CHURCH OF CHRIST SEEKS TO ‘BE’ LOVE, THE EXPRESSION AND EXPRESSING IN ALL WAYS OF CHRIST.
“THE WORD WAS GOD. THE WORD WAS WITH GOD” (Jn.1:1)
“GOD IS LOVE” (1 Jn. 4:8)
1950s: In the Beginning
The church had its beginning with a small group gathering for prayers and classes from 1950-1957 in Ridgefield, New Jersey, under the leadership of then licensed teacher, Esther Zimmerman. By the summer of 1957 the group felt it was time to formally organize. On November 18, 1957, Unity Church of Christ was incorporated and located in Bergenfield, New Jersey. Now ordained, Rev. Zimmerman served as minister until January 12, 1960, when she made her transition due to an errant automobile driver.
1960s – 1970s
During the interim, Evelyn Bennett (Mrs. George Bennett), a teacher and counselor at Unity New York City, under the leadership of Rev. J. Sig Paulson, took over Sunday morning services. At the March 1960 Katherine Brookman arrived late for her first service due to a blizzard and was appointed the leader in April 1960. One year later she was ordained a Unity minister. Rev. Katherine Brookman served for eighteen years until her retirement in June 1978. Rev. Mary Alice Brown was contracted as interim minister in the year 1977-1978.
Our church home in Teaneck was purchased in 1960 and converted into a church with space for Sunday school, offices and larger sanctuary seating eighty persons. Around 1972 the Ridgefield Unity Center decided to close and merge its assets with Unity Church of Christ.
Doctor Kent Kissinger and Rev. Kerri Ellis Hubatsek served as ministers until 1981. During vacancies the board members, teachers and ministers of surrounding Unity Centers helped with services and classes. In January, 1982, Rev. Marlowe Kline was appointed minister and served until December 1982. On November 1, 1982, the mortgage was retired.
1982 – Rev. Mary Alice Brown was called from Des Moines, Iowa, to return and become the Senior Minister in September 1982.
Under her leadership the membership has multiplied. There are five classes taught each week Sunday School attendance has increased. There are annual fundraisers, prosperity seminars, noted guest speakers including Rev. Rosemary Fillmore Rhea and James Dillet Freeman. The property has had five trees removed and new siding put on the church and garage.
The proof of the Bible teachings and Fillmore principles, including the Fillmore Covenant, have been the basis of Rev. Mary Alice Brown’s teachings for eighteen years. The evidence is seeing – God Is Source of All. Her motto: “Call it all God. Count it all Joy.” (James 1)
Rev. Mary Alice Brown retired October 31, 2000 at 80 years young.
MAYWOOD NEW JERSEY
As we grew in spirit, truth and Love on Rutland Ave. in Teaneck, NJ, we grew in the size of our congregation to the point of not having enough seats for everyone. We enlarged our seating area for church service by using where we met for fellowship, Harmony Hall however that still was not adequate, the message was clear. We had to expand, we certainly prayed, planned, did Vision Boards, held events on another site and more but the congregation knew we had to move to a new site.
This was quiet a venture for all of us. However, with the Grace of God we found our new church at 471 Maywood Ave, in Maywood New Jersey. We moved in with the first service being held Jan. 31, 2015, to a filled church with room to spare.
We stayed strong in faith and trust in God. We had prayed, held fund raisers, met continually to discuss the best purchase situation as we visited several churches during the process. The wonderful result was that we stayed together throughout and knew we were to reach out and have space so that anyone who wished to follow the Unity Principles in our Bible Based Church could join us. What God had brought us to was meant to go out into the world. This saddle us to our expansion now into media we can clearly have enough room enough space for anyone in the world to hear God’s word in Love and truth.
We are so grateful for all we have received that we start every service, start it, not wait until it is over to start singing,” Thank you God, Thank you God. Thank you, God, I just want to Thank you God.”
It is an interesting note to add that on that cold winter night when we received our Certificate of Occupancy, the Pastor Rev. Dr. Bessie Duncan said that she was thanking God, just thanking God for our larger Church Home and she said that she heard Spirit say, “You and the Church are not here for you, you are here for Maywood.”
The next year she was appointed Chaplain of the Police and Fire Department and has remained so to date, 2023.
Only the Love of God and our Love for Him could bring us spiritually here and it is marvelous that there are more blessings to come.