1941 - 1997
THE HISTORY OF THE
UNION BIBLE CHURCH
THE UNION PROTESTANT CHURCH
In March of 1941, Pastor Benthum served as Interim Pastor until after World War II, when Pastor William Webster agreed to serve our Church. He Pastored the Community Church in Laurence Harbor in the morning and held 3 P.M. services here in our church just like Pastor Wilfred did. Not only will he be rememebered for his beautiful sermons but he also will never be forgotten for another reason: He always made homemade ice cream for the strawberry festival which the Church held each year in June. Pastor Webster Faithfully served out little Church until the Mid Sixties, making him him the longest serving Pastor to date. Pastor Webster's dream had been to see an addition built on to the Church to encourage more people to come. The Small congregation had neither the driving force, nor the financial means to begin such an ambitious project. He was in his eighties by the time he retired, his dream remained unfulfilled.
After Pastor Webster's Retirement, the Church had great difficulty trying to hire another Pastor because the Church just couldn't afford to pay them what they asked.For the next ten years, the Ladies Aid kept the Church from closing by holding monthly meetings and assessing members $.25 each month to pay for heat and lights.
In 1973, the Ladies Aid contacted Pastor Robert Turton who operated a "Cluster of Churches" in the Hightstown area known as the GOSPEL MISSION CORPS and the Church has not been without a Pastor since. Pastor Turton was able to assign Pastors to our Church whenever there was a need. Because he knew quite a few young men and women going to Bible Colleges and as they graduated he would give them experience preaching in his churches and other Churches in the area when the need arose.
The first person assigned to our Church in 1973 was Edward Stopkowitz, a student Pastor attending Northwestern Bible College who lived in Old Bridge and had attended Sunday School in our Church--in Grace Ginman Gedding's class.
As the acting Pastor, Ed, with the help of the Ladies Aid Society, quickly increased the membership to thirty-five and had Childrens Sunday School started again.
About eight years after Pastor Ed arrived he was ordained shortly after this. He was reassigned from hi position to move to Florida.
Immediately Pastor Turton assigned Pastor Irwin Allen from Eatontown to the Church and we soon realized that he was just the right man for the job ahead. One of Pastor Allen's pet projects was to build an addition to the Church to be used as a Sunday School, Meeting room and for fellowship following Sunday Services.
Since 100% of the membership was in favor of building the addition, a committee was formed and Tony Witkowski volunteered to draw up the plans. At this point the Church had a building fund amounting to $4,300 but all members agreed to donate a much money as they could to make this a success. It must be noted here that from the very beginning in 1916, this Church never borrowed any money and we didn't intend to do so now.
Building the Church in 1916 - 1917 was an all volunteer project. Except for the floor beams that were laid by four Church members, all the work on Fellowship Hall was contracted out to professionals. Brad Turner a local resident was hired as a General Contractor and he and his men worked very hard to complete the addition by September 19th 1984. A month later in late Oct our fifty-one year member Mrs Hattie Maley cut the ribbon as Pastor Allen and all the members finally saw their dream realized. The total cost of Fellowship Hall amounted to $30,000. It was all made possible by the generous donations of all the members plus a number of sizable checks from former members and residents of the area. At this same time, trees were removed from the front of the Church and the parking lot was leveled and blue stone spread over the whole leveled area. The parking lot project was funded with donations separate and apart from the Fellowship Hall project. The total cost was $2,000.
Pastor Allen became so ill that the assistant Pastor Joan Sanislo became the first woman to Pastor our Church. Pastor Joan was very active and spent a lot of time at the Church.
Just prior to the dedication of Fellowship Hall in 1984, Hattie Maley who held the positions of Secretary and of Treasurer for many years wished to donate money for furniture and equipment needed to complete Fellowship Hall and upgrade the Sanctuary. Pastor Joan volunteered to do the shopping and in only a short time she purchased new carpeting for the sanctuary, a used Hammond organ and window air conditioner. She also purchased draped, an electric stove, refrigerator and the desk for the Pastor's Office. Hattie's rather large contribution pleased everybody but nobody was more pleased than Hattie herself. Joan's Husband Larry Sanislo who was always working to hard installing our first air conditioner in the Sanctuary. Installed the Big bulletin board in Fellowship Hall and planted shrubbery on both sides of the front steps to replace the ever green trees that had grown much to tall. By the end of 1986, Pastor Joan left to start a church of her own.
In January of 1987, Pastor Allen returned but only until a new Pastor could be found. Robert Pacio became assistant Pastor on July 12, 1987 and preached often due to Pastor Allen's failing health. In January of 1988 after our beloved Pastor Allen passes away. Bob Pacio resigned to accept
the position of assistant Pastor at the Zarephath Chapel.
After Pastor Bob Pacio left, the pulpit was fulled with guest speakers until Brother Kevin Bolton took over as acting Pastor and did an exceptional job.
On July 5, 1992, Pastors Richard and Katherine Riss Co Pastored the Church. They conducted a beautiful musical ministry type of service with Katherine doing the singing and playing guitar and Richard playing the violin.
In the early fall of 1992, Katherine and Richard moved on to continue their musical ministry elsewhere and again we were back to guest speakers to fill the pulpit. Once again Brother Bolton spoke at our Sunday services and did a fine Job.
On July 4, 1993, Pastors Larry and Brenda Pritchett were installed to carry on as Pastor and organist of the Church. Larry and Brenda both performed their duties very well and were liked by all. By August 1, 1994 they felt a calling to return closer to their relatives in Maryland where they are hard at work Pastoring and Playing beautiful music at a Methodist Church.
Once again we were glad to welcome Pastor Bob Pacio and his wife Lynn and their two daughters back into the Church. In addition to preaching, Pastor Bob teaches adult Sunday School and is in charge of Bible Study and Prayer sessions every Wednesday nights. His wife Lynn teaches Sunday School and does an excellent job.
In Order, the Official Pastors of the Church during these first 80 years have been: Frank Denton, A.A. Wilfred, William Webster, Edward Stopkowitz, Irwin Allen, Joan Sanislo, Richard and Katherine Riss, Larry Pritchett, and Robert Pacio. All of our Pastors worked regularly at other jobs. Although Pastor Turton isn't listed as one of our "Official" Pastors, he has preached from our pulpit many times. When the Ladies Aid Society contacted Pastor Turton in 1973 after being without a Pastor for 10 years, he has never failed to make sure that our doors would be open and a regular or a guest speaker would be in the pulpit.
The Church members voted to join Pastor Turtons Gospel Mission Corps on June 1, 1980 when his cluster of churches voted to join the American Rescue Workers. The Union Bible Church membership voted unanimously to be accepted with them. Because of this merger we are now assured to we can carry on as a non-denominational Church, preaching the true Word of God as the Church founders intended.
Enough can not be said for the ladies Aid Society that worked so hard to keep the Church doors open for over fifty years.
The Union Bible Church is probably one of the last of the "Little Country Churches" in New Jersey. With God continuing to lead and direct and guide us though our dedicated Christian Pastors, we hope and pray that the doors to our Church will remain open to all who wish to come for many, many more years.
Written by Randolph A. Ginman February, 1997
Music by Brook and Dunn: Believe