Thursday, October 01, 2009

The Reformed Churches

Once upon a time Staten Island was a Dutch settlement. Today that's mainly recalled by the existence of Dutch or Netherlands related street names (Stuyvesant Pl., Brabant, Walloon, Van Pelt, Van Name, etc.). Another bit of remaining history though are the few remaining Reformed congregations. Until the mid-80's the Reformed Church in America (RCA) was known as the Dutch Reformed Church. Demographics and history I imagine caused them to ditch the Dutch.
At present the VP of the RCA is the Rev. James Seawood, pastor of Brighton Heights Reformed Church in St. George. Next year he becomes the president. Good man, good pastor and nice guy.

Brighton Heights Reformed Church - 320 St. Mark's Place - St. George

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This congregation was founded around 1827 as a offshoot of the ministry established at the Quarantine Station in St. George by the minister of the Dutch Reformed Church in Port Richmond. The old building constructed in the late 19th century was destroyed by fire during renovations in the mid-1990's. The new building was dedicated in the last decade.

Reformed Church on Staten Island - 54 Port Richmond Avenue - Port Richmond

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This is one of the oldest churches on Staten Island and one of the oldest congregations (beat only, I think, by St. Andrew's Episcopal in Richmondtown). It was founded by Belgian Huguenots and later became part of the Dutch Reformed Church. The original church was burned down during the Revolution by the British and the new one erected in the late 18th century. There's an attached graveyard with 17th century headstones (and bodies presumably). Apparently it's a small and dwindling congregation but the Staten Island Preservation League's housed there so they've got that going for them.

There used to be at least one other Dutch Reformed church on the North Shore. Appropriately enough it was located in Mariners' Harbor which has the largest concentration of Dutch names (Holland, Netherland, Brabant, Mesereau, etc.). Near as I can determine it closed in the late sixties. At present the old church is home to Fellowship Baptist Church.

Mariners' Harbor Dutch Reformed Chapel - 3036 Richmond Terrace - Mariners' Harbor

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crazycloud said...

I had cub scouts in the octogon shaped roof part of the Dutch reformed church. It was a very
odd room, like a surgery theater.
I used to read the old tombstones in the cemetery next to the church.
they go back to the 1600's.
To a 7 year old this was amazing.

The Wasp said...

I was about the same age when I realized how old those headstones are. It wasn't till I was a little older that I actually understood what that meant.