Church on the Green to celebrate 50th anniversary

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — The Bloomfield Presbyterian “Church on the Green” will celebrate its 50th anniversary on Sunday, April 24, with a special service of worship in the chapel followed by a hymn sing and a reception in the Parish House. The church was chartered as a merger of “Old First Church” and three other area churches in 1966.

The community is cordially invited to attend.

The Rev. Dr. Frank Yamada, president of McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, will preach on the subject, “Renewing Tradition, Dreaming the Future.”

Other guest participants in the service include four of the church’s former pastors — Rev. Dr. Paul Boger, Rev. Kenneth Ironside, Rev. Kenneth Good and Rev. Dr. Robert Feltz-Morrison. Also in attendance will be Dave Irwin, son of the late Rev. Dr. Merle S. Irwin, who led the congregation through the merger and served as its first pastor.

The congregation is housed in the historic buildings of “Old First Church” which was organized in 1796, so the 50th anniversary of the merger also marks 220 years of ministry on the corner of Broad Street and Belleville Avenue in Bloomfield.

In honor of its jubilee year, the church has announced the creation of a Church on the Green Scholarship to be awarded annually to a Bloomfield High School graduating senior who has shown exceptional improvement during his or her four years in high school.

A special offering will be received during worship on April 24 to launch this scholarship fund. Gifts of any amount will be appreciated.

“Rather than use our 50th anniversary offering to pay our bills or to fix our building, we decided we wanted to give every penny of it away in the form of this scholarship to support a deserving Bloomfield High School student pursuing higher education,” said Rev. Ruth Boling, pastor.

For the past 50 years, the “Church on the Green” has actively supported the township of Bloomfield. Current outreach programs include a food pantry, which is a part of the M.E.N.D. network; a thrift shop; and a monthly meal for the homeless and low-income population — “Feed the World on the Green.” The church also opens its facilities to a Spanish-speaking congregation and several AA and NA groups throughout the week. In recent years, its annual live nativity has attracted larger and larger crowds and is becoming a Bloomfield tradition.

Situated on what is now the north end of the town green, “Old First Church” was incorporated in 1796 as the Bloomfield Presbyterian Society, in honor of the Revolutionary War hero Major General Joseph Bloomfield.

Sixteen years later when the township formally organized, it took its name from the church. By 1966, there were seven Presbyterian churches in Bloomfield. In April of that year, four of these churches voted to merge, in order to provide a more effective witness and service to the community: First Presbyterian Church, the Old First; Westminster Presbyterian Church; Park Avenue Presbyterian Church; and Ampere Parkway Community Church. The new congregation elected to occupy the 1796 facility.

Although the historic sanctuary is now closed due to structural issues, the congregation worships in its newly dedicated chapel, adjacent to the sanctuary.

Featured speaker Yamada is the president and Cyrus McCormick professor of Bible and culture at McCormick Theological Seminary. He is the first Asian American to serve as president of a Presbyterian Church U.S.A. seminary. Prior to becoming president, Yamada was director of the Center for Asian American Ministries and associate professor of Hebrew Bible at McCormick. He also taught Hebrew Bible/Old Testament for nine years at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL.

The church is located at 147 Broad St. The entrance to the chapel is directly across from Bloomfield High School. Ample parking is available in the Board of Education parking lot on the corner of Broad Street and Belleville Avenue.

For more information about the anniversary celebration, contact Rev. Ruth Boling in the church office at 973-743-1796 or visit and the church’s Facebook page.