Source: 75 anniversary of the Trinity Evangelical Free Church -- Pamphlet from the Teaneck collection of Teaneck Public Library.
Seventy-five years of Christian service is an achievement well worthy of a fitting celebration. It is with this in mind that our church has decided to celebrate its Diamond Jubilee. Our first desire is to "GIVE GOD THE GLORY" for many manifold blessings and marvelous guidance during these many years. We also wish to acquaint our younger people with the rich heritage that is theirs and ours for the achievements, God permitted, through faithful Pastors and members of the church down through the years.
We are grateful to God and pay tribute to each one who gave of their talents, time and of their means so the Gospel in fullness and purity could be proclaimed from the pulpit at home and overseas. According to the records, each minister came at the right time, and led of the Lord, and proved to be used of Him in proportion to length of service. Only eternity will reveal in full what has been accomplished. It is undoubtedly true that there are more members in Heaven than we have on the rolls today.
The history of our church dates back to October 27, 1889, when a few friends met in the home of Rev. J. H. Meyer at 37 Garden Street, Hoboken, to discuss the possibility of establishing a Christ tan Witness among the Scandinavian people in the Hoboken, New Jersey area.
With the 23 people present, a Mission Society was established. Regular meetings were held in a Methodist Church between Newark and First Streets and subsequently in a Baptist Church at Second and Clinton Streets.
On February 26, 1890, this group became known as "The Norwegian Evangelical Congregational Mission Society". Times were difficult and the group was hard pressed to carryon the work. At a meeting of this society held the 23rd of April, 1890, Rev. Meyer proposed that the group be re-organized as a regular church body, on Biblical principles. As a result on the 16th of May, 1890, the congregation was organized under the name of the "The Norwegian Congregational Church of Hoboken, N. J." and consisted of the following sixteen members:
Rev. & Mrs. J. H. Meyer, Mr. & Mrs. D. Bjorkman, Mr. P. Bentsen, Miss M. Eklund, Mrs. Jansen, Mr. Kristensen, Mr. E. Lund, Mr. & Mrs. O. B. Larsen, Mr. & Mrs. O. Larsen, Mr. & Mrs. L. Larsen, Miss Meyer. Many sacrifices were made by Pastor and congregation resulting in a more effective ministry being established.
The congregation soon realized the advantages and the need o fits own place of worship. A lot was purchased at 512 Willow Ave. for $1,690. Construction of a new building started and on August 17, 1890, the corner stone was laid and church dedicated and put in use Dec. 20, 1890. The building seated 125 persons and had living quarters for the Pastor. The building was constructed for about $7000. The Lord blessed the work and souls were saved. Rev. Meyer terminated his ministry in 1892 and a call was extended to A. C. Tychesen a student in Chicago Theological Seminary. He began his ministry August 14, 1892. He was subsequently ordained and served faithfully and effectively for five years.
He was succeeded by Rev. J. H. Pedersen who was a capable under-shepherd and proved a real blessing during his Pastorate, serving from December 2, 1897 to May 13, 1900.
Rev. A. I. Anthony then became Pastor and was used of the Lord from May 18, 1900 to May 19, 1902.
Rev. Morton Olsen became the next Pastor. He served from June 1, 1902 to December 25, 1904. Many souls were saved during his ministry as well, among them was Rev. C. T. Dyrness.
Rev. Charles Nilsen began his faithful ministry in January of 1905 and served until December 3, 1907.
On March 15, 1907, Rev. E. Brekhus came to serve as Pastor of the church in Hoboken and of the Free Church group started in Union Hill. Pastor Brekhus terminated his ministry Dec. 31, 1908.
Rev. John A. Nilsen was then called and he assumed pastoral duties August 1, 1909. During his ministry the congregation voted to make a change in church location. By this time a stone building had been erected on the one side of the church and a factory on the other. The factory was in daily operation and caused considerable disturbance with noise and dust making it undesirable to continue there. Much praying and planning was done by Pastor and congregation regarding the future of the work. After 22 years of worship in their first church, the building was sold to the factory owners for $12,000.00 on July 1, 1912, and the last meeting was held there on July 7th.
Property was then secured on the corner of 13th Street and Willow Avenue. Construction of a building began shortly after. The cornerstone was laid with Pastor Nilsen officiating on March 30, 1913. Participating in this program were Rev. C. T. Dyrness, Rev. N. W. Nelson and Rev. O. Thompsen. The facilities of the High School on 6th Street and Park Avenue were used during this construction period until the building's lower auditorium could be used. This first meeting took place August 17, 1913.
The building was completed and the dedication of it was held October 12 that same year. In attendance and participating in the service of dedication were: Rev. W. Caroll, Rev.O. M. Jonswold, Rev. O. O. Sanes, Rev. R. A. Jernberg and Rev. J. H. Nilsen. The church auditorium could seat about 250 people and was constructed at a cost of about $18,300. The work progressed spiritually and in numbers during Rev. Nilsen's ministry. He terminated his Pastorate March 31, 1914.
Rev. E. N. Reiersen was then extended a call which he accepted and became the under-shepherd of the flock May 3, 1914. He served with warmth of spirit and faithfulness for 13 years. During his ministry, a work was beginning to be established in Teaneck, New Jersey. On Feb. 18, 1920, regular services were started in this area with meetings held in various homes until May of 1922. Space was then rented in the old firehouse on Fairview Ave. where the work carried on.
A little church on Teaneck Road near Hillside Avenue was purchased as an Annex on September 15, 1924. Sunday School and regular meetings were carried on under the auspices of the Hoboken church. Meetings were carried on in both places every week. The friends in Teaneck were very faithful and made many sacrifices in these early days. After Rev. Reiersen terminated his ministry February 6, 1927, Rev. J. J. Breidablik came as interim pastor of the Hoboken Church and in Teaneck. In August of 1928, the work was organized as a Mission Society. This Society was subsequently pastored by Rev. O. O. Sande, Rev. Helmer Anderson and Rev. E. M. Anderson for comparatively short periods of time, but with much blessing.
When Rev. Reiersen left, a call was extended to Rev. H. C. Anderson to become Pastor of the Hoboken church. He accepted and began his pastorate April 10, 1927. The Lord blessed his ministry. The work grew and a very active program was carried on by Pastor and congregation. Some of the members were moving further away from the Hoboken area and much thought was given to obtaining a new location for the church. Suggestions were made of North Bergen, Cliffside Park or Grantwood, or Teaneck. The latter seemed too far away so the membership decided on either North Bergen or Cliffside Park.
Tent meetings were conducted during the summer months in these areas, and the Lord blessed with the salvation of many souls. In 1928 property was purchased on the corner of Glen and Nelson Avenues in Grantwood (Cliffside Park, N. J.) with the thought that should the Lord so lead, this might be the future sight for the work.
It soon became apparent that the work of the church would best be served by a merger with the Mission Society of Teaneck. This matter was prayerfully considered and duly voted upon in both places and a merger took place in October of 1932. The church building in Hoboken and the property in Grantwood was sold and the Annex in Teaneck was enlarged that same year to house the congregation.
An effective radio ministry was started by Pastor Anderson, February 1, 1931, broadcasting Norwegian Gospel programs weekly over Station W.K.B.O. on Sunday afternoons. It was then changed to Station W.H.O.M. with 9 broadcasts per week until October of 1936.
With immigration from Norway practically at a stand-still and with the children and young people of the church desiring to hear the Gospel preached in their own language, it was unanimously decided, after much prayerful and friendly deliberation, to conduct all services in the English language. The name of the church was changed to "The Trinity Evangelical Free Church of Teaneck, N. J.".
The congregation was housed in the modest chapel for some time. It became apparent however, that larger and better facilities were needed to carry on the work. All debts were paid and therefore a building fund was started. After several years of praying, planning and giving, the membership voted unanimously on April 17, 1950 to proceed with a building program. First approximately 12 feet of property was purchased north of the church so expansion could be done. Subsequently approximately 60 feet additional property was purchased for parking. There was some delay in starting the building voted on -- however, ground was broken Sunday, July 8, 1951 and construction started.
The cornerstone was laid October 7 and the building as it now stands was dedicated "To the Glory of God" October 5, 1952.
An active program continued and the Lord blessed with the saving of souls and spiritual strengthening of the Christians. Some of the members moved further away from the area and became active in other churches. The Lord sent others our way to take their place.
After thirty years of faithful and fruitful service for the Lord and the church, Pastor Anderson terminated his ministry, May 5, 1957.
Up to this time the church had no parsonage. Realizing the advantages of having one, the church, on May 29, 1957, decided to purchase the house at 359 Rockledge Place, not far from the church. A service of dedication was held September 29, 1957. Shortly after, a very fine extension was made to the rear of the parsonage resulting in a much larger and modern kitchen.
A call was extended to Rev. A. E. Ramsland to become the Pastor. He accepted and began his ministry October 13, 1957. He too was used of the Lord during his pastorate. It was during this time that the church participated in the "program for progress" sponsored by National Headquarters of the Free Church for three years. We extended this ourselves. This challenged the membership to increase giving with the result that our indebtedness on the Church property was paid off and mortgage-burning took place on May 15, 1960. Pastor Ramsland terminated his ministry June 10, 1962.
A call was then extended to Rev. D. Halvorsen. He accepted and began his ministry October 1, 1962, and is presently serving as our pastor. He and his wife, Lorraine, and sons, Timothy and David, reside at the parsonage. We thank the Lord for leading them our way.
For several years, there has been discussion and planning regarding the possibility of erecting an educational unit adjacent to the church to have better facilities to carry on a more effective teaching ministry. Many attempts were made to secure the town-owned corner property opposite the church to be used for parking so when the time for building came, this would not be a problem. The town refused to release it for sale. In order to take more definite steps to realize this new building the congregation approved Mr. Arnold Osmundsen as architect and selected a building committee consisting of Pastor Halvorsen, W. Myhren, Robert Fostvedt, Gilbert Jonswold and James Jacobsen. Many meetings and hours of planning took place to present a suitable plan for our needs. This was subsequently accomplished and approved by the church. The town Board of Adjustment granted a variance giving us permission to construct this building adjacent to the church. We expect to realize twenty class rooms, larger chapel area, new office and study, library room. The estimated cost of construction is $90,000.00.
Ground-breaking took place Sunday, March 14, 1965, after the morning worship service. Our Pastor led the impressive service with a large group of members and friends attending. Others participating were the building committee, Mr. Otto A. Anderson, Lewis B. Larsen, church chairman and Rev. Lester Westlund, Secretary of Overseas Missions of the Evangelical Free Church of America, who was the principal speaker at the Missionary Conference which concluded that day.
We have thus reached another milestone in the history of the church. Our future is as bright as God's promises. We who are now engaged in the work, let us continue to press on holding the standard high, proclaiming the good news of salvation through every avenue of service, not relying on things or people, but with complete dependence on and faith in God, and with humility serve Him to the best of our ability.
Space will not permit, naming the many capable leaders or the recording of the establishing of each of the many organizations within the Church. It can be said that they all had an important part in molding the lives of children and young people and have functioned in complete harmony with the church. The church has been blessed with many dedicated and faithful singers and musicians. The Senior Choir, under the leadership of Mr. R. A. Larsen for many years and the String-band with Mr. H. Fostvedt as leader proved to be a great blessing in the ministry of music. Our church organist, Mrs. L. B. Larsen, has served faithfully for about 30 years. Mr. J. Johansen served sacrificially and well in connection with the establishing of Sunday School and church work in the early days of the work in Teaneck and through the years.
At the present time we have the following organizations: A faithful Ladies Aid group which meets the third Tuesday night of each month. For years they have been actively engaged in behalf of Foreign Missions through the church and still carry on this program. We have a group known as the Women's Guild engaged in supplying needful things for the local church. They meet the fourth Monday of each month. Both these organizations support the efforts of White Cross work and the gathering of clothes and preparing packages of same and sending than to overseas missions and to needy people in certain areas of this country. We have a very active Sunday School which meets for sessions each Sunday morning at 9:30 A.M. with classes for all. A fine group of instrumentalists play each Sunday; they also assist in our Sunday evening services.
The Sunday School sponsors a Junior Choir which rehearses each Monday and a Youth Choir which rehearses each Thursday and they sing during the sessions on alternate Sundays. It also initiated the Good News Club which meets each Monday after school and conducts a two-week Vacation Bible School each summer; contributes to the support of missionaries and sponsors programs to underwrite expenses of sending children to our Free Church Camp in Spofford Lake, New Hampshire.
We have a real good group of young people known as the Free Church Youth Fellowship (F.C.Y.F.) which meets every Sunday at 6:00 P.M. Our Pioneer Girl groups meet each Tuesday evening and our Christian Service Brigade for boys meets each Friday night. Our Senior Choir meets for rehearsal each Wednesday night after prayer meeting and sings Sunday mornings and on other special occasions. A Men's Chorus has recently been started and meets on alternate Tuesday nights and sings on specia1 occasions on request of the music committee.
Our Church board meets the first Monday night of each month. Our church meets twice a year for business meet1ngs, the first Tuesday in June and on a pre-arranged date in January. Church election meeting is held the first Tuesday in December.
The church had been missionary minded as well during the years. The Tom Olsens were the first missionaries to whom the church contributed support when they went to serve in South Africa in April 1921. Later the Axel Gjestlands were added as they too went to Africa and then the Chris Christiansens. We also had a great interest in the Ed Nilsens as they went to serve the Lord in South America. These are still serving, but in the homeland. Between the church and organizations within, we also contribute to the support of the Roy Jensens and Stanley Conrads in Japan, the Art Johnstons in France, the Magnus Foreids and Stanley Foreids in Portugal, Ruth Jacobsen in Africa, the E. Mc Murrays in the Philippines, the Norman Everswicks in Africa. The August Ramslands, formerly in Portugal, (at present in TEAM headquarters in Chicago), Margaret Wallace, home on furlough from Africa, the Gordon Addingtons in Hong Kong and the Charles Omdals in Hong Kong. We also have a share in the work of the American Mission to the Greeks, the Latin America Mission and the work of Hi-B.A.
From the very inception of the church, the people possessed a spirit of expansion for the work of the Lord through the Free Church in New Jersey and in New York. Our church was the first Evangelical Free Church in the Metropolitan Area. Through the years it has helped to start and organize four other churches. Shortly after the work in Hoboken was started, Rev. J. H. Meyer conducted meeting in Jersey City and helped to organize the Vroom Street Evangelical Free Church. Rev. Morton Olsen started meetings in Orange, N. J. and organized a church there which is now the Free Church in Essex Fells, N. J.
Members of the church moved up on "the hill" to Weehawken and Union Hill and started an Evangelical Free Church during the pastorate of Rev. E. Brekhus who served both churches. This church later went over to the Lutheran denomination and is known today the St. Olav Lutheran Church of Weehawken , New Jersey.
During the ministry of Rev. H. C. Anderson, meetings were conducted in New City Park, New York, resulting in organizing a work which is now the Park Evangelical Free Church of New City.
Another aspect of the work which makes our hearts rejoice is the obedience to the call of God to full-time Christian service, by the following church or Suday School members:
Revs. Louis Johnson, Torleif Lunde, Emanuel Carlsen, Alf Anderson, Thomas Thompson, Tom Olsen, Paul H. Anderson, Axel Gjestland, Edward Nilsen, Stanley Conrad, John Ost, Roy Birkenlund, R.Larrinago, Clara Foreid, Lillian Landru, Phyllis Jensen and Dr. Charles Omdal.