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About Us > History
Just exactly when a Presbyterian church had its beginning in Eatontown is not known. We do know that Rev. Thaddeus Wilson, pastor of the Presbyterian Church at Shrewsbury, being concerned about the need for a church in Eatontown, obtained permission from Presbytery to use a school house and initiate a Sunday afternoon Sabbath School, a Sunday evening worship service and a Tuesday evening prayer meeting.
Presbyterians continued to worship in the school house until in 1873 when, with funds raised by those members of the Shrewsbury Presbyterian Church living in Eatontown and vicinity, a church was built on Broad Street.
About this time, the Little Church Around the Corner in New York was rebuilding and the local mission purchased the old building. Much of this building, including large columns, windows, trim, balcony and pews were transported by barge to Port Monmouth, New Jersey and from there carted by wagons to Eatontown and installed in the Broad Street church.
The mission church grew and came to have two Sunday Schools - one in the church building and one in a school house at what was then known as Locust Grove (now the northeast corner of Wyckoff Road and South Street). Around the year 1900, the Sunday School outgrew the facilities of the Locust Grove School House. A new chapel was built just north of the school house on a lot donated by Mr. Joseph Dangler on Wyckoff Road near the present intersection with State Highway 35. In 1914, this chapel was moved across the fields, a distance of about one mile, and attached to the rear of the church building on Broad Street.
Mr. William E. Morris served as Superintendent of the Sunday School from its inception in Locust Grove for a total of 45 years.
Through all these early years, members joining the Eatontown Church were enrolled as members of the Presbyterian Church at Shrewsbury and came under the authority of its Session. All monies were handled by its Board of Trustees. The pastors lived in Shrewsbury and travelled between the two towns by horse and carriage or by bicycle.
At a congregational meeting in April 1927, the Rev. Curtin advocated the idea of discontinuing services at the Eatontown Church and having all members attend the Shrewsbury Church for worship. A second congregational meeting held by the Shrewsbury Church in May 1927 voted to close the Eatontown Church.
The Eatontown congregation loved their church and desired to continue to worship together. They, therefore, petitioned Presbytery for permission to organize a church. On July 26, 1927, the Presbytery of Monmouth organized the First Presbyterian Church of Eatontown with 54 charter members.
The title to the church property was held for several years by the Shrewsbury Church but later was transferred to the Board of Trustees in Eatontown.
The First Presbyterian Church of Eatontown continued at the Broad Street facility until 1975 when the need for costly, extensive repairs, both structural and cosmetic led the membership to enter into a cooperative ministry with the United Methodist Church of Eatontown on Wyckoff Road. Our 10 year ministry together was a unique and growing experience for our Church.
In 1985, the congregation felt the Lord was leading them to once again be a unique congregation. After much prayer and planning, the cooperative ministry was dissolved. With the same spirit, determination, enthusiasm and faith which brought the members together in 1927, we were on the move establishing our Presbyterian Church in a new location. On July 7, 1985, we commenced worshipping in the multipurpose room of Meadowbrook School in Eatontown. After a summer of operating the church office out of the manse, an office was secured at the Crystal Brook Professional Building. We were a church "On The Move".
As the congregation continued to make the extra effort required to keep a church on the move operating each week, we grew more secure in knowing we were as much a "church" as any with walls and a roof to call a home.
The hope that we would find a place where we might build, or at the very least make a good investment until that time arrived to build somewhere else, became more tangible on March 18, 1986 when we purchased 1189 Hope Road, Tinton Falls. The property, three and three-quarter acres across the street from Eatontown, included a home which is now the manse.
In December 1986, a Church Building Fund Committee and a Church Building Committee were established. The process of erecting our new church home had begun.
With our property now located in Tinton Falls a change of name was necessary. As God is our hope, on January 25, 1987, the First Presbyterian Church of Eatontown became Hope Presbyterian Church of Tinton Falls and Eatontown by vote of the congregation.
After much prayer, planning and perserverance, construction of our current sanctuary finally began the last week of June in 1993.
Our congregation is very active in the ministry of the Presbytery of Monmouth with various members serving on committees over the years. Elder Suzanne Mahns fulfilled her term as Moderator of the Presbytery in May of 1993, having also served as Vice Moderator the previous year. This congregation is fully committed to the philosophy of shared ministry with the higher governing bodies of our denomination and many of our elders have been elected to serve as commissioners to Presbytery, Synod and the General Assembly.
Through the efforts of a special task force led by Elder Suzanne Mahns, we received the Mission Program Grant in the amount of $103,000.00 for ministering in new ways over the next five years. In part the Mission Program Grant enables us to train our leaders to provide new ministries and to advertise and invite the unchurched in our area to join us for worship and attractor events.
Elder Mahns was appointed mission Program Plan Coordinator. One of the first events scheduled was an outreach program consisting of three seminars on "Stress in the 90's" sponsored by the Evangelism Committee.
As an important part of the Mission Program Plan requires professional leadership and skills in addition to the ones which Rev. Alan Schaefer can offer, on April 25th the Session invited Rev. Robert E. Bell to be retained as our "Redevelopment Consultant" for 1993 and he became our Part Time Parish Associate from January 1994 through early 1995. January, 1996, Mrs. Gwynne Bounds was invited as Evangelism Consultant and has volunteered as associate musician to enrich our worship services with her musical gifts and talents.
The Food Cooperative formed by area churches' volunteers continues to provide food for the needy, a community effort. Members and friends from Hope Presbyterian Church serve in that capacity. Spring House, a community based program for single mothers and their young children, is operated by Homing Corporation in Eatontown. The congregation has participated in this project by renovating and furnishing a bedroom and bathroom in the home and through the sponsorship of families involved in the program. Rev. Alan R. Schaefer, Pastor, served on the Board of Directors.
On September 18, 1994 the "Great Parade" to our new "Church Home" took place. The congregation interrupted this last worship service at the Eatontown Community Center prior to the benediction, walked to 1189 Hope Road where a closing hymn was sung and the benediction pronounced. A tour of the building and a picnic lunch followed.
On September 25, 1994 the dedication of our new church home took place and included the presentation of the keys to the building by Mr. Mati Haus of Leo Haus Contractors, Inc. and words of welcome from Tinton Falls Borough officials at the 9:30 AM service. At 3:00 PM a service of Praise and Thanksgiving to God and for all of those who helped us reach our goal concluded the day of celebration. Our dream was finally realized! Praise God from whom all blessings flow as this leg of our faith journey to Hope Road is completed.
The first Christmas in our new church building included an outdoor carol sing, Christmas Eve "Hanging of the Greens" service at 7:00 PM, (luminarias lined the driveway) and an 11:00 PM Candlelight Communion Service. On Christmas Day a regular service of worship was held.
Over the years Sunday worship had taken place in various locations. Meadowbrook School, Monmouth Regional High School, the Eatontown Community Center, the fire house and the Presbyterian Church of Long Branch, depending on the season. Lenten and Thanksgiving Eve Services have been held at the manse, and other meetings and activities were held in members' homes. Now we were at last "home" at 1189 Hope Road, our long awaited permanent place of worship.
Rev. Alan Schaefer gave the congregation leadership from 1982 until 2001 when, for health reasons, he had to resign. Hope Church was without a called minister until September 2002 when Rev. David Cotton accepted the session's invitation to shepherd the flock in a part time capacity. Rev. Andrew Tibert was called, ordained and installed as our full-time designated pastor in December 2006. In April 2011, we welcomed our new Interim Pastor Rev. Paul Rack.
This congregation, with a history of more than 125 years, continues its witness and service to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. We pray for continued guidance from God as we proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ through worship, witness and service in Tinton Falls and the surrounding area.
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