CHURCH HISTORY

The congregation of Third-Westminster Presbyterian Church has been serving the Elizabeth, N.J. area since 1851. We are a unification of three congregations joining together over the years – Madison Avenue, Third, and Westminster Presbyterian churches.

We have a very rich heritage in Elizabeth. Third Presbyterian was established in 1851—Westminster in 1866—Madison Avenue in 1877. In 1972, Madison Avenue Presbyterian merged with Westminster and on January 1, l984 Third Presbyterian Church merged with Westminster Presbyterian Church to form the Third-Westminster Presbyterian Church. We are a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which is one of the oldest denominations in America.

In 1984, our current church began with Rev. Guy E. Lambert Jr. (Third) and Rev. Robert W. Scott (Westminster) serving as Co-Pastors of our congregation. They lead us through the late 1980’s when both retired from the ministry having served their Elizabeth churches a combined total of 62 years. Rev. Alan Gripe served as our Interim Pastor from 1988 thru October 1990. In December 1990, Rev. Thomas W. Hall became our Pastor and led us through November 1997 when his sudden death saddened our congregation. Rev. Charles Brackbill served as a Supply Pastor from December 1997 thru March 1998. Rev. Howard A. Bryant Sr. served as our Interim Pastor from April 1998 thru August 2000. Rev. Calvin Hsu was installed as our Pastor in September 2000.

In 2003 and 2004 our congregation experienced some difficulties, which resulted in a split within the congregation. We were unable to resolve our problems on our own, therefore, the Presbytery of Elizabeth appointed an Administrative Commission to help us. Rev. Hsu resigned in October 2004.

In April 2005, the Rev. William D. Eggers, a minister in good standing in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (“ELCA”), Metropolitan New York Synod, was appointed as our Stated Supply Pastor. For seventeen months, Pastor Eggers worked to help us to identify the current issues we were facing and to develop ways of resolving them. Under his leadership, wounds were healed, relationships were reconciled, and the sense of congregational unity and purpose was restored. In September 2006, Pastor Eggers was called back to his home Synod to help a church having difficulties. The Rev. Birda B. Ferguson was hired as our Interim Pastor on November 1, 2006, and served our congregation thru October 31, 2009. On November 18, 2009, we called the Rev. Frank K. Muse as a Designated Pastor for a period of four years.

We again faced some difficulties that we were unable to resolve on our own, resulting the Presbytery appointing another Administrative Commission to help us. Pastor Muse resigned on August 31, 2013. The Rev. Keith R. Schmitt, a minister in good standing in the Reformed Church in America, who has experience working with churches in transition was hired as a Temporary Pastor thru August 31, 2015.

As a result of the schism, many of our members are no longer attending our church. Though much smaller in number, we remain a concerned fellowship of Christians seeking God’s guidance, love, and understanding as we minister within our congregation and to the surrounding community and the world.

 

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