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Central Presbyterian Church - National Fund For Sacred Places
2020 Cohort

Central Presbyterian Church

Summit, New Jersey

Founded in 1870, Central Presbyterian Church marked the growth of the town of Summit and the expansion of the Presbyterian church in the region.

Central Presbyterian Church by Jeanie Thiemann

Central Presbyterian Church by Jeanie Thiemann

2020 Cohort

Central Presbyterian Church

Summit, New Jersey

Founded in 1870, Central Presbyterian Church marked the growth of the town of Summit and the expansion of the Presbyterian church in the region.

Among the founders of the church were the children of Jonathan Crane Bonnell, a major Summit landowner and great-grandson of the founder of First Presbyterian Church in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Bonnell facilitated the town’s development through offering free right of way to the Morris and Essex Railroad on his land in exchange for building a train station in Summit, ultimately leading to a train service connecting Summit and New York City in 1837. Over three decades later, Central Presbyterian began meeting above a general store before building a church on Bonnell’s land in 1871. The congregation commissioned Donn Barber, a prominent New York architect, to build a grander, Gothic Revival church in 1906.

According to the congregation, Central Presbyterian has identified as a “community resource for everyone” since its founding. The church provides space and support to dozens of local, regional, and international charitable organizations. Since 1986, the congregation has supported community members facing housing insecurity through Family Promise, a national nonprofit that provides resources for families to achieve economic stability. Up to five families at a time can be housed for a week, four times a year, in private rooms located off the church’s auditorium. Central Presbyterian also hosts tutoring programs and weekday nursery school and kindergarten for local children.

With a National Fund grant of $250,000 and nearly $1.4 million in matching funds raised by the congregation, Central Presbyterian completed urgent repairs to stained-glass windows and exterior masonry as part of a large-scale restoration project. With a renewed sense of pride in the historic building, the congregation now looks forward to safely expanding space sharing opportunities in the coming years at this centrally located church.

Central Presbyterian Church by Betsy Phillips

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