The Reformed Church of Metuchen was organized and formally recognized by the Classis of New Brunswick as the Protestant Dutch Reformed Church on December 29, 1857 by a group of 51 people. Meetings were first held in a house owned by David Thomas, one of the first elders. The original church building, located at the corner of Amboy and Graham Avenues, was dedicated on August 5, 1858.
The church grew steadily and in the early 1900’s the name was changed to the Reformed Church of Metuchen. By its 75th anniversary in 1932, there were 334 active members.
On November 30, 1948 the church building was completely destroyed by fire. Fortunately the pulpit, lectern chairs and communion table were saved. In the interim, services were held in the YMCA and the Forum Theater. The present Lake Avenue location was chosen for the new church and the present building was dedicated on September 10, 1950.
The last seventy-two years has been a critical and defining period for the Reformed Church of Metuchen.
During his long and successful ministry, Rev. Harry Ver Strate (1937-1972) led the congregation through the construction of the new church and a period of phenomenal growth. The church membership at the time of the fire was 524 and by 1957 it had grown to 1000. Rev. Ver Strate instituted the publication of the church bulletin for worship. A new multi-choir system was also started at this time.
In grateful recognition of his service and guidance, the title of Pastor Emeritus was conferred upon Rev. Ver Strate on December 31, 1972.
Upon Rev. Ver Strate’s retirement, Rev. Donald Brevet (1973-1976) was offered a call. He had been serving as the congregation’s associate minister since 1967. Rev. Brevet began celebrating communion monthly. His ministry began as the country wrestled with the social issues raised by the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. The congregation’s social conscience was raised during this period, and the church established a stronger, more visible presence through a more active role in the larger community.
Forward progress and responding to opportunities for mission and ministry increased again during the ministry of Rev. Raymond C. Ortman (1978-2001). During his pastorate, the church partnered with the YMCA to establish the Edgar Child Care Center in 1990. The center has been successfully serving the greater Metuchen community for 32 years. The sanctuary was air-conditioned and many improvements to the church property were successfully concluded. Two significant opportunities in ministry and worship also began during his ministry. In 1990, Saturday Evening Worship was started. This worship opportunity had steady membership and provided an opportunity for worship, fellowship, and praise without conflict with normal Sunday worship. During Rev. Ortman’s pastorate, closer ties to New Brunswick Seminary were also established. Student pastors serving a one-year internship became a regular part of the ministry team at Metuchen. Both Rev. Ortman and the congregation were influential in developing and affirming the talents and gifts of several seminary students. A regular, continuing series of adult education courses was offered two to three times a year, making use of the professors at the seminary.
Upon his retirement on June 30, 2001, the title of Pastor Emeritus, approved by Consistory on February 14, 2001 and the New Brunswick Classis, was conferred to Rev. Ortman.
Metuchen Reformed Church’s twenty-first century started with an ending—Rev. Ortman’s retirement, and a beginning—Rev. Dr. Richard Ruch’s pastorate with his installation in 2003. Pastor Ruch brought new ideas to our ministry and worship, and also solidified and enhanced our relationship with the other congregations using our church building. Pastor Ruch led us in developing our Welcoming and Affirming statement as a congregation, initiated various educational opportunities, held special Healing Services for the community, and offered evening services such as Candlelight Vespers, held in our chapel. Pastor Ruch and our music staff also enhanced our music program by welcoming our Korean congregation to bring their talents and join with our choir at services. Following those services, we shared special coffee hours with the Korean Church, furthering fellowship between the two congregations. Our Music Ministry blessed our services with music by soloists, groups such as Grace Notes, our Chancel Choir, and the combined choirs of Metuchen Reformed Church and the Korean congregation performing Easter and Christmas Cantatas. Pastor Ruch led our church in celebrating our Sesquicentennial in 2007 with many special benevolences and outreach events commemorating our 150 years in Metuchen serving the Lord and the community.
Pastor Ruch retired in June 2011.
On June 2, 2013, Rev. Dr. Peter Sanfilippo was installed as Minister of Word and Sacrament to The Reformed Church of Metuchen. Rev. Sanfilippo’s pastorate furthered the growth and outreach of the church. During Pastor Sanfilippo’s tenure, the Indonesian Fellowship grew, offering new and vibrant worship and music to the congregation. Rev. Ancela Fransisca Rumokoy joined the ministry staff as associate minister. The year 2020 brought many challenges to the country and the church as COVID-19 emerged as a life-threatening disease. Pastor Sanfilippo retired in December 2020. Rev. Ancela Fransisca Rumokoy assumed the solo ministry of the church in January 2021. As the country emerged from the stress and challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, the church grew and flourished with Rev. Rumokoy’s leadership. The introduction of a bilingual worship service in Indonesian and English continued the mission of the church. Many fellowship activities drew the church community together with an emphasis on living a faith-driven life.
The congregation continues to respond to opportunities near and far. The Metuchen Reformed Church is committed to God’s mission in the local and greater community.
Pastors Who Have Served
- Rev. John B. Thompson 1859-1866
- Rev. N.I.M. Bogert 1867-1870
- Rev. Edward Lord 1870-1881
- Rev. James Cruickshanks 1882-1887
- Rev. Garrett Wycoff 1887-1894
- Rev. John Howard Raven 1894-1899
- Rev. Edward V.V. Searle 1900-1907
- Rev. John W. Conklin 1909
- Rev. John Van Zanten 1909-1918
- Rev. Frederick Zimmerman 1919-1937
- Rev. Harry Ver Strate 1937-1972
- Rev. Donald A. Brevet 1973-1976
- Rev. Raymond C. Ortman 1978-2001
- Rev. Dr. Richard Ruch 2003-2011
- Rev. Dr. Peter Sanfilippo 2013-2020
- Rev. Ancela Fransisca Rumokoy 2021-current