The 100th Anniversary of Our Church Building

Leonia Presbyterian Church 1900
Leonia Presbyterian Church, 1900 – Photo Courtesy of Leonia Public Library

At a special service May 25, 1902, our Sanctuary, Tower room and Lecture room were dedicated. Building a new church was an ambitious undertaking for a membership of only 58 people. When organized as a Presbyterian congregation on February 15, 1899, they didn’t own a church building, or any of the common articles used in worship such as a pulpit Bible, or a pulpit, hymnals, or communion service. But they obviously had a vision and the courage to turn that vision into reality, and accomplished it in three years time.

Our church is built on land given by Mrs. Harriet Walker, a charter member; the builder was Arthur Bogert, also a charter member. Trustee Peter Newell, in private life an illustrator and author of children’s books, was responsible for the stained glass windows in the sanctuary. The minister, James Wyckoff, gave the communion table, two women of the congregation the pulpit and pulpit furniture, the Ladies Aid Society the carpeting. Indeed, the whole congregation, including the church school students, was involved in the fund raising and planning for this church building.

When the question of how to pay for the pews came before the members at the Trustees Annual meeting in April 1902, it was agreed not to charge a rental, but to have open seating. This is very consistent with an earlier decision made by 48 of our charter members who withdrew from the True Dutch Reformed church rather than return to a “closed communion,” which meant only members in good standing could receive communion.

As we prayerfully consider our vision today for the future, we acknowledge with gratitude the vision and courage of our 58 charter members, and all the members and leaders of this congregation over the past 100 years. We celebrated the 100 year anniversary of our building on Sunday, June 2, 2002.