For over 167 years, Roseville Presbyterian Church has been a cornerstone of Roseville and the greater Newark area. From its beginnings in a small room on Orange st, grew an institution focused on community, youth development, spiritual enrichment and family.
Below is a chronological history of our 165+ years of service.
Roseville Campus in 1914.
- June 18th: Mr. William King begins Sunday School classes at Orange & 7th Streets in"Rowe's Village" (present day neighborhood of Roseville).
- Class moved to 7th Street in a loft over a carpenter shop.
- Small frame church building erected on land donated by Aaron Peck (who owned most of the present day Roseville neighborhood) at site of present sanctuary. The Peck Family, who came to Essex County in the 18th Century, would go on to become longtime benefactors of Roseville.
- September 21st: Building dedicated to the work of the Lord.
- April 9th: The Roseville Presbyterian Church was organized by the Presbytery.
- April 27th: Dr. John F. Pingry installed as first pastor.
- Dr. John F. Pingry resigned to organize and work on establishing Pingry School in Elizabeth.
- November 1st: Dr. Charles T. Haley installed as second pastor.
-Nationwide tensions lead up to the Civil War.
1861 - 1865
- Dr. Haley & Elder Farnsworth are chaplains at Camp Frelinghysen (Modern day Branch Brook Park, near Park Avenue).
- Bruce Street mission established in "Frog Hollow", roughly a mile southwest of the church, in the area of University Hospital near Bruce St & West Market Street, behind St. Vincent's Academy.
- Munn Avenue Presbyterian Church started through Roseville member, working in conjunction with Dr. Haley.
- Center portion of present day sanctuary built, housing two center blocks of pews with seating capacity of 312.
- New sanctuary dedicated for service.
- Frame building turned over for use of Sunday School.
- Wings added to existing sanctuary, doubling capacity. Frame building moved to site of present education building.
- Original church spire was donated by W. Fredrick Van Wagenen & sons, in memory of his wife and thier mother, Sarah Bleecker.
- Dr. Haley went to California to recuperate after severe illness.
- While recuperating, Dr. Haley was instrumental in starting the First Presbyterian Church of Pasadena, California.
Dedication plaque in current church spire.
- Dr. Haley instrumental in starting Memorial Presbyterian Church (present day Memorial West) on land donated by a Roseville member in memory of her parents.
- The central portion of the present Education Building was built as a Sunday School building to replace the original frame building.
-The original frame building was sold to the Women's Christian Temperance Union and moved to Gould Avenue & 14th Street.
The church campus in the late 1800s, showing the present day Education Building (Fireside room & Fellowship Hall).
- The Bruce Street Mission organized as the West Presbyterian Church.
- The death of Dr. Haley.
- June 14th, 1905: Dr. William Young Chapman installed as third pastor.
- Junior Department (space currently occupied by the Pastor & Secretary offices, the board room, choir closet & copy room) was added & the passageway connecting that building with the sanctuary, was built.
The church campus after the addition of the junior department in the early 1900s.
- Dr. Chapman was one of the founders of the Newark Presbyterian Hospital 2 blocks west on South 9th Street & 9th Avenue. In 1958, it merged with smaller hospitals in the area & became United Hospitals Medical Center, providing medical care to Newarkers in Roseville and the surrounding area.
- The Manse was built and the kitchen was added on the south side of the Education Building.
- A service flag containing 83 stars, - 6 of them gold, - was hung in memory of the service men of World War I.
- The congregation was enlarged by the addition of 168 members from Few smith Memorial Church, which was located a few blocks east at 34 Hudson Street.
- Dr. Chapman had a special place in his heart for the neighborhood children.
-Dr. Chapman resigned to become president of Bloomfield College & Seminary.
- Dr. Walter L. Whallon was installed as the church's fourth pastor.
- The Pew-rental System was abolished. The numbers on each of the present day pews are left over from the Pew-Rental era.
- The sanctuary was completely refurbished & redecorated with new lighting fixtures, carpet & pew cushions.
- The current organ, with its commanding presence on either side of the altar, was installed in memory of Miss Helen Oakley Peck, donated by her siblings, Edith M & William Halsey Peck.
- At Miss Edith Peck's death, the 12 room Peck House & property was willed to the church with $250,000 for upkeep. Occupying most of a city block & located two blocks east on N. 6th Street, Sussex Avenue & N. 5th Street, Future uses included a seminary, student housing, special occasions & church meetings among other things.
Left: The Peck House at North 5th St & Sussex Ave, early 1950s.; Right: A turn of the century map detailing the Peck estate.
- At Mr. Andrew M. Sherrill's death, he bequeathed funds to be used to serve the youth of Roseville Church and the surrounding neighborhood.
- A service flag bearing 200 stars, - 11 of them gold, was hung in the sanctuary, to commemorate the men and women serving thier country in World War II.
The church campus in the 1940s.
- August 13th: A fire breaks out in the manse.
-Fire breaks out in the junior department buildings.
- June 7th: a fire broke out in the steeple and it was burned beyond repair.
-June 8th: The 100th Anniversary of the Sunday School was celebrated.
- November 11th: The 100th Anniversary of the Church was celebrated.
-Sherrill Hall, constructed using memorial funds from the Sherill family, was dedicated for the use of church & community.
- The Small Chapel was constructed with memorial funds from the Peck Family and furnished with memorial gifts from many members and church organizations.
-The present day steeple was completed.
Newly completed Sherrill Hall, 1954.
Newly completed Memorial Chapel, 1954.
The church shortly after the steeple caught fire and was destroyed in 1952.
The church with the new steeple, 1954.
- September 9th: Due to failing health, Dr. Whallon resigned.
- Following the resignation of Dr. Whallon, for the next 8 months, Dr. Henry Strock from Lancaster, PA served as Interim Pastor.
- June 13th: Rev. Leonard Evans was installed as the fifth pastor.
- Family night suppers were instituted.
- Vacation Bible School was begun.
- With the neighborhood and city beginning to change, Roseville began to see itself as an "Inner City Church".
- The Historic Sites & Buildings Committee designates the Peck house a city landmark.
- September: Rev. Evans resigned to take pastorate in Toronto, Ontario.
- Rev. Kenneth Blaine Cragg was installed as the church's sixth pastor.
- January 27th: Hand Bells were presented by Mrs. Toone, the church organist.
- Permission granted to Newark Pre-school council to hold classes in the basement of the Education Building.
-Pastor Cragg's creative energies translated into ever-growing activities: athletics, music , speech choirs, tutoring, camping trips, the rangers & the Crusaders all for the youth, block parties & house churches for all ages.
- Mr. Roland Hagen, musical director & Mr. Andrew Andala were at the helm of many youth groups in the church.
-Billboard outside of Sherill Hall erected announcing church's policy on integration.
Billboard erected outside of Sherrill Hall, 1966.
- February 7th: Church Bus was purchased for use in youth programs.
- Roseville attracts the parents of the neighborhood children, who are already participating in the many programs at the church.
- July 12th - July 17th: The Newark Riots occurred, during a summer of civil unrest in other cities across the nation. The start of the riots was just 1.5 miles away on 17th Avenue, spreading through the Central Ward & Springfield Avenue.
- Introduction of Unicameral System of church government, combining the offices of Trustees & Elders.
- Practice of electing youth members to session and Board of Deacons instituted.
- In the wake of his death, the Martin Luther King Scholarship fund was established.
- The church purchases a building across from Sussex Avenue School to alleviate overcrowding, The Board of Education later reimbursed the church.
- Church sponsored a campaign for voter education & registration.
- April: Amidst a major turning point in Newark politics, An open meeting was held in the Sanctuary at which all Newark mayoral candidates were invited to speak. Later that year, Kenneth Gibson, Newarks first African American Mayor, was elected.
- Contract with the Newark Board of Education allowed use of Sherrill Hall for gym classes.
- A merger occurred between Roseville & Fifth Ave Presbyterian Churches.
- Rev. Theodore Scott from Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church becomes assistant pastor at Roseville.
Roseville Church in 1970, during the construction of Interstate 280.
- 1970 - 1971: Training class for officers was held to explore the differences between Presbyterian procedures and those of other denominations.
- Princeton Intern Dale Tremper retained at Roseville a second year to explore possible uses for Peck Property with Roseville Housing Development Corporation.
- May 10th, 1971: Rev. Theodore Scott resigns as Assistant pastor.
- February 1st: Rev. Cragg resigns. In the wake of a changing neighborhood and city, as well as the church's population slowly becoming predominantly Black, Rev. Cragg felt the church could no longer reach its full potential unless it had an African American pastor. He resigned to take pastorate at Arlington Avenue Presbyterian Church in East Orange.
- For the next year and a half, Dale Tremper acted in place as interim pastor during his third year at Roseville.
- Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church property sold to Spanish speaking Mt. Sinai Pentecostal Church. Its Manse was sold to them at a later date.
- June: Dale Tremper left to assume his own pastorate in California.
- October 7th: With rising maintenance costs & security concerns, Session approves demolition of Peck House.
- November: Peck House demolished.
- November 18th: Rev. Howard Bryant installed as seventh pastor, becoming the first African American pastor of Roseville.
- Beginning in 1973, a major renovation of the church properties occured. The Sanctuary was sandblasted and pointed, the interior of the Education building and Sanctuary was redone (removing the green color palate in favor of beige). The ceiling of the fellowship hall was lowered to its present height, red carpeting was installed in the fireside room and two large choir stalls were installed in the sanctuary.
- April: Rev. Bryant resigned to take over duties at 475 Riverside Drive.
- October 30th: Services begun in the Newark Extended Care facility (Jay St. Nursing Home).
- Youth Sunday instituted. Not only was the days service especially geared toward the youth as a whole, but one or another of the youth groups: Rosebuds choir, Bell choirs, teenage percussion group, or other combinations were featured in the days program.
- Rev. Oliver Brown II installed as the eighth pastor.
- March 2nd: Mr. Clifford Deming, the church treasurer & financial advisor for 56 years, is given an appreciation dinner upon his retirement. Having served with great dedication & wisdom in a most exacting job, at one time or another, he held nearly every official position open to a layman.
-Summer: "To the Glory of God" radio program broadcasted services weekly.
- A new approach to pastoral prayer was begun, with Rev. Brown inviting the congregation to join him on thier knees, at the altar if they wished, urging everyone to actively pray.
-November 11th: First annual Women's Day celebrated.
-December 3rd: Roseville celebrates 129 years of service, with a banquet at the Hilton Gateway.
- A study commenced examining the property and the best use of it going forward, suggesting upgrades and additions to better serve the congregation. Ultimately, the Manse garage was torn down and rebuilt, while other projects were shelved for a later date.
- Rev. Brown resigns to take a new pastorate in Los Angeles, California.
- A stolen car was chased into Pigtail Alley behind the church and caught fire behind the sanctuary. The fire spread to the ceiling and rafters which were damaged, requiring another renovation to the Sanctuary interior. Repairs were made to the rear of the building, the ceiling and roof. The beige carpet was replaced with the current red carpet.
- "I accept the challenge" youth program begun by Dr. & Mrs. Fisher.
- Peck Property was sold to a developer.
- September: Rev. Marvin Williams installed as ninth pastor.
- Rev. Williams pastorate ends.
-It was during this time that Roseville enjoyed special relationships with pulpit supply pastors Rev. Joseph Garlic & Rev. James Seawood among many others.
- June 1st: Rev. Doris Glaspy installed as the tenth pastor and first woman pastor of Roseville.
Late 90s/Early 2000s
- A major renovation of the small chapel building & Manse was undertaken.
The Small Chapel was reduced to a third of its size and converted to a conference room.
A new pastors office & secretary's office were constructed next to the new conference room.
The pastors study was converted to the copy room/Christian Ed room.
A robe closet was built to house choir robes for Rosevilles various choirs.
A hallway from the Fellowship hall to the Sanctuary passageway was constructed.
The pastor & secretary offices were moved from the Manse to the church, and the remaining space in the manse was renovated back to living quarters for Rev. Glaspy and her family, as well as future occupants.
- Roseville Mens Choir begins under the direction of Anita Wynn, who at the time also served as the energetic music teacher for Vacation Bible School & Roseville Youth Choir director.
- Roseville Praise Dancers, consisting of Youth & Adults, established under the leadership of Dierdre Smith, after choreographing a stepdance for a Saturday program.
- Monday Food Pantry begins.
-Inspirational Choir begins under the direction of Senior Music Director, Terry Walker. Bringing the total number of choirs to 5. The Chancel Choir, Mass Choir, Inspirational Choir, Mens Choir & Roseville Youth Choir.
- May: A year after his passing, a plaque was dedicated honoring Deacon Raymond Robinson Sr., for his outstanding service as sexton of Roseville for 29 years.
Roseville in 2003.
- Roseville Praise Dancers traveled to NYC to audition for Mcdonald's Gospelfest & director A. Curtis Farrow. While they made it to the second round, they didn't make the show.
They would audition again the following year.
- Roseville Praise Dancers and Roseville Mens Choir independently travel throughout the Newark area, performing for different churches & events.
- The Roseville Praise Dancers are split into Adult & Youth groups, with Elder Leslie Bostick leading the Youth.
- "The Next Generation" Teen youth group is established under the direction of Seminarian Carole Pierce. Later, it would be lead by Tracey Willis.
- December 5th: Roseville celebrates 150 years of ministry. Rev. Kenneth B. Cragg, former pastor, delivered the sermon.
- The Next Generation youth group collaborates with The Roseville Men to host their "Breakfast with Santa" event, this time sponsoring a toy drive, in which the gifts were given to members of Isaiah house in East Orange.
- The youth praise dancers travel to Hampton, Virginia to participate in a gospel competition. They go on to win first place performing what has become their signature routine, "King Jesus".
- March 22: Open Gym launched by the Roseville Men, open to all youth in the community but focusing on the young men in the neighborhood, giving them a safe space to play basketball and eat on Saturdays.
- September: Rev. Glaspy retires after 18 years of service.
She remains active in the Newark Presbytery, National Black Presbyterian Caucus & PC USA.
- September: Rev. Danny Mitchell becomes Interim Pastor.
- The Buildings & Grounds committee did an extensive study of the church campus, identifying major renovation projects to repair, preserve, maintain & upgrade buildings now over 100 years old.
- Upgrades to the church campus were made:
Sanctuary windows were repaired & painted. New plexi glass installed for protection and preservation.
Light fixtures in Fellowship Hall & Fireside Room were upgraded for efficiency.
New signage (main & directional) was placed around the exterior of the buildings.
Air Conditioning was installed in the Fellowship Hall & Fireside room.
Surveillance cameras and a new doorbell system were installed for added security.
Various upgrades & repairs were made to the manse. bathrooms were remodeled & electrical was updated.
Looking north toward Orange St, November 2017.
- August 20th: Live-streaming ministry established, streaming services weekly to audiences via Facebook live.
- September 24th: First annual Homecoming celebrated with invited guests spanning years of Roseville's different ministries.
- October 28th: First annual Fall Festival for children celebrated.
- Together with Rev. Danny Mitchell, 8 members organized and incorporated R.O.C.C., the "Roseville Outreach Community Corporation" to address vital issues to hunger, youth development, senior care and social injustice to improve the lives and social fabric of the community.
- Live-streaming ministry grows in size, equipment upgraded for better quality & reliability.
-Church website re-launched & Instagram created to open up more opportunities to #RosevilleNation, a term coined to acknowledge our growing internet presence.
- Online tithing established to compliment the live-streaming ministry.
- October: "Roseville's Next Level" is founded (by many former members of TNG), as a social group for Roseville's millenials, focusing on inclusive programing & activities for the "young adults" of the congregation & community.
- March 22nd: In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and following orders from the state, Roseville for the first time in history closes the church campus, suspends all ministries & activities and holds worship services online via Facebook & the newly created Youtube channel.
- November 15th: Inaugural Veterans Day worship service celebrated. Noticing the WW I & WW II plaques on the walls of the Sanctuary, Rev. Mitchell, himself a veteran, decided to hold a service commemorating the African American Veterans in Roseville Nation & beyond.
- February 15th: Rev. Toure C. Marshall becomes the eleventh pastor of Roseville.
- February 28th: Rev. Mitchells interim pastorate ends.
After four & a half years of shepherding Roseville through its transition, Rev. Mitchell returns to Philadelphia.
- March 1st: PC USA approves the consolidation of the 7 existing NJ presbyteries into 4. Newark Presbytery joins Elizabeth & Palisades Presbyteries to form the new "Presbytery of Northeast New Jersey".