 

The church also has one of the area’s oldest cemeteries with the oldest stone dating back to 1741 and is the resting place of numerous Revolutionary War soldiers and patriots. 

All are welcome to join them in worship every Sunday at 9:30 and 10:30 am. Visit OldBrickChurch.org to learn more.

In nearby Colts Neck, worshipping was held in homes, barns and schoolhouses. After 150 years of this type of ministry, the Colts Neck Reformed Church was organized on April 22, 1856. The official name of the original 40- by 60-foot church was the Reformed Dutch Church of Colts Neck. In August 1866, the first Harvest Home Supper was held – a tradition which continues today as the annual Election Day Dinner and Bazaar (The Election Day Event). 

Colts Neck Reformed Church circa 1900
Colts Neck Reformed Church interior in 1908

In 1906, a chapel was added to the church building. The six original stained glass windows in the Sanctuary were installed in 1911, and in 1932, indoor plumbing was installed. The church continued to grow and by the 1960s, the Community Center was constructed, the Sanctuary was renovated, and a new pipe organ was installed.  

In 1984, a 20-year expansion program was finally completed which included doubling the size balcony, new pews, new carpeting and four additional stained glass windows and with a new pulpit, designed to resemble a ship’s prow, communion table and baptismal font. Music lovers also note that in 2003, the pipe organ was repaired and expanded to 18 ranks with 1,093 pipes. There is also a small showcase with some of the church’s original artifacts. 

Colts Neck Reformed Church Parsonage

In 1998, the church purchased the 1.75-acre property and home (dating prior to 1830) which serves as the parsonage for the Senior Minister, the Rev. Scott Brown. Just behind parsonage is Atlantic Cemetery, which was established by the church on Feb. 6, 1866.  Among its permanent residents, you’ll find members of many of the prominent early settlers and Dutch families including members of the Conover, Schank, Polhemus, Van Der Veer and Flock families. Four of the church’s pastors are also buried there. 

Rev. Brown warmly welcomes your visit. They worship every Sunday at 9:30 am and on the First Sunday of each month at 9:30 and 11 am. Christmas Eve worship services will be at 2 pm (geared for young children) and then at 4 pm and 8 pm with carols, candles and the Christmas story.

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