The Spotswood Reformed Church is a member of the Reformed Church in America. If you would like detailed information about the RCA and its current happenings, please go to rca.org.
As far as our history is concerned, the following brief synopsis of our first 450 years (give or take a few years) will give you some insight as to who we are.
Where We Come From
During the 16th century, a movement called the 'reformation' was sweeping through western Europe...in England, Germany, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands, just to name a few. At that time, the Dutch people were engaged in a long and bloody war for independence from Spain. Though at first only a small minority of the people adhered to it, the Reformed faith in the Netherlands kept growing until finally the gallant leader of the struggle, William of Orange, confessed that he too was of that faith. The story of that struggle is a thrilling one, with the incredible persecutions by the Spanish Duke of Alva and the terrible siege of Leyden.
Suffice it to say, that when the Dutch people finally achieved their independence and founded the republic which was shortly to become one of Europe's leading nations, the established Church of that new republic was the Reformed Church.
How did this Reformed Church of ours come to America? The Dutch republic was still very young when the new world was opened to Europe. But it was not long in getting its foot in the door and its representatives here. Most everyone has heard of the exploits of Henry Hudson along the river that now bears his name. He came in 1609 under the auspices of the Dutch West India Company. But not everyone knows that the permanent Dutch settlements along the Hudson River began at Fort Orange, now Albany, NY, as early as 1614.
The inhabitants of these little outposts were probably of the Reformed faith, just as they had been members of the Dutch Reformed Church back home. Though they had no established congregations, in 1623 Jan Huyck and Sebastian Krol were sent out from Holland as 'krankenbazookers', better known as 'comforters of the sick'. These devoted men, though they were not ministers, were sent up and down the countryside in the little colony, gathering Dutch Reformed people together to read services and perform other ministries as needed.
By 1628 the Dutch Reformed people of New Amsterdam (now New York) felt able to form a church and have a minister of their own. Domine (Reverend) Jonas Michaelius was called from the Netherlands and took charge of the little congregation of some fifty members. From that time on there has always been a Dutch Reformed Church in New York City, thus making our Reformed Church the oldest protestant church in America with an uninterrupted ministry.
Dutch rule in America was short lived. The English took New Netherlands in 1664 and renamed it New York. But already Dutch churches had been started in Albany, Kingston, Brooklyn and at Bergen in New Jersey. There could not have been more than 8,000 Dutch people in this country when the English came. All further immigration ceased, of course, after that. But the little Dutch church hung on and kept expanding and, even under English rule, new churches were started.
Amidst an English speaking population, speaking Dutch in their services and sending their ministers to Holland for ordination, the Dutch Reformed Church managed to keep going. It wasn't until 1764 that English began to be spoken in Dutch Reformed Church services. Even then, the transition was not an easy one with some wanting to cling closely to the mother church in Holland and others wishing to adapt to the ways of the new world. But even so, the Reformed Church lived and grew and it is here today because of these sturdy Dutch pioneers. Through them, her roots reach back to the earliest days of American colonial history.
The first mention of work done in Spotswood, NJ by the Dutch Protestant Reformed Church in America (as it was known back then) is recorded on page 10 in the minutes of our denomination's General Synod (the annual national assembly of churches) which was at that time held in New York City in June of 1820.
The birth of the Spotswood Reformed Church was on August 5, 1821. Professor John Ludlow of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary makes the first official notation in the record books where he writes: 'The Board of Missions of the Reformed Dutch Church having located a missionary at Spotswood in the hope of ultimately supplying a large portion of the village and its vicinity with the stated preaching of the Gospel and the administration of its ordinances; and the inhabitants cordially embracing the designs of the Board and through the blessing of God being enabled so far to succeed as to erect a house of worship, and being conscious that a Church should be organized among them; an application was made for this purpose to the Rev. John Ludlow, an ordained Minister of the Reformed Dutch Church.'
The first consistory meeting (our administrative board) was held on August 14, 1821. The dedication of the church building was recorded on August 24, 1821. The first church building met the needs of the congregation until 1866, a period of forty-five years. It was then decided by the consistory to erect a new building, which was done and completed in 1869.
An interesting side-note in our history arose about 1830-1835 when the Rev. Jacob Hardenberg, the first president of Rutgers College and a member of the first consistory of the Spotswood Reformed Church, set up a branch of Rutgers College in Spotswood in 1830 with the objective of preparing students to enter Rutgers for their senior year. This was an inducement to many living at home to get the advantages of a higher education and at the same time save the expense of going to New Brunswick. Only one class finished, that was the Class of 1834; after which the Spotswood branch of Rutgers College was discontinued.
Over the years, the Spotswood congregation continued to address a wide variety of challenges and opportunities in their ministries to the community and to the denomination. On October 19, 1969 a special worship service was held for the dedication of the new Christian Education building. With the desire that this new building should be utilized more fully throughout the week, rather than just on Sunday mornings; in August 1970 a staff of 4 was selected and a Nursery School was organized and certified by the State of New Jersey Department of Education called the Pixie Pre-School, which is still in operation today. For current information regarding our Pixie Pre-School you can click on the link on this website.
Who We Are Today
One of the ways we define ourselves today is through our mission statement: 'Empowered by the Holy Spirit, our mission is to be a loving, supportive, consecrated church family, caring for all people, sharing Christ in word and action, equipping the congregation for ministry to the spiritual, emotional and physical needs of members, friends and community, while being progressive without losing sight of tradition'.
SRC is made up of approximately 100 households creating a total membership of approximately 210 baptized individuals. We have a variety of organizations within the church that provide opportunities for everyone to 'find their niche'. The following organizations provide such opportunities: Men's Group, Elizabeth Circle, New Circle, H.O.P.E. Action Team, Open Arms Bible Study, Adult and Children's Choirs, Adult Education, Children's Sunday School; as well as the Worship, Finance, Education, and Mission & Outreach Teams. There are also opportunities for lay people to lead worship by serving as a liturgist or by sharing God's word with our young people through the Youth Message during Sunday services. For specific information about any of these groups, please feel free to contact the church office.
We prayerfully and financially support our denomination's international mission program through our direct involvement with Eric and Nancy Titus' ministry in Croatia. Updates on their work can be found on our newsletter link, 'Reflections' on this website.
We are actively involved in deepening our understanding of what it means to be a church of Jesus Christ in Spotswood as well as in surrounding communities by being involved in a variety of community support ministries. We have a representative on the board of I.N.C. (Interfaith Network of Care - which services Middlesex County) as well as a board member on C.O.H.M. (Spotswood's ecumenical Community of Hope Ministries). We support C.U.P. (Churches United for People) which is our local food bank. Meeting space is provided for social service/self-help organizations such as AA and NA. We are always open to new ways by which we can fulfill our Lord's command to 'love your neighbor' through acts of justice and mercy.
We participate in a several ecumenical events throughout the year such as our annual Thanksgiving Eve, Maundy Thursday, Easter Sunrise and National Day of Prayer services.
Ours is a rich and vital history. Through the commitment and devotion of our past and present members, the Spotswood Reformed Church has been brought well into the 21st century. And by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray that we will continue to give glory to God by continuing the work He began in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Journey with us as we serve our Lord through a variety of ministries 'today, tomorrow, and then some.'