EAST ORANGE, NJ — The congregation of Bethel Presbyterian Church on Dodd Street in East Orange is celebrating its 145th anniversary and marked the occasion by serving members of the surrounding community a pre-Thanksgiving meal on Sunday, Nov. 22.
Church member Martha Day was the featured speaker at the anniversary event, which also featured a performance by the New Jersey Philharmonic Glee Club, with the direction of Philip Field. Day said the celebration and meal were a continuation of the local institution’s long history of service to its congregation and the community they share, and a part of the church’s ministry and ongoing mission.
“Here at Bethel Church, we’re small but we’re mighty,” Day said Sunday, Nov. 22. “Because God is able, we are able. We here at Bethel have been able to spiritually and physically feed the hungry and clothe the naked. Today is a thanksgiving for God’s faithfulness to continue to inspire.”
Day also put the church and the congregation’s service track record into historical perspective, saying they hope to still be doing good 145 years in the future.
According to Day, “145 years ago, the first New York subway line was put in place; construction of the Brooklyn Bridge began; the U.S. Civil War had just ended five years before; the American flag had 37 stars; 145 years ago, East Orange was just seven years old.
“It had split off from Orange. Twenty-seven humble people got together, took a leap of faith and started Bethel Presbyterian Church.”
David Dumars, who attended the event, said Day was right about the spirit the church and congregation embodies, adding that it’s strong and moving.
“The 145th anniversary celebration was awesome; it was very outstanding,” Dumars said Sunday, Nov. 22.
“I’ve been with the Presbyterian Church for quite a while and I love all the members. All the people at Bethel are one loving family and I’m there to help them in any way that I can.”
Dumars said that although he considers himself a Baptist, he’d do anything he could for the Presbyterian Church. City Council President and 5th Ward Councilwoman Alicia Holman was at the Bethel Presbyterian Church 145th anniversary event to help her constituents celebrate the occasion.
Former East Orange Councilwoman and Essex County Freeholder Carol Clark was also in attendance and agreed with others present that the spirit of God was in the air at the church on Sunday, Nov. 22.
Day said that it would have made the men and women who came together to found Bethel Presbyterian Church 145 years ago happy to hear this.
“Those 27 people couldn’t see into the future,” Day said. “They had faith that God had a plan for them. They walked by faith, not by sight. Is it because of the great things that we have done that we have survived for 145 years? It’s because of God who is able, not us.”