Fire started this church.
Well, in a way it did. In the fall of 1873 the Bobbin Factory on Mill Road was burned down and the owners decided not to rebuild it. That put many men out of work. With the winter coming on, the prospect was bleak for their families.
Concerned men and women of the community decided to put their Christian teaching into action. The women sewed clothes for the children and helped to feed the families, but the children had to be cared for too so they wouldn’t be hanging around the streets.
Mr. James Leach had long wanted to have a school house for the children where they could be taught the Bible properly. He and his friends, John and Jacob Hall, put up the money to buy the land (today it’s the home of the Pascack Historical Society, on Ridge Avenue). There they built a one room chapel, which was dedicated on December 8, 1873. On March 17, 1875, the congregation was given standing as a church by the Congregational denomination.
During the 1950′s, our church grew so fast it became necessary to expand our facilities. The new building at 131 Pascack Road was dedicated in 1952. When the Congregational Christian denomination merged with the Evangelical and Reformed Church in 1957 to form the United Church of Christ, our church voted to join the new denomination. We belong to and participate actively in the Central Atlantic Conference and the New Jersey Association of the United Church of Christ.
In 1992 our church participated in a long range process called Share the Faith which was sponsored and supported through the Association in many UCC churches at that time. It was through Share the Faith that our church chose to take a more active role in Habitat for Humanity and remained an active partner with Habitat for many years as well as serving as an overflow shelter for the Inter-Religious Fellowship for the Homeless.
Today, there is a strong commitment toward ministries centered around mission, education, outreach, fundraising, worship, fellowship and justice issues. Lay leaders at First Congregational have many opportunities to bring their own ideas and enthusiasm to carrying the Church’s ministry forward.
In May, 2011, the First Congregational Church of Park Ridge, U.C.C. voted by a very strong majority to proclaim itself an Open and Affirming Congregation.Based on and with excerpts from: “A History of First Congregational Church United Church of Christ: 1873-1973″ By Florence Pratt. Updated: 1974-1995 by Joe Steele