Willow Grove Church Celebrates 125th Anniversary of Stone Chapel


The 125th anniversary of the Old Stone Chapel at Willow Grove Presbyterian Church in Scotch Plains will be celebrated in a special worship service in the sanctuary on Sunday, March 2, at 10:00 am. The community is invited to be part of this special service followed by a reception. 

Susan Aymar, founder of the original Willow Grove Sunday School in 1826, will make a "guest appearance." Pastor Cynthia Cochran-Carney will deliver a sermon on the stone chapel, Christ as the cornerstone and the congregation as the living stones of the church. The choir will sing an anthem of celebration. After the children's message, the children and young people will be invited to have Sunday school classes in the stone chapel and learn more about life in the church in the late 1800s.

Following the worship service, Maressa McFarlane, church member and program director at Historic Speedwell Museum in Morristown, will give a presentation about the history of Old Stone Chapel. Her PowerPoint presentation and talk will highlight some of the significant moments in the history of the chapel and the church during the Victorian period. Drawings of the chapel by artist Frank Thorne and other memorabilia will be on display in Kiep Lounge.

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The Stone Chapel, built in 1887, was constructed with field stones donated by area farmers on land donated by John Lambert, who owned the nearby grist and cider mill. The Chapel, which was originally constructed to be used as a Sunday School for area children, had its first day of official use recorded as Christmas Day, 1888. It was first used as a Sunday school in 1889. The total cost of the chapel was $1,500, which did not include the cost of furniture or shed for buggies.

The memorial window was donated by Rachel DeCamp in memory of her parents, Simeon and Freelove Lambert. The original bell is still used on Sunday mornings to call people to worship. It was donated in 1887 by Dr. J. Ackerman Coles. The worship service on March 2 is part of a yearlong celebration of the 125th anniversary of the chapel. Other upcoming events include a community historic activity day, tours, and oral history project.

Willow Grove Presbyterian Church is an active congregation of all ages committed to growing in faith, serving the community, and reflecting God's love in worship, education, service, and the arts.  The church is located at 1961 Raritan Rd. in Scotch Plains, across from the Southside fire station at South Martine and Raritan Road. The church is nearby to South Plainfield, Edison, Plainfield, and Fanwood. All facilities are handicapped accessible and there is ample on-site parking. For more information call 908-232-5678 or visit www.willowgrovechurch.org.

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