History of CPC Mountainside
Community Presbyterian Mountainside has been a cornerstone of the Mountainside community since its founding in 1954. We are passionate about sharing the Christian faith and providing spiritual guidance to all who seek it. Our weekly services, Sunday school classes, and fellowship activities are designed to provide a place of enrichment and community for all who come.
We are also home to a vibrant nursery school and offer a variety of activities and events throughout the year for all ages.
The church is founded
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.
New property and ministries
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.
New organ, Nursery School, Memorial Garden
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.
Establishment in the community
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. In March 2020, CPC called Rev. Ana Cooper, who served through the summer of 2021.
A sesason of change
On September 12, 2022, we welcomed our new pastor! Rev. Marcus Lambright joins us as the Designated Pastor from the Presbytery of the Coastlands. He graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 2013, with a Masters in Divinity (Mdiv) and is originally from Ohio. Read more about Rev. Lambright here: Introducing Our New Pastor.
Here is a transcript of the Congregational Report presented to the congregation at the June 11, 2023 Information Session. Included in this report are the following: explanation of the Designated Pastor process; positive signs in CPC church life during the past year, with a list of specific events and activities; and acknowledgement of Rev. Lambright’s successful completion of his first year as Designated Pastor.