Monsey Church

Monsey Church
The Monsey Church
New Hope Christian Church
Postcard of the Monsey Church from the late 1940s or early 1950s
Postcard of the Monsey Church from the late 1940s or early 1950s

Map showing the location of New Hope Christian Church in Monsey, NY
Map showing the location of New Hope Christian Church in Monsey, NY
The Monsey Church is in southern Rockland County in downstate New York, about 25 miles from Manhattan
41°06′44″N 74°04′09″W / 41.112168°N 74.069232°W / 41.112168; -74.069232Coordinates: 41°06′44″N 74°04′09″W / 41.112168°N 74.069232°W / 41.112168; -74.069232
Location Monsey, New York
Country United States
Denomination Presbyterian
Presbyterian Church in America (2007 (2007)–Present)
Previous denomination True Reformed Dutch Church (1824 (1824)–1890 (1890); 1908 (1908)–1925 (1925))
Christian Reformed Church (1890 (1890)–1908 (1908); 1925 (1925)–2005 (2005))
Churchmanship Evangelical
Former name(s) Monsey Christian Reformed Church
True Reformed Dutch Church of West New Hempstead
"The Seceder church"
Founded June 11, 1824 (1824-06-11)
Founder(s) The Rev. James D. Demarest
Dedicated August 19, 1869 (1869-08-19)
Rededicated July 31, 1953 (1953-07-31)
Significant events Reorganized September 26, 1952 (1952-09-26)
Adopted name New Hope Christian Church December 6, 2000 (2000-12-06)
Joined Presbyterian Church in America in 2007 (2007)
Significant associated people The Rev. James D. Demarest
Judge Garret Serven
The Rev. John Y. de Baun
The Rev. Dick L. Van Halsema
Status Church
Functional status Active
Style Greek Revival with elements of Italianate
Presbytery Metropolitan New York
Minister(s) Phillip W. Dennis II
New Hope Christian Church logo
Sheet music for Psalm 2 set to the tune Monsey Chapel
The original location of the Monsey Church (labeled "Seceder church") and cemetery, as well as the residence of the Rev. James D. Demarest and other important people in the early years of the church can be seen in this image from an 1859 map of Orange and Rockland Counties.
The "Centennial" (1876) map of Monsey, showing the location of the Monsey Church on Main Street and the Methodist church on Secor St. (site of the Monsey Church's parsonage today). The Congregational church is partly visible on the left on the site of Haring's Grove. (Image courtesy of the Palisades Free Library, Palisades, NY)
A late-19th or early-20th century photograph of the Monsey Church
The Sunday school building that once stood on the church property, seen ca. 1950s
Vacation Bible School at the Monsey Church, summer 1952
The Rev. Edson Lewis posing with the 1962 Summer Workshop in Missions (SWIM) team
Sign at the Historic Monsey Cemetery that belongs to the Monsey Church.
New Hope Christian Church ("The Monsey Church") in 2011
New Hope Christian Church ("The Monsey Church") in 2011
Kreuz-hugenotten.svg Calvinism portal

The Monsey Church is the colloquial name of a historic Reformed Christian church in the hamlet of Monsey, town of Ramapo, in southern Rockland County, New York, the official name of which, since December 6, 2000, is New Hope Christian Church. The church was founded in 1824 as the True Reformed Dutch Church of West New Hempstead and later became known as the Monsey Christian Reformed Church. The church owns a historic cemetery adjacent to the site of its first meeting house and briefly operated a private Christian school in the 1950s and '60s. Today the church is a member congregation of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA). It is the only remaining church that was once part of the True Reformed Dutch Church.[1]



Origin and early years (1824–1890)

The Monsey Church was formed out of a split within the Dutch Reformed Church in America. Although earlier events also contributed to the split, the publication of the Rev. Conrad Ten Eyck's book Selections on the Atonement in 1818 was the chief cause.[2] In this book, Ten Eyck advocated a doctrine of unlimited atonement—contrary to the Canons of Dort, one of the doctrinal standards of the Dutch Reformed Church. Asked to defend himself before the Classis of Montgomery meeting at Owasco, New York in 1819, he affirmed that he believed and preached a doctrine of unlimited atonement. Notwithstanding that admission, Classis Montgomery failed to contradict or discipline Ten Eyck, whereupon the matter was appealed to the higher court of the church, the General Synod.

By 1822, two years later, the General Synod had failed to act decisively in the case of Ten Eyck and Classis Montgomery. As a result, the Rev. Dr. Solomon Froeligh of the Dutch Reformed Church of Hackensack-Schraalenburgh, New Jersey (Classis Paramus) became convinced that the toleration of heretical doctrine, a lack of church discipline at all levels, and the widespread profanation of the sacraments put the denomination beyond possibility of reform. In his view, all the marks of a true church had been erased. Accordingly, in meetings that took place on October 22–24, 1822, Froeligh began a movement of secession from the Dutch Reformed Church in America that would result in the establishment of the True Reformed Dutch Church (sometimes called the True Reformed Protestant Dutch Church).[3]

At that time, two Dutch Reformed congregations, one in West New Hempstead, New York (known informally as the Brick Church)[4] and the other in Ramapo, New Jersey were united as a single church with the Rev. James D. Demarest as their pastor since September 21, 1809.[5] Demarest joined the secession movement, and on June 11, 1824, he led 68 members of the two congregations, including two elders, out of the Dutch Reformed Church.[6] The people who seceded from the Brick Church established themselves as a new independent congregation in Monsey and were therefore referred to as the Seceder church.[7][8] Its first elders were Garret Serven (Sarven), Joseph Iserman, Teunis VanHouten, and Peter C. VanHouten, and its deacons were Peter Serven (Sarven), Stephen VanOrden, and Cornelius Springsteen. One of the members was Jacob Felter, a veteran of the War of 1812 buried in the Historic Monsey Cemetery.[9] On April 26, 1825, the Monsey Church petitioned Classis Hackensack of the newly-formed True Reformed Dutch Church to receive them into care, and this was granted. The Monsey Church was established as the True Reformed Dutch Church of West New Hempstead.[10] Worship was held in a building at the corner of Maple Avenue and Saddle River Road, adjacent to the Historic Monsey Cemetery, and a surviving church record book dated September 8, 1827, records to the sale of pews to the officers and members of the church.

James D. Demarest continued as pastor of both the Monsey Church and the Ramapo, New Jersey church for many years. With many more churches than trained pastors, it was commonly the case that pastors would oversee multiple congregations, rotating among them on successive Sundays. One of the deacons at Monsey toward the end of the Rev. James D. Demarest's pastorate was John Yeury de Baun, born in Monsey in 1827.[11] In 1852, when de Baun was 25 years old, he was accepted by Classis Hackensack as a student in theology, under the tutelage of Demarest and the Rev. Abram Van Houten. During the period of 1852 (1852)–1855 (1855), Van Houten took over the pastorate of Monsey from Demarest, until de Baun had completed his studies in theology in 1855 and called to be the pastor of both the Ramapo, New Jersey and the Monsey churches. De Baun preached alternate Sundays at Ramapo, New Jersey and Monsey until 1860, when he accepted a call to pastor the churches in Hackensack and English Neighborhood, New Jersey.[12][13]

Shortly after being organized in 1824, land near the present-day Historic Monsey Cemetery was donated to the new church, and work was immediately begun to construct a building. They continued to meet in that location until 1869, after a new building had been constructed on land that had been donated on Main Street. That building, still used by the church today, was dedicated on August 19, 1869.

Merger with and withdrawal from the Christian Reformed Church (1890–1908)

Although the churches of the True Reformed Dutch Church, including the Monsey Church, were mostly made up of families of Dutch heritage, English was the primary language used in the churches.[15] In 1860, the first movement toward eventual union with the Christian Reformed Church came in the form of correspondence to the True Reformed Dutch Church by a group called the True Reformed Holland Church in the West, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ministers from both denominations met a number of times and found themselves to be in agreement in doctrine and practice. Nevertheless, because the Hollanders were by and large a Dutch-speaking group, whereas Classis Hackensack of the True Reformed Dutch Church were primarily English speakers, the decision was made in 1873 not to unite but simply to support and serve each other any way needed.[16][17]

Beginning in 1880, conditions began to change that would lead to the merger of the True Reformed Dutch Church with the Christian Reformed Church ten years later. In 1880, the True Reformed Dutch Church (Classis Hackensack) learned that the Holland group had changed their name to the Holland Christian Reformed Church, partly to associate themselves more closely with the Christian Reformed Churches of their native Holland. The Holland Christian Reformed Church had also formed their own classis in the east, Classis Hudson, and the denomination had begun to move in the direction of using the English language. Classis Hudson was asked to confer with Classis Hackensack about the possibility of organic union between the two denominations. On April 15, 1890, Classis Hacksensack voted to unite organically with the Holland Christian Reformed Church, requesting that the name of the new denomination be changed simply to the Christian Reformed Church.[18] The Monsey Church was represented at this meeting, however it was then without a pastor, as John R. Cooper had been given up his pastorate of the churches of Monsey and Nanuet due to illness and died not much later in 1886.[19][20] The True Reformed Dutch Church, the Monsey Church included, was now part of the Christian Reformed Church.

Around the turn of the century, a series of disputes about Freemasonry and membership in other secret societies arose within Classis Hackensack. The first incident was in 1898, when a delegate to the Classis from the Ridgewood, New Jersey church was accused of being a Freemason, contrary to the rules of church government. The man neither affirmed nor denied his membership in Masonry, but he also refused to renounce it. He then withdrew himself as a delegate. His alternate was put forward, but it became clear that he was a member of the Odd Fellows, and the Classis did not seat him. This ultimately resulted in the Ridgewood church's withdrawal from the Christian Reformed Church early in 1899.[21]

A similar case involved the Rev. Charles N. Van Houten, son of the Monsey Church's second pastor, the Rev. Abraham (Abram) Van Houten. The younger Van Houten had been the pastor of a Presbyterian church for some 20 years, but around 1905 was called by the church in Schraalenberg, New Jersey to be its pastor due to the old age and infirmity of the Rev. Garret A. Haring, who had been ministering there. Charles Van Houten was a Freemason, and he agreed that he would withdraw from the organization, in submission to the rules, if he were to join with Classis Hackensack. He accepted the call, was received by the Classis, and did withdraw from Freemasonry. Classis Hudson, however, learned of this decision and was not satisfied. The Stated Clerk sent a letter to Classis Hackensack informing them that they would protest the admission of Charles Van Houten and would not recognize him as a minister of the gospel.[22]

Early in 1908, a resolution was put before Classis Hackensack to withdraw from the Christian Reformed Church since rules about "minor secret organizations" and other matters had caused so much agitation in the churches and in meetings of the Classis, and conflict between Classis Hudson and itself.[23] On June 2, 1908, after referral to the churches, the decision was ratified to withdraw from the Christian Reformed Church. The Monsey Church, through its pastor John Calvin Voorhis, cast a vote to withdraw. The Monsey Church was once again part of the True Reformed Dutch Church, newly re-constituted.

The newly independent Classis Hackensack quickly passed a resolution to deal with the trouble that had arisen in the period 1899 (1899)–1908 (1908): "Resolved that in the future we eliminate the inquiry respecting all secret societies according to Art. 32 of our confession." John Calvin Voorhis, who had just been released from his pastorate at Monsey and been named counselor instead, opposed this resolution and had his name recorded in the minutes as opposed to it.[24]

Season of decline (1909–1925)

In Classis Hackensack, there were now far fewer pastors than there were churches needing their ministry. After John Calvin Voorhis was released from his pastorate in Monsey, the Monsey Church found that it could not expect regular pulpit supply. The church continued to meet during the summer months, relying on seminary students to fill the pulpit, but began to close during the winter. Peter Steen was one such student, who spent the summer of 1920 ministering in Monsey.[25]

A number of churches in the Classis either closed or withdrew, and those that remained were weak and struggling. By 1921, the Monsey Church had only six active members, in spite of the fact that a Sunday school had been started in 1920. The members voted at a congregational meeting held on May 3, 1921 to deed the church property to Classis Hackensack, and that was accomplished in a quit-claim deed dated July 20, 1921, executed by Crine Hook, "as sole surviving elder and trustee of the True Reformed Dutch Church of West New Hempstead."[26] Classis Hackensack of the True Reformed Dutch Church now consisted of only three churches (the Monsey Church; Leonia, New Jersey; and New york City) and two ministers (John Calvin Voorhis and Samuel Vanderbeek). Then, on Monday morning, October 23, 1922, John Calvin Voorhis died. The day before he had preached at the Monsey Church a sermon on John 10:28–29. Only the Rev. Samuel Vanderbeek, who was old and ill, remained to care for these three churches. He himself died on August 11, 1924.

Renewal in the Christian Reformed Church (1925–2005)

What few people remained in the churches of Classis Hackensack in 1924 voted to dissolve and re-affiliate with the Christian Reformed Church. That occurred on February 19, 1925 and opened the door to new opportunities for ministry in and around Monsey.[27] In 1925 John Beebe, a ministerial candidate, accepted the call to become Home Missionary in the East, working in Monsey. Sunday services were held at the Monsey Church nearly every week. A group for the women in the church, called The Martha Circle, was organized on March 12, 1926, with Mrs. Beebe as president. The women in the Circle worked to raise money for various charitable causes. For example, on December 4, 1926, a "food and fancy article sale" was held that raised $140.50 to help paint the church. At the May 18, 1927 meeting, the members voted to give $25 to help relieve suffering from the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, one of the greatest natural disasters the country had yet experienced.[28]

The Rev. Meindert Botbyl succeeded Beebe in 1928 and resided in Monsey until his death in 1940.[29] After Botbyl's pastorate, little attention was given to Monsey. Harold Dekker, who would later be called to pastor the Christian Reformed Church of Englewood, ministered in Monsey during the summer of 1940 while still a seminary student.[30] A single weekly preaching service was supplied, but no full-time effort was expended until 1948, when the Eastern Home Missionary Board of the Christian Reformed Church decided to place seminarian Dick L. Van Halsema in Monsey for a trial period of 12 weeks. The summer of 1948 when Van Halsema was in Monsey marked the beginning of the congregation's revival leading up to the present. Van Halsema's efforts were greatly assisted by the Rev. Harold Dekker, now installed as pastor in Englewood. In May, 1949, it was reported that there were 20 communicant and four baptized members of the Monsey Church.[31] By May 6, 1950, there were enough people at the Monsey Church for the "young people of the Christian Reformed Chapel, Monsey, N.Y." to travel to Englewood, New Jersey to serve the 75th anniversary banquet meal.[32]

In 1949, Van Halsema was ordained and installed at Monsey as Home Missionary for the East. A new parsonage was erected by the people in 1950, and on September 26, 1952, the Monsey Christian Reformed Church was re-organized, having grown from one member in 1948 to fourteen families. Van Halsema was installed as pastor of the re-organized church on April 1, 1954, and remained in Monsey until July 23, 1956, when he departed to accept a call to organize a church in Miami, Florida.[33]

The Monsey Church grew rapidly, along with Rockland County itself, in the 1950s. The church was home to a large private Christian school and had a thriving Sunday school program and morning and evening Sunday services. With the opening of the New York State Thruway and the Tappan Zee Bridge in the mid-1950s, Rockland County grew rapidly—and the Monsey Church with it. Beginning in the 1970s, however, the pace of growth of the county began to slow. Along with a rising trend in the cost of living, an increasing number of Orthodox and Hasidic Jews have settled in Monsey and the immediate area. The result of this demographic change is that an extraordinary number of non-Jewish families have moved out of the area. Present-day Monsey, like nearby Kaser and New Square (and Kiryas Joel in Orange County) can be considered a modern-day suburban shtetl.[34]

Monsey Church today (2005–present)

In 1998, the Monsey Church changed its named from Monsey Christian Reformed Church to New Hope Christian Church. In 2004, the congregation voted to withdraw yet another time from the Christian Reformed Church, citing that denomination's departure from historic Christian faith and practice with regard to homosexuality and the ordination of women. In a letter dated March 22, 2005 from the Stated Clerk of Classis Hudson of the Christian Reformed Church, the congregation was informed that the Classis approved a motion to "acquiesce in the decision of the New Hope CRC of Monsey, NY to disaffiliate itself with the Christian Reformed Church in North America." After a few years as an independent congregation, in 2007 the church was received into the Metropolitan New York Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America.

The church continues to meet in its 1869 building at 57 Main Street, on New York State Route 306, in Monsey, about 1/4 mile north of Route 59. Christian worship is open to the public and begins at 11 o'clock every Sunday morning.

Pastors and ministers

Portrait Name Years active and notes
Ministers Associated with the 1822–24 Secession and the True Reformed Dutch Church (Classis Hackensack)[35]
James D. Demarest 1825 (1825)–1852 (1852)
  • First pastor of the True Reformed Dutch Church of Monsey
  • Several of Demarest's sermons were printed in The Banner of Truth in the 1860s and '70s
  • As can be seen on the 1859 map of Orange and Rockland Counties (see sidebar), Demarest's home was at the corner of what is today Monsey Boulevard and Maple Avenue. He is buried in the Historic Monsey Cemetery.
Abraham (Abram) Van Houten Abraham (Abram) Van Houten June 6, 1852 (1852-06-06)–1855 (1855)
John Yeury de Baun John Yeury de Baun November 11, 1855 (1855-11-11)–1860 (1860)
  • Founder and editor of The Banner of Truth magazine of the True Reformed Dutch Church ca. 1865
John R. Cooper 1865 (1865)–March 18, 1886 (1886-03-18)[36]
  • The earliest report available about the size of the Monsey Church is from April 18, 1882, in a report to Classis Hackensack: a total of 32 members. By 1885, the number had increased to 43.[37] Nevertheless, according to the Consistory minutes for March 15, 1886, a congregational meeting was attended by only 13 members.
Grompin 1890
  • The Rev. Grompin appears as "pastor" in the consistory's minutes for June 23, 1890. It seems that he was a supply pastor, as he presided over a congregational meeting on September 20, 1890 at which the congregation voted not to call a pastor. The next entry in the minutes is eight months later, May of 1891, and no mention is made of Grompin then or anytime thereafter.[38]
Cornelius D. De Mott Cornelius D. De Mott August 26, 1891 (1891-08-26)–October 12, 1892 (1892-10-12)[39]
  • First pastor after merger to form the Christian Reformed Church
  • In April, 1892 the Monsey Church reported having 25 members.[40]
James Van Houten 1893
  • Mr. Van Houten was a candidate who served at the church for six months.[41]
John A. Westervelt Summer 1895
  • The Rev. Westervelt served in Monsey during the summer of 1895 while on vacation from theological training at Princeton Theological Seminary.[42]
L. Colyn May 12, 1896 (1896-05-12)–November 12, 1896 (1896-11-12)
  • Mr. Colyn was a seminary student who preached as stated supply in Monsey for six months.[43]
William D. Vander Werp William D. Vander Werp November 23, 1897 (1897-11-23)–1899 (1899)
  • In 1899, when the Rev. Vander Werp was going to leave Monsey to accept a call elsewhere, 41 members of the church signed a petition appealing to God that their beloved pastor would choose rather to stay with them.[44]

"Reasons for dying out of the Monsey congregation were the young people going to business college in New York and securing positions there, and settling closer to New York." (Letter from William D. Vander Werp to Dick L. Van Halsema of February 16, 1950[45])

Klaas Poppen Klaas Poppen July 1902 (1902-07)–August 1904 (1904-08)[46]
  • In 1903, there were 29 members of the Monsey Church.[47]
  • During the Rev. Klassen's pastorate, by permission of Classis Hackensack, the practice of elders choosing their own successors was discontinued in favor of election by a majority of the members.[48]
John Calvin Voorhis John Calvin Voorhis 1906 (1906)–1909 (1909)
Ministers during the Period of Renewal in the Christian Reformed Church (CRCNA)
John Cornelius De Korne John Cornelius De Korne June 1915 (1915-06)–August 1915 (1915-08)
  • John C. De Korne, who would go on to serve as a missionary in China and director of the Christian Reformed Church's overseas missions, served in Monsey while still a seminary student.

"They were lovely folks, anything they had in their gardens was shared with us but they lacked church enthusiasm. So many were lodge members and knew very little of sabbath observance. It was not an easy place to serve for a man in his first summer of preaching." (Letter from Nettie G. De Korne, widow of the Rev. Dr. De Korne, to Dick L. Van Halsema, dated September 12, 1955[49]

Peter L. Steen Peter Lambert Steen 1920 (1920)
  • A seminary student who worked in Monsey in summer 1920[50]

"The present oldest member of the congregation in 1955 tells an amusing incident about Mr. Steen. According to Mrs. [Phebe] Swan, who often entertained visiting preachers in those days, Peter Steen went into the long-unused Chapel to give it a thorough cleaning. With a boy's cart he took the kerosene-burning lamps over to Mrs. Swan's home on Main Street, north of former Henken store, and there scrubbed the lamps clean. After they were re-hung, Mr. Steen returned to Mrs. Swan's home and, at her insistence, submitted to a thorough scrubbing of head, neck, and back attended to personally by 'Aunt Phebe'!"[51]

John Beebe John Beebe October 25, 1925 (1925-10-25)–1928 (1928)
  • Served as Home Missionary in the East, concentrating on the work in Monsey
  • The Rev. Beebe's inaugural sermon on Matthew 10:32 was preached before a congregation of 7 people. As time went on, average attendance increased to about 25.[52]
  • Mrs. Beebe organized a ladies' aid society called "the Martha Circle" in 1926.

"Funeral services and marriages performed in the church usually were well attended. On one occasion we recall the auditorium was filled to the doors when Mr. LeRoy Conklin and Miss Stella C. Wagoner were united in marriage on April 4, 1926. The room was beautifully decorated and before the lectern stood a large arch and kneeling bench. ... Concerning our labors as Home Missionary in the East ... we concentrated our main efforts in Monsey in order to revive the cause of the Lord which to all appearances was fast dying out. ... We shall never forget Monsey. It was the place of our first love. The people were kind to us and showed it too by the many tokens of friendship. What bothered us mostly was the general indifference to things spiritual. The forces of evil with which the church coped were the Masonic lodge, the commercial movie, and general spirit of worldliness. Many were satisfied with a social Gospel as we understand the term in our circles. But to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness—that was not the lofty aim of most of them." (Letter from John Beebe to Dick L. Van Halsema[53])

Meindert Botbyl Meindert Botbyl 1928 (1928)–1940 (1940)
  • Served as Home Missionary in the East, concentrating on the Monsey Church from 1928 until his death in 1940.

"The people of Monsey for the greater part were not in the habit of attending church regularly and much mission work was needed here. The Mission Board of the Christian Reformed Church many times suggested to Rev. Botbyl that Monsey be closed for lack of interest and support for the church. Many were the times when just a handful of people were present at the services ... " (Letter from the Rev. Botbyl's son, John Botbyl, to Dick L. Van Halsema, 1955.[54])

Elbert Kooistra 1941 (1941)–1944 (1944)
  • The Rev. Kooistra was the Home Missionary for the East during these years, though he did not reside in Monsey.[55]
Harold Dekker Harold Dekker 1940, 1949
  • Worked in Monsey as a seminary student assisting the Rev. Kooistra in summer 1941. The attendance was "never over 12, and sometimes much less."[56]
  • In 1948, there were 20 members, and average attendance of about 35. A special candlelight service on Sunday evening, December 26, drew an attendance of 140.[57]
  • Returned in 1949 when pastor of the Englewood Christian Reformed Church to assist Dick L. Van Halsema[58]
Dick L. Van Halsema Richard "Dick" Lucas Van Halsema 1948 (1948)–July 23, 1956 (1956-07-23)
  • First worked in Monsey as a seminary student from June 1948 (1948-06) to August 1948 (1948-08)
  • Ordained and installed as home missionary in September 23, 1949 (1949-09-23)
  • Installed as pastor in 1954 (1954)
  • At the time of re-organization in September, 1952, the Monsey Church had 69 members (adult and baptized children).[59] By 1954, the church had grown to 108 total members (65 communicant, 53 baptized).[60]
  • In September, 1953, the church opened Rockland County Christian School with 14 pupils, one full-time teacher, and one part-time teacher.[61]
  • In September, 1954, the Young Married Women's Guild, later known as the Ruth Circle, was formed:

    a new society was formed when a growing number of younger women with small children found it difficult to attend the afternoon Martha Circle meetings. The group later became known as the Young Married Women's Guild, and since that time it has met at members' homes once a month, except during the summer.[62]

Edson T. Lewis, Jr. Edson "Bill" Taft Lewis, Jr. September 20, 1956 (1956-09-20)–September 1964 (1964-09)
  • At a congregational meeting on November 2, 1956, women members of the church were given the right to vote in church business for the first time.
  • Rockland County Christian School ceased to operate after June, 1960.[63]
  • Order of Service for Mr. Lewis' ordination
Calvin Vander Meyden Calvin Dale Vander Meyden September 25, 1966 (1966-09-25)–October 1969 (1969-10)
Robert Walter, Jr. Robert Walter, Jr. October 18, 1970 (1970-10-18)–February 1975 (1975-02)
Leonard P. Troast Leonard Peter Troast October 12, 1975 (1975-10-12)–1978 (1978)
Mark J. Lucas Mark John Lucas February 1, 1981 (1981-02-01)–1985 (1985)
Jan-Karel-Boersma.png Jan Karel Boersma September 25, 1983 (1983-09-25)–Unknown
Ministers during the Period of Transition out of the Christian Reformed Church
Robert DiMaggio 1987 (1987)–September 1988 (1988-09)
Gordon Stuart Miller 1991 (1991)–1993 (1993)
Donald M. Parker 1997 (1997)–1999 (1999)
J. Timothy Elliott 2000 (2000)–2004 (2004)
  • The Rev. Elliott is a Presbyterian (PCA) minister who served as stated supply at the Monsey Church
  • First minister under the name New Hope Christian Church
Tom Riello 2004 (2004)–2005 (2005)
Ministers of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)
Paul Kalfa 2008 (2008)–2009 (2009)
  • First pastor in the Presbyterian Church in America
Phillip W. Dennis II Phillip Wayne Dennis II 2010 (2010)–Present
  • Mr. Dennis is a ruling elder in the church and a licensed minister by the Metropolitan New York Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America, serving as pulpit supply at the Monsey Church

The Historic Monsey Cemetery

The Historic Monsey Cemetery (also called Monsey Memorial Cemetery, Seceder Cemetery, or Monsey Rural Cemetery) is located at the corner of Maple Avenue and N. Saddle River Road. The cemetery belongs to the Monsey Church. It sits adjacent to the site of the original True Reformed Dutch Church building that had been donated by Judge Garret Serven, one of the elders of the Brick Church who seceded with the Rev. James D. Demarest to form the True Reformed Dutch Church of Monsey. In 1869, the church moved to their present building on Main Street. The original building that was next to the cemetery was moved to Grove Street and began to be used by the Congregational church.

A database of people buried in the Historic Monsey Cemetery is available from the Genealogical Society of Rockland County. Many early members of the church are buried there, including the founding pastor, James D. Demarest. Veterans of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and the Civil War are all buried in the cemetery (see table below).

Israel Saffer of the Museum of Spring Valley and Countryside worked vigorously in the 1960s to enlist help from the government and community groups to maintain the cemetery. The cemetery is maintained by community groups such as the Monsey Lions Club and the Stony Point Battle chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution. Most recently, Eagle Scout candidate Brian Negrin did significant restoration work on the cemetery as part of his Eagle Scout project in 2011.[64]

Vandals have damaged the cemetery on at least one occasion. A record in the Consistory's minutes from November 19, 1953 states that the police were called because 17 headstones had been pushed over.[65]

Veterans Buried in the Historic Monsey Cemetery[66]
Name Veteran of Born Died Age
Dusenbury, Louis H. Civil War 1824-10-14 1891-1-4 66y, 4m, 20d
Felter, Jacob War of 1812 1793-9-16 1876-1-19 82y, 4m, 3d
Mackie, John War of 1812 1794-2-20 1879-3-14 85y, 2m, 24d
Serven, Garret (Judge) Revolutionary War 1756-1-10 1844-10-30 88y, 9m, 20d
Serven, John G. War of 1812 1793-9-13 1878-1-12 84y, 4m, 0d
Taylor, Edward War of 1812 1790-2-4 1856-3-3 66y, 0m, 29d
VanHouten, Peter C. War of 1812 1771-12-29 1840-9-25 68y, 8m, 24d
VanOrden, Peter S. (General) Revolutionary War
and War of 1812
1763-8-14 1846-11-8 83y, 2m, 24d
Young, Charles Civil War 1844-1-27 1919-6-25 75y, 4m, 28d

Rockland County Christian School

Rockland County Christian School was founded in the spring of 1953. In effect, it was a Christian education ministry of the Monsey Church, although it was portrayed as being less dependent than that. A school newsletter from that summer says that "The Monsey Church does not sponsor the school. In this sense, it is not parochial. Parents band together and they incorporate to accomplish this purpose." A constitution was adopted and an independent board of directors for the school was elected from the church's membership in May, 1953.[67]

The school first opened in the church basement on September 9, 1953 with a total of 14 pupils in Kindergarten and grades 1 through 7, except grade 3. In fall 1954, the school had grown to 20 pupils and became accredited by the New York State Board of Regents. A total of 36 students were enrolled in the 1959–60 school year, the school's last year of operation.[68]

Geraldine Steensma was the school's first full-time teacher, for five years, and Willemina Van Halsema, the sister of the church's pastor and a community worker at the church, also taught part-time the first two years. Other teachers at the school were Eleanor Sietsema, M. Louise Crawford, Faye Campbell (aide), James Stabile (music), Katherine Hunt, Donald Vittner, and Constance Pryce.[69]

Other Monsey churches

In spite of its nickname as the Monsey Church, there were other churches in Monsey in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Monsey Church was, however, the first church in Monsey and is the only one that continues to the present day. The building first used by the Monsey Church was located near the intersection of what is today Maple Avenue and North Saddle River Road in Monsey, adjacent to the Historic Monsey Cemetery. When the Monsey Church moved into its present building in 1869, that original building was sold and moved somewhere near today's Brewer Fire Engine Company at the intersection of Grove Street and North Saddle River Road. In 1871, this building was purchased by the Congregational Society and used as their meeting house.[70]

At about the same time that the Congregationalists were beginning to meet in their new building, the Methodist Society established a new church in Monsey in October, 1871 by members of the Spring Valley and Viola Methodist Churches.[71] By 1876, as seen on the 1876 "Centennial" map of Monsey, the church had built a building to meet in on Secor Street. Sometime later, however, the church building was destroyed in a fire. The property was later acquired by the Monsey Church and is the present-day site of their parsonage.[72]


  1. ^ Spoelhof, p. 30.
  2. ^ Spoelhof, p. 5.
  3. ^ Interestingly, Froeligh himself was under church discipline at the time for admitting to church membership and the sacraments a couple who had been under discipline and suspended from the sacraments by their previous church. Froeligh was to be re-tried by Classis Paramus (by order of the General Synod, after Classis Paramus had previously acquitted him) in 1823—the secession of October 1822, however, meant that the re-trial never occurred.
  4. ^ West New Hempstead is sometimes spelled Hampstead, and sometimes referred to using the place name Kakiat, alternatively spelled Kakeath or Cakiatte.
  5. ^ Green, p. 271; Whitehead, p. 304.
  6. ^ According to Mariruth Campbell's American History of the Monsey Cemetary (sic), one of those two elders was Judge Garret Serven, who had been presiding justice from 1796–1806, town clerk from 1809–1813, and supervisor in 1814. He was the one who donated the lot on which the first church building was erected and where the church cemetery, now the Historic Monsey Cemetery, was established adjacent to it. According to the same author, Serven is also the person who suggested the name Monsey for the hamlet, "after an Indian chief of that name who was reportedly an earlier resident." The area was previously called Kakiat.
  7. ^ The Monsey Church is sometimes referred to in the literature as being located in Hempstead, New York. The Ramapo, New Jersey church, with which the Monsey Church was closely associated in its early years, is sometimes referred to as being located in Ramsey or Ramsey's in Bergen County.
  8. ^ Demarest was then convicted by the Classis of Paramus in September 1824 of schism, presumably in absentia, and deposed from office.
  9. ^ Campbell.
  10. ^ It is from this date, rather than the 1824 secession from the Brick Church that Dick L. Van Halsema marks the start of the Monsey Church in his book The Church in Monsey: 1825–1955.
  11. ^ Spoelhof, p. 13.
  12. ^ Harvey, p. 139.
  13. ^ About 1865, de Baun, now residing at Hackensack, New Jersey, began publishing a monthly periodical at his own expense called The Banner of Truth, to function as a denominational magazine for the True Reformed Dutch Church. Many early sermons preached in Monsey and other churches of the secession movement can be found printed in it.
  14. ^ Van Halsema, p. 6.
  15. ^ In The Banner of Truth, one occasionally finds a poem or short work in the Holland language (as it was called), or a news item that speaks of a sermon or address being given in the language of the Holland people. The word Dutch was considered ambiguous, since it could also refer to German people or language, whereas Holland refers specifically to the people and language of the Netherlands.
  16. ^ Spoelhof, pp. 14–16.
  17. ^ The names Classis Hackensack and True Reformed Dutch Church are somewhat interchangeable, even though the latter refers to the Synod or denomination as a whole, whereas the former refers to a subdivision of the Synod. Classis Hackensack was originally the sum total of the True Reformed Dutch Church. A second classis, Classis Union, was organized in September, 1824, according to Spoelhof's History of Classis Hackensack (11)—and that was the reason behind the organization of a Synod superior to both classes—however there are no synodical records of Classis Union after 1835 (Spoelhof 13). Accordingly, by the latter half of the 19th century, Classis Hackensack and the True Reformed Dutch Church are identical.
  18. ^ Spoelhof, pp. 17–18.
  19. ^ Proceedings, pp. 29–32.
  20. ^ According to Spoelhof, there were 16 churches in the Classis, but only six pastors (18).
  21. ^ Spoelhof, pp. 20–21.
  22. ^ Spoelhof, p. 23.
  23. ^ Spoelhof, pp. 20–23.
  24. ^ Spoelhof, p. 25.
  25. ^ Ordination.
  26. ^ Quit-claim deed dated July 20, 1921, recorded July 23, 1921 at 9:00 o'clock in the Rockland County Clerk's office, liber 279 of Deeds, page 274.
  27. ^ Spoelhof, pp. 27–30.
  28. ^ Minutes of the Martha Circle.
  29. ^ Botbyl's son, John, married Helyne Requa Smith and became an executive of Glode Requa Enterprises, one of Monsey's important commercial firms.
  30. ^ Christian Reformed Church of Englewood, p. 25.
  31. ^ Christian Reformed Church of Englewood, p. 25.
  32. ^ Christian Reformed Church of Englewood, p. 6.
  33. ^ Ordination.
  34. ^ Applebome; Jacobson.
  35. ^ Additional biographical information about many of the ministers until the late-20th century can be found at the Christian Reformed Church Ministers Database.
  36. ^ The Consistory minutes for 1886 make it clear that Cooper served as pastor until early in 1886. At a congregational meeting on March 15, 1886, a committee was appointed "to wait on the Rev. John R. Cooper, the present pastor, and ask him to give up his call as Pastor," according to Proceedings, p. 31. The minutes of March 18, 1886 indicate that Cooper did so on that day. Spoelhof incorrectly states that Cooper died in April, 1877 (19).
  37. ^ Van Halsema, pp. 14–15.
  38. ^ Proceedings, pp. 40–46.
  39. ^ Proceedings, p. 50.
  40. ^ Van Halsema, p. 15.
  41. ^ Van Halsema, p. 15.
  42. ^ Proceedings, pp. 51–52.
  43. ^ Proceedings, pp. 51–55.
  44. ^ Van Halsema, p. 16.
  45. ^ Van Halsema, p. 16.
  46. ^ Spoelhof, p. 30.
  47. ^ Van Halsema, p. 17.
  48. ^ Van Halsema, p. 17.
  49. ^ Van Halsema, pp. 18–19.
  50. ^ Ordination.
  51. ^ Van Halsema, p. 19.
  52. ^ Van Halsema, p. 20.
  53. ^ Van Halsema, pp. 20–22.
  54. ^ Van Halsema, p. 23.
  55. ^ Van Halsema, pp. 24–25.
  56. ^ Van Halsema, p.25.
  57. ^ Van Halsema, p. 26.
  58. ^ Christian Reformed Church of Englewood, p. 25.
  59. ^ Quackenbush.
  60. ^ Van Halsema, p. 30.
  61. ^ Quackenbush.
  62. ^ Quackenbush.
  63. ^ Quackenbush.
  64. ^ Adams.
  65. ^ Minutes of the Consistory, p. 116.
  66. ^ Loescher.
  67. ^ Quackenbush.
  68. ^ Quackenbush.
  69. ^ Quackenbush, passim.
  70. ^ Green, pp. 273–4.
  71. ^ Green, p. 259.
  72. ^ Botbyl, p. 3.

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