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1712- 2012

First Baptist Church of Cape May

This part of the lease between Jacob Hand and the trustees of the First Baptist Church goes into great detail about the use of Parsonage Plantation, which Hand was leasing for five years, for the sum of $200. Among other stipulations, he was not to remove any hay, straw, grass, dung, soil or compost from the property.

300 1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

300: 1712-2012 First Baptist Church of Cape May By Susan Armour Copyright Š 2012 First Baptist Church of Cape May

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission from the publisher.

Published by Exit Zero Publishing, Inc. www.exitzero.us Book design by Jack Wright

First edition: May 2012 ISBN 978-0-9830768-4-1

Contents Foreword..................................................................................................................................... P6 Our Beginnings......................................................................................................................... P8 chapter

1 The Organization of the Church.................................................................... P12


2 Biographical Sketches of the Pastors............................................................. P20


3 Meeting Houses.................................................................................................. P42


4 Additional Structures....................................................................................... P62


5 Parsonages............................................................................................................ P64


6 Mission House & Pavilion Mission House.................................................. P70


7 Baptisms.............................................................................................................. P72


8 The Cemetery..................................................................................................... P76


9 Sunday School..................................................................................................... P84


10 Ladies’ Mite Society......................................................................................... P102


11 Mission Outreach.............................................................................................. P112


12 Daughter Churches........................................................................................... P116


13 Social Issues & Community Involvement................................................... P120


14 Music & Drama Through the Years............................................................ P124


15 Anniversary Celebrations............................................................................... P136


16 Community Christian Library...................................................................... P146


17 Clubs, Programs & Activities........................................................................ P150


18 Reminiscences.................................................................................................... P158

Acknowledgements.................................................................................................................. P168

My Church My church should be a lamp for those Who somehow went astray, And even now, confused and hurt, Need light along the way. My church should be less occupied With ritual and creed When simple Christian kindness is By far the greatest need. And yet my church, where God should dwell, May never make a start, Unless I first shall make a home For Christ within my heart. — Viney Endicott, former member of First Baptist Church of Cape May


Foreword irst Baptist Church of Cape May, the oldest church in Cape May County, has been an integral part of the lives of the inhabitants of the county from its beginnings. The church has kept all types of records through the years. The oldest record book is 1712. There are original deeds from the early 1700s. Bills, receipts and letters have been kept regarding transactions throughout the county. These records detail what life was like in Cape May County for three hundred years, means of livelihood, business dealings, transportation, types of materials used and the cost. There are Poor House Records showing how the congregation took care of the needy of the community. The dismission letters show how mobile the people were. The Church Minute Books are full of information concerning members; baptisms, deaths and some earlier marriages. They record the stand the Church took on slavery, the Civil War, liquor consumption, and behavior considered inappropriate for Church members. Many names and signatures of prominent citizens of Cape May County are documented through out the Yearly Records. The subscription papers give an insight into the financial status of the inhabitants. The early Church served as arbitrator when there were disputes among the residents of the county and these records have been kept. There are legal papers with the seal of the surrogate on them and copies of wills. Their Corporation is: State of New Jersey Cape May County July 29th, 1786 – To Eli Eldredge Esq. Clerk of the County and recorded 25th May, 1781 by Eli Eldredge Clk. The First Baptist Church of Cape May celebrated three hundred years of service in 2012. It is rare to find a church that has prevailed for so many years. We wish to continue to serve God, our community and those in need in far away places. We will continue to preserve the records of our service so future generations can learn from and appreciate the lives their forebears lived.

Our Beginnings


o r g a n Edwards, the famed 18th century Baptist historian, dates the beginnings of our fellowship back to 1675, “in which year a vessel with emigrants arrived in Delaware from England who settled at the Cape and some elsewhere. Among those at the Cape, were two Baptists, George Taylor and Philip Hill.” A small group gathered at the home of George Taylor to pray and study the bible. A bible would have been the first and often only book found in the homes of the early settlers on the Cape. Children learned to read by reading the bible and could recite many passages by heart. As converts were added to their gathering, they were taken to Philadelphia for baptism, as the records of the Philadelphia Baptist Association show. These were to be the nucleus for our present church family. Who were these people? We cannot be absolutely sure, but the Cresses,

Hands, Stillwells, Stites, Swains, Whildins, and other early families to the area were probably included. In the year of 1688, George Taylor and Philip Hill invited the Rev. Elias Keach to visit the Cape. During his visit he ordained a Mr. Ashton to be a deacon, who encouraged the people. Some time after 1691, the Baptists were known to have met in Coxe Hall in Portsmouth, now known as Town Bank. George Taylor died in 1702 and Philip Hill in 1704. Soon thereafter, George Eaglesfield, a licensed minister, visited the Cape. After ministering here for a few years he antagonized the people because he did not desire to form them into a church. After he left, the aged Rev. Thomas Griffiths, of Welsh Tract, Delaware, was requested to visit in the fall of 1711. He came intending to acquire land, retire here and devote himself to the Baptist—but for some reason, his plan didn’t materialize. Knowing of Welsh ministers residing in Philadelphia, he recommended the Baptists write in order to obtain one. By this means correspondence with the Rev. Nathaniel Jenkins was begun.

THE SIGNERS OF THE ORIGINAL COVENANT, 1712 Nathaniel Jenkins Minister

Abigail Buck

Ester Jenkins

Elisabeth Robinson

Ruth Downs

Arthur Crefse

Mary Jennings

Lydia Shaw

John Crefse

Elisabeth Hand

Seth Brooks

Hannah Whilden

Abraham Smith

Sarah Jecox

William Segrave

Elisabeth Stillwell

Jonathan Swain

Elisabeth Taylor

John Stillwell

Hannah Stites

Henry Stites

Marjery Smith

Benjamin Hand

Ruth Swain

Richard Downs

Mary Swain

Ebenezar Swain

Mercy Crefse

William Smith

Mary Osborn

John Taylor

Mrs. Taylor

Abraham Hand

Jeruthey Hand

Christopher Church

Ellothees Smith

Charles Robinson

As written in the Minute Book of the 1st Baptist Church of Cape May

Map of Portsmouth (now Town Bank) showing 10 1712-2012: FirstofBaptist Church of Cape May Coxe Hall, meeting place early Baptists

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May



The Organization of the Church


here were two types of meetings in the early period of the church, one for worship and one for the business of Christian discipline. In recent times, the latter meeting has changed. There were two types of business meetings in the early period of this church — one was called either the “Day of Conference”, the “Day of Business” or the “Day of Discipline.” Following a sermon preached by the minister, the congregation proceeded to business; these meetings were largely devoted to matters of right living, spiritual concerns, and the discipline of members, elections and financial matters. The other meeting was the “Day of Preparation before our communion season.” This meeting was held the Saturday before the Sunday of Communion. New converts testified of their spiritual experience, prospective members were examined concerning their beliefs, and candidates were approved for membership by means of baptism, or transfer of letter of membership. The spiritual state of the congregation was discussed, and matters needing church

discipline reported. After the 1840s, the “Meeting of Preparation for communion” is less frequently reported in the Clerk’s minutes. The last record shows that the regular business meetings had assumed the function of the “Meeting of Preparation.” The distinction between the “Business” and “preparation” meetings had dissolved gradually and in particular in the 1850s. We read much of the disciplinary action taken against members on the “Day of Discipline.” The records show many instances of members who were suspended from communion, excluded or excommunicated, or restored to fellowship. For example, at the meeting of May 12, 1866, it was noted, “Sister _____ for marrying a man that had another wife, the Church Clerk was instructed to write her and get her to state the facts as they are to the Church.” Another member was brought before the church for oyster poaching in 1866. A committee was appointed in 1867 to visit one member found to be drinking “spirituous liquor.” Profanities, attending a non-Baptist church, immorality, failure to pay for the support of the minister, theft, and abusing one’s

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Church poor book from July 10, 1826


Receipt for purchases of hardware for the poor house

From 1849, a receipt for a coffin for Mary Cresse... the church took good care of its community.

livestock were some of the other charges appearing on the church records. These disciplinary matters not only pertained to personal morality, but also dealt with legal matters. In 1845 at the September 13th meeting, a committee was appointed to enquire into the difficulty between three members who were involved in a lawsuit between them. Then again, the church discovered that some legal problems could not be arbitrated. Two members were disputing oyster-bed boundaries, and the church granted official permission for

them to have the matter settled by due process of law. THE PASTOR This position is the most important position in the organization of the church. It is the glue that holds all the other boards, committees, and groups together, enabling the church to function as one body. Today the duties of a pastor include preaching the Gospel, administering communion, preparing people for works of service and visiting members of the congregation. A pastor is in charge of the


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

An 1856 letter from the church’s Richard Thompson, requesting a barrel of wheat flour for a poor widow woman, Eliza Walker, and her orphaned children — back then, children were considered orphans if their father was dead.

spiritual welfare of the congregation THE BOARD OF DEACONS The deacons are the spiritual officers of the church. They bear the responsibility of caring for the poor and needy in both spiritual and financial needs. In the early days, they were in charge of collecting the funds needed to pay the salary of a pastor. Today, that is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees. Another responsibility of the deacons is taking care of the Lord’s Supper (communion) which is observed on the first Sunday of the month and occasionally on special occasions. Years ago, those who were sick and unable to work had to rely on the community, which in most cases was the church, for their pressing needs. Among the church’s old books is one called “The Baptist Church Poor Book” kept by Richard Thompson in 1826. The first entries in the book are amounts of money collected by different persons for missionary purposes (needs of the congregation and others in the community). It seems that each

collector was given an area in which he or she was to contact church members for donations. Individual donators are not named but funds appear to have been raised by subscription. The amounts are not large; $1.35 was collected by James Thompson. Other amounts included 87 ½ cents, 12 ½ cents, and $1.86. These amounts seem very small today, but most folks had little or no cash to give in 1826. Discipline matters were first considered by a council consisting of the pastor and deacons. If it was determined that the matter needed discipline, it was brought before the congregation where the “accused” would state his or her case. The case brought against Samuel Buck is interesting, as this excerpt from church records shows: Sept. 12th, 1885—Bro. C. William Foster brought a charge against Br. Samuel Buck for violation of church covenant and unchristian conduct. The charge? He refused to contribute to the pastor’s salary. There was a Samuel J. Buck and a Samuel A. Buck.

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Report from a church committee looking into the differences between Enoch Hewitt and Jacob Hand

Samuel J. was probably the one who was charged as he would have been 63 years old at the time. Samuel A. was the captain of the Ocean City, a party boat. Whichever Samuel it was, he wasn’t going to take this sitting down. He got up before the congregation and stated his case. His statements weren’t recorded but the charges against him were dropped. Samuel J. Buck was one of the men who were to give a five-minute talk on “Memories of

the Past” for the 182nd Anniversary Celebration in 1894. The early deacons were also called to settle disputes between the inhabitants of the community, as this excerpt from the records shows: Aug. 1846 “Whereas Jacob Hand represented to this Church that Jacob High had turned his cow into said Hands pasture by another consent and wishes this church to take cognizance of the matter” A commit-


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tee was appointed “to intercede with said High to remove from off said Hands premises his cow by Monday morning by ten O’clock or the said Hand would prosecute said High.” The first named deacon was William Smith, Esqr. He was one of the 37 signers of the original constitution. Another deacon of the early days was Daniel Smith In his original last Will and Testament, written October 15, 1785, he is stated to be a deacon of this church. This document is among the records of the church. Other deacons mentioned in the early writing were Jacob Cresse and Thomas Yet who were elected in March, 1803. Aaron Hewitt was elected in September, 1815 and James Thomson, Joshua Crawford, Enos Mulford and Nathaniel Eldridge were elected in 1822. Elections for deacons in 1838 were different from today (excerpt from church records): “…that each member is to wright the 4 mens names On a piece of paper who they wish to appoint to the office of deacon and Br. Powell is appointed to receive them and they are to be counted at Saturday meeting in August the 4 men having the most voats is to be considered elected unless one or more of them should decline then the next hiest to be elected.” Today, we have six deacons elected by the congregation for a three-year term. THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES The office of Trustee dates back to 1786. Seven trustees were elected, and their names were submitted on July 29, 1786 to the Clerk of Cape May County, Mr. Eli Eldredge. The document reads: State of New Jersey Cape May County, July 29th 1786 To Eli Eldredge Esqr., Clerk of the County These are to certify to all whom it may concern, that agreeable to a late law of this State for incorporating Societies, we have been this day duly elected, by this place, to serve as the first Trustees, of said Baptist Society; and as said law requires our Name to be recorded by you, therefore hereafter be known by the name of the Trustees of the First Baptist Society of Cape May: In Witness whereof we have hereunto set our hands and seals...

John Cresse Jonathan Hildreth Jonathan Townsend Christopher Smith Jonathan Hand David Johnson Jesse Hand

seal seal seal seal seal seal seal

Five of these trustees were baptized members of the church when the board was formed. Jonathan Hand was baptized in 1819. Jesse Hand was a non-member. In the early days trustee swore to support the Constitution of the United States, to bear true faith and allegiance to the government established in New Jersey and to faithfully execute their duties to the church. The responsibilities of the Board of Trustees were to manage the finances and upkeep of all properties and buildings owned by the church. In 1786, the church had property just outside the small village known today as Court House on which they had erected the Second Meeting House with a small graveyard around it. They also owned the Parsonage Plantation just north of the village of Court House on Seaside Road (now Route 9). Funds came into the church by subscriptions. When a need arose, a subscription list was drawn up and circulated amongst members and friends. If you were donating to the need, your name was affixed to the list along with the amount you could afford. Other times a list was drawn, and you were assessed the amount it was determined you could afford. These amounts were very small by our standards, just a few pennies or up to a few dollars for those who were better off. These amounts were often paid in instalments of 25 cents or more at a time. Always a major concern was raising the salary for the pastor. Pews were rented during the years 1790 to 1841. These funds went towards the pastor’s salary. If the rental of pews did not generate enough to pay the salary of the pastor, a tax was levied according to the means of the individuals. Dr. John Dickinson paid $10 to rent a pew below stairs (the first floor). The upkeep of the Parsonage Property was never end-

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Leather book with the record of the first election of trustees on May 17, 1787 with the signatures of seven trustees and their seals. Right: August 24, 1816 oaths taken by Aaron Hewitt and Joseph Hildreth, who were elected trustees.

Subscription paper October 8, 1852 to October 8, 1853: these listed the names of people who volunteered a certain amount of money, according to their ability to pay. Usually these funds helped pay for the pastor’s salary.


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Pew rents from 1809-1823 — for example, John Dickinson, paid $10 in 1810 to rent a pew in the Second Meeting House.

John Dickinson was a doctor who fought in the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812.

ing. Its boundaries were on both sides of Seaside Road (as it was then known) reaching to the meadows on the east side. Banks were built to keep salt water from encroaching on the fields. These banks were in constant need of repair. Men from the congregation would work on them to meet the amounts assessed to or pledged by them. The use of the land not allotted to the pastor was often rented out. Timber was sold, hay was cut, gunning rights were issued along with ice cutting rights on Hawkes Pond and these funds were also used for the pastor’s salary. Today the trustees are responsible for the finances of the church and the upkeep of properties. In addition to the church complex on Route 9, there is the cemetery on Church Street, the Mission House on Route 9 South and the parsonage property with its large fields and pavilion used for picnics and youth program. Two of the fields were planted with potatoes and corn in 2011 with the produce going to the Atlantic City Rescue Mission — 16,000 lbs of potatoes were dug from one field. We have six trustees, all members of the church, elected by the congregation for a three-year term.

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Agreement between the trustees and Jacob Hand for use of the parsonage property. The lease was for five years, starting on April 1, 1846, and the cost was $200 — $50 on the execution of the lease, another $50 three months later, and a note for $100 to be paid in two years.


Biographical Sketches of the Pastors NATHANIEL JENKINS, SR. 1712-1730 The first minister of this church after the official drawing up of the Church Covenant and acceptance into the fellowship of the Philadelphia Baptist Association was Nathaniel Jenkins. Rev. Jenkins was born in Caerdicanshire, Wales, March 25th, 1678. He was ordained to preach in his homeland. In 1710, he packed his meager belongings, and sailed for the New World with his wife and infant son, Nathaniel, Jr. He was living at Pennypack (North Philadelphia) when correspondence with the church began. He visited the Cape that winter and returned home. Another letter from the congregation officially called him to be pastor. He returned with his family in May, 1712. The following is a copy of a letter sent by the Cape May Baptists to Mr. Jenkins, found in the first writings of the church: October ye 27th 1711 Dear & Well Beloved Brother Nathaniel Jenkins Our love to you & your wife with all our Christian friends

with you. These are to inform you that we received yours bearing date Septem. Ye 18th in which you give us to understand your willing and ready mind to visit us in our low State. We return our thanks to you for your love & care of us & desire to praise the Name of ye Lord for his mercies, desiring the Good Lord may direct your way to us & that you may be instrumental in the hand of ye Lord for good in this place. Our earnest desire is that you may give us a visit as soon as you can-and if there be a likeing by you and us we shall do for you as far as rule & reason & ability doth afford us; as for Mr. Eaglesfield, he hath left us & we know not that he will come again, neither are we under any engagement to him. So we rest desiring the Good Lord to unite us all to his fear: no more, but we remain Your Christian friends & Brethren John Taylor Seth Brooks John Crefse Jonathan Swain Abraham Smith Peter Corson Ebenezer Swain Abraham Hand Willm. Smith Henry Stites Benjamin Hand Rev. Jenkins was a gifted leader, and distinguished himself as a member of the Colonial Legislature of New

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Jersey from 1723-1733. The pulpit at the Cohansey Baptist Church at Rhodestown, NJ was vacant in 1729 and Rev. Jenkins was asked to supply and made monthly visits to that church. When the call came to Rev. Jenkins to accept the pulpit at Cohansey full-time in 1730, he did so. However, after leaving the Cape, Rev. Jenkins frequently returned to preach, baptize and encourage the congregation. Mrs. Nathaniel Jenkins bore nine children. Their names were: Nathaniel Jr., Hannah, Phebe, Tabitha, David, Jonathan, Esther, Abinadab, and Jonadab. In the year 1754, Rev. Jenkins was laid to rest at the age of seventy-six, in his twenty-fifth year of his pastorate at Cohansey. NATHANIEL JENKINS, JR., 1747-1753 As the second resident pastor, Rev. Jenkins Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps; however, he could not match the stature of his father. In 1747, he was called to this church to be the pastor. He arrived in the summer of that year and was later ordained in October. He did exhibit superior intellect and culture and promise. It is said of him that his health broke and he fell into “fits.” This may have been the cause of his problem with alcoholism. The congregation presented his case to the Philadelphia Baptist Association for discipline and action. In October, 1753, Rev. Jenkins Jr. was suspended as pastor and church member after a committee from the Association investigated the problem. His wife, Elizabeth Seely, bore him seven children. They were Phebe, Mary, Rhody, Elizabeth, Nathaniel, Jonathan and Ephraim. These married into the Cape May families of the Smiths, Crows, Eldredges, Stites, Hands, Fosters and Ludlums. Nathaniel Jenkins Jr. died in 1769 at the age of fiftynine. SAMUEL HEATON 1756-1760 The third pastor of the congregation was Samuel Heaton who was a dedicated pioneer preacher. Mr. Hea-


ton was born at Wrentham, Connecticut in 1711. Raised a Presbyterian, he settled in Morris County, New Jersey, around the year 1734 where he was engaged in iron mining and manufacturing, It was at that time he wanted his infant son baptized but his wife objected. She demanded of him. “If you show me one text that warrants christening a child, I will take him to the minister.” Mr. Heaton could not satisfy his wife so he went to his Presbyterian minister. The Rev. Samuel Sweesey confessed that there was no text that proved the practice, but that infant baptism was a deduction from several passages.” Mr. Heaton was shocked and went home to “search the scriptures.” As a result, he became a Baptist. He was immediately baptized at Kingwood, NJ and went home to Schooley’s Mountain and founded a Baptist Church there. In 1751, he was ordained; the following year he went to Mill Creek, Virginia, and from there to another area of Virginia, where he founded a church. The French and Indian War flared up in the wilderness in 1754 and General Braddock was defeated near Pittsburg in 1755. This left the frontier exposed to Indian raids. Mr. Heaton and his family were forced to flee. He found his way to First Baptist Church of Cape May where he served until 1760. JOHN SUTTON 1764-1768 We know little about Rev. John Sutton. He settled here after the church had been without a pastor for four years. In the interim, a certain Mr. James Tolbert supplied the church for one year and moved away. It was at this time the congregation purchased the Baptist Plantation just north of town (known today as the Naylor Property). Rev. John Sutton was the first minister to occupy the parsonage plantation. The old records state, “And we lived under the means of Grace, by the ministry of the Reverent John Sutton till May 1768 when he removed to Nova Scotia, at which time we was left destitute for the space of one year and eleven months, excepting transient visits.” Today, a descendent of John Sutton attends First


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Dismission letter for Rev. Peter Peterson Vanhorn and his wife Margaret, dated October 6, 177o from the church at Pennypack, in Philadelphia. Their next stop was the First Baptist Church, where Rev. Vanhorn served for five years.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Tombstone of Margaret, wife of Rev. Peter Vanhorn, who passed away March 8, 1775, age 62


Receipt for 5 pounds thirteen shillings received by Rev. Artis Seagrave for money laid out on the parsonage

Baptist Church of Cape May. Bonnie Jean Sayre Heidorn is descended from John Sutton through her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Leslie L. Foster, who resided in South Seaville, NJ. PETER PETERSON VANHORN 1770-1775 In the old records we find: “November ye 3d 1770 the Revd. P. P. Vanhorn and Margaret his wife were received into full membership in this Church, by virtue of a letter of dismission from the Church of Penypack unto which they belong…” He was a man of great ability and rendered invaluable service wherever he went. He recommended raising money for the College at Rhode Island (now Brown University). Rhode Island College replaced the school at Hopewell, NJ. While at this church, his wife died and was buried in the Baptist Cemetery. The church record states: “He quit hous keeping and inclined to travel, and upon application made by him to the Church, the Church gave him a recommendatory Dismissal done July 1775.”

The Rev. David Smith: “First preached in publick April 1773. Was ordained March 1776 and died Feb. 1784, aged 54 years. His work is done and here he’s laid till the last Trump awakens the dead.”

until 1776. On the “fourth Lord’s day of March 1776” the church records indicates Mr. Smith was ordained by Mr. Kelsey and Mr. Heaton of Dividing Creek. He was fortysix years old at the time. In 1784, he died after serving

DAVID SMITH 1775-1784 The next pastor was a local boy. He was converted in the church and baptized here. He was licensed by this church to preach in 1774 and served as a supply preacher

eleven years. ARTIS SEAGRAVE 1785-1788 Rev. Artis Seagrave was the seventh minister of this


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church and came from the church in Pittsgrove, NJ. His pastorate was brief and caused a great controversy. The doctrinal issue of Universal Salvation had spread among the nation’s churches, and this church was one severely involved in the issue. Artis Seagrave believed Universal Salvation was no bar to communion in this church whereas the congregation disagreed with him. In 1788, the issue came to a head in this church. At the October church meeting, Pastor Seagrave was suspended from ministerial duties and his letter of dismissal was given to the Pittsgrove Church. In December, however, the congregation decided to rescind the letter, and to excommunicate Artis Seagrave. The issue created a great deal of ill feelings and hurt the church for many years. JOHN STANCLIFF 1789-1802 Rev. John Stancliff settled here on October 1, 1789. He labored to counteract the problems created by his predecessor. He was called to his reward January 19, 1802 after serving for twelve years and three months. Although nothing more is known of this pastor, his faithfulness in the face of difficulty is to his credit, and served to stabilize the church.

of this church simply record that thirty-two members were added during his ministry. He served five years, seven months and five days, and died the third of January, 1808, on a Sunday morning.

JONATHAN GARMAN 1802-1808 We know very little of this pastor. The First Records

THOMAS ROBINSON 1822-1831 Rev. Thomas Robinson was born in the Town

JENKIN DAVID 1808-1822 Rev. Jenkin David was born in Pembrokeshire, Wales in 1753 and was called to be pastor in 1808. Our records indicate he was an evangelist at heart, conducting numerous meeting around the county. In Dennis Creek, he held meetings in the homes of the Johnsons and Ludlams; in Upper Township he preached at the home of Henry Swain and in Dias Creek he evangelized at the home of Jesse Springer. The records state that a Christopher Smith gave him trouble. The cause of the animosity was not disclosed although Mr. Smith was accused of “Persecuting the Church and Minister.” Later, Smith petitioned to be restored to fellowship, but the Church ruled that only on condition that Mr. David and Mr. Smith were reconciled. The outcome is not shown in the records. The West N. J. Baptist Association record of 1869 says of him that “he was beloved by all and as a good man.”

Payment of $5 pew rent received by the Jenkin David, church minister from 1808-1822, from Joshua Crawford.

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of Staines, Middlesex, England on June 13, 1792. He accepted a call to pastor the church and settled here on January 11, 1832. This humble and devoted servant of God was pastor eight years. SAMUEL SMITH 1831-1838 Rev. Samuel Smith was born in New Castle County, Delaware, September 23, 1796.He upheld the dignity of the pastoral office for seven years. The church records indicate that some dissention occurred in the summer of 1835 with “Brother Smith.” The cause of the problem was not disclosed. A vote was taken that August on whether or not to dismiss Pastor Smith. Forty-three voted to keep their Pastor, sixteen for his leaving. Again, in 1837, another dispute arose between Pastor Smith and Joshua Crawford, with neither censured. The tensions between Mr. Smith and members of the Church did not subside. In September, 1837, another vote was taken and this time the congregation approved his severance to take effect the following April. In reaction, Rev. Smith did not show up at the November or December meetings, nor did he serve at the communion Service in February. He was paid what was due him March 9, 1838 and he terminated his work. Where the fault lay is difficult to determine but favorable things were attributed to him by the Association and the records. Fifty-three members were added to this Church by him. PETER POWELL 1838-1843 His ministry was very rewarding. In the five year ministry, Peter Powell welcomed 234 people into the membership, and in the period of 1838 to 1839 he baptized exactly one hundred persons. He was highly esteemed as a good minister. The Association reported that the services were well attended and prayer meetings as well with a “solemn” spirit. There were two Bible classes and three Sunday Schools “enriching their minds with Bible truth.” An interesting note from the same source shows that the Church’s three schools had 23


teachers and 158 students and a library of 400 volumes. Church membership had grown from 97 members in 1837 to 192 in 1839. ISAAC MOORE 1843-1846 & 1857-1860 Rev. Isaac Moore was twice pastor at First Baptist of Cape May. He served three years the first time. Why he resigned, we are not told, but the Church had to sell some standing timber on the parsonage plantation property in order to pay his salary. The Church records show that the timber sold for $144.45. The congregation saw fit to call him again so the first parting must have been amicable. His ministry was a success, adding 80 members over the six years he served. DAVID JAMES 1847-1850 Rev. David James was another native Welshman. There has always been an affinity between the Baptist churches of New Jersey and Welsh Baptist preaching. One who knew him well said of him, He was a good man, an evangelical preacher, and of a quiet retiring disposition.” L.F. BARNEY 1850-1852 From church records: “Levi F. Barney, the 16th pastor, was doubtless the most profound in learning and eloquence of any of its pastors.” As recorded in the Church minutes, Brother Barney’s contract was most interesting… “Between Levi F. Barney and the Trustees of the First Baptist Church. Rev. Barney agrees to take pastoral charge of the said, for one year from the first of March, 1851 for the sum of three hundred dollars and the parsonage. The trustees of the said Church agrees to furnish two cows for Mr. Barney while he continues on the parsonage, and the cost of the two cows whatever it may be to be deducted from fifty dollars and the balance to be paid in cash to Mr. Barney – to make it more plain the cows and the balance of the fifty dollars is over and above the three hundred dollars Mr. Barney to have the increase of the stock and to


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get the hay and take care of said stock on the parsonage property – land tax to be paid by the Trustees.” He served only two years and was remembered at Cape May as a Christian gentleman and an excellent preacher. That his stay was short may possibly have to do with the fact that the use of a bass viol in worship caused a long-term controversy which began in 1851 and was not resolved until 1856. Again the Church’s progress would be hindered for a time. JAMES E. WILSON 1853-1857 Born March 17, 1830, he was only 23 years old when he began his ministry here. During his tenure the bass viol controversy would be finally resolved, to his diplomatic credit. Then, in 1852, during the “protracted meeting” when an evangelist was preaching, the Meeting House by the cemetery, caught fire and burned down. A new edifice would be built on Main Street (Route 9). His salary was low even for that day, perhaps due to his youth, only $300, with parsonage. Thus in the fall of 1854 he resigned, but the Church agreed to raise his salary to $450, and he stayed on until 1857. When the Civil War broke out, he went to serve as a Chaplain.

WILLIAM SWINDEN 1860-1865 From church records: “William Swinden was pastor during the war of the rebellion, and was most intensely interested in the final success of the Northern army. Rev. Swinden was born in Worchester, England, October 25, 1826. He was called at a salary of $550 which was $75 less than the previous minister. However, this contract also included the rent payment of a parsonage he was to find. Finding suitable housing could have been a problem. When Pastor Swinden resigned, it was voted to place a resolution of commendation in the national Baptist newspaper of the time for their departing Pastor. ERASMUS N. JENCKS 1865-1867 When Mr. Jencks was called, the records show that he was asked to find his own housing. The parsonage plantation had been sold in 1857, and the two preceding pastors also were required to find housing. This presented some problems to both the pastors and the Church. Mr. Jencks was paid $700 plus the cost of renting a home. In the two years he served he would add 84 members. He seems to have been a gifted churchman and could have accomplished even greater things in this community.

Receipt for a cow and calf bought for Rev. Levi Barney, minister from 1850-52.

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ALLEN J. HIRES 1867-1874 In 1868, the Church built a new parsonage on a lot just west of the church. Rev. Hires was called at a salary of $800 plus parsonage. For some reason he resigned at the end of 1870 only to withdraw his resignation at the unanimous request of the congregation. His decision to stay was most fortunate because in 1871 Pastor Hires along with another visiting preacher brought a revival to the congregation. One of his chief contributions on behalf of this Church and the West Association was to write an historical paper about this Church which was published in the Association minutes of 1869. Of particular note is that this historical sketch about the Cape May Church alludes to a book of minutes that was written during the 1700s which since Rev. Hires time has been misplaced and lost. It has just come to the attention of the Church that The New Jersey Historical Society, Newark has in its collection titled “Baptist Church of the Middle Precinct of Cape May Minute Book, 1766-1792”. Many members and friends of the church firmly believe that Allen J. Hires, the 21st pastor, did more during his seven years pastorate to advance its spiritual and financial welfare, than any one of his predecessors. FRANK B. GREUL 1874-1878 From church record: “Fred B. Greul was highly esteemed by the church and congregation, for the precise and systematic manner in which he labored in all departments of his church work.” ALFRED CAULDWELL 1878-1880 Pastor Cauldwell was called from the Baptist Church of Dalton, Pa. He accepted a salary of $700 and agreed to settle at Cape May in November. The records also stipulate “he to keep a horse after a reasonable lapse of time after his settlement.” Undoubtedly this preacher had no horse and the congregation expected their new pastor to keep one for the conduct of visitation in the County. In less than two years he resigned due to inadequate funds


In April of 1861, Reaves Issard received $36 from William Eldridge for renting his house to the church for the use of the pastor, the Rev William Swinden.

to pay his salary. WILLIAM L. JONES 1881-1883 There being a question about the sufficiency of his former ordination, twelve churches responded to a call and sat in Council the 24th of March and unanimously recommended the ordination of Brother Jones which was done on the evening of the same day. The work of the Church seems to have been discouraging to Mr. Jones, Numerous deaths and transfers seems to have caused a decline in membership and support. Only ten baptisms were recorded. This notation is found in the minutes of January, 1883. The Pastor was voted a fifty dollar purse because, “our pastor has faithfully served us at a salary too small for his many demands.” WILLIAM E. CORNWELL 1883-1886 The Rev. Cornwell began his labors the first Sabbath of June, 1883. He came from Byberry, PA, and was awarded a salary of $600. He is commended in the Church records for being “Faithful in visitation” and for


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Rev. Allen J. Hires served from 1867-74. His wife, Elizabeth S. Clawson, is pictured above. The Rev. Hires withdrew his resignation in 1870 and went on to be an invigorating figure at First Baptist.

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caring for the members. In the spring of 1886, he experienced some kind of illness that prevented him from conducting two baptisms, and these had to be performed by neighboring pastors from the Rio Grande and Calvary churches. We must remember in those days baptisms were conducted in the outdoors. Ministers would stand in the water for long periods of time baptizing the candidates without benefit of water proof waders. The Association letter of 1886 records that “Brother Cornwell’s health was suffering from our heavy sea air, and removal to a more genial atmosphere with him is both a duty and a necessity.” Therefore, his resignation was submitted at the May, 1886 meeting effective August 8, 1886. He transferred his letter to the Woodstown Church. H. STERLING WATT 1886-1887 From a newspaper clipping: “It was acknowledged by all that H. Sterling Watt was enabled in some supernatural or most mysterious manner, to draw together the largest concourse of people of any of his predecessors. Upon one occasion, it is said; more than seven hundred people were listening attentively while he was most earnestly striving to persuade them to come on board the ark of safety. “On April 6, 1887, Rev. Watt passed gently and peacefully from the scene of his earthly labors to his eternal reward. No word can do justice to the earnest, faithful, self-sacrificing labors of our late Pastor, Rev. H. Sterling Watt. His grave is in the Baptist Cemetery with monument erected by the Church members.” Twenty tree years later an interesting note appearedin the January 12, 1910 church minutes: “Resolved, that the sexton of the cemetery keep in good and clean condition the lot in which our previous Pastor Watt is buried, and that it shall be done gratuitously.” SAMUEL B. HAYWARD 1887-1890 From church records: “His studious mind, his thor-


ough knowledge of the Scriptures, and his tenacious memory enabled him to preach the Gospel in its apostolic purity.” It appears that a conflict arose between the pastor and two laymen as reported in October, 1889. Rev. Hayward submitted his resignation which was turned down by the members at the November meeting. He was urged to stay until March 25, and then reconsider at that time. He agreed, but at the end of March he terminated his services. E. BASSET MORRIS 1890-1892 Coming from Millville, Rev. Morris came in June, 1890, at a salary of $700, parsonage and moving expenses. His stay would be short lasting until May, 1892. The May minutes show that his departure was due in part to ill health in the family. The letters of Rev. & Mrs. Morris were sent to Court Street Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Va. HORACE G. McKEAN 1892-1893 Unmarried when he came to Cape May, Rev. Kean arrived in July, 1892, coming from the Pilgrim Church in Philadelphia. His salary was set at $600, parsonage and moving costs. At the September meeting he requested and was granted a leave of absence in order to get married. The leave was to take effect at the end of the year. A wedding gift of $100 was collected for the couple. After he was married, Pastor McKean shared his desire to resign in October, 1893. A committee was formed at the end of March to dissuade him from departing later in the year. However, in July he resigned a second time to take effect August first with the three-month notice to be waved. THOMAS E. RICHARDS 1894-1895 Pastor Richards had musical ability for it was noted at the 182nd Church Anniversary in 1894 that he sang some solos. However his interest in the Church’s welfare, seemed to diminish and his duties to be neglected.


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announced that he is about to engage in Mission work in places remote from this Church, and has apparently lost all interest in the spiritual welfare of this Church which he engaged to serve, and whereas, his influence for good in this place is apparently lost; and whereas, he proposes to supply this pulpit with whomsoever he please, and to postpone its ordinances without authority of the Church. Therefore resolved; that the pastoral relation and contract between the Rev. T. E. Richards and this Church terminate on the 15th day of June 1895.” Obviously, Brother Richards was unhappy with the decision and in reaction wrote a letter withdrawing his and his wife’s membership with this congregation. The Church responded by passing a resolution of censure dated May 9, 1896. From A History of The First Baptist Church of Cape May by Rev. Kobele: “Whereas, Rev. T. E. Richards, late our Pastor, and his wife have in a private letter directed to J. F. Leaming, declared that they have withdrawn their membership from this Church, and would consider themselves no longer members and it being contrary to the rule and practice of Baptist churches for members to sever their connection with the Church by persumptory withdrawal; and Whereas; the conduct of the said T. E. Richards and his wife have been notoriously unchristian; Therefore resolved, that this Church hereby withdraws the Hand of Fellowship from the said Thomas E. Richard and Elizabeth Richards, his wife.”

Although he served for less than a year, Rev. H. Sterling Watt achieved a legendary status for his abilities to draw, and captivate, huge crowds.

He was absent from the pulpit numerous times and needed pulpit supply preachers. The members expressed their displeasure at a special meeting called on the 15th of June, 1895 meeting, and in a business like and diplomatic manner, he was voted out. The resolution reads: “Whereas our Pastor, Rev. T. E. Richards has

FRANK H. SHERMER 1896-1899 At the close of the regular morning service on Sunday, December 8, Rev. F. H. Shermer, stepped to the side of the pulpit and said: “Dear Brethren. I hereby present my resignation as your pastor, the same to take effect on the 17th inst. I had come to the conclusion some time ago that my work here was accomplished.” JOHN W. CAINE 1900-1906 From the Cape May County Gazette, Friday 15, 1906: “Owing to ill health, the pastor of the Baptist church

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Rev. Frank H. Shermer served from 1896 to 1899.

The beloved Rev. John W. Caine was struck down by illness in 1906.


Rev. Thomas N. Martin was a “safe and wise leader.”

WILLIAM W. BULLOCK 1906-1910 William Bullock was the first pastor to live in the Third Parsonage.

THOMAS N. MARTIN 1914-1920 During the month of February, 1915, seventy persons were baptized into the church by Rev. Thomas Martin. In the entire year of 1915, there were one hundred three members added to the church. Rev. Martin started the Martin Men’s Class. From the church minutes: December 12, 1920: “… that Brother Martin has proven a safe and wise leader, an energetic worker, a faithful shepherd and a sympathetic friend and neighbor... which is attested by both Community and press expressions.” Mrs. Martin was also acknowledged for her untiring labor and service.

ROBERT H. AUSTIN 1910-1913 From the Cape May County Gazette, Friday, June 20, 1913: “Rev. Robert H. Austin left here on Saturday to begin his pastorate of the Baptist church at Warrenville, PA... followed by the best wishes of a host of friends who respected him for his quiet, dignified demeanor, his Christian character and his marked ability as a pulpit orator.”

CHARLES W. HAINES 1921-1935 Rev. Charles W. Haines was named pastor-emeritus after serving 14 years as pastor of the church. “RESOLVED, that we hereby bear record to his able, earnest, and faithful preaching of the gospel while dwelling among us, to his capable leadership as an under shepherd... Mrs. Marion F. Haines, the pastor’s wife, was paid the highest tribute which she deserves.” (From church minutes)

here, Rev. J. W. Caine, will this week tender his resignation, notwithstanding the evident reluctance of the church to sever its relations with its beloved and universally respected pastor. “At the close of last Winter’s revival services he was stricken down with a sudden illness which was thought for days would be fatal, but he rallied and for some weeks has been able to go about town in a wheel chair.”


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Rev. and Mrs. Harry W. Rogge, who became a printer.

LOUIS FORSYTHE KIRLIN 1936-1940 After leaving First Baptist, Rev. Kirlin became pastor of 1st Baptist Church in Elizabeth, NJ. He served on Gov. Driscoll’s Youth council and was Director of Social Legislation and Action of the NJ Council of Churches. In the early 1950s, he moved to his wife’s ancestral farm in Trout Creek, NY and started publishing and editing the paper Grassroots, something he had wanted to do for 33 years. CHRISTAN W. DANNENHAUER 1940-1944 Rev. Dannenhauer was a charter member of the Cape May Court House Kiwanis Club and served as the club’s first president. He was an active member of the Court House Chamber of Commerce and was an ardent worker for the Burdette Tomlin Memorial Hospital.

Rev. Leroy Cunningham served from 1955 to 1957.

HARRY W. ROGGE 1944-1947 Before he entered the ministry, he was employed as a printer. On leaving here, he went to Bradford, PA, where he accepted a position with a large printing concern. DAVID J. JONES 1948-1954 David Jones’ resignation letter: “After having spent over six years in happy relationships with both church and community, it is with a measure of sincere regret that I take this step. “Words fail us in our attempt to express our gratitude for the comfort you brought us in the hours of our sorrow and now again in these days of trial you are proving yourselves to be true, staunch friends. You will always

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Rev. Charles Thorne was minister from 1959-65.

have a warm place in our hearts.” LEROY A CUNNINGHAM 1955-1957 The Ladies Aid sent $10 toward a scholarship to Bacone College in memory of Rev. Cunningham. He was interested in the college and “was a good worker among the Indians,” according to church records. The Comrade Sunday School Class sent $10.00 to Bacone College scholarship fund also. SAMUEL AMES WALKER – 1957-1958 On June 25, 1958, a joint meeting of the Board of Deacons and the Board of Trustees was held. It was decided, for the good of the Church, to ask Rev. Samuel A. Walker for his resignation.

The Cape May County Gazette reveals a changeover in 1936.


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CHARLES E. THORNE 1959-1965 In addition to his responsibilities in the church, he served as a member in the N. J. Baptist Convention Board of Managers, member of the Town and Country Committee and Secretary and treasurer of the N. J. Baptist Ministers Council. ROBERT F. KOBELE 1965-1970 Some Recollections from 1965 – 1970 by Rev. Robert F. Kobele... We arrived in Cape May Court House at the end of August 1965, having moved from North Utica, New York. My main project was to begin publishing the first editions of the new church newsletter, The Lamplighter. It was well received and a new addition to the church. However, the job was tedious using an old ink-messy hand cranked mimeograph. I am amazed that the “Lamplighter” has continued to today with the same name. I would have loved to have had a secretary and a modern day copy machine, as the church has now. I had put on a few pounds since my Navy days, so began a routine of jogging in the County Park. Jim Chadwick, Sr. and John MacBride and I would jog in the late afternoon when they got off work. When I jogged solo, I took my long-haired dachshund, Hansy, with me. The Park was more wilderness then than now and on my return trips over the years I was pleased to see the changes until, I discovered the Park had acquired a zoo. The old Baptist plantation, or Glebe, was in the area of the zoo I recalled from my research of the ’60s. It had a total of 60 acres on North Shore road and was owned by the church for four years less than 100 years, from 1761 to 1857. My suspicious aroused, I did a visual surveillance and could see Shore Road from the zoo walkway suggesting that the 60 acre site would easily encompass parts of the zoo grounds. Where Baptist ministers raised crops and cattle for their livelihood, African animals now roam. If some prophet in the 1700s had announced that this was to be the fate of the Baptist plantation, he would have been committed to an asylum.

I can’t help smiling even today. I learned a great deal in my younger days (I was 33 in 1965). My passion was Christian education. I began a class for young couples and formed the Board of Christian Education with the help of Marie Stone in 1966. The Board of Trustees was another matter. I did little to nothing to promote their work. They were the “experts” and it was wonderful to watch business men who loved the Lord work. The 5 years I was at the church, the Trustees had the stained glass windows repaired and weather proofing protective glass frames built on the exterior, the organ remodeled, new pipes installed along with the old ranks, air conditioning installed, some painting done, the dirt parking lot black-topped with asphalt, the parsonage kitchen re-modeled by Shug Tomlin and the front porch closed in with adjustable windows. We had men on the Board such as Richard Burke, retired President of the Sun Ship Building Corp., and his brother, Raymond Burke, owner of the Burke Motors Company of the County, Freeman Endicott and Colonel Grover Tucker, retired US Army, and others. I remembered on discussion at a Board meeting when the issue of how to pay for an expensive project came up (I think it had to do with the stained glass windows improvement project). After some ideas were presented, Richard turned to his brother and said something like this, “This is our church to which we belonged to all our lives. Now, Raymond, I am going to pay for half of the project, and you take care of the other half.” Now that was brotherly cooperation at work. In that spirit things got done. I mentioned Grover Tucker who retired from the Army and came to Cape May. He was a bachelor and a man of insight and wisdom. I got to love him as an older advisor to me, and a friend. Well into his ’80s he took up flying single engine planes, He took lessons and eventually flew solo. One year we took our youth group to see my home town, New York City. I grew up in the Bronx. I made arrangements with the Parkchester Baptist Church for

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Dr. Robert Kobele served from 1965-70 and wrote a history of the church for its 257th anniversary.



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overnight accommodations, and we all got to see some of the sights – Lady Liberty, the Empire State Bldg., and other places I have forgotten. I believe that was in 1968 or 1969. In the late ’60s, I was able to arrange to have the American Baptist Layman’s Hour radio program broadcast on the local WCMC radio station, once a week. I am not sure how long the programs were aired; periodically we would broadcast our church services live on Sundays on a rotational basis. Pastors have many weddings, but one was a bit noteworthy. In June, 1968, I conducted a wedding for a couple who were not from the County. The church was packed but I thought that was not unusual. But there was a commotion outside following the wedding service. A helicopter had landed nearby (at the high school football field I believe), and it was the Governor of the State who was related to someone in the wedding party. I did not get to meet him but they went on to the rest of their festivities. As a Pastor, I felt the need to get boys off the streets and for them to do something during the winter months, I approached school officials for permission to have the high school gym open for high school aged youth, and to be supervised by one of the school’s coaches. I then asked the Kiwanis Club (I was a member and the Club met in our Fellowship Hall with meals provided by our ladies), if they would fund the program. They did. We paid the coach $10 per evening for his services. I’d visit most Thursday evenings to evaluate the program’s success while I lived in Court House. I was pleased with this program and that we had brought together school, church and service club for the benefit of the youth. It was at this time I became acquainted with Stedman Graham who played on the Varsity Team and came on Thursdays to practice his skills. As you know, he went on to associate with Oprah. In fact, my oldest daughter had Stedman in some of her classes. One last recollection was my suggestion to the Trustees to have a memorial stone and brass plaque installed

Rev. Evan Jones (1971-76) was a popular figure, muchloved for his mischievous sense of humor.

in the Baptist Cemetery to mark the site where the Meeting Houses stood before the congregation moved to Main Street. I forget the exact date we had the dedication service for the memorial stone with the plaque, most likely 1968 or 1969. We moved from Cape May Court House the end of May, 1970, to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, to accept the challenge of building a new church building in that suburb of Akron. In reality, I may have moved away but in my heart stayed with the church and congregation and does so even today. The last sentence in my book on the church’s history continues to be my sentiment… “The next century offers an even greater challenge to those who fol-

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low in the footsteps of these Cape May pioneer Baptists.” You (we) are now at the 300th year anniversary. What changes has God in store for us in the years to come? REV. EVAN J. JONES 1971-1976 Rev. Evan J. Jones left here to attend Chaplain’s School at Fort Wadsworth, Staten Island to receive a commission as captain in the Army Chaplains Corp. He was presented with a gift of a pewter tea set and a painting of the church at the farewell reception March 28, 1971. (taken from an old newspaper clipping) He accepted a commission with the U.S. Army as a chaplain in 1976. He completed Air Assault Training at Fort Campbell, KY; a hospital chaplain residency at Ft. Sam Houston, TX; and Command and Staff College. Colonel Jones was also Director of the Kodiak Baptist Mission from 1996-1998 and later as the mission chaplain. He was a man of deep conviction, compassion, vision and strong leadership. The following poem was written by Evan Jones in November of 2003, a month before his death. I Am Going to Walk Among the Stars Earth has been fine and I have trod, Worn and lonely paths below But always has my Spirit looked high above To the stars and their mysteries sublime. “The heavens declare the glory of God,” The Shepherd boy wrote to us As night unto night he gazed At the light of 5000 circling suns. Pride falls away the moment we gaze At the vastness that we call space. I am little on earth, a simple speck, But the Saviour promised eternity And I shall walk among the stars. I know I’m taken from the earth And from simple clod


And walk thru this life my heavy step to plod But I shall walk among the stars With eager steps and free. I believe I have my Saviour’s words That this will some day be. REV. RICHARD GREEN 1976 From the Pastor’s Annual Report for 1976: “Our key need as I see it is to become more organized! We need to have some concrete goals toward which to work in 1977. As a church we are full of activity and many are busy with the Lord’s work, but we seem to take a scattered, rather uncoordinated approach toward our ministry for Christ. A second major need is to seek more ways to touch our community with the good news of Jesus. The new year will see, if the congregation approves the 1977 budget, the beginning of a modest newspaper ad campaign. An evangelistic crusade and or a visitation evangelism effort are also possible ways to reach out with the Gospel during 1977.” REV. DR. JERRY HESLINGA 1982-2002 Rev. Heslinga’s fond memories of his time at the Church... People coming to faith. Ocean baptisms late spring and late summer. Growth in missions, with some of the same missionaries still being supported. The 275th anniversary of the church with many members dressing up in period costumes and a faith building history emphasized. The church family celebrating my completion of my doctorate from Fuller. Home Bible studies meeting regularly for years strengthening individuals and the church family. The church family celebrating my wife’s completion of her MA degree from Widener. The remodeling of the Mission House instead of tearing it down — what a great aid to missionaries who need a place to call home for a while.


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Rev. Green, who served for a year in 1976, marries Donna Masterson and John Snyder at the church.

Community Thanksgiving services with other church. The privileges of seeing children grow up in the church and become adults in leadership. The building of and varied uses for the pavilion. Growth in church membership and participation of members. Weddings on the beach. The beginning of a kids’ choir, worship teams, dramatic skits and more technology aiding office and outreach work. The celebration of lives of active members who went home to be with the Lord.

The beginning of the food pantry and the Community Christian Library. Years of service on the Middle Township School Board. Services and prayer meetings after 9/11. Cape May Court House and Cape May County are home and childhood to my children; they were only two and six when we arrived in 1982. The vibrant growth in the community, the warmth and welcome from the FBC family, and friends who stay in touch no matter how many years it has been since they had to move away or since I moved away.

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Dr. Jerry Heslinga, who served for 20 years from 19822002, and was succeeded by interim pastor Carroll Bickley, pictured, right, with his wife Phyllis.

REV. CARROLL BICKLEY 2002-2004 Carroll Bickley served as interim pastor after Pastor Jerry Heslinga left to pastor a church in Holden, MA. Pastor Bickley had a wonderful sense of humor which was evident in his dealings with members of the church and as preached from the pulpit. He was a very compassionate and caring man, as was his wife, Phyllis who supported all his endeavors at First Baptist church. The congregation was challenged by many healing sermons given by Pastor Bickley. Members were prepared to move forward when Pastor Peter John Thomas was called in 2004.

REV. PETER THOMAS 2005-2009 Reflections by Pastor Peter John Thomas... It was truly an honor and privilege to be the pastor of First Baptist Church of Cape May, a church with a rich and meaningful history. When I began my ministry in January 2005, we both had been humbled by God as I had been unemployed for 10 months and the church without a pastor for 2 years. By God’s grace, we were brought together for such a time as this. We experienced God at work in many ways. The church came alive and there was renewed enthusiasm and hope. I believe it was a bright period in the church’s history. By God’s grace we grew spiritually, numerically and financially. Some of the


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Pastor Peter Thomas addresses the congregation on Easter Sunday — April 15, 2006.

highlights for me were: 1. The starting of a small group ministry that over time grew and became a vibrant life changing ministry of the church. 2. The re-starting of a youth ministry that brought life to our church and community. 3. I cherished Sunday mornings at our church with an active drama ministry, praise and worship team, choir,

Sunday school and fellowship. 4. The church wide campaigns were an effective tool that brought people closer to God and one another. 5. The fellowship events during my time were a lot of fun and I believe effectively helped people to connect with one another — I’ll always remember The Skyline Boys inspiring us each year and our Talent and Comedy Nights.

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6. The Good Friday Service and Easter Sunday Outreach highlighted the year. I will always cherish the close friendships I have established with many special people. I’ll always remember the many lives God transformed including mine. I thank God for being called to be part of the rich and meaningful history of First Baptist Church. REV. STEVE TECCO 2008 300th Anniversary Reflections by Rev. Steve Tecco... It has been a joy and privilege to serve as Interim Pastor at First Baptist from February, 2008, to the present. In this capacity, I have provided pulpit supply, attended Deacons meetings, and have served as facilitator of the Executive Committee. It has been a distinct honor to serve the Lord and God’s people by proclaiming God’s Word! In John 6, Peter responded to Jesus’ question if the twelve were going to follow the crowd by walking away from Jesus. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Sharing the wonderful words of life as been my greatest joy and privilege. In a post-modernist world, when objective truth has been relegated to the scrap heap, God’s Word continues to shine as a beacon from generation to generation! Being without a full-time Pastor is a challenging time for a church family. However, I have been so impressed by the willingness of so many to fill the gaps I service to God and God’s people. The Boards and Committees have worked tirelessly to continue the work of ministry here at First Baptist. Many ministries have not merely functioned but have flourished! Much of the work has been done “behind the scenes” that often escapes notice. The Apostle Paul compared a healthy church to a human body. In Ephesians 4, he described the church in these words: “From him [Christ, the head of the body] the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” When many parts of functioning in unity for your faithfulness service. Another joyful part of my service has been to participate on the team planning our year-long 300th anni-

Rev. Steve Tecco, pictured with his wife Bonnie, took over the ministry in 2008.

versary celebration of our church. In one of the planning meetings, it was determined that out focus on this milestone was not merely to be reflective. If we are to continue to minister well into the 21st century, we must also have an eye on the present and the future. Just as former members ministered effectively in their generation so we could be here to celebrate our 300th, so we too must be faithful in our seasons of ministry. If the Lord does not return, we want those future members celebrating their 400th anniversary to count us among the faithful that, by God’s grace, faithfully served our generation. In a time where 10,000 churches will conduct their last worship service and close their doors each year, it is critical that we, like the sons of Issachar, are people that “understand the times and know what to do.” (1 Chronicles 12:32) Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the capacity of Interim Pastor. May God’s rich blessing continue to be ours at First Baptist as we walk in obedience to His Word. And may all who come behind us find us faithful. (Hebrews 12: 1-2)


Meeting Houses


he First Meeting House is believed to have been built by 1714. This building was used for many years and a larger one was needed. It was decided to build a new one on land acquired from Jeremiah Hand near the village of Middletown (now Cape May Court House). Needing funds to finish the new building they sold the old one to the people of the county in 1744/45 for 15 pounds. It was to be used as a County Court House. The deed for this sale can be found in the Cape May County Historical & Genealogical Museum. The meeting House was called “Penuel�, the Welsh spelling for Peniel. The significance of the name is found in Genesis 32:30. This Meeting House was built on land inherited by Lydia Person/Parson Shaw from her parents, John & Elizabeth Person. Lydia Shaw was one of the 37 persons who signed the church charter in 1712. Being widowed, she married Aaron Leaming in 1714 and the place became known as the Leaming Plantation. It was located about four miles south of Cape May Court House.

After the county built a new court house, the old building was used to store flax by the Leaming Family. This picture shows the building used as the First Meeting House many, many years after it was sold to Cape May County to be used as a court house and later as a building to store flax by the Leaming Family THE SECOND MEETING HOUSE The Second Meeting House was built on land (an acre and nine perches) bought, in 1741, of Jeremiah Hand, for the sum of one pound current lawful money of New Jersey. The land is located in the old part of the Baptist Cemetery off Church St. in Cape May Court House. Members of the congregation and other inhabitants of the county worked on building the Meeting House and it was completed in 1744. Morgan Edwards (a noted Baptist historian of his day) described the house as measuring thirty-four feet by twenty-six feet and was furnished as usual. It was a wood frame building. The old Trustees Minutes Book, dated 1741, has a

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


The building on the Leaming Plantation was used as the First Meeting House by the congregation. It was sold to Cape May County to be used as a court house. Later, it was used by the Leaming family to store flax.

floor sketch of the Meeting House showing the location of the pulpit, doors, stairs leading to the gallery and the location of the pews. The pews were added after the original seating was removed in 1790. Twenty-four pews were installed on the main floor and twelve in the Gallery The old Pew Book still exists with the names of the persons who rented the pews and the amount paid. Pew rent was used to meet the pastor’s salary. The pews on the first floor had doors whereas the ones in the gallery were open. If we were to enter the south door, the high pulpit, on a raised platform, would be on our right, facing west. A spiral staircase lead up to the pulpit and the Communion

Table stood beneath it. Pews on the main floor faced the east wall and the pulpit. The main aisle in this Meeting House went from the south door to the north door forming an aisle between the pews and the pulpit area. On entering either of the two doors, we would immediately be confronted by a stairway leading up to the Gallery. The Gallery wrapped around the three walls opposite the high pulpit. The only Christian symbols to be found in the building would have been the pulpit, the bible and the Communion Table. It is not known if the stove shown in the sketch was in the building originally. Even so, the stove would not have provided much heat during the winter months. Peo-


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

ing House, “The meeting House measures 34 feet by 26. The lot on which it stands contains an acre and nine perches; the house is finished as usual; there is a fine spring of water by it, which is a great rarity in this part of the country.” There is no evidence of this spring today.

Indenture between Jeremiah Hand and the baptists of Cape May County, who bought an acre from Hand for one pound in 1741. Today, the land is located in the Baptists Cemetery on Church Street in Court House.

ple in those days brought their own foot warmers. These usually contained hickory coals. Hickory wood is hard and slow burning. Sometime during the construction of the Third Meeting House, this building was moved to the farm of Rev. Joseph Hammett to be used as a barn. Rev. Joseph Hammett was a pastor (at one time) of the Second Baptist Church of Cape May. “December the 26 1797 Christopher Ludlam Esqr unto 1 open stove 5 pounds 12 shillings 6 pence To portage and frate


To 100 Bricks 10

6 8 6

Received the a Bove Bill (xxx) By Me Jeremiah Johnson” In 1790, Morgan Edwards wrote of the Second Meet-

THE THIRD MEETING HOUSE The old book tells us that in August, 1820, a subscription was sent throughout the county for the purpose of building a new Baptist Meeting House. The new house was to be constructed on the same lot as the 2nd Meeting House. On August 21st, 1821, the foundation stone was laid, “and with very much opposition and a great deal of difficulty it was finished”. We aren’t told what the opposition was. Perhaps some felt an attachment to the old building, others might have objected to the cost of a new building; still others might have felt there was no reason to build a new one. We will never know the reason. The following excerpt is from the church archives: This is to Certify that we the Subscribers from in and agree to pay unto the Trustees of the first Baptist Church in the Middle Township of the County of Cape May and State of New Jersey; or to their Agent, the Several sums Affixed to each of our Names for the purpose of Building a New Meeting House on the Lot where the Old Baptist Meeting house now Stands; to be built under the directions of the said Trustee~And of good Materials. Which Several sums or work to the same Amount we promise to pay as aforesaid on or before the first Day of May Next Ensuing the date hereof Cape May August the 2nd 1820 Much more is known about the interior of this Meeting House than the previous two. Receipts for building supplies and the work done on the house and by whom, have been kept by the church. The meeting house was a two story brick building measuring 38 feet by 38 feet with galleries. The masonry supplies were freighted down from Philadelphia by boat. Twenty thousand bricks were purchased in July, 1821 and there is a bill for 40,000 more dated Feb. 9th, 1822. Hogsheads of lime, 500 feet of white pine boards, a riddle (coarse sieve) and numerous other supplies needed for constructing a brick building were

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


Floor plan of the Second Meeting House, built 1741-44, and which was on land now occupied by the Baptist Cemetery.

bought. The interior walls were plastered. There is a receipt for boarding the men who did the plaster work and one for boarding a carpenter. Special care must have been taken with the woodwork in the building. John Haines turned eight newel posts and fifty banisters and he made two columns which he put under the pulpit. The Ladies Subscription provided the funds for the pulpit. After expenses were met, there were sufficient

funds remaining to purchase a Pulpit Bible. In 1824, Richard Thompson made the significant inscription in the Pulpit Bible, recording it to be the gift of the Ladies’ Subscription. A letter written to the church clerk dated June 3rd, 1912 by Emma B. Alrich, the former Emma Eldridge reads: “Looking backward 63 years (for I well remember at that time) to the old brick church which stood in the old cemetery, I wish for the hand of an artist to give others


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Above: Receipt for lamp oil and candles used in the Third Meeting House. Left: Receipt, dated December 28, 1824 for turning eight nuels posts for use in the Third Meeting House. Opposite: The Bible carried from the Third Meeting House, which burned down in February, 1854.

what made the first impressions on my childish mind. One of the first was a whipping by my mother, for calling out the letters on the old heating stove — F. H. Church, Phila. Another was seeing a beautiful lizard crawl along the Venetian blinds at the windows, and also studying the habits of wasps which had numerous colonies overhead. My remembrances of the fluted columns that upheld the galleries, the gay multi-colored stair carpet with its nicely blended shaded stripes, and the brass stair rods, on the open stairs that led to the high pulpit, the ever changing prisms of the chandeliers and the fine pulpit carving

ranked that church building as one of the finest in the whole country; and the last look at the interior, the day it took fire while we were seated in meeting was emphasized by a man seizing me by the clothing and dragging me off to one side... and memory recalls the figure of Rev. Barney with his big cloak, as he stated “whoever votes against the bass viol votes against me”. I see other ministers as they stood in the pulpit, Easthood, Challiss, James, Jones, Powell and the majestic Tyndall, as he said; “the house is on fire; be calm; go out quietly;” and putting his finger in the Bible at his text: What shall it profit

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1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?, wait till all were out before he left the building. I see all the old timers in their places in the pews uncle Aaron Hand with his handkerchief on his head, of whom a cousin said “Uncle Aaron made the meeting go” and whose descendents have inherited his abilities, aunt Sally Hand who strewed flowers for Washington, Richard Thompsons, Springers, Crawfords, grandfather Eldridge, (and I believe I could locate the tree where he tied his horse) while in the rear Rhumah, the former slave in immaculate white crepe shawl and leghorn hat with a fan…” The light from chandeliers that Emma Alrich recalls would have been provided by candles or oil as receipts exist for both. Hitching posts would have been off to the side since people came to meeting either on foot, horseback or horse and wagon. Watering troughs were needed for the horses or perhaps they were taken over to Crooked Creek to be watered. One hundred and one cedar posts were bought for a fence with a gate which could have been around the building or perhaps it encircled the small cemetery located along side. Jeremiah Weatherly was paid for making a “pair of large hinge for a gate and a small hinge and ketch”. The Third Meeting House was dedicated on December 25, 1824. From church records: “Dec. 25th 1824 this day our New meeting house being finished it was opened and dedicated to the Lord as a New Edifice for his Worship Ministering Brethren present on the occasion were Brother Joseph Shepherd from Salem and Brother Griffin from Philadelphia and others”. It burned down on Sunday Morning, February 5, 1854. It was a windy day, and the House was quickly engulfed in flames. The Bible that Rev. Tindal carried from the burning building was the one purchased with Ladies Subscription Funds and remains among the church’s possession’s to this day. “I sounded the alarm when I saw sparks dropping from the ceiling around the stove pipe in the choir gallery.” — Joseph Izard “I carried the oil lamp chandelier out of the burning

building.” — Stephen Hewitt “We wrenched many pews out of the burning building before it was consumed by fire.” — Men of the congregation. News of the fire spread far and wide. Abigail Cresse Hand wrote to her husband, Capt. Smith Hand during his travels to let him know the Meeting House had burned down. Capt. Smith Hand saw Nicholas Corson and told him the Meeting House had burnt down. Nicholas Corson wrote to Dr. Leaming from Attakapas, a landing in Louisiana, informing him he had heard the Baptist Meeting House had burned down. Dr. Leaming lived in Cape May County so the news made a full circle. THE FOURTH MEETING HOUSE On Saturday, February 11, a meeting was held to decide where they would build their new Meeting House. Rev. Wilson led those gathered in prayer and devotions. The question of moving from the cemetery site to Main Street in the growing village was discussed. The cemetery site was dear to the hearts of the old folks. Some had attended there from early childhood. Their families had worshiped there for many years. Most had loved ones resting quietly in the cemetery. The younger ones felt it would be better to be in the mist of the growing community. A vote was taken and there were 44 votes in favor of remaining in the cemetery and 90 votes in favor of moving to Main Street. From Emma B. Alrich’s letter of June 3, 1912: “Then the excitement over, building a new church and choosing a location. Having been taught obedience to the wishes of parents and reverence to grandparents, the intuition forced itself to notice that father was not doing as his mother wished, and when the vote was taken for the old site, I see yet, grandmother’s sad countenance, as she raised herself to stand while being counted by Rev. J. E. Wilson. Those for the new site were the younger set and father and mother were counted with them. I felt they had done wrong in some way that I could not understand.” The next question to be considered was which lot to

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


Above: The Fourth Meeting House was dedicated in 1855 and was used for worship until 1912. It occupied the same plot of land as the current church building. Left: A receipt for a tin box to be placed in the cornerstone of the Fourth Meeting House. The box was said to contain a list of all residents in the area, but it no longer exists.


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

build on. Two lots were available. One on the corner of Main & Mechanic Streets, owned by Mrs. Julia Thompson which could be purchased for $400, the other was a lot owned by Jonathan Hand, Esq. on Main Street. Jonathan Hand offered to donate the lot to the congregation. The vote was 23 votes for the corner lot and109 votes for the lot offered by Jonathan Hand as a gift. Today, this lot is on the corner of Main & Stites Streets. “During the time of rebuilding, the morning services were held at the “New” Court House, while the evening meetings and prayer meetings, and Trustees’ meetings were held in the “old” Court House, which was at that time also called the “school house”. The “New Court House” is the one we call the old Court House. The “Old Court House”, built in 1763 that previously occupied the same lot as the “New” one had been moved and was being used as a school. A Building Committee was formed and the task of removing the burnt debris, and salvaging any usable materials was begun. The bricks from the burnt building were cleaned and carted away, nails were salvaged. These cleaned bricks would later be sold to help with the expenses of the new building. The original plans were to build another brick building. On March 11, 1854, the Building Committee “resolved that we recommend a brick house 40 feet by 60, with basement and steeple with outside galleries”. A building like this would have been much more than the congregation could afford so like folks today, they scaled down their desires an a wood frame building would be built. The disaster caused by the fire created a way for folks to earn much needed cash. Money wasn’t plentiful in those days; you grew most of your food, raised chickens for meat & eggs, and slaughtered your hogs & cattle, cut your own firewood & etc.or you would barter for that which you couldn’t supply for your family. Businesses profited from the disaster also. Besides paying workmen, materials needed to be purchased. Foundation materials were purchased. Kegs of 6penny, 8penny and 10penny nails were needed for a frame build-

ing. Lumber was carted from Goshen. One receipt states the Joshua Crawford was paid one dollar for carting cedar lumber from Dennis Creek with one horse. Shingles were bought. “Square white oak, joists and rafters”, a corner stone, a marble door sill, lime for plasterwork, sandpaper, screws, turpentine, linseed oil and zinc for painting were among the many materials needed for construction. Even a corn broom was purchased for clean-up. Many of the workmen needed to be boarded; the women fed them and did their laundry. Board was paid by the congregation. I wonder if the women could use the funds paid them for boarding for something special, a length of fabric for a new dress, curtain material or perhaps splurge on a pretty new hat. The achieves have many receipts for the cleaning of bricks, carting lumber, freighting supplies down the river from Philadelphia, picking up supplies at Goshen Landing and work done on the new building. A well had to be dug. “January 8, 1855…To digen a well at the new meeting house at one dollar and twenty five cent per day $14.55”. These men are some who profited from the disaster while helping in the building of the New Meeting House I put in a bill for carting brick & etc. for the New Meeting House — Enoch Hewitt I was paid $28.60 for cleaning bricks, tending the Mason for 17 ½ days and saving nails from the burnt Meeting House —Jacob High July 11th 1854: I bought from Samuel Megargee square white oak, joists and rafter, boards & etc. for the New Meeting House totaling 19,551 feet for $327.62 — Mr. P.S.Hickman July 12, 1854: I submitted a bill for $7.20 for cleaning 3600 brick, $6.00 for 3 thousand cleaned by the boy, $1.50 for carting brick and $3.00 for1 ½ days of carting same — Jacob Hand July 16th 1854: I was paid $11.50 for carting lumber and brick — Ephraim Sloan June 27, 1854: I was paid $16.37 for drying out the basement story and making a fence around the lot — Charles Long

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The new Fourth Meeting House receipt book lists the purchases and expenditures relating to the construction.

I was the Master Carpenter — Samuel Harris Philadelphia, July 23rd 1854: I sold lime and a marble door sill to the Baptist of Cape May for their New Meeting House. — Charles Shepard Smith Aug. 23rd 1854: I bought nails, spikes and sash pulleys from Wm. Abbott of Phil, for the First Baptist Church — Capt. Buck August 24, 1854: I bought 1 keg 6 penny nails, I keg 8 penny nail, 2 kegs 10 penny ails for $4420.40 – 5% off from REEVES, BUCK & CO. of Philadelphia for the New Meeting House — Richard Thompson Oct. 5th 1854: I was paid $138.39 for shingles — Elmer T. Edwards

Oct. 10th 1854: I bought 204 feet cedar boards from Nathl. Holmes, of Dennis Ville for the New Meeting House — Joshua Crawford Oct. 13th 1854: I carted a load with one horse from Dennis, it being cedar lumber for the New Meeting House. For this, I received one dollar — Joshua Crawford The Fourth Meeting House was a frame structure, sixty feet by forty and included a basement to be used for Sunday school classes. On entering the door you could go down a few steps to the class rooms or up a few steps to the main “audience room” The high windows on each side of the building made for a well lit sanctuary. There were Venetian blinds on all the windows. A “singers gal-


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Bill for coal bough by the church from the Beaver Meadow Company.

lery” extended across the back of the church. An ornate chandelier hung from the ceiling to provide light during evening services. The chandelier was raised and lowered by a rope. The building was heated by wood and coal with two larger heaters installed in 1869. The winter of 1854-55 585 lbs. of Beaver Meadow Egg Coal was bought for $2.99. A bell was bought but where it was located is not known as it doesn’t appear on the roof in old photos. However, there is a record of paying “Mr. Grace for his services in ringing the bell during the past year”. On January 19, 1856, the Trustees reported that the “cost of said Meeting House, including all the brick and etc. from the old Brick Church or House, to be five thousand dollars $5000.00.” It was necessary to place a mortgage on the parsonage property for $1010.49 to pay the bills involved in building the new Meeting House. A fence was built around the church and sheds were erected on the north side in 1863. Posts and railings were needed for hitching horses. Later, in 1866, sheds were built in the rear of the meeting house and the hitching posts were moved back three feet from the south of the Meeting House. Silver maple trees were planted around the meeting house and parsonage. The horse sheds were in need of repair every few years. The last mention of repairing horse sheds is found in the minutes of 1904. An indoor baptistery was added in 1882. The roof was

repaired in 1890, new pews were purchased in 1893, and carpets were installed along with all the maintance necessary to keep a building in good repair. The first mention of electricity being used in the building was June 15, 1895 when an electric light was put on the front of the building and authorized to be illuminated each evening. Water pipes were laid connecting the building to the town’s water works in March 1897. The building was slowly being modernized. THE FIFTH MEETING HOUSE According to Church Minutes of June 14th, 1911, the present condition of the Fourth Meeting House, along with the increase in the population of the surrounding territory and a large increase in the attendance of the Sabbath School some decision had to be made, either make improvements on the present building or erect a Fifth Meeting House. After several meetings were held, it was decided to build a new house of worship. Architects were contacted to present sketches. The first sketch chosen was by an architect from New York but since he refused to accept the commission offered by the Building Committee, his sketches were returned and preliminary sketches from Moffet & Stewart, Architects, of Camden were examined. These sketches were accepted and the church entered

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Interior of the Fourth Meeting House, decorated for the 182nd anniversry with ferns and a banner.

into a contract with Moffet & Stewart. Meanwhile plans were underway to secure funding. The present building would have to be disposed of since the new building would be constructed on the same site. The best offer received for the purchase of the Meeting House, to be removed from the premises, was from Robert S. Miller. “To the trustees of First Baptist Church of Cape May: I hereby offer five hundred dollars for the church building and foundation. — Robert S. Miller” The last meeting in the Fourth Meeting House was held on May 8, 1912. The furniture was taken out two days later and the building shortly thereafter moved to

the property of Robert S. Miller on Hand Avenue, formerly known as the parsonage, occupying the northeast corner of the lot, and to be used as a garage and carriage bazaar. (The benches that remained in the basement of the church were included in the sale of the property to Mr. Miller.) During the construction of the new building, Sunday worship services and Sunday School classes were held in Bro. Paul Henson’s Spectatorium on the north side of Mechanic Street, adjoining Willets Corson’s drug store; while the Wednesday evening prayer meeting was held in the eastern division of Bro. Wm. G. Hand’s store building about 100 feet westward from the Spectatorium; the primary department of the Sunday School also used the


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Rhoda Hewitt Buck was present at the burning of the Third Meeting House, the cornerstone laying of the Fourth Meeting House and the cornerstone laying of the current church building

store room for the class hour. On July 31st, 1912, it was moved to award the contract for the new building to Hiram W. Godfrey. It was to be constructed of red brick, covered with slate roof and to cost not more than $10,500.00. At the same meeting, the Board of Trustees was instructed to have the shade trees trimmed in front of the church property. October 11, 1912 was a special day; the corner-stone of the new Baptist Church was to be laid that afternoon. How special? Special enough for school to be closed for the afternoon session so the students could attend the ceremonies. From the Cape May County Gazette, October 11, 1912: “That Providence approved of the ceremonies incident to the laying of the corner-stone of the new Baptist church here yesterday was shown by the atmospheric conditions which rendered the day one of the most delightful imaginable. Beside the great number of Court House residents who attended the exercises, many came from a distance in carriages, trains and automobiles. The edifice is well underway, the walls being up twelve or fifteen feet high, and most of the window and door frames set. Contractor Godfrey had cleared up the surrounding lots so that not a scrap of builder’s debris cluttered the ground, and the multitudes had ample room to sit or stand in positions that permitted them to see and hear all that was done and said. The orchestra which furnished the music for the occasion was seated on the portico of the parsonage, but a few feet distant from the church, and fortunately at the northeast corner in which the stone was laid. The following is a list of the articles which were placed in the corner stone, there to repose perhaps for but a few years—no Seer having the wisdom to foretell: List of the 37 original constituent members of the organization in 1712, with a list of its first officers; a list of the present members and officers of the church; list of the 34 pastors the church has had since it was constituted; an account of the five meeting houses (includ-

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The corner stone of the current church buildng was laid at 2pm on October 10, 1912. The occasion was celebrated with speakers and an orchestra. People came from great distances to attend the ceremonies.

ing the present); names of the architect and the builder; list of the officers and teachers of the Sabbath-school; officers and division leaders of the Ladies’ Aid Society; copy of the Church Covenant;” copies of the Cape May County Gazette containing letters of Mrs. Emma B. Alrich regarding the old church; photographs of the old and new church; photograph of the Baptist parsonage, portrait of the present pastor; Historical Sketch of the First Baptist church of Cape May (the Court House church) by Rev. Robert H. Austin, the pastor. The marble block for the cornerstone was the gift of the builder’s son. J. Swain Godfrey, (of the class of 1913, Middle Township High School); the cutting being by Wm. F. Daniel, and the copper receptacle by Edward C. Wheaton. The trowel with which the stone was laid was presented to the church by Mr.Stilwell S. Eldredge, of Philadelphia, whose sister, Mrs. D. J. Bateman, of Cedarville,

was present at the ceremony, and was one of five attendants who witnessed the burning of the brick church, the cornerstone laying of the church in 1854 and the dedication of the same in 1855; the other four were Mrs. Rhoda Buck, Mrs. Samuel Stites, Mrs. M. C. Corson and Mrs. Joanna Douglass. The program of the ceremonies was as follows: Music by orchestra; Remarks by Pastor Austin; Singing “Coronation;” Scripture reading by Rev. E. D. Shull. Of Philada; prayer by Rev. F. B. Uhl, pastor M. E. church; Addresses by Rev. J. K. Manning, of Woodbury, closing with introduction of Rev. Dr. Russell H. Conwell, who spoke for 20 minutes; laying of corner stone by Pastor Austin; prayer by Rev. Irvin H. Fisher, of Wildwood; singing “Stand up for Jesus;” benediction by Rev. Frank H. Farley. At the close of the formal ceremonies the ladies of the church served refreshments to the multitude.”


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The building was 68 x 70 feet; the foundation and walls being of stone and brick with a slate roof. There is a tower in the southeast corner; with two main front entrances and three side entrances. There were about thirty memorial windows; a main auditorium and Sunday school room divided by a rolling partition and a primary room with portable posts. A restroom, committee or study room, baptistry, dressing rooms and a choir loft made up the rest of the main floor. A steam heating plant was in the basement. Oct. 23rd, 1912; it was voted to have a special committee in charge of the memorial windows for the new church. Dr. Wm. G. Hand, Rev. R. H. Austin, Mrs. Rebecca Wheaton, Mrs. Mary S. Nichols, Mr. Melissa Richardson and Miss Amelia W. Springer were named to the committee. The cost of the building was $14,000. It was dedicated on June 15, 1913. “Senior Deacon E. Clinton Hewitt, standing upon the platform beside the clergy, in well chosen words and in a most impressive manner officially declared the new Meeting House dedicated to the worship of Almighty God.” (Taken from church minutes). In May of 1924, it was decided that new and more substantial steps to the front entrances be built and also to change or alter the front doors and the entrances. Just why this was to be done isn’t mentioned. If you look at a picture of the building that was taken in 1912 and one taken today and were asked what differences there were, this is what you would see. 1912 Two doors on the southeast corner with steps Two doors on the other front corner with steps No window above any of the doors, the doors were curved at the top. 2012 One front door on the southeast corner with steps

The original oil of the current building, by church member Ralph Schmaelzle, hangs in the Narthex.

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1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

One door on the other front corner with steps Each of the two doors has a curved stained glass window over it In place of the missing doors and steps are double stained glass windows (The double stained glass windows on one side were removed when the addition was added in the early 2000s.) No picture exists of the back side of the building so we aren’t sure if there were changes there also. By September of 1933, some of the small windows in the church were broken and the Ladies Aid Soc. decided to have them fixed. It was decided to send them away to be repaired. Mr. Norbury was asked to crate them. When the bill for $21.50 came, the Ladies thought it was too high. In 1992, the congregation considered the possibility of a new church building at a different site or continuing to repair the existing building which was eighty years old. Early in 1995, the church property and buildings at 101 S. Main St. was put on the market. By the end of that year, there had only been one offer which was rejected since the offer was not sufficient to start on new facilities. THE MEMORIAL STAINED GLASS WINDOWS Names found on the memorial windows: Sadie C. Bakely, a very devout Christian, was a member of the Comrade Class Samuel & Caroline Benezet by daughter Addie Emma Hand Bennett was the daughter of Dr. Wm. G. Hand, the dentist Rachel R. Burke wife of Parker Burke and daughter of Richard Ludlam Agnes Buzzell 1919-1984: Agnes E. Buzzell, 65, of Shore Road died, Wednesday at home. Born in Tuckahoe, Miss Buzzell is a retired aircraft inspector for the U. S. Navy. She graduated from Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Mich., with a degree in home economics and business. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Cape May, in Cape May Court House.

Franklin H. Camp 1897-1985 He was born in Pierce’s Point and was a lifelong resident of the area. He was a member of the First Baptist Church of Cape May where he was deacon emeritus and served as superintendent of the Baptist Cemetery for many years. He planted the row of cedar trees in the cemetery. Deceased Pastors Mary A. Douglass Debbie Y. Foster (wife of J. Clement Foster) presented by the Foster Sunshine Class Lydia C. Foster Presented by the Foster Sunshine Class which she started. She was the wife of E. D. Foster and the mother of Dorsey Foster, an Admiral during World War II William H. & Hannah Foster “A Good Man Gone to His Reward, After a Long and Well-Spent Life”. (taken for an obituary, Jan. 19, 1912).William H. Foster was a trustee and deacon of the church. Aaron & Anna W. Hand Aaron Hand was deacon of First Baptist Church Abigail K. Hand Dr. William G. Hand, a local dentist who worked alone until Dr. Brick came to work with him. Helyn Hall Hawn She was born in Philadelphia and lived in Somers Point, North Wildwood and Cape May Court House. She was the former owner and operator of Leamings Market in North Wildwood and had worked for the Cape May County Welfare Department., Probation Department and food stamp program. She was a member of the First Baptist Church of Cape May Court House, the Women’s Regular Republican Club of Middle Township, the Cape May County Republican Organization and the Mainland Band Boosters. (Taken from an obituary) E. Clinton Hewitt Born at Cape May Court House, March 3rd, 1849. Died at Cape May Court House, December 9th, 1924. The above paragraph marks the coming-in and going-out of the man whose name heads this article. The above brief lines records the opening and closing of

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The stained glass windows were installed in 1912.

one of the most notable lives in the annals of Cape May County; but it would require pages in which to record the details of the man’s service to his town and county. After attending the public school, young Hewitt went to Business College in Poughkeepsie, NY, after which he took up the business of hotel steward, filling responsible positions at Cape May City and in Philadelphia. On January 21, 1880, he married Miss Julia Stites, who with four daughters survive him. Not the least of Mr. Hewitt’s public service was his connection with the First Baptist Church which he joined on March 3, 1867. He was elected a trustee of the church


on February 12, 1876, and continued in that capacity until January 6, 1915. On January 7, 1888, he was chosen treasurer of the church which position he also held until 1915. On January 12, 1901, he was elected a deacon, succeeding the late Aaron D. Hand. For many years he was assistant superintendent of the Baptist Sunday School and upon the death of Dr. J. F. Leaming was made superintendent. For many years he was a member of the Board of Education of Middle Township. As District Clerk of the schools he was a marvel of accuracy and progress. In the fall of 1897, he was elected County Surrogate. For many years, he was secretary of the Mechanics and Laborers Building Association. “As a public speaker Clinton Hewitt had no superiors and very few equals in South Jersey. On the occasion of his last appearance as chairman of a Republican mass meeting one of the speakers remarked that he would give a good many thousands dollars to possess “Clint’s” voice and forcefulness as a platform orator. As a citizen, Mr. Hewitt was energetic, patriotic and far-seeing. As a neighbor and a friend he had no superior and Cape May Court House and Cape May County are better for his having lived.” (Taken from an obituary) Dickinson Hildreth Sept. 6, 1821-Aug. 16, 1902— was born at Mayville on the 6th day of September, 1821, the son of Joshua and Hannah Hildreth. He married Sarah L. Crawford on the 18th of January, 1843. Sarah died three years later on the anniversary of their wedding. He married Sarah C. Yates on December 9, 1847. He united with the Baptist Church January 6th, 1839, and during the 30 years following he was one of the most active workers in the denomination. He continued strong in the faith of his ancestors until the hour of his death and for 15 years past had served the church as sexton. He filled the office of constable for upwards of 30 years, his last term ending in 1900. Joseph & Hettie Isard Joseph Izard was born in Dias Creek. His father, Reeves Izard, kept the county-house for some ten to twelve yrs. prior to his death, and was succeeded by his son, Joseph for almost a quarter of a cen-


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tury. “During all the years he cared for the paupers of this county, the daily utterance of the poor unfortunates who found a home in the almshouse was “God bless Boss “Izard,” and never was it too cold, too wet, or too dark for Joseph to get up and come to Court House in the night after a doctor for some one of his wards who might be in pain”. (Spelling of the name Isard/Izard was taken from the stained glass window and from an obituary) Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming was born in Cape May County September 7, 1822. He was the great-grandson of Aaron Leaming the 2nd. “No pen can do justice to the character and life of Doctor Leaming, no tongue speak with sufficient eloquence of that peaceful, loving and beloved old man, no mind can comprehend the benefits his life has conferred upon his native county… Always bearing preferment and success with marked modesty, he met grief and bereavement quietly…not because he did not FEEL deeply but because he was a true philosopher and a Christian who trusted at all times in his Saviour…He was a peacemaker always, and exerted a subtle and quieting influence upon those who were at war, whether in the church, in political affairs or in the neighborhood; and men who have gone to Dr. Leaming white with passion over some real or imaginary wrong they have suffered at the hands of a fellow-being, have left him cool, forgiving and ready to meet the enemy halfway in reconciliation.”(taken from an obituary). He held the offices of deacon, trustee, clerk, organist and Sunday School Superintendent. William S. & Eliza Leaming George L. Lloyd, the son of Leaming and Elizabeth Lloyd who ran the Ford agency in town. killed during World War II. George worked for the Ford Company and was on their ship when it was torpedoed and he was killed. John L. Long, possibly the son of Henry & Maggie. If so, he was an oysterman whose wife was Carrie. Charles G. Mills. One of the best citizens this or any other community ever had. He came to Court House in 1853 to learn carriage painting at the shop of Anthony

Benezet. He married Miss Rebecca Fifield in 1859. In 1862, he entered the army as a Corporal, and on April 15th, 1863 was promoted to Sergeant. In 1876, he united with the Baptist Church and had been a Trustee since 1882. For many years, he was a Director of the local Building Association. (taken from an obituary) Charles E. Nichols came to Court House at the age of 16 with his parents. He was appointed postmaster in 1885, sheriff in 1889 and postmaster again from 18931897. In the spring of 1898, he was elected Justice of the Peace. Edward Y. Rott was the son of Edward and Mary Rott. He was an Aviation Ordinance man 3c USN who was killed in action. Capt. James D. Richardson “was the son of John & Ellen Swain Richardson. His mother died when he was very young and his father took him to sea when he was not more than eight years of age. At the age of 18, he had risen to the command of a coasting schooner, the “Isabel”. He continued going to sea until he was 70 years old. He is described as one of the old fashioned, solid; every day sort of men, whose walk through life was not so noisy as it was earnest, honest and upright”. (taken from an obituary) On the other side of the sanctuary, there is a window in memory of his sister, Ellen Spaulding. Jeremiah Richardson died February 23rd, 1831 aged 48 years 10 months and 24 days and Lydia H. Richardson, 1790-1872, grandparents of J. Heaffe Richardson. (taken from their tombstones and ancestry.com) Lizzie H. Richardson died at a very young age of TB Edmond L. Ross was born March 10, 1852. He was educated in local schools and had attended Mayville Academy. For several years he was a seaman before going into the mercantile business. He served the community as a County Collector from 1888 to1897. He is noted for serving in the New Jersey Assembly 1892 to 1894, and then in the State Senate from 1895 to 1897. His identity with the First Baptist Church began with his baptism by Rev. Allen Hires when Edmund was one month shy of nineteen years old, on February 12, 1871.

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The baptism was at Shell Bed Landing. That same evening he was welcomed into the fellowship at a service of the Lord’s Supper. His first office in the Church was that of Treasurer during 1886 and 1887. In 1889, he was called upon to seek reconciliation between the Pastor and a deacon. In 1892, he served on the pulpit committee and on a coal committee. He was placed on two other committees in 1893 which had charges of making improvements to the Church which was painted and refurbished. For two years he served as assistant Sunday School Superintendent, 1895-1896. In 1910 he would become the Superintendent. In 1893, he would be appointed to be the solicitor for the pastor’s salary for the ensuing year of 1894. Mr. Ross was one of a committee of seven that was appointed to plan the church anniversary of 1894. An elaborate observation took place the week of June 16 to 21. The records state that this 1894 anniversary was “emphatically the high day in Israel.” Mr. Ross served on many other committees in the following years. A special tribute was given to him by the congregation April 27, 1919. His services came at the time when this Church had come into the full bloom of fruitful service at the latter part of the Nineteen Century and the early part of the Twentieth Century. His experience, talents and dedication would bring this Church to a new era of ministry in the post World War I decades. (taken from an obituary) J. E. Schafer 1911-1983 He was born in Cedarville and lived in Cape May Court House for 51 years. He was a retired lineman for Atlantic Electric and had worked there for 30 years. (taken from an obituary) Mr. Schafer was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Cape May Court House and a member of the Arbutus Lodge 170, Free and Accepted Masons of Cape May Court House. James David Schofield, son of John & Doris Schofield Sarah Scull Sarah was 17 when she died of injuries received when, during a snow storm, the automobile she was driving skidded and crashed into Scotch Bonnet


Bridge on Stone Harbor Blvd. on March 16, 1950. She was the daughter of Mr. & Mrs. Walter Scull. She was a member of the school band, safety patrol, honor society and athletic club. William A. Sherman, a school teacher whose wife, Dorothy was very active in the 1st Baptist Church of Cape May Ellen R. Spaulding, wife of John Spaulding, a Civil War Veteran, was a member for 63yrs. She put flags on the graves of veterans in the Baptist Cemetery as long as she was physically able. Daniella H. Springer was a faithful member for 42 yrs and served as church organist for a number of years. Robert, Sr. & Emma Thomson Robert Thompson & his wife, Emma were both Sunday School teachers Reuben & Julia Townsend Rachel C. Tozour, a WAC during World War II, taught the Comrade Class for years. She was very active in the Primary Dept. also. Rebecca Douglass Wheaton Lucille E. Wright Sally Garrison’s mother There are windows presented by: Edmund L. Ross Joseph The Junior Baptist Union The Class of Mrs. Ethel Long The Class of Mrs. Eva Tozour (Rachel Tozour’s mother) The Class of Cora Burke The Class of Mrs. Hannah Y. Roselle The Class of Mary K. Hand The Class of Robert H. Austin (Pastor 1910-1913) The Primary Department Windows in Honor of: The Foster Sunshine Class by Mrs. Morgan Hand The Cradle Roll Dept., Mrs. Fred Crawford, Supt. The Primary Dept. Supt. 1892-1895, Mrs. M. L. McKean


Additional Structures

THE ANNEX March 10, 1915, “Whereas, it is proposed by the Martin Bible Class of The First Baptist Church to erect on the property of said Church fronting on hand Avenue (rear of parsonage) a frame building 24 x 50, for the purpose of providing suitable accommodations for all social affairs of the Church and its several organizations; we the following Trustees of said Church recommend that permission be given…” (From church records) A request was made by Mr. Robert S. Miller that the new building about to be erected be located on a line with the old church building purchased by him and now on his property (the old parsonage). It was agreed to place the new building on line with the old one. The Ladies Aid Society and the adult Sunday School Classes pledged a certain amount per year for the upkeep of the Annex. They supplied the furnishings, kitchen equipment and kept the building clean and repaired.

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE FELLOWSHIP AND EDUCATION BUILDING The first Building Committee was organized June 21st, 1951 and was composed of the following members: Mr. Edwin Stites, Mr. George Truncer, Mr. S. Henry Vance, Mr. Monroe Bowen, Mr. Ben Wallace, Mrs. Margaret Buzzell, Mrs. Vera Sayre, Mrs. Inez May, Mrs. Adeline Hess and Miss Rachel Tozour. Since that time many changes have been made in the committee and at the present time it consists of the following members: Chairman Dr. John K. Brick, Secretary and Treasurer Miss Rachel Tozour, John Ross, John Delaney and John MacBride. Mr. Gregory Ogden was engaged to draw up plans and specifications for a new kitchen, rebuilding the old Annex and adding six new rooms for Sunday school purposes. After a number of changes, plans were finally accepted and bids asked for. The contract was awarded to Mr. John Hand, Jr. as the lowest bidder of $23,655. This was for rebuilding the old Annex and a new kitchen after the trustees had agreed to replace new sills and girder. On

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account of the cost of the addition of the building for the class rooms that part was not considered in the original bid. Later it was decided to put in the foundation for the new section and still later to erect the exterior of the class rooms. The cost was therefore made up as follows: original contract $23,655: replacing sills and girder $297.39: foundation for new section $978.00: exterior of new section $5,388.00 or a total to Mr. Hand of $30,318.39. Generous contributions by the Comrade Class of silverware, the Ladies Aid of curtains for the building and the Foster Sunshine Class of tables and chairs, plus donations from other organizations enabled it to be furnished. THE NARTHEX The year 1997 saw the formation of a Renovation Committee charged to gather information on remodeling the present buildings. Several meetings were held in 1999 with John Rosecrans, the architect from Dimensional Dynamics. The congregation had an opportunity to express their concerns for remodeling and to determine if their desires would be met. The master plan was presented to the congregation on January 23, 2000 for their acceptance or rejection. The decision was made to expand at the present location. The old parsonage was torn down in May, 2002 and the construction of the new building began in June. The Narthex Addition was dedicated on April 5, 2003. It is used for dinners, meetings of various boards and committees, combined Sunday school classes, Daily Vacation Bible School, youth activities and outside activities such as Red Cross Blood Drives. For Christmas in Court House it is decorated and a round table is set in the center piled high with cookies made by the ladies of the congregation.

The annex with the lean-to kitchen in back in this undated photo from Betty Irmler.

Dedication of the Narthex on April 5, 2003.

Cary Stone and John Johnson serving Easter breakfast in the Narthex on April 24, 2011.





he congregation was in need of a parsonage. Uninhabited homes would have been extremely scarce in the early 1700s. In the early days, funds were raised by subscription, members and friends would sign a subscription list for a certain amount. These amounts could be a low as 25 cents of as high as a few dollars, depending on the prosperity of the signer. This heading appeared at the head of a subscription list: “The Baptist in the County of Cape May standing in need of a Glebe for the settlement of a minister of the Gospel, on the 14th of September, 1761, purchased of Nathan Young and Milicent, his wife, a tract of land, the original consideration being 171 pounds besides some interest upon it.” The sixty-acre farm was located a mile and a half north of the village on both sides of Seashore Road (Route 9). When purchased, the property had a house already on it. It was two rooms, one on top of the other with a circu-

lar staircase in one corner. At one time, the parsonage property was rented to Dr. John Dickinson. The following excerpt is from the record book from the 1700s... The Trustees of The first Baptist Society of Cape May Being Duly Elected and Recorded according to Law Met persistent to Law and proceeded to Choofe their president And Unanimously Agreed that Jesse Hand, Esq. Act as president of s’d Body Corporate for the Time being, Done this Fifth Day of April, Anno Domini 17__ then Proceeded to Busniefs. 1. Agreed that the parsonage be Rented to Dr. John Dickinson for one year for eighty pounds Hard Money. He was to pay the Land Tax & find fine wood off of the place. Agreed that the Interest Due on a Bond Given to the Trustees by James Hildreth for forty pounds be call’d for BY the president And _____ to Rev’d Artis Seagrave also the interest due on Donation left by Mr. Spicer The farm was to house the pastor and be the means of acquiring funds for the pastor’s salary. Firewood was cut, fields were rented, and rights to cut ice and go gunning on Hawkes Pond were sold among other means of deriving

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Agreement between the church and Dr John Dickinson, who rented the parsonage for “80 pounds hard money�. He was to pay the land taxes and not to use fire wood found on the land.

In 1834, Jonathan Hewitt was paid $8.75 for providing board to the mason who was working on the parsonage.

In 1822, Joshua Crawford was paid $3.90 for making a pair of hinges and window springs for the parsonage.


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Improvements were few. The barn was improved in 1837, and the old stable was replaced by a new two-stall stable with granary. In 1839, fifty fruit tree were planted. An undated paper states Samuel Eldredge worked on the bank by the meadow for 60 ¾ days at $1.25 per day for a total of $75.93. Over the years, care of the property was neglected and became an undesirable place to live and the pastor moved to town sometime at the end of 1854. A heavy mortgage had been placed on the property to get funds to build the 4th Meeting House. The Trustees put the house up for rent at $50 a year but this amount didn’t cover the mortgage interest. It was decided to sell the property to the highest bidder and an advertisement for the public sale was put in the Cape May Ocean Wave, in the spring of 1857. It was sold to James Westcott on June 6 for $1814. This property was recently known as The Naylor Property. Today it is owned by Cape May County and houses the Division of Culture & Heritage.

Map of the First Parsonage property.

an income. According to the old minutes, a new home was built on the property in 1831. It was, “Twenty-four feet long in front and sixteen feet back”. The lumber was furnished by Nathaniel Eldredge. The building was weather-boarded with “¾ siding of cedar and the roof with two foot cedar shingles.” The description in the Trustees’ Minutes gives the location of the windows: “2 in front, and 2 in back in the lower story, and 3 in front and 2 back in the upper story, and 2 four light windows in the S. W. gable end — the 4 windows in the lower story to be 15 light — and the upper story to be 12 lights.” It was completely finished with lath and plaster. To finish it, the trustees had to borrow $100 in November, 1833.

SECOND PARSONAGE Having sold the Parsonage Plantation in 1857, a home had to be rented for the use of a pastor. This was not an easy task. Today, you can rent a house just about anywhere if you have the funds but in the mid 1800s houses weren’t built to be used as rental properties. Land for a new parsonage wasn’t bought until 1866 when a half acre west of the church was purchased. It was bought from Mr. Hand, Esq. Two thousand dollars in pledges were obtained and construction began in the fall of 1867. The following record is taken from the Clerk’s minutes: “It was resolved to erect one 26 by 30 foot 2 high stories with finished attic-with Parlor Sitting room Dining room and the Hall on the first floor and four bed Rooms and entry ways on second floor — the third-story attic to be finished 14 feet in width and formed into two rooms. The building to have but one Chimney — and that nearly In the Center. The frame to be of white oak or heart pine or Hemlock and to be covered with good cedar siding and the Roof to be of cedar shingles and three thickness.”

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The proposal was advertised with the stipulation the contractor supply all materials and to do all the work. The following proposals were received: Ware and Eldredge from Cape Island for $3000 Aaron Miller from Green Creek for $2900 John Russell from Cold Spring for $2250 Jeremiah H. Townsend from Dennis for $2000 The Townsend proposal was accepted with him to supply all materials and do all the work as stated and he would be paid $2000 in several installments. Some time later the Building Committee “resolved to have shutters put upon the windows of the Parsonage and a Portico erected in front of it and to have a barn built upon the west corner of the Parsonage Lot and to


have a well put down and a private building put up and also to have the Parsonage painted within and without and papered”. Jeremiah Townsend was employed to do this work also. He was to supply materials of good quality “and the work to be well done”. For the barn (16 by 18.14 feet Post) he was paid $244. The “Portico which was to be 8 by 26 feet and the usual hight, 122 Dollars and for the Shutters and fastenings 75 dollars and for the well and Privy 44 dollars.” Some time later the committee “after consultation with many friends they conclude to have a door cut in the rear end of the building and to have the ceilings of the Building whitecoated”. This was to be done to the Parsonage for an additional $40.63. Jeremiah Townsend must have contracted some work out since we have a bill for

The Third Parsonage sat on the corner of Main Street and Hand Avenue. It was torn down to make room for an addition to the current church building.


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Chas. H. Corson for painting & ________ $28.47. Other bills were: Fench Richards & Co. for paints & oils $100.94 C. M. M. R. R. Co. for freight $1.64 C. Reed for pump $12.50 C. G. Mills for painting $85.00 J. H. Bennezett for _____ portico $4.00 After all this was done they decided to “erect a cook room and open porch adjoining the S. W. end of the parsonage and put under it a convenient cellar-the building is 26 feet by 12 and cost for lumber 1044.5-labor 65.70brick & lime 45 dollars” which brought the total cost of improvements on the Parsonage Lot to $2972.93. The second parsonage property was sold on September 11, 1907 to Mr. Robert S. Miller for $1,500. THIRD PARSONAGE The third parsonage “is due largely to the heroic and persistent work of our Ladies Aid Society”. This is recorded in the Church Minutes of June 1908. The lot (on the corner of Hand Ave. and Main St.) was bought from Clinton H. Hand and his wife for $500 plus taxes and paid for by the Ladies Aid Society. A plan was presented by the building committee that a new parsonage should be built like the residence of H. P. Bennett, on Main Street, with a few alterations. It was to be rough-wired for electric lights and it was estimated the new parsonage would cost $3,287. This plan was adopted in 1907. The contract was awarded to Hiram W. Godfrey. Competitor bids weren’t asked for. Bell Telephone service was installed in the parsonage in 1916. FOURTH PARSONAGE The Old Buzzell property on Route 9 was purchased on August 13, 1973. This tract consists of about 13.24 acres with a frontage of 250 feet on Route 9 and runs back to a depth of about 1400 feet. The cost of this property was $25,000, which the Church agreed to amortize over a period of three years at current interest rates. Efforts were immediately started to erect a new parsonage building.

Pastor Jones and Walt Turnier with Steven Frame in the window and Robert Thomsen in 1973.

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Grover Tucker addressing Pastor Evan Jones and members of the congregation at the dedication of the Fourth Parsonage on March 16, 1975.

By December 31, 1973, all windows and doors, and the roof were installed and the building was completely enclosed with the exception of the garage door. It was anticipated that the building would be completed by the fall of 1974. All work was done by volunteers from the church membership Taken from the church minutes of 1975: “The big event of the year was the completion and dedication of the new parsonage on the 16th, March. On that day a

suitable ceremony of dedication was held at the site of the new building. At that time, thanks and appreciation were extended to Mr. Jay Stites, Mr. Ray Verity, Mr. Keith Maund, Mr. Bud Snyder, Mr. Walter Turnier, Mr. Robert Barron, Mr. John MacBride, Mr. Joe Marriner and scores of others who gave time, skill, and money towards the erection and fitting of the new parsonage, The Church is grateful to all of the members who helped in any way, financially or physically in this undertaking.�


Mission House & Pavilion Mission House


he old Buzzell home, which was on the Route 9 South property when purchased by the church, was turned over to the Missionary Committee in 1975 to be used as a Mission Home. Expenses were to be borne by the Mission Fund. With lots of work and much prayer, the Mission Board refurbished the house and had it ready by July 31st, 1976 for the Spars, a missionary family who spent the summer living there. In 1978, the Mission House was used in June by Mr. and Mrs. Chester R. Weber, retired missionaries. Dr. and Mrs. Ed Spahr, missionaries on leave, stayed at the house from July till October. In November, the speaker, Rev. Robert Roberts, for the “Deeper Life Crusade”, used the house for a week The Ramsdale family arrived around July 17, 1983 and the house was occupied by others for several months in 1984. After the congregation voted to renovate the Mission House, an organizational meeting was held on

March 7, 1986. Members of the Committee were Harold Nichols-Chairperson, Barbara Turnier-Secretary, Keith Maund and John MacBride. It was estimated that it would cost $30-35,000 to renovate the house. An escrow of $7,500 was necessary before the work could begin. This was the approximate amount it would cost to tear off the back of the house which was rotten and do the roof work involved in that area — $9,168.40 plus pledges was collected. Anthony Lauriello was awarded the contract and work was begun. The renovation was completed in May, 1989 In 1991, The Mission House was home to two families. The first occupied the home from July to September and then in October, the Souzas arrived from Brazil and stayed until the following summer. Then the Spauldings from Wycliffe came and stayed through Thanksgiving. In 1993 and ’94, the Shrifts, from Brazil, and the Bakers occupied the house, while 1997 saw Dale and Leanne Barkley and their four daughters staying from July to November when they returned to Mexico, where they work with the Mixtec Indians.

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The Mission House was built in the 1920s.

The Pavilion under construction.

Corn roast in August, 2011, with members and friends.

Harold (Nick) Nicholas roasting corn in August, 2011.

Dale and Leanne have returned several times, the latest during the summer of 2011 with their youngest daughter who started college after their visit here. The Shrifts returned in July, 1998, and their stay was enjoyed by everyone. After they left, the Brubakers, who serve with Wycliffe in Mali were welcomed. They stayed for almost a year then left to return to Bamako, Africa. A few weeks later, Don and Anne Baker, missionaries with Africa Inland Mission and on home assignment from Tanzania, arrived and stayed for a year. Paul and Kathy Gregowski with TWR on Guam arrived for a stay at the Mission House in December 2001 and stayed till June 2002. The summer of 2003 found Jon and Laura Nemo, with BIMI in Trinidad, enjoying their stay and the Shrifts returned for the summer of 2003. Since there were no missionaries scheduled to use

the house during the fall/winter of 2006-2007, the trustees felt this was the optimum time to schedule some major construction projects. Some of the dining room, living room and stairwell wall and ceilings were removed back to the strips (the house was built in the 1920s) and dry-walled and painted. The upstairs bedrooms were painted and a new, wider front door was installed. The most exciting improvement of church properties in 1999 was the construction of a pavilion on the parsonage grounds. The pavilion could be used for a variety of events by all church groups. One of the first events was a Fall Family Festival later that year. Bathroom facilities at the Pavilion were built and completed in 2001. Every August we have a corn roast with hot dogs and hamburgers supplied by the church. Everyone brings a salad, dessert or other dish.




hose who wished to be baptized before the church was organized had two choices. Some waited for a visiting pastor to baptize them and others sailed up the Delaware River to be baptized at the Pennypack Church in Philadelphia. There was considerable river traffic to Philadelphia at that time since that was the fastest way for needs to be met that the local people couldn’t supply for themselves. Written in the old records are names of those baptized and by whom. The first entry to have a date is John Crefse (Cresse), May 1760. A time frame can be established for others using names of those baptized. Nathaniel Jenkins was baptized by a Mr. Morgin (Morgan). Mr. Morgin (Morgan) also baptized Thomas Buck, Shamgar Hand, Thomas Hewet, Jeremiah Hand, Samuel Smith, Jacob Smith, Daniel Holden, Phebe Smith, Deborah Hand, Abigail Huet and ______ Tailer Baptisms were held in many locations throughout the area. Some places mentioned in the old records are:

Townsend’s Mill Pond in Upper Township The Mill Pond near Thomas Gandy’s, The Mill Pond near Henry Swain in Upper Township The Mill Pond near John Isards In Johnson’s Mill Pond at Dennis Creek Mr. Ludlam’s pond at Dennis Creek. In Mape’s Mill Pond In the Mill Pond near Goshen In Dr. Wiley’s Pond In the Tide Pond In the bay In the creek near Levi Smith In Crooked Creek near the 2nd & 3rd Meeting Houses Several were held in Mr. Swain’s Mill Pond Shell Bed Landing appears to have been used the most Conversion usually occurred after a series of revival meeting. Often the meetings were held during the winter months when local inhabitants would have had time to attend meetings, since the harshness of the winter months kept them from plying their trades. Farmers and

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Justin Alexander, Pastor Jerry, Jane Stone, Pat Dougherty, Pam Witkowsky and Sue Karoso, taken June 2, 2002.

watermen made up a large part of the population of Cape May County in the early days. Getting into a mill pond or even a creek would not have been easy if there was no slope to the ground. Hollis Perry was paid 75 cents on April 10, 1827 for building baptism steps to enable candidates to descend into the water which quite often had to have ice removed from its surface. These steps could be transported from one location to another by horse and wagon. There were committees for the robes that were used, fires that were built for warmth and one to maintain order at the water’s edge. Sometimes a large number of people were baptized the same day. Following are two accounts of winter baptisms. The first is taken from a letter written to the church by Mrs. Levi L. Alrich, the former Emma Eldridge, dated November 25, 1925, in which she relates her experience of bap-

tism on January 26, 1857 “The winter I was baptized there was a scarcity of water – Mapes Mill, Husted’s Mill were too low, Crooked Creek was frozen over and we waited two or three weeks. Charles Kingsbury (one of the candidates) was going to leave town and our last chance was if the tide would come in over the ice. It did on a Sunday night and we all went down Monday morning. The men cut the ice so we could walk in, the people standing close to the edge, and a skin of ice made while Rev. Wilson was making prayer, which was raked off before we went in. I was one of the last — a fire was on the bank but we all drove up to Uncle Thomas Grace’s to change our clothes.” Mrs. Rebecca Wheaton as a young girl (Rebecca Douglass) was baptized on February 6, 1876, at Shell Bed Landing in the afternoon by Rev. Frank B. Gruel. Mrs. Wheaton explained that it was necessary to break the ice


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Jade Och, Pastor Peter Thomas and Chrissy Arleth at Stone Harbor’s 96th Street Beach in September, 2008.

and that she stood in the icy water until Maggie Hewitt, another candidate, was baptized. The last outdoor baptism was conducted at Isard’s Pond by Rev. William L. Jones. The records show that as early as 1873 an indoor baptistery was discussed but it wasn’t until July 1881 that work commenced on building an indoor pool in the 4th Meeting House. To accomplish this, the pulpit area was recessed and the baptistery was put in that area with along with dressing rooms. On Feb. 18, 1883, Charles E. Jones, Abbie Middleton and William Gandy were baptized in the new pool. For fourteen years this pool was filled with hand buckets. Pipes were laid and connected to the town’s water works in March, 1897. We know the water was

heated, for in 1897, repairs were made on the baptistery chimney. In 1901, the town water plant burned down, and necessitated the use of Edmund L. Ross’s water tank to haul water to the church. Two of our older members were baptized here many, many years ago. Dorothy Camp Irmler (Betty) was baptized on July 17, 1932. John Schofield was baptized on March 28, 1937. They became members of the church shortly after their baptisms as was the custom then. Betty still attends First Baptist Church and as been a member longer than anyone. John has been singing in the choir longer than any of the present members. Recently, there has been renewed interest in outdoor baptisms with several being held in the Atlantic Ocean off the beach in Stone Harbor, in Cape May County.

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The Cemetery


ummer is nearing an end, a time when the inhabitants of the Middle Village and surrounding farms would be watching the skies for much needed rain as the harvest of the fields along with the offerings of the nearby waterways would sustain them over the long winter months. But, on August 23, 1766, they arrived at the Old Church Yard on foot, horseback or by horse and wagon to honor the last request of one of their own, Phebe Young, and lay her to rest in the shadow of the little frame church she loved. Was she the first to be laid there? There are other stones, rough hewn with initials chiseled on them that could be older. There were wooden ones which have rotted away over time. Others might have been laid in the shadow of the old church in unmarked spots, their names lost to us with the passing of years. Others would soon follow. One was Dorcas Gandy

Phebe Young’s tombstone marks the first documented burial in the Baptist Cemetery.

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The cemetery is located on Church Street, Cape May Court House.

whose stone reads, “She was a member of the Baptist Church for many years in the place.” She, like Phebe, loved the little church and the peace she felt there. It wasn’t long after Phebe’s passing that the men left the small comforts of home to take part in the Revolutionary War to fight for freedoms they felt the people deserved. When their time came, five of them were laid to rest in the church yard along side the others to slumber in peace waiting for their Saviour to come for them. REVOLUTIONARY WAR VETERANS From the headstones: In Memory of Dr. John Dickinson who departed this Life September 16th, 1834 aged 75 years 11 months and 5

days Dr. Dickinson was a veteran of the War of 1812 also. A Soldier of the Revolution Sacred to the memory of Major Nathaniel Holmes who departed this life January 28th A. D. 1834 – aged 76 years 10 months and 11 days. In memory of Ephraim Mulford, who departed this life November 22nd, 1826, in the 71st. year of his age. In memory of Humphrey Stites, who departed this life Novr 1st, 1829, aged 75 years, 6mo. & 29 days. Humphrey Stites was one of the 87 men from Cape May County who signed this “Oath of Allegiance” for the State of New Jersey “I do sincerely profess and swear, I do not hold myself bound by allegiance to the King of Great Britain, so help me God. I do sincerely profess and swear, that I


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Humphrey Stites fought in the Revolutionary War; Priscilla Cresse is one of many children buried in the cemetery; Lydia Leaming was one of the signers of the orginal covenant in 1712 (as Lydia Shaw).

do and will bear true faith and allegiance to the government established in this state, under the authority of the people, so help me God. May 27th, 1778.” In Memory of Thomas Douglass who departed this life October 26th, 1805 – Aged about 50 years. The cemetery is located on a plot of ground purchased from Jeremiah Hand for one dollar in 1744/45. It was purchased to enable the congregation to build their Second Meeting House. This house was used until 1824 when the Third Meeting House was built. In 1854, the 3rd Meeting House burned and a new meeting house was built in town. The space where the old brick church stood has been left open and a plaque was laid in 1969 to honor those who worshipped there. Over the years, different pieces of ground have been added and now it encompasses around seven acres on both sides of Church Street on the outskirts of Cape May Court House. There are many stories to be learned from the inscriptions found on the old tombstones. The children, there are so many children in the cemetery. Hugh and Hetty Hand lost five children in less

than eight years. Three children lost between Jan. 9, 1864 and Jan. 12, 1864. Their grief can still be felt by reading the inscriptions on the children’s stones. One reads “we laid her here” another “he faded like a leaf.” John Creffe/ Cresse lost his only child, her stone reads “In Memory of Priscilla only child of John Creffe who died Dec. 1774 In her 7thYear”. If you were to wander among the graves in the old section which we call “The Old Yard” you would find all the old county names represented. There are 170 documented persons who were born in the 1700s. The old stones were usually inscribed with a verse. The verses could be ones that were common to the times or ones that appear to have been written by a family member. If you pause to read them, you can feel the sorrow of the bereaved and sense their faith of being united with their loved ones. Titles are found on some of the old stones such as, Deacon, Esq., and Mr. or Mrs. Several stones bear the inscription “O. S.” and “N. S.” showing evidence of the adoption by the Colonies of the Gregorian calendar in 1752.

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Sarah Hand, a longstanding member of the church, was part of a group of 13 girls who sang for George Washington at Trenton, on his way to take the oath of office as first President of the United States.



1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Lydia Leaming’s stone reads like a page from a Family Bible. The row of 12 sets of Leaming stones were brought here from the old Leaming Burial Yard by Dr. Coleman Leaming on September 18, 1891. “LYDIA LEAMING Daughter of JOHN & ELIZABETH PERSON was Born at Eafthampton on April 10th 1680 they moved to Capemay in July 1691 & In Sep 1691 Settled on this Plantation In January 1693 he died April 8 1695 LYDIA Married to WILLIAM SHAW by Whom She had RICHARD LYDIA JOHN JOSHUA & NATHA that Survived her May 17th 1712 WILLIAM SHAW died And Oct. 12th 1714 fhe Married Aaron LEAMING who died June 20th 1746 They had AARON JEREMIAH & ELIZABETH And Oct 2nd 1762 fhe finifhed this Life (spelling taken from tombstone) Dr. Wiley’s marker is impressive. It can be found under the old tree. Dr. Wiley was a physician during the Civil War and served with the Army of the Potomac for three years. The buggy he used for traveling around while attending to the sick of the community can be seen at the Cape May County Genealogical Museum. He had “The Doctor’s Inn” in Cape May Court House built as a home for his family. The tree itself is a monument. When lots were sold, it was sometimes used as a landmark in describing the location of certain burial places. Sarah Moore Hand is resting there. Sarah was the daughter of Nathaniel Moore who kept a ferry at Lamberton, NJ for many years during and after the Revolutionary War. When George Washington traveled from Mount Vernon to New York in 1789 to take the oath of office as first President of the United States, he was met with a grand reception as he crossed into New Jersey at the Assanpink Bridge at Trenton. Thirteen young ladies, dressed in white, sang and strewed flowers in his path to welcome him. Sarah was the youngest of these. She married Jonathan Hand of Cape May Court House on July 25,

1802 and lived in a house on Main Street which is still standing. In 1818, Sarah rented a pew below stairs (1st floor) for $6.50. Her tombstone reads SARAH HAND Widow of Jonathan Dec. Born at Trenton, N. J. July 22nd A. D. 1778 Died April 3rd A. D. 1871 In more recent times, other notable persons have been laid to rest here. One such person was Dr, Margaret Mace. She was, and still is, revered around the southern part of Cape May County for her devotion to her profession. The elementary school in North Wildwood was named in her honor. She is thought to have delivered over 6,000 babies over the course of her years of service. Every year some of those “babies” gather at the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse to have a group picture taken. One of the oldest in the group, Marion Mouklas, nee Shivers, turned 90 on July 30, 2011. Marion’s father, Lorie attended First Baptist Church as a young boy. His parents moved to Anglesea and were charter members of Anglesea Baptist Church. It’s peaceful there; the rustling of tree leaves, the occasional bird song, a visitor searching for an ancestor, or one following the age old custom of caring for family graves is all that interrupts the stillness. The following poem was written on July 6, 1969 for cemetery superintendent Frank Camp by Florence Joseph to mark the plaque being placed in the graveyard honoring those who worshipped in the Old Meeting Houses... Pioneers In a country graveyard Resting side by side, Lie the Pioneers of bygone years Who worshiped, on this Site. So this plaque of bronze, declares, May every soul here rest in peace Forever, in our Prayers.

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Plaque in the Baptist Cemetery honoring those who worshipped in the Second and Third Meeting Houses.

Keeping the graveyard clear of brush and briars was a tiresome job. The land was surrounded by trees and undergrowth which continually encroached on the small clearing. As early as 1832, the records state that the old graves were cleared. It was during this period that the trustees decided to enclose the graveyard with a fence of “good red cedar posts, and inch cedar boards cut into slats” and later passed a resolution that “the graveyard was to be mowed once in August” and later “resolved that sheep be turned into the Grave Yard to eat out the briers”. Today, this sounds disrespectful but these folks spent all their daylight hours growing and preserving food for the winter. Quite often this responsibility fell on the women and children; no matter how young they were, as a good number of the men of the community were watermen. Selling their catch and transporting materials to distance ports was their means of obtaining cash needed to pay for

Receipt for 200 cedar rails for the cemetery from 1828.

what they couldn’t supply for themselves — doctor bills, cloth for their clothes and their church subscriptions, for example. Today, the mowing of the cemetery is contracted out and costs approximately $1,000 a cutting. Recently, the lanes in the cemetery have been named and sign posts installed. A book containing around 3500 names of those buried in the cemetery along with a map is kept in the church office. A copy has been given to Cape


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


Hand-drawn map, by Richard Thompson (some time after 1887) of the Baptist Cemetery showing the center walk, with a pavilion that is no longer there.


Sunday School


he first mention of a Sunday school was in 1833. The school had seven workers and 55 pupils. Sunday school met at 2:30pm, which would have made attendance for those living a distance from the Meeting House difficult. A few years later, 1840 to 1880, six Sunday school were being sponsored by this church in the surrounding communities which enabled many children to attend. There was a Sunday school library which had 160 books. In 1868, the number of books was 800. We can assume that these books were chosen to enhance the young people’s character. The Sunday school was separate from the church. It had its own superintendent, who was the main officer, a secretary, treasurer and occasionally, an assistant superintendent. The superintendent was elected by scholars. They had to pay for the extra coal and lamp oil that was used

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Sunday School Class in the late 1940s: Teacher Dorothy Stites with, from left to right, Olinda Jenkins, Ms Chambers, Patty Molnar, Maybelle and Betty Fisher. Opposite page: This receipt, from 1867, documents the efforts by Sunday School teachers to buy more books for the children, presumably by organizing an ice cream social.

during the Sunday school hour. They even needed permission from the congregation to use the basement of the Fourth Meeting House for their meetings. The need for teacher training was recognized at certain periods during the history of the church. The first mention of a teacher training program was in 1876. This was taught by Pastor Frank B. Greul. From 1916 to 1919, as many as 12 persons were taking a training course. A

county-wide Christian Workers Institute was held at the church. A member of the State Convention staff led the meetings. Sometime around the time of World War I, the Sunday school hour was changed to 10:00am. Since 1965, we have had a Board of Christian Education with the superintendent and members of the board being elected during the Annual Business Meeting held in January.

Superintendent Larry Stiles with Evan Jones, Pam Turnier, Brian Maund, James Moore, and unknown, in 1975.


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A list of known Sunday school Superintendents: 1833-1866 1. 1867 2. 1872-1874 3. 1875 4. 1876-1877 5. 1878-1879 6. 1880-1883 7. 1884-1889 8. 1890 9. 1891 10. 1892-1894 11. 1895-1896 12. 1897-1900 13. 1901 14. 1902 15. 1903-1908 16. 1909 17. 1910 18. 1911-1918 19. 1917-1918 20. 1919-1921 21. 1922-1924 22. 1925-1926 23. 1927-1928 24.1929-1955 25. 1956-1958 26. 1959-1964 27.1965-1966 28. 1967 29. 1975-1977 30. 1978-1979 31. 1979-1980 32. 1981-1982 33. 1983 34. 1984 35. 1985-1986 36. 1987-1988

No Superintendents named Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming Rev. Frank B. Gruel Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming and John Brown Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming E. Clinton Hewitt Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming and E. Clinton Hewitt E. Clinton Hewitt E. Clinton and Edmond L. Ross Edgar L. Douglass E. Clinton Hewitt Howard H. Ross J. C. Foster Clarence A. Nichols Edmond L. Ross Edwin D. Foster Dr. William G. Hand James A. Vance Albert Freideman Prof. Edward A. Coray William J. Bethel Preston Fisher John Ross Mrs. Marie Stone Lawrence Jackson Mrs. Marie Stone Larry Stiles Josephine Mitchell George Siter Elaine Maund Betsey Stiles Elaine Maund Dee Amundsen Cindy Klott

A certificate for John Schofield on his ascension from the Primary to the Junior Department.

37. 1989-1990 38. 1990-1991 39. 1992-1996 40. 1999-2000 41. 2000-2002 42. 2002-2004 43. 2005-2011

David & Jessie Dye Virginia Heslinga Anne Brenner Virginia Heslinga Dr. Robert Barron Susan Johnson Harry Hagen

It is not easy being a Junior High Sunday School teacher, especially if you have been around the block for a number of years. They come in all sorts of packages and all kinds of sizes. They are full of energy, so much so that you wondered if you ever had that kind of pep. They are inquisitive, and some want to be heard while others won’t say a word. They are just getting interested in that particular guy or gal across the table from them and like to show off. They ask hard questions that make you look up Scripture and investigate things but you learn more than they do. They have tons of stories that they want to tell right in the middle of the lesson and you end up losing your train of thought and wondering if you taught anything that particular Sunday. BUT, when you see them years later and they give you that hug and kiss, you know that they have grown into wonderful young men and women that God uses in this

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Anne Brenner’s Sunday School Class from 2007-08. Front row left to right: Sam Bakley, Anne Brenner, Erin Florer. Second row: Sean Florer, unknown, Sarah Bakley and Mark Bakley.

old sinful world. I love them and thank God that I have had the privilege of teaching them these many years. Vacation Bible School is held for all ages for one week every summer. Many of the Sunday School Classes in the early to mid 1900s were named and were very active in church and community affairs. Following is a list of the better known ones. The Foster Sunshine Bible Class for ladies Thirtynine were enrolled when it was organized on February 11, 1915. Mrs. Lydia Foster was the founder and the teacher. The known charter members were: Mrs. Elizabeth Chessman

Mrs. Beatrice Shields Mrs. Eva L. Tozour Mrs. Mary Truncer — mentioned in her obituary. Honorary charter members: Miss Rachel Tozour Mrs. May Two minute books plus a scrapbook full of undated newspaper clippings, announcements and invitations give us a insight as to what the class should be remembered for and the means they used do accomplish their service to the church, the community and places far from their homes in Cape May County. An entry of April 13, 1938 concerned the need of a


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new stove in the Annex. Obtaining a gas stove was discussed. Mrs. Martin Spalding had a gas stove she wasn’t using and gave it to the class for the Annex. A committee visited the gas company and signed up for a quarter meter. For those of you to young to remember quarter meters, they worked by inserting a quarter into the meter along side the stove to get 25 cents worth of gas for cooking. When you used up 25 cents worth the flow of gas ceased until you inserted another quarter. Mr. Douglass was paid $1.00 to move the stove and 25 cents to put in the gas meter to start it working. THEIR CHURCH 1. They decorated the church with palms on Palm Sunday and flowers on Easter Sunday. 2. They stocked the pantry for a new pastor and his family. 3. The bought new drapes for the Annex. 4. The sick & shut ins were sent cards and visited 5. Family night pot luck suppers were held just for fun. 6. In 1939, they paid for two coats of paints to be applied on the exterior of the parsonage (on the corner of Hand & Main Streets) for the unheard of price of $136.70 and were responsible for paying for many other repairs of the parsonage. THE COMMUNITY AND BEYOND 1. One clipping states that 29 Easter plants had been sent to the sick and shut-ins of the community. 2. At Christmas time, fruit basket, flowers and other gifts were sent to the shut ins. 3. They sent a dozen orange to a child sick with pneumonia. 4. A contribution was made to the Salem Methodist Church to help them sponsor a Chinese family of nine, recently arrived in this country. 5. A box of fancy work, used jewelry and other articles were sent to the 4th Annual Fair of the Baptist Home of South Jersey. 6. Christmas gifts were sent to the guests at the Bap-

tist Home at Riverton. 7. Clothing was sent to the Mather School in Beaufort, South Carolina. 8. Sweaters were sent to Hong Kong for the children. 9. They helped the Ladies Aid with The White Cross quota 10. In 1942, they gave needed articles for American

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Japanese in the newly opened camps 11 They donated clothing to the Russian Relief in 1944 and sent 244 garments weighing 135lbs. to the occupied countries in Europe. MEANS USED TO RAISE FUNDS 1. An interesting way used to raise funds was a trav-


Leanne Barkley, a friend, Dale Barkley, Pat Flynn, Missy Flynn, Pam Witkowsky and Helen Cox helping the Pre-School Vacation Bible School with their crafts in August, 2011. The Barkleys, missionaries with Wycliffe Bible Translators, were staying at the Baptist Mission House that summer.


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Vacation Bible School in 2011. From left: Raymond, Quintin Flynn, Ashley and Bill Graff, Najee Ravenell, Tyrell.

eling apron. A homemade apron was circulated among class members who when it was at their home would take a patch and whatever amount of money they could spare, sew the patch on the apron with the money behind it and then pass the apron on to another member. 2. They charged the Kiwanis Club of Court House rent to use their class room as a meeting place. 3. They took a special offering of coins 4. They had soup sales 50 cents a quart 5. They held rummage sales on the 1st floor of the Gazette Building 5. They held chicken dinners 6. Selling Christmas Cards, tins of cookies and held bake goods were among the many ways they used to accomplish their goals. In 1964, the Class had a part in furnishing the new Fellowship Hall with tables and chairs. One of the last entries in the scrapbook is an invita-

tion to their 50th Anniversary Celebration (a covered dish supper) held in the Fellowship Hall on February 8, 1965. The Martin Men’s Bible Class was organized by Rev. Thomas Martin on July 7, 1914. There were seventy-three charter members. Their monthly meetings were well attended according the minute book found among the church’s collection. A short business meeting would be followed by playing quoits of horseshoes weather permitting (Ed Cullingford threw two ringers in 1953) or a game of baseball darts. Tic Tac Toe Bible quiz was played also. Movies were shown, usually two short educational ones and a comic one. They had guest speakers such as the State Police and the Coast Guard Choir. Of particular note, was the special consideration they paid Capt. Burke during his last illness. Captain Burke was captain of a barge carrying cargoes to inland ports and also to New Haven, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island. A devoted member of the Baptist Church,

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Read at the class meeting at

Another girl who’s busy,

We’ve two Louises in our group

Olive Dickinson’s new home, in

And yet, like Rachel, she,

But only one Anna Mae,

Erma at Christmas, 1936.

Is always more than willing

Then too, we’ve another Kathryn

Olive died November 9, 1937 and

Is our Emma Dougherty.

Who goes by the name of Kay.


And still we’ve another Kathryn

this poem was found among the treasured keepsakes of a church

There’s Clara, Myrtle, and Marie,

This time it’s a Haney tho’


There’s Ruth and Thelma too,

Poor girl, she’s never with us,

I’ve never know them to rebe

She’s eternally on the “go”.


When there was work to do

We girls in the Comrade Bible Class

Next, Kathryn M. steps into line

Now Betty hasn’t been with us

Have known much fun together,

She stays till work is done,

For a whole long year or more

We’ve had delightful doggie roasts

I like her ‘cause she’s sensible

But we still have jolly mem’ries

And shared December’s weather.

And yet she’s lots of fun.

Of good times we have shared before. I almost forgot our other Marie,

We’ve tackled selling everything From sponges to mince pie,

Like Kathryn, Olive does her work

I’m sure that would never be right,

To start us selling stocks and bonds

She’s capable and fine,

For tho’ we don’t see her often

Just tell us when and why.

With new ideas and helpful hints

She’d helped make our meeting bright.

She’s always on the line. We’re in on almost everything

Now Eleanor has just come in

Viola, our cherished “departed”.

That happens at the church,

Not quite a year today,sincerely,

Is ever in our mind,

We even built a fire

But she has won us to her side

To get someone who could take her

When they left us in the lurch.

“Cause she’s so free and gay.

place, Would be terribly hard to find.

Our famous pot-luck suppers Draw great crowds most every time

This goes for Lucy, too I’m sure,

Now I hope I haven’t missed someone

‘Cause we never “stint” the menfolks

She’s one who won’t pretend,

Who’s on a prolonged vacation,

Tho’ they only bring a dime!

She volunteers for everything And makes a jolly friend.

We have studied foreign missions

Elsie and Lillian I’ve known for years

And brushed up considerably,

To them, I sing. Auld Lang Syne,

On the customs and the habit

Because in the years I have known

Of our brothers ‘cross the sea.


Right here I’d like to say a word

Next, Mildred, she’s our southern belle,

In praise of Mrs. Buzzell,

Comes tripping into place.

Who’s made our class just what it is

To me she’s welcome company

Because she’s loved us well.

With her bright and smiling face.

Next, Rachel comes into my mind

Inez, I am sure we miss a lot,

Because she is sincere,

She’s been sick for a terribly long time

She never lets things bother her

So let’s join together in wishing her well

She simply “sticks” all year.

By sending a message in rhyme.

If I have, I want to apologize So please get back in circulation. Just one more thing I wish to say, Before I disappear, A Very Merry Christmas, All And a bright and glad New Year!! — Sincerely, Viney Wilder Endicott


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A Foster Sunshine Class Certificate. And right, Foster Sunshine Class at the Cape May County Park. Front row: Clara Foster, Adelaide Hess, Mary Long (Truncer), Stella Morton, Vera Sayre. Second row: Unknown, Agnes Buzzel, Anna Smith, Inez May, Margaret Buzzel. Third row: Eva Tozour, Rachel Tozour, Edna Fisher.

Captain Burke served as superintendent of the Baptist cemetery from 1936 to 1950 They didn’t have a Refreshment Committee; they had a “Committee on Eats”. An annual oyster supper was held every year. Fifty-two persons attended the one held on March 9, 1948. Served at the supper were 300 fried oysters, a number of stews, 30 lbs. of French fries, 15 lbs. of pepper cabbage along with water crackers, saltines, catsup, relish and tea & coffee. Pot pie dinners were prepared along with clam pie dinners. A watermelon social was held at the end of summer. The date of their famous Strawberry Shortcake supper was determined by when the strawberries “were at their best.” In 1952, in was held on June 3. The ladies had been invited to join the men that evening but since the cook, Preston Foster was hospitalized at the time, the

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1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The 48th anniversary of the Foster Sunshine Class. Seated: Eva Tozour, Inez May, Mary Truncer. Standing: May Shane, Vera Sayre.

ladies ended up preparing the shortcake. Their meetings weren’t all fun & games. One very important contribution of this class was the erecting of the “Annex” to be used for social activities in 1915. Other contributions to the church and community included: 1. Donations to the Middle Township milk fund 2. Donations and Christmas gifts were sent to the Betty Bacharach Home 3. Church repairs were made and a powder room was added to the Annex 4. Toys were repaired for needy families at Christmas time 5. Birdhouses and similar objects were made for the street bazaar One of the last entries was October, 1962: “A request

was made for airplane spotters for the Burleigh Station.” Comrade Class 1925 The Minutes of the Comrade Class show many ways they helped the church, community and foreign countries. Following are some of their accomplishments... § For many years they pledged $100 for church upkeep. They repaired church hymnals. § They contributed to Bible school expenses. Not getting much response from the Trustee Board about having the sidewalks repaired, they decided if the trustees weren’t going to address the matter, they would do it themselves. § They discussed having Lydia Shaw Leaming’s tombstone repaired in order to preserve it.

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Martin Men’s Bible Class taken between 1936 and 1937: Kneeling left to right — Clem Foster, Mr. Kirlin, Leslie Norbury, John Brick, Harry Bell, Rev. Louis Kirlin, unknown, Wm. Warner. Standing — unknown, Frank Camp, thought to be Martin Spaulding, thought to be William Verity, Charles Long, Len Verity, Capt. John Burke, Edwin D. Foster, unknown, Myron Morton, Wesley Brown, Lester Norbury, Harry Whal, Mr. Wilder, unknown, Walter Wills Edgar Douglass. These members were all county workers.

§ Lydia Leaming was one of the 37 who signed the original charter § They contributed to the Milk Fund at the Middle Township Schools during the 1950s. § They had previously sent help to Paris, France and in 1950 they received a letter from a boy asking for very small articles of clothing. They immediately got a package off to France. The Dutch Family they kept in contact with asked for any clothing the class felt they could send, there having been recent floods in the area. Many areas in Europe were still affected by the devastation cause by World War II. In 1953, they sent Christmas gifts to a young girl in the Alaska Kodiak Mission.

§ In the 1970s, they sent pins and needles and sweaters they had collected to Thailand. § Donations were made to the Red Cross and the association for Retarded Children. § $10 was sent to the Scholarship Fund at Bacone College in memory of Rev. Cunningham. $20.00 was sent to the Cancer Fund in memory of Dorothy Evans. Rachel Tozour’s name was put on one of the church windows for $19.00. They had fun times, also. For many years they held a Mother-Daughter dinner for their class at the Country House. In later years, all ladies of the church were invited and the dinner was held at various places. One year they


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The Comrade Class Christmas Party in 1989. Clockwise, from the left — Ruth Stites, Sandy Stites, Kathryn Willis, Betty Irmler, Carmen Theodore, Lillian Thompson, Mary Frances Warner, Anne Louise Conlow.

held a Passover Supper on Maundy Thursday, tickets were $2.00. They took a bus trip to St. Peter’s Village in Pennsylvania. To accomplish the help they provided, they sold handbags, calendar towels, snuggles, vanilla among other things. At the time this article was written, four members of this class were still with us: Dena Daugherty Jane Stites Betty Irlmer Ruth Stites The Crusader Class In the fall of 1995 the Crusader Sunday School Class decided to enter a church float designed by Phil and Dee Amundsen, in the Middle Township Halloween Parade. Their theme would be “Noah’s Ark” with adults and

children dressing up as animals. They would pull a row boat behind the float with two skunks in it. The Stiles’, Brenners, Heslinga’s, Rich’s, Gills, Nichols, Amundsen’s, Maund’s, Walt and Karen (Barb’s proxy) Turnier, Sandy Kurtz, Susan Johnson and Loretta Thomas met at the Nichols barn to paint the float. Larry managed to baptize the pastor with brown paint. Ginny drew a whale to lead the float. They decorated it with lights and had “Noah” music playing. They were awarded “Best of Class” trophy by parade judges. They also entered a float in the 1995 Middle Township Christmas Parade with the theme “Wise Men Still Seek Him”. The float had a manger scene with children of the church dressed as wise men, shepherds, and angels. Adults walked behind the float dressed in the attire of different professions. They received a First Place trophy for their category. Once again, they decided to build a float for the 1996

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May Phil Amundsen and Walt Turnier working on the float for the 1996 Middle Township Halloween Parade.



1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The Halloween float was cleverly adapted for the Middle Township Christmas Parade in 1996. Below: The float from the 1995 Middle Township Christmas Parade.

Middle Township Halloween Parade with the theme being, “He’s got the Whole World in His Hands”. They constructed a large globe with huge hands holding it up. The float was decorated with lights and church members rode on it. This float also received “Best of Class” trophy. They recycled the Halloween float by making some changes for the Christmas parade. Their theme was “Joy to the World” so they removed the hands and added “joy” in large letters on the globe and a large star to the front of the float and redecorated the sides of the float. Church members rode on the float while Christmas music was played. The float won the First Place trophy.

“Joy’ “wise men still seek him”

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BOARD OF CHRISTIAN ED MEETING DECEMBER 19, 1988 Written by Virginia Heslinga


A Junior Church coordinator would be a wonderful addition, but it takes a lot of thought and prayer to fine a person to take this position. Just planning Christian Ed is a challenge new a clatter.


Needs for enthusiastic workers are always an important matter

’Twas the Monday before Christmas at the parsonage house;

Away to the new year

Where the Board of Christian Ed met, not quiet as a mouse.

To activities in fellowship hall! Away to exciting plans, To learning for one and all!

Ed Lasusky was there — Sandra Novick too, Jerry & Virginia obviously there were only a few,

On Pastor, on teacher on committees, on students… On classes, and concerts and dinners for depth and

The meeting was started with heart-felt prayer,


and plans for the Church education were covered with care.

On to the Challenge of living for the Lord each day, to learning to live more in His way.

Christmas on Sunday was a cause for discussion, Services and Sunday School plans caused some fussin!

To the height of commitment To reaching out to all…

The Sunday School program was reviewed by a few. The budget was finalized with some raised too. Publicity of Church specials was seen as a need and greater responsibility for personal invitations indeed! Board of Christian members will be taking this on, so this will be done in ’89 was agreed upon. Highlights of Christian Education for the Church family were discussed. Lowlights were also reviewed (an unpleasant must,) The daytime woman’s Bible Study is a new highlight. Any woman may attend and will be greeted with delight Junior Church workers are needed in ’89. Please sign up on the chart in the Kitchen for two weeks at a time.

Now dash away, dash away, dash away all. To the top of learning more of God’s Word! Let the great good news by all be heard. (Did you hear Board members exclaim as they drove out of sight – Merry Christmas to All and to All a good night!)


Ladies’ Mite Society


he first record of a financial undertaking just by the women of the congregation is the Ladies Subscription List for funds to have a new pulpit built for the Third Meeting House. Prior to that women’s names appeared on church documents along with those of men from the congregation and community. Women’s names appear alone on the lists of Pew Rents. On January 3, 1869 “The Mite Society” was formed. The first president of the Ladies Mite Society was Mrs. Jane H. Smith, died December 28, 1897 October 8, 1881: Mary A. Douglass reported that the Ladies’ Mite Society would contribute $40.00 towards the Baptistry for the 4th Meeting House The list of names on the opposite page was found in their minute book for 1892-1906. It is probably a continuous list as two of the ladies are mentioned as original members. Even though it is the Ladies Mite Society,

several men were members also. THE LADIES AID SOCIETY This organization was formed in 1906 from the members of the Mite Society and the Sunday school classes. Its primary purpose was for the “betterment” of the church. In plain words, they were to help supply the funds necessary for church improvements and other things that the Board of Trustees did not have funds for. They also helped with community needs and had special interest missionaries. The society met in the homes of the members when they were first organized with an occasional dinner meeting in the Annex after it was built. Found in the church minutes of February 16, 1910: “The Ladies Aid Society has contributed from its Treasury on account of the New Parsonage to January 1st 1910, as follows For Purchase of Lot $500.00 For Recording Deed 1.50 For Taxes 9.05

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Society Members from 1892 1. Mrs. Roxanne Hand

26. Mr. Leslie Ludlam

51. Mrs. Edwin Foster

2. Mrs. Mary A. Cresse

27. Mr. Charles E. Nichols

52. Miss Hannah Hildreth

3. Mrs. Lydia F. Wiley

28. Mr. Wm. Foster

53. Mrs. Wm. Tyler

4. Mrs. Jane H. Meigs

29. Mr. Wm. Gandy

54. Mrs. David Birch

5. Mrs. Hetty Isard

30. Mr. E. L. Ross

55. Mrs. Hannah Wheaton

6. Mrs. Jane H. Smith

31. Mr. J. C. Foster

56. Mrs. Alicia Douglass

7. Mrs. Josephine Leaming

32. Mrs. E. C. Hewitt

57. Mrs. Rachel Stites

8. Mrs. Helen Leaming

33. Mrs. C. G. Mills

58. Mrs. Deborah Carey

9. Mrs. Carrie Springer

34. Mrs. E. J. Wheaton

59. Mrs. Josephine Carey

10. Caroline Benezet

35. Mrs. Leslie Ludlam

60. Mrs. Emma

11. Miss Addie Benezet

36. Mrs. Mary Benezet

61. Mr. Harry Carey

12. Miss Jennie Springer

37. Mrs. Tabitha Gandy

62. Mr. Clarence Nichols

13. Miss Lillie Springer

38. Mrs. Ella Way

63. Mr. Edwin Foster

14. Miss Minnie Springer

39. Mrs. Lizzie Ludlam

64. Mr. Samuel Stites

15. Miss Nellie Leaming

40. Mrs. Joanna Douglass

65. Miss Ethel Weeks (Long)

16. Miss Josie Young

41. Mrs. J. C. Foster

66. Miss Susie Hackney

17. Miss Sarah Hildreth

42. Mrs. Nora Buck

67. Mrs. Florence Hurrell

18. Miss Leonora Bennett

43. Miss Carrie B. Holmes

68. Dr. Dix

19. Dr. J. F. Leaming

44. Mrs. Mamie Hand

69. Mrs. Dr. Dix

20. Mr. Reuben Townsend

45. Master John Ross

70. Dr. William Hand

21. Mr. Wm. Hildreth

46. Mrs. Ann Maria Hand

71. Mr. Willets Corson

22. Mr. Dickinson Hildreth

47. Mrs. Clara Hand

72. Mrs. Willets Corson

23. Mr. E. C. Hewitt

48. Miss Mary Shivers

73. Ella C. Hewitt

24. Mr. C. G. Mills

49. Miss Adda Long

25. Mr. E. C. Wheaton

50. Mrs. Horace Richardson


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For Window Shades 12.14 For Cleaning 2.22 For Building Fund 410.00 For Interest on Note 38.91 For Principal on Note 275.00 $1,248.82 On January 11, 1911 it is recorded that the Ladies Aid Society paid the balance of $150.00 on the parsonage debt. These ladies understood finances and were great managers. They paid annual dues (60 cents a year, raised to $1.00 in 1974). Some of their fund raisers were annual affairs such as a bazaar (held every other year) and serving dinners to different groups and organizations. They kept coin cards and love boxes in their homes to fill up when they got a spare coin or two. When they had extra funds, they would purchase bonds. On November 5, 1928 “it was decided to take 5 shares at $5 apiece for the renovating of the Annex to be paid after the bazaar.” A “traveling basket” was passed from home to home and when it was almost empty they filled it up again. Their record books don’t state what was in the basket but it could have been filled with different handiwork items (fancy work, as they would have said). Their homes would have been filled with crocheted and knitted doilies, hand towels with tatted edges, fancy potholders to hang in the kitchen. Perhaps there were handkerchiefs with crocheted or tatted edges and embroidered dresser scarves. If you needed a gift and didn’t have time to make one, the “traveling basket” was very handy. Perhaps a young girl would see a lovely piece and acquire it for her hope chest. If a need came up that they weren’t able to meet, they had two means that they used to secure the amount needed. A certain gentleman would lend them money or they would borrow from the Cemetery Committee. These funds would be paid back as soon as they held another fund raiser. For example: “Jan. 8, 1928: pd Mr. Haines $100 on

the amount he loaned us for the parsonage heater. April, 1929: Decided to ask the Cemetery Comm. for loan of $70 to pay the amount still due on chairs for Jr. Choir & Young Peoples’ Chorus & also to pay for the closet that was built to keep the choir gowns in.” At one time, they held a bazaar in August, but being it was very hot they held them in November or December after that. In 1930, they asked everyone to start work early on their six pieces for the bazaar. That same year they decided to ask the three adults Sunday School Classes for help. They would hold An Apron Social. They asked the Foster Sunshine Class to be responsible for refreshments and the Fidelity Class to provide entertainment. Admission was an apron for a lady, 25 cents for a gentleman and 10 cents for a child. They received 40 aprons to be sold at the next bazaar. Soup and a light lunch would be served at the bazaar and sometimes they would serve lunch and dinner. This probably happened when they held their bazaar on a Thursday night and during the day on Friday. A sample of the menus they served: Missionary Luncheon May 11, 1937 (35 cents) Meat loaf String beans Mashed potatoes Stewed tomatoes Rolls & butter Coffee Pepper cabbage Jello Church Dinner 1941 (40 cents) Turkey & filling (From American Store) Mashed potatoes—gravy Peas (canned) Cold slaw Cranberry Rolls coffee Pumpkin pie

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The Ladies Society held a Christmas Bazaar inside the church buildings. It was a festive affair, with decorated booths where folks could purchases embroidered and crocheted items, decorations and baked goods. For the children there was a “fish pond� to test their skills at hooking prizes.


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The Ladies Missionary Society at Christmas, 2007. Front row — Anne Brenner, Dena Daugherty, Ruth Stites, Marion Boorse. Second Row— Susan Armour, Elaine Slamb, Jane Stites, Olinda Tomlin. Third Row — Dee Amundsen, Susan Johnson, Myrtle Steelman, Betty Irmler, Sandy Stites, Debbie Harris. Fourth Row — Pastor Peter, Janet Sikora, Lois Helwig, Helen Cox, Marlene, Marlene Gill, Sylvia Hewett, Rose, Fielding, Pat Dougherty.

Bazaar (35 cents) Lunch Soup Sauerkraut & pork Doggies Hamburg sandwiches Pies, cake etc Coffee

Supper Meat loaf & roast pork Mashed potatoes Sweet potatoes Baked beans Pepper cabbage Coffee, rolls Pie or a dip

The 1930s were hard years for a lot of people in a lot of places. The ladies took good donated children’s clothes, washed, mended and ironed them for needy children in our area. They sent baby clothes to the Bacone Indians

They rolled bandages and sent other much needed supplies to missionaries in many areas of the world. With the Fellowship Hall finished, many items were needed so it could be used as intended. The ladies bought nine dozen plates, cups, saucers, pie dishes and sauce dishes in the American Rose pattern. They also bought table cloths and other necessary kitchen utensils. They weren’t among the ones who “forgot” the boys in Vietnam. They collected items for “our boys”. They also donated to or bought veteran gifts for the Red Cross, There is an interesting story about a Soup Sale that took place several years ago. The day before a soup sale several ladies would gather in the church kitchen to chop vegetables, cut the meat into bite size pieces, and perform

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Betty Irmler, the longest living member of the First Baptist Church, and Jane Stites, whose family have been involved with the church from the beginning.

all the other steps necessary to make soup. Two “groups” of ladies usually did this, the “old girls” and the “young girls”. On this particular occasion the two “young girls, Betty Irmler and Jane Stites” convinced the others that they could handle fixing the soup. They worked very hard the day before the sale and had several pots of soup made by the end of the day. The only thing left to do before going home to prepare dinner for their families was to put the pots in the refrigerator. Now they had a problem, they had made so many pots of soup; the last one wouldn’t fit in. Well, the kitchen wasn’t heated and it was cold outside so the soup would be alright left on the floor overnight, or so they thought. Early the next morning, on entering the kitchen, Betty and Jane found the soup had started to “work”, spoil in

today’s terminology. They had to work fast, the “old ladies” would arrive soon and they would never hear the end of it. They grabbed the pot of soup, put it in Betty’s car, drove to Jane’s house and threw the soup to the chickens that gobbled it right up. Betty, now 88 years, and Jane, now 90 years old, still laugh when they tell the story. To this day they believe the “old ladies” never knew about the extra pot of soup. The last man to join the Ladies Aid Society was Edwin Stites who joined on March 5, 1973. He never attended any of the meetings; he joined so he could help by paying dues. THE LADIES MISSIONARY SOCIETY In 2005, the Ladies Aid Society became known as the


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Children playing with soccer balls at an outdoor classroom in Uganda, east-central Africa, in 2011.

Women’s Missionary Society. It was decided to no longer be a part of “White Cross Work”, a Baptist Outreach Program, but to contribute to missionary projects locally and in other countries. They meet every second Tuesday of the month in the Narthex of the church except during the months of July and August. A Christmas luncheon is held in December and an indoor picnic is held in June. After a short business meeting and devotions, projects around the church are tackled. Dues are $2.00 with a voluntary offering taken for Pastor Elijah Kintu’s orphanage in Uganda, Africa. The orphanage is for children of aids victims. A Penny Can is passed around and is on the table during coffee time on Sunday mornings. Their relationship with Pastor Elijah came about in an

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unexpected way. Information had been received that new or used shoes were being collected for an area of Uganda and could they help. A notice was put in the church bulletin and shoes started pouring in. Seven large shipping boxes of shoes were collected and packed for shipping. Upon receiving a thank you from Pastor Elijah telling how much the shoes meant to those that received them, an email correspondence was started between Anne Brenner, chairperson and Pastor Elijah. He has to walk miles to another town to receive or send an email. The children in the orphanage were playing soccer with wadded up plastic bags for balls. On hearing this, Just Sports on Mechanic Street in Court House donated a case of soccer balls and two pumps to inflate them and the women paid the postage to mail them. When they finally arrived, the children were overwhelmed. Pastor Elijah sent us pictures of them playing with the balls. The voluntary funds collected for the orphanage are given to Pastor Elijah on one of his infrequent trips to the states or given to Pastor Robinson of Christ Gospel Church in Whitesboro, NJ. Christ Gospel Church has an account set up to send funds to the orphanage. In July, since Pastor Elijah was in the area, a special luncheon was held for him at 1st Baptist and the women enjoyed listening to him and learning about the conditions in Uganda and were blessed knowing that their prayers and support have helped the daily life at the orphanage. He showed many slides of the orphanage including the concrete toilet and the covered, open air classroom built with funds they contributed. On learning of the need for children’s books in English about Jesus and the Bible, it was decided to purchase 27 easy reader Christian books and send them to the orphanage. Knowing that he was traveling on very limited funds, the women surprised him with a gift of $50 to use for his personal expenses. This simple act of kindness brought tears to his eyes as he expressed his heartfelt thanks for the love that has been shown to him. A Fall Bazaar, started in 2009, is their only fund raiser.


Pastor Elijah from Uganda and Anne Brenner, the chairperson of the Ladies Missionary Society.

Only handmade items including baked goods, pickles, relishes, jam and jellies, aprons, flower arrangements and etc. are available. A lunch of soup and sandwiches is available. Last year coffee and cake was served midmorning. All funds go to reduce the church debt. Other causes donated to include: 1. 65 health kits packed for the Tsunami victims 2. $50 sent to help Katrina victims 3. Collected and packed new items for the Mission Team to be taken to the Katrina Relief victims including linens, complete sets of dishes, silverware, pots and pans and numerous items for the kitchen and bath 4. $200 given to the Katrina victims on the second Mississippi trip by church members 5. Greeting cards and phone cards sent to members


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Pickles, jams and jellies are sought-after items at the bazaar on November 4, 2011.

in the military 6. $100 was spent for purchase of Bibles for summer camps in Tanzania 7. Health supplies were collected for Keswick 8. Baby Bottles are prepared for Hope Pregnancy. Church members take the bottles home and put donations in them 9. $200 donation to the Stained Glass Window Fund in honor of Dena Daugherty 10. $100 donation to Family Promise 11. $200 was donated to the Building Fund in memory of Dee Amundsen 12. $100 was sent to support Emily Gregowske’s missionary work in NYC

13. A box was put together for “Operation Christmas Child by Laura Osmundsen 14. $100 was given to purchase gifts for the Giving Tree 15. $100 was paid to the Living Water campaign 16. A ceiling fan was purchase for the old study in memory of Dee Amundsen 17. $100 was sent to South Seaville Methodist Church after their building burned The 2011 Fall Bazaar was a great success. There were over 300 jars of jams, jellies, relishes & pickles spread over long tables with aprons, pot holders and wooden baskets mingled among them to give the appearance of a country store. The baked goods table was covered with

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Dolores Bakley and Ruth Jones serving lunch at the November, 2011 bazaar.

cookies, pies and beautifully decorated cakes. Other tables displayed flower arrangements, plaques, a baby quilt, knitted and crocheted items. A large handmade quilt, crocheted afghans, Christmas stockings, and rustic wooden articles along with many other items covered the other tables. Soy candles were a new item. Lunch was served again this year with the Italian Sausage Soup a big favorite. The Ladies had set a goal of $2,500 to use to lower the church debt. Did they reach their goal? Yes! Donations from the bazaar were over $3,500.

The baked goods table was a popular stop at the bazaar.


Mission Outreach


he first official record of missionary concern dates to December 31st 1774. The pastor, Rev. Peter Vanhorn, recommended that the church contribute to the newly established Brown College at Providence, Rhode Island. The Baptist College was charted in 1764 and is today is known as Brown University. Mr. Vanhorn proposed that each member contribute sixpence sterling a year for three years. Our records of missionary giving begin in 1836. Ten dollars was given to the cause of missions that year. Another ten dollars was given to the American and Foreign Bible Societies. Although these were the first records in the Minutes we can be sure other benevolences were given in previous years. In order to have a system for giving to missions, a special collection program was organized in 1845. It was outlined in the following manner in the Minutes: “The Church divided into classes of 15 or 20 persons each and each class to appoint one of its number to be a collector

who shall open a Book with columns for general purposes of Benevolence on the penny a week plan — the money to be paid to the collector as often as every four weeks and by them to be paid to the Treasurer of the Church every three months.� A change in the method of systematic giving was approved on March 23, 1861. It was agreed to take up a collection once every quarter for the cause of missions. The January collection was to go for Baptist Publications; the April collection was to go to Home Missions; the July offering was designated for Foreign Missions and the October collection was directed for the State Convention. The first missionary society of the church was formed on November 12th 1892. Its purpose was to promote the systematic contribution of the church to the Missionary and Benevolent objects of the Baptist Denomination. Sister churches were directly aided by this congregation, not only those in the County, but those in other states. In 1889, two needy churches requested aid. A donation was sent to the First Baptist Church at Aberdeen, South Dakota, to help on their indebtedness. That

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same year a contribution was sent to the Baptist Church in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, to assist in repairing flood damages. In 1912, at the January 10th annual meeting, a Missions Committee was elected consisting of four members, Miss Vera E. Burke, Mrs. Blanche K. Fisher, Miss Ethel Elmer and Miss Laura Hewitt. Today our Mission Board consists of six members elected by the congregation for a three year term. Giving is by the congregation on a weekly basis with a Mission Budget approved by the congregation at the Annual Meeting held every January ADVENTURES IN MISSIONS By Jane Stone, Mission Board Secretary Since 2000, Missions events and missions speakers have often been the impetus for new directions in Missions. While speaking to a combined adult Sunday School class at First Baptist in 2004, JAARS missionaries David and Nancy Ramsdale issued a challenge to FB folks to participate in a work week at the JAARS campus in Waxhaw, NC. The Ramsdales had served with JAARS, the Jungle Aviation and Radio Service Center division of Wycliffe Bible Translators, he as a missionary pilot in Papua, New Guinea and the Philippines and she in various area of hospitality and teaching. Now home based in the aviation department, they were using their many years of experience on the field to recruit and train missionary pilots. Three adventurous mission committee members, Susan Johnson, Jane Stone and Bob Barron signed on for this experience as well as Bob’s wife, Muriel. Annual work trips to JAARS have followed this initial adventure with as many as 7 members participating. One of the highlights of our weeks spent at JAARS was experiences that were provided to connect us to the history of the organization. From older missionaries, we had the privilege of listening to stories of their early years on the mission field: a frail female former Bible translator told of paddling down some tropical river in a canoe, carrying a trunk containing a wedding dress, should she ever marry (she did!) and another elderly woman described


how she first met and was encouraged by a young native girl who would prove to be her greatest help in understanding, speaking and ultimately developing a written language for this tribe. More recent developments have included testimonies about the use of cell phones and other personal technology that are being used to spread the Word of God in seconds, not the months and years of old. A 2009 presentation by the Atlantic City Rescue Mission’s volunteer coordinator, Kathy Schmookler, has developed into a monthly outreach to the mission, where by volunteers willingly don hairnets and latex gloves, chop onions till they cry and shuck cased of corn which, since it was grown without pesticides often harbor vigorous green worms. In addition to serving hot, wholesome, tasty meals to hundreds of homeless men and women, we also collect and deliver donated items from our church members. As a Mission Board and as a church, we are open to future opportunities to serve. Although our tasks have varied from trip to trip and mission to mission, all are needed to enable the work of the Lord to be done. Most volunteers participate in a work trip, expecting to make a difference to those we are serving. More often, the reality is that the Lord uses these people and this work to change us. Now that is an ADVENTURE. Samaritan’s Purse Work Trips By Tom Devitt In late August of the year 2005, Hurricane Katrina pounded the northern coastline of the Gulf of Mexico, causing widespread destruction, injury and death. Government infrastructures needed to be re-established. After some time, the governments of the region allowed volunteer organizations to come into the area for the purpose of helping out. An army of Christians mobilized to assist in the cleanup, relief and rebuilding effort. Motels and restaurants had been destroyed, so it was necessary to use churches that were located away from the destruction as


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substitute facilities for sleeping and eating. Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief (SP) was one of the non-governmental organizations that responded to the need. Our church organized some volunteer work teams to go into the disaster zones and work with the Samaritan’s Purse organization. On Sunday, January 29, 2006, a team of men and women from our congregation drove to Bayou Talla Fellowship church in Kiln, MS to help with the cleanup and relief effort. We returned on Monday February 6th. On Sunday April 16, 2006 through Monday April 24th, we made a second trip to Kiln for the same purpose. On January 21, 2007 our church again sent volunteers to the Gulf Coast to continue with the relief and rebuilding effort in Biloxi, MS. The following week an additional group of volunteers departed to join those in Biloxi. From January 13, 2008 through January 20, we made a fourth trip to the Coast. On this trip we again considered Bayou Talla Fellowship our temporary residence. As Samaritan’s Purse Disaster Relief volunteers, we did whatever needed to be done, this frequently involved clearing mud and debris from flooded homes, removing damaged or contaminated parts of homes, applying antimold treatment, and helping to salvage victim’s personal belongings. Frequently our volunteers were called upon to do other jobs, depending on their skills. Some of those jobs included cooking, painting, plumbing, flooring, sheet-rocking, taping, sanding, installing vinyl siding, installing fiberglass-reinforced plastic, and cleaning the bathrooms where we were staying. If the residents of the homes or their neighbors came by, a very important part of our job was to provide emotional support and comfort in our Lord’s name. In the second half of September, 2009, days of torrential rain from a storm system that saturated the ground from Alabama through Georgia caused rivers to overflow, flooding more than 10,000 homes in the Atlanta area. Samaritan’ Purse responded by sending two Disaster Relief Units to Georgia. One set up a base at West Ridge Church in Dallas, Georgia. A team of nine men, most of

who were from this congregation, volunteered to assist with this effort. The team departed November 15, 2009. We concluded some of the relief work, and helped the SP staff clean up and pack tools for their return to their headquarters. The men, women and high school students who participated in one or more of these work trips are listed here in alphabetical order according to last name. Bakely, Bob Bakely, Rob Devitt, Deb Devitt, Tom Dietrich, Blake Helwig, Charlie Kajander, Rich Leisenring, Jack Lord, Charles McDonald, Mike Nichols, Nick Nichols, Shelia

Osmundsen, Lauren Quirk, Jim Ramsey, Steve Roney, Padraic Schofield, John Schofield, Rob Schofield, Steve Sikora, Janet Stiles, Betsey Stiles, Larry Villeda, Daniel Yoast, Debbie

There were volunteers and other people who made financial contributions to the effort for various purposes. Two people contributed on thousands dollars each. There were also risk and unplanned experiences. For instance, at one house, two volunteers fell through a rotted floor. Another of the volunteers spent a few nights in the Biloxi hospital due to an infection. However, the general consensus of the volunteers was that if you are in the Lord’s will, there is blessing in spite of hardship. In April, the church donated $5,000 for a well for fresh water through an organization called Charity Water.

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Daughter Churches


our churches were founded by First Baptist Church, Second Cape May Baptist, Cape Island, Dennisville Baptist and the Rio Grande Chapel. Several other churches in the county were aided but not directly founded by First Baptist Church of Cape May. SECOND CAPE MAY BAPTIST CHURCH This congregation had its beginnings in 1770. An acre of ground in the upper part of the county was donated to the Baptists by Jeremiah Edwards. They built a Meeting House on this land. Since the English destroyed the public records during the Revolutionary War they could not prove their title to the land and lost it in 1785. They were able to purchase it again that same year. Originally, it was called the Upper House and was renamed the Second Cape May Baptist Church in 1883. The church is located on Route 9 in Palermo.

DENNISVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH Soon after the settlement of the village of Dennisville in 1726, ministers from this church were preaching in that Town and receiving members as early as 1729. For one hundred and twenty years, a mission was maintained there before it was organized into an independent Baptist church. Baptist preachers also ministered there from Tuckahoe and West Creek on different occasions. One of the interesting aspects of the Dennisville congregation is that at the beginning of the nineteenth century, the Methodist and Baptist groups in that village desired to build a Meeting House. Since neither was able to build independently, they decided to erect a House jointly. The understanding was that the Building would be used by each on alternate Sundays, The commodious Meeting House was completed in 1803, and named the Union Meeting House.� In 1853, the Methodists built a new House of their own. The Baptist also built a new edifice in 1870. In June, 1838, the members of the First Baptist Church of Cape May living in the vicinity of Dennisville

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requested that they be permitted to organize into an independent church. The organization of that congregation was held up until May12, 1849. From the records it appears that the Dennisville Church was constituted by members from both the First Baptist and Second Cape May Baptist churches. (taken from “A History of The First Baptist Church of Cape May” by Rev. Kobele) Dismissed to Dennis Ville on Nov. 13, 1852 Sophiah Ludlam Lee Scull Sarah Smith Richard Hankins Sarah Scull Melicient Hankins Daniel Scull CAPE ISLAND BAPTIST CHURCH The Cape Island Baptist Church was organized April 9, 1844. Twenty-two members from this church aided in constituting the new congregation. The events that led to the organizing are as follows. The pastor of the Court House Church, Rev. Isaac Moore, was conducting revival services with the Rev. Moses Williamson at the Methodist Church at Cape Island. Many converts were made, with the result that the Baptists desired to form their own church. A report reads: “A number of the Baptist Church, living in Lower Township of Cape May County, N. J., met together, agreeable to notice, at the house of Bro. Alexander A. Shaw, in order to consult as to the propriety of forming themselves into a regular Baptist Church at this place. After reading a portion of scripture, singing and prayer, Bro. Church was appointed moderator, Bro. Alex. A. Shaw, Clerk. Second, On motion it was resolved that the brothers and sister wishing to constitute into a church, give their respective names. Resolved. That we adjourn to meet next Saturday, at 2 P.M.” The above meeting took place on April 2nd, 1844. The next Saturday the congregation in Council was formed into an independent church. The name adopted was the Cape Island Baptist Church.


CALVARY BAPTIST CHURCH This church came into being when a group left the 2nd Baptist Church of Cape May in November, 1811 to start another church. They are considered a granddaughter to the 1st Baptist Church of Cape May. THE RIO GRANDE CHAPEL November 11, 1871 – Due to the number of members who travel to Church Meetings from the Rio Grande area, a committee of five, headed by Pastor A. J. Hires, was appointed to consider the possibility of building a Chapel in the area, They met at the house of Jos. Richardson on the 15th of Nov. and were unanimous in their opinion that the time had arrived to erect a Baptist Chapel at Rio Grande and should be undertaken at once. The building was to be about 32 feet by 40 feet without an end gallery with a vestibule outside of the main building and finished in the Gothic Style. It would be built on a lot donated by Jos. Richardson near his residence. The committee recommended that the Church appoint a committee at once to solicit new donations with a new subscription list, the main way to raise funds in those days. The subscription papers were drawn so that one-third of the money should be payable when the foundation was laid, one-third when the building was enclosed and one-third when it was completed. OCTOBER 7, 1872 – A contract was signed between Hand & Ware Contractors and the Church to build the Rio Grande Chapel at a cost of $4000. The trustees were authorized to borrow $1,000 if needed and to mortgage any portion of Church property except the Rio Grande property. The final payment of $1,000 had been made before the Annual Meeting, January 11, 1873. The Chapel was dedicated on July 31, 1873. It cost considerably more than was expected and a generous donation from Bro. Jacob G. Neafie, of the Fourth Baptist Church of Philadelphia was greatly appreciated. The cost so far, including furniture, was about $4,600 with fences and horse sheds still to be built.


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In the annual letter to the Association it states, “Our expectations are realized the entire cost of the property is provided for.” Pastor Samuel Hughes, from the Cape Island Baptist Church, had a regular schedule for filling the pulpit. On February 26, 1880, it was resolved that the Church in Rio Grande be an independent Baptist Church and 29 persons transferred their membership on February 29, 1880. List of members dismissed to the Rio Grande Church, February 26, 1880: Emma Brown Ada Cresse Lydia Cresse Charles H. Dawson Mary R. Dawson John Errickson Jenny Hand John W. Hand N. Holmes Hand Emma Harris Alex Hildreth Lucy Hildreth Sarah Hildreth Tabitha Hildreth Emma Johnson

Harriet Johnson Lydia Leaming Alexander McKain Sarah E. McKain Horace Platts Mary Platts Jos. H. Richardson Louise Richardson Casper Schellinger Cecelia Schellinger Elizabeth Slaughter M. S. Slaughter Sarah Snyder Jacob Stites Mary C. Stites

It is recorded that on May 25, 1881, “the 1st Baptist Church of Cape May was ready to transfer the Rio Grande Chapel to the corporate body there as soon as they were willing to remain a self-sustaining Church. Meanwhile they were to enjoy the use of the Chapel as freely as if they held it and without charge, except it was expected they keep up the repairs.” It seems they weren’t eager to pay the cost of insuring the building since under the existing ownership: the Mother Church was responsible for paying the charges. The Chapel was located on Route 9 on the south side of the Rio Grande Cemetery and was moved years ago to North Cape May. In 1954, the congregation united with

the Methodist Church in the community and today is known as The Rio Grande Bible Baptist Church located on Rt. 47 in Rio Grande. THE DIAS CREEK BAPTIST CHURCH This church was formed on June 3rd, 1891 and the following eight members transferred their membership from the First Baptist Church to be followed later by three more: Elizabeth Douglass Thomas Douglass Caroline Errickson Clarissa Errickson

Thomas A. Holmes Anna M. Schillinger Eva Schillinger George W. Shillinger

Their Meeting House was on the west side of Route 47 where it intersects with Dias Creek Road. They were acknowledged an independent church in September, 1891.In 1894; they were without a pastor and requested aid from 1st Baptist Church. The Meeting House was reported destroyed by a tornado in either 1915 or 1916. The congregation disbanded and the members united with various churches in the surrounding area. FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF ANGLESEA In the 1880s, a few families who were members of First Baptist Church of Cape May removed to Anglesea and settled in the village growing around the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse. A little group of believers gathered each Sunday for services held in the lighthouse. On March 24, 1898, they gathered at the home of Edward Marmaduke and Cornelia Buck Shivers to elect a Board of Trustees and to form The First Baptist Church of Anglesea. The church they built was located at 3rd and Pennsylvania Avenues, (now Atlantic Avenue), Anglesea (now North Wildwood). List of members dismissed on November 12, 1898 at the Regular Business Meeting: Walter I. Shivers Delta McCarty Edward M. Shivers Lizzie (Elizabeth) Ware Cornelia Buck Shivers Samuel A. Buck

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Mary R. Shivers Hilton Nora L. Buck Robert McCarty Gethsemane Baptist Church of Woodbine This church is considered to be our great granddaughter church. A gift of a record book was given to them at their dedication.



Social Issues & Community Involment


emperance was an issue in the 1700s and the church stressed moderation. A stronger position was taken in 1771 stating that members should not support the liquor traffic. When Daniel Hand petitioned for a tavern license, the congregation was discouraged from voting for it. A record from March 5, 1775 states that Hannah Shaw was asked not to take communion because of reports of her drinking. Jonathan Hewitt was charged with being intoxicated along with several others in 1822. Jeremiah Hand was charged with selling liquor on the Sabbath in 1844. A Committee of Safety was formed during the Revolutionary War and was regularly in touch with other ??? who acted as a clearinghouse for information and intelligence on enemy activities. We know of three men (Joseph Hildreth, Joseph and Jeremiah Ludlam) from our congregation who served on this committee. We adopted a resolution against slavery in 1841 which was printed in the annual minutes of the West Baptist

Association. Our records state on October 20, 1802, Phillas, “a black woman� was baptized. Our records show there was no aversion to having Negroes as members. The church still remains open to those of other races. Another concern was the secularization of Sunday. Prior to the Civil War, the Sabbath was strictly observed locally. In 1838, a member was disciplined for salvaging useable materials from a shipwreck on Sunday. A woman had to answer charges for selling cake on the Sabbath. In 1909, the church protested against changes being made in New Jersey’s Sunday Laws. The church took a stand on another concern in 1939. A letter was written to the Honorable William H, Smathers, U. S. Senator, voicing concern that religious societies be included in the Social Security tax. Through the years many members and friends have served in the armed forces. A World War II Honor Roll was recently discovered in the basement of the sanctuary. The names on the oppositse are inscribed on the plaque (George Lloyd, Stephen C. Ludlam and Edward Y. Rott, Jr. lost their lives during the war):

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


The First Annual Commencement of Middle Township High School was held in the Fourth Meeting House.

Lewis Albrecht

Samuel Albrecht

William M. Albrecht

John Battendieri

Ernest Black

Raymond M. Burke, Jr.

Roland Camp

Willets C. Camp

Herbert Chandler

Frank Chambers

Leon Cheeseman

Roy Cheeseman

Stanley Cheeseman

John A. Clark

William W. Clark

Milliard Cryder M. D.

Harvey Douglass

June Douglass

Robert Eckhardt

William B. Eckhardt, Jr.

Charles L. Erricson

Charles R. Evans

Maurice C. Evans

Julius Fitzpatrick

E. Dorsey

George Garrison

James Godfrey

Donald P. Gray

Henry Hand

Charles F. Hitzel

Paul Hoffman

Frank W. Jenkins

Carl S. Jones

Clara Leaming

George Lloyd

Missing Name

Roland L. Lore

John Ludlam

Stephen C. Ludlam

Ella Mathis

Kirk Mathis

Stanley Mathis

C. Emerson McCarty

Lynwood S. Peterson

Osman N. Peterson

Clarence Richer

Thomas C. Ringlestein

Edward Y. Rott, Jr.

Berkley N. Sayre

John Schofield

Alfred Scull

Walter Scull

William Scull

Eugene Shields

Philip Shields

Joel B. Simpkins

Russell D. Simpkins

Clifford Spaulding

James A. Stackhouse, Jr.

Edwin F. Stites

John L. Stites

Byron Stone

Edward Stone

Andrew J. Tilton

Aaron Tozour

John Tozour

Kenneth Tozour

Marvin Tozour

Rachel Tozour

W. Boyd Tyler, Jr.

W. Boyd Tyler, Sr.

David C. Tudor

Catherine A. Vance

William G. Warner

Alvin B. Wells

Leon Wells

Marvin Wells

Somers C. Wright

M. Curtis Young


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The Food Pantry As the church secretary since 1994, we have taken many calls from people in need and looking for help. One day while walking through the kitchen in the former parsonage to the library, we realized that we had empty kitchen cupboards that could be used for a food pantry. We asked the congregation for donations of food and toiletries. Over the years we have received donations of food from other churches that do not have food pantries, the Cape May Court House postal food drive in December, a local motorcycle club, and seasonal stores closing for the winter. One year the Middle Township Bible Club had a food drive and they donated the food along with $500.00 to our Food Pantry. When the old parsonage was demolished, around 2003, the Food Pantry moved to the cupboards in the Fellowship Hall kitchen. Volunteers Sally Garrison and Peggy McLaughlin unpack the food and organize it in the cupboards as well as letting the congregation know what foods are needed. Each person is allowed two bags of food and they are able to select the items their family likes. Most people are careful to take just what they need keeping in mind others that need food also. It is a great way for us to be able to share our blessing with others. We have had a Giving Tree at Christmas time for many years. Tags are put on a decorated tree for needy persons or families, the members of the congregation take the tags, purchase the gifts and put them under the tree. The gifts are distributed a few days before Christmas. We have been a host church for Family Promise since May, 2009. We have had hosted 22 families consisting of 73 people of which 48 were children.

First Graduating Class Of Middle Township High School — the First Annual Commencement was held in the Fourth Meeting House on June 9, 1909.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May



Music & Drama Through The Years FIRST CHURCH CHOIR FORMED CENTURY AGO Introduction of Bass Viol Caused Controversy By J. C. Foster The first church choir to be formed in Cape May county was organized a century or more ago in the First Baptist church, Cape May Court House. Prior thereto, there had been only congregational singing, conducted by a chosen leader with the use of a tuning fork to set the pitch or pitch of the tune. In learning the hymn the method was to learn the tune first by use of the Latin syllables — do, re, mi, etc. — and then couple the words by the entire congregation. Some time after the formation of the choir a bass viol and violincello were an ovation and probably the pitch was then set by one of the stringed instruments. But the introduction of these became the cause of a serious controversy, so much so that it came close to disrupting the church. One member “Utterly refused to fulfill his covenant obligations while the bass viol is retained by the church.” That was in 1853. The church stood its ground and

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


The Watts & Rippon Hymn Book was used until 1853. Opposite page: A tuning fork used to set the pitch or timing of the church congregation.

won. In 1856 the choir was given the privilege of having a foot-pedaled melodeon-reed organ, which was used until the purchase of a cabinet reed organ in 1866, at a cost of $190. From the earliest records available the Watts & Rippon Hymn Book was used and was discarded when The Psalmist was introduced in 1853. The Baptist Hymnal was adopted September 11, 1892 The earliest congregation and choir leaders are not now known to the present generation. The oldest recorded leader was Philip Stites, Jr., who was appointed

to that position January 7, 185_, and continued until after the congregation moved its location from the circle in the cemetery to South Main Street and Stites Avenue, where it remains to the present time. Among those who filled the position of organist after the church was established in its new location on Main st. were Crawford Buck and Dr. Jonathan F. Leaming, the latter being succeeded by Miss Lillie H. Springer, a devout member and the first music teacher in the village to own a piano; Miss Helen F. Leaming, daughter of Dr. J. F. Leaming, being the second. Miss Springer resigned


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Philip Stites was appointed the church Choir Director in the 1850s.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


Queen Esther Oratoria poster and the event program.

January 9, 1892. Among those who presided at the organ immediately thereafter were Jones B. Hand, Miss Louise S. Shields (now Mrs. Clarence A. Nichols) and others until the election of Miss Ella C. Hewitt, who officiated for about 30 years, or until her death in June, 1934. The present chimes were installed and dedicated to the memory of Miss Hewitt. Mrs. Charles W. Haines, who had been acting as assistant organist for some time, served as organist until Mr. Haines resigned as pastor to retire from the ministry, when Karl A. Dickinson was appointed. On January 2, 1892, J. Clemet Foster was elected choir leader, and continued until failing health compelled


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Cornelia Shivers sang the part of Mordecai’ sister in the Oratoria of Esther. Two of her great-grandchildren attend First Baptist Church — Raymond A. Slamb and Susan Slamb Armour.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

E.C. Hewitt and the part of the king in the Oratoria of Esther.

Mamie R. Shivers sang the part of Zeresh’s attendants.

him to relinquish the position. He has since been made honorary director with Mrs. Jesse D. Ludlam as director and Mrs. S. Henry Vance, assistant director. Many names of individual singers can be recalled and the high standard of efficiency described, but as the list reaches into the hundreds, space does not warrant its inclusion here. “Some outstanding singers in the mid-nineteenth century were Crawford Buck and N. S. Corson, who displayed “their musical tallants” at an “Old Folks Concert” which was conducted in the evening of June 12, 1868.” (Taken from a program found in church archives.) This concert was held at Congress Hall Concert Room in June 23, 1868 and was directed by J. F. Leaming. Many other names from the church can be found on the program. The choir sang for the benefit of the worshippers. On occasion it sang for the purpose of raising funds for the church. The choir was permitted to use the 4th Meeting House during the winter of 1888 for the special public performance of a cantata entitled, “Queen Esther”. Large colored posters printed by the Gazette Shop were


Samuel A. Buck sang the part of a scribe in the show.

displayed in store windows and around the county. Programs were printed. The performance was marked by its elaborate staging, with a large cast and chorus of one hundred singers, in ancient costumes. It was also given in the Odd Fellows’ Hall. There is no accounting of the performance given in the Odd Fellows’ Hall, but we can read from the Minutes of the First Baptist Church the following: Wednesday evening, February 15, 1888 – After Prayer Meeting, Bro. J. F. Leaming reported for Bro. E. Clinton Hewitt, Treas., that the proceeds of the “Queen Esther Cantata” amounted to $109.00, including a donation of Five Dollars from Mr. L. Rice for the Church. One hundred dollars of the cantata fund was paid toward the extinguishment of the Church debt and the balance of $9 went toward liquidating the coal bill. In 1901, a second organ was purchased by the choir and the Baptist Young People’s Union. This organ required someone to pump it at a salary of 25 cents a week. An organ committee was formed in 1911 to secure funds for a new pipe organ. The new Estey organ was installed in the present sanctuary in 1913. It was pur-


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Junior Choir in 1931-32: Top row ­— Margaret Buzzell, Virginia Iverson, Gladys Daugherty, Hannah Camp, Olive Morris, Bess Stackhouse, Lillian Saul, Virginia Joseph, Rose Leporace, Irene Henderson. Second row — Alice Wills, Ella Hoffman, Doris Todd, Marjory Spalding, Agnes Buzzell, Eleanor Buzzell, June Douglass, Carolyn Godfrey, Elizabeth Erricson. Third row — Julius Fitzpatrick, George Lloyd, Clarence Peterson, Steve Ponikarsky, Daniel Tudor, Berkley Sayre, Curtis Young, Maurice Evans, Jim Stackhouse, Billy Eckhart. Fourth row — Helen Smith, Rita Leporace, Dorothy Jones, Marie Ponikarsky, Dorothy Delp, Adelaide Koeni, Louise Koenig, Dorothy Godfrey, Betty Camp, Margaret Stackhouse, Sally Marks, Edna Toy, Angelina Vistenzo. Adults on left — Ellen Stackhouse, Vera Sayre. Right — Dr. Charles Haines, Marion Haines.

chased by the Ladies’ Aid Society at a cost of $1800.00 The Treble Clef Quartet gave a concert in the church of Friday Evening, April 16, 1926. Its members were Mrs. Nels Iverson, Miss Elizabeth D. Vance, Mrs. Charles W. Haines and Miss Ella C. Hewitt. There was a Male Quartet, the Baptist Choral Society which sang at the evening services and other musical groups which could be mentioned. An orchestra was gathered during the 1930s known as the “Sunday School Orchestra.” They played during the Sunday school hour. Members of the orchestra in 1938, led by Harry Bell, were: Maurice Evans, Cornet; William Eckhart, Cornet; Ralph Sayre, Xylophone; Gladys Erickson, Piano; Curtis Young, Saxophone; Edwin Stites, Saxophone; David Tudor, Saxophone; Dr. John Brick, Clarinet; James Stackhouse, Trombone; Alvin Brown, Drums; Monroe Brown, Drums;

Bes Stackhouse, violin; Henry Daugherty, violin; George Lloyd, violin. The Junior Choir, under the leadership of Mrs. Charles Haines with accompanist Mrs. J. Asher Stackhouse, consisted of fifty girls and boys and was one of the best of its kind to be found anywhere in the state. Thirty-five members of the Junior Choir motored to Mullica Hill to attend a young people’s meeting of the West Jersey Association and compete for a silver cup offered by the Baptist Young People’s Societies of South Jersey for work done during the year. Our young people were greatly pleased when their organization was announced by the judges as the winner of the cup. There were over 20 societies competing. Today the whereabouts of the silver cup is not known. The following is taken from an undated newspaper clipping: “Court House—Responding to a wide-spread

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


Left: A 1998 photo of Junior Choir and, above, Clara Foster, one of several Junior Choir Directors over the years.

demand, the Junior Choir of the local Baptist church on Sunday repeated Geigel’s cantata, “The Disciple,” which it rendered on Easter Sunday. This is one of the finest musical organizations of its kind in South Jersey, which fact is attested by the invitation to the local vocalists to present the cantata in the Baptist church at Salem on Sunday.” According to other undated clippings they sang a Christmas Cantata entitled “The Gift”, by Adam Geibel, the famous blind musician and composer, for our congregation and repeated it at the Tabernacle Church in Erma. The music is bright and catchy and there are a variety of numbers, including solos. Mrs. Haines directed the Junior Choir sometime during 1921-1935. Among the collection of photos at First Baptist Church is a photo of the choir. Betty Camp Irmler is in that photo — she has been a member of 1st Baptist longer than any present member. Clara Foster, who had directed the First Baptist Children’s Choir for over twenty years, went home to be with the Lord in 1991. While she was in South Cape Nursing

Home, the Kids’ Choir went to her room regularly to sing to her, because she couldn’t always make it down to the activity room for their presentation. The presentations at the nursing home helped the children see how their music cheered and encouraged others. Kids aged three to sixteen participated in Kids Choir in 1991 and choir practice on Sunday evenings for 7:008:00 averaged 18 children. During practice, the Kids worked hard for a full hour to learn words and actions to songs. Older participants helped the younger ones in many ways and it was much like a one-room school house effort. The Comrade Class and some individuals helped provide extras for parties and activities. Kids Choir was not just learning music; it was also an inter-age Christian life social gathering, providing lessons, goals and opportunities to grow in knowledge and service of the Lord. Clara wrote poems for different people. One that has survived was written for Helen Cox...


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Donna Masterson Snyder and Luann Gerald Arleth in their choir robes, 1966. Opposite: the Adult Choir in 2004, and, below, the cast of the 2011 show “Picture of Calvary”.

Christmas joy to Helen Cox Our Organist, whose glow And her sense of humor Makes her nice to know. She needs a lot of patience, And that she’s surely got; She plays for us each week, And we like her a lot. At one time, Fred Klott had a musical ministry with many teens. “A Picture of Calvary,” a powerful program of drama and music that answers the question of Who Jesus Christ is and why He had to die was presented in the sanctuary on April 21, 2011. We had the privilege of serving God and the community during the Easter season through the pre-

sentation of this drama which challenges individuals to think about their own response to Jesus Christ and His life, death and resurrection. Anne Brenner has been directing the choir since September, 1997, while John Schofield has been a member of the choir for longer than he can remember. As a young boy, he was a member of the Junior Choir, which presented the cantata “Night of the Father’s Love” by Pepper Choplin for Christmas, 2011, one of their most ambitious undertakings in many years. It was accompanied by persons silently portraying the birth of Christ. Helen Cox is our organist and Anne Brenner and John Rosser the pianists. Harry Hagen leads the Children’s Choir and Faye Romaniello leads the Praise Team.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May



1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The cast members of “Night of the Father’s Love,” the 2011 Christmas cantata.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May



Anniversary Celebrations 182ND ANNIVERSARY HELD JUNE 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 & 21, 1894 From the Record Book from 1894: “For some years, the Anniversary of the organization of the church has been less markedly observed than during the days of our father, when it was emphatically the “high day in Israel” It was determined by the Church to observe this 182 Anniversary with more than usual ceremony. A roll of all the members was carefully prepared, a neat program of exercises printed, the house beautifully decorated under the direction of sister Mary McCartney. On the recess of the Church was the word “Welcome”, flanked by the figures “1712” and “1894”. The program began on Saturday P. M. 16th with a sermon by Rev. W. G. Robinson, who has lately settled as pastor of Second Baptist Church of Cape May, at Palermo. He came as the representation of the oldest daughter to congratulate the mother upon her 182 birthday. A praise service in the evening was had by E. C. Hewitt, who with well chosen inspiring old time songs,

recalled the days our fathers sang the same. This was followed by a “Roll Call” service conducted by Bro. J. F. Leaming who for years has served the Church as Clerk. One hundred and ninety eight names were called. Many responded in person by verse of scripture or the word “present”. Some unable to be present responded by letter, while “sick” or “absent from this place” came from friends. ROLL CALL From the Record Book from 1894: Of the Members of the “First Baptist Church of Cape May” on the occasion of her 182nd Anniversary, Saturday evening, June 16th, 1894, at 8 o’clock. Each member is earnestly requested, if possible, to be punctually present and respond to his or her name as “present” or by reciting a verse of Scripture. J. F. LEAMING, CLERK J. C. FOSTER, ASSISTANT CLERK P.S. – Members who cannot be present are requested to respond, by addressing a postal card or note to the Clerk

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


A Roll Call service on June 16, 1894, with the following names called... John Batti Samuel J. Buck Rhoda Buck Samuel A. Buck Eleonora Buck Mary F. Benezet Samuel Benezet Caroline Benezet Ada Benezet Leonora Bennett Eliza Bennett David D. Burch Sophia Burch Cora S. Burke Parker B. Burke Rachel Burke Darius Bateman Maggie Crawford Deborah Crawford Muda Crawford Charles H. Crawford Mary H. Crawford Frederick Crawford Rosetta Crawford Mary Ann Cresse Madaline Corson Jennie Camp Luke V. Camp Deborah Carey Benjamin Conover Amy Corson Sophia Davis Joanna Douglass Amos Douglass Samuel E. Douglass Mary A. Douglass Alexander Douglass Melinda Douglass Linda M. Douglass Luther Douglass Hannah Edwards Elizabeth Eldridge Wm. H. Foster Hannah Foster Emma Foster Charles H. Foster J. Clement Foster Debbie Y. Foster Lydia C. Foster Samuel G. Gandy

Tabitha Gandy William Gandy Nellie Gandy Louise Gandy Annetta Godfrey Gilbert Garrison Lewis Griffee Edwin M. Hutcheson Emma Hutcheson Stephen F. Hewitt Elizabeth Hewitt E. Clinton Hewitt Ella Hewitt Georgiana Heritage Justina Heritage Leticia Holmes Carrie B. Holmes Mamie Hand Roxanna Hand Elias Hand Mary J. Hand Paul Hand Henry F. Hand Isaac Hand Clara Hand Jones B. Hand Aaron D. Hand Anna Maria Hand Mary Hand Maria Hand Hannah Hand Nellie Hankins Dickerson Hildreth Sallie L. Hildreth William Hildreth Mary A. Hildreth Hannah M. Hance Hannah Harris George Hoffman Hattie A. Howell Anna R. Hammond Joseph Isard Hetty Isard Josephine Isard Somers Isard Agnes Kates J. F. Leaming Josephine Leaming Nellie Leaming E. B. Leaming

Lida Ludlam Lizzie E. Ludlam Ellen Ludlam Lizzie E. Ludlam Richard S. Ludlam Hannah S. Ludlam Albert H. Ludlam Anastasia Ludlam John W. Long Adaline Long Ada Long Claudius Long James Long Charles W. Long Ezretta Lake Mary J. Linder Charles G. Mills Rebecca Mills James McCartney Mary McCartney Lydia A. Martin Elizabeth McCarty Delta McCarty Robert H. McCarty Mimie McPherson James McDonel Thomas H. Morris Charles E. Nichols M. Nichols Helen W. Nichols Lillie C. Nickerson Mamie L. Nickerson Emma Nickerson Jesse Price Minnie Price Cora Price Ella Paul Rev. T. E. Richards Elizabeth S. Richards E. L. Ross Abilena Ross James D. Richardson Louisa Richardson Seth W. Smith Ella Smith Jane H. Smith Seth Smith Mary Smith Carrie M. Springer Jane A. Springer

Danielia H. Springer Ameila W. Springer Clara Springer Jesse Springer Emma Springer Mamie Springer Wilbur Springer Benjamin Springer Alexander R. Springer, Jr. Ellen Spaulding Anna Belle Spaulding Effie Spaulding Clyde A. Spaulding Philip Shields Regina Shields Louise R. Shields Mary H. Shields Prudence Stites Rachel Stites Sarah W. Sayre Sarah Sayre Maria N. Sayre Flora Strang Ephraim Sloan Eliza Sloan Maud Sharp Sarah H. Speechley Edward M. Shivers Cornelia Shivers Mamie H. Tyler Reuben Townsend Joseph Tozar Adaline Tozar Jeremiah Vail Julia A. Witham Hannah E. Walker Edward C. Wheaton Rebecca Wheaton Ella Way Lydia F. Wiley Lois M. Warwick Maria Weeks Ethel Weeks James Wat Josephine Young

Names as spelled in the record book


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

“The Roll Call of the Dead” was then given, the thirty-seven constitutional members of the church, their names ever slowly called, amid a most impressive silence.” (taken from the Church Minutes) 190TH ANNIVERSARY Written in 1902 by J. Clement Foster for the 190th Anniversary of the church At the close of the seventeenth century there were only three Baptist churches in the state of New Jersey, viz.: Middletown, organized in 1680; Piscataway, at Steelton, in 1689, and Cohansey, at Roadstown, in 1690. The fourth church, and the first to be organized in this state in the eighteenth century, was the First Baptist Church of Cape May, at Cape May Court House, the county-seat of Cape May county. This was also the first Christian organization of any kind in the county, the Cohansey church being in the adjoining county of Cumberland, some forty miles distant. Members of the latter church were at that time scattered throughout Cape May county, and feeling the urgent necessity of a nearer place of worship, thirty-seven Christian believers banded themselves together for the purpose of establishing a new church. The constitution of this church was June 24th, 1712. (It is interesting to note that on that very day William Penn sold back to England for 12,000 pounds his right in the territory of Pennsylvania; Benjamin Franklin was then six years old, and John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, but eight years.) The section of country round about the new church was still at that time inhabited largely by the Delaware Indians who hunted their game among the primeval forests. One hundred and ninety years this First Cape May church has stood as a monument of righteous and truth. (whole generations of men and women have come, have labored awhile in their allotted spheres, and have gone to their eternal reward, whole others have taken their places Interior of the Fourth Meeting House, decorated with ferns for the church’s 182nd anniversary, held on June 16-21, 1894.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May



1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

and the work has gone forward without a break; hundreds of souls that might otherwise have been lost have been rescued and brought to a saving knowledge of Christ; and a helpful influence gone out to other parts of the world to make humanity better.) Throughout this long period the church has ever held steadfastly to the Baptist faith and the doctrines of the New Testament in their entirety— upon several occasions she has been out to the severest test, but has maintained her stalwart integrity. From time beyond the memory of the oldest inhabitant the “Yearly Meeting” was formerly held to be the special rallying day of all the year. Before the formation of other churches in the vicinity, the membership of the old First church was far more widely scattered than now, and those who, through distance, or age, or other causes, found it impossible to be punctual in attendance, looked forward for months to this anniversary, when, by an effort which would overcome all obstacles, everybody would be present and meet everybody else. In its religious aspect it was the great spiritual feast of all the year, often leading to continued revival services, in which many were brought to knowledge of the truth. In its social aspect it was the event of the county, when every home was hospitably opened, the hotels were filled, and the entertaining capacity of the village taxed to its fullest. Moreover, it was the prominent date of reckoning for the year, and as much the signal for the donning of new bonnets and gowns as Easter now is in the average city congregation. This practice, however, has long since been abandoned, and only once in late years has there been any elaborate observance of the occasion, that being in 1894, but in no way equal to the celebrations of ye olden time except the quality of preaching and, perhaps, singing; this last feast lasted one week. During the 190 years of the church’s existence, thirty-two pastors have served the church, five of whom died while holding that office. The first pastor was Rev. Nathaniel Jenkins, one of the constituent members, who labored faithfully from 1712 till 1730, or eighteen years and the longest pastorate. His son, Rev. Nathaniel Jenkins,

Jr., was the second pastor for seven years from 1747, the church being pastor less till that year.” THE 225TH ANNIVERSARY AND THE HEWITT MEMORIAL “The installation of cathedral chimes became a part of the celebration of the 225th anniversary of the founding of this church. They were given in memory of the late Ella C. Hewitt, who was the faithful organist for more than thirty years, continuing until her death, June 20, 1934. The set of 21 chimes forms an independent musical instrument attached to the organ, with six different ranges of volume from very soft to very loud. They were manufactured by the Maas Organ Company of Los Angeles, California and purchased through the John Wanamaker store, Philadelphia, with funds raised by voluntary contributions made by individuals and organizations. To this has been added a system of amplifiers placed in the tower of the church so that the chimes and organ can be heard for a considerable distance. The amplifiers were donated by Mrs. Adelaide Cresse Hand and were given in honor of the Foster Sunshine Bible Class of which she is the teacher.” (taken from church papers) 240TH ANNIVERSARY: There’s Always Been A Stites On First Baptist Church Rolls By M. Catharine Stauffer for the 240th Anniversary “The First Baptist church, Cape May Court House, will observe the 240th anniversary of the founding of the church with special services from June 22 to 25, inclusive. To the men and women who have served loyally and faithfully throughout the church’s history, the present generation pays homage. About 1700 persons have been welcomed into the fellowship of the church, their names familiar indeed in our county’s growth: Hand, Corson, Cresse, Springer, Hildreth, Townsend, Leaming, Ludlam, and so on. However, no other name appears so consistently on the church books as that of “Stites” and it is reasonable

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

to conjecture that there has always been a “Stites” on the membership roll of the congregation. This is unique and warrants our recognition. The first record in our possession relating to the organization of the church body is dated October ye 27th, 1711, and is an invitation to the Reverend Nathaniel Jenkins “at ye old Pennepek Church” in Philadelphia to become our first minister. This letter bears the signatures of eleven “baptized believers”—one being that of Henry Stites. The letter to Rev. Jenkins reads in part: “Our earnest desire is that you may give us a visit as soon as you can and if there be a liking by you and us we shall do for you as far as rule & reason & ability doth afford us.” It, then, definitely appears that Henry Stites was one of the baptized believers who was desirous of “living in Church fellowship & communion” and of having “a minister settled” among them. (Original spelling is preserved). There were thirty-seven constituents of the church, who subscribed to the church covenant at the “embodying into a Church Estate June 24, 1712”—Henry Stites, with his wife Hannah (nee Garlick) being among that number. Throughout the years following 1712, the church books give the names of Isaiah Stites, Ester Stites (one wonders if “Ester” might have been the daughter of Nathaniel and Ester Jenkins, as denoted by the Welsh spelling of the name Ester), Hannah Stites, Thomas Stites; and of special note, in the year 1761, when the church purchased a plantation (a mile north of the village) for “a glebe” for their minister, we find among the subscribers, to make up the 171-pounds purchase price, the names of Benjamin Stites, Jonathan, George and Isaiah Stites, Jr. In Stevens’ History of Cape May County there is recorded the marriage of “Henry Stites and Hannah Garlick by Samuel Crowell, Justice, in the presence of witnesses, on February 25, 1693.” Following the founding of the church in 1712, many marriages were performed by the ministers of the church here; thus, Henry and Hannah Stites, through their efforts to establish a church here, helped make possible the church marriage ceremony for


The wedding of Inez Stites and Howard May. They are standing in the door of the Sanctuary, with Betty Irmler, matron of honor.

their progeny. It is interesting to note the following record of marriages: “By Nathaniel Jenkins, Jr., Minister of the Baptist Society—William Stites and Rachel Crowell, of Cape May, was Maried May ye 8th 1751.” “By Samuel Heaton of the Church of Cape May—Thomas Stites and Hannah Jenkins of Cape May, was Maried June ye 19th 1765.” “By the Rev. Peter Peterson Vanhorn, minister of the Gospel at Cape May—Samuel Matthews and Temperance Stites were marryed August ye 10th, 1771.” Also by Rev. Vanhorn, “Jonathan Stites and Elizabeth Lawrence were marryed Feb. ye 10th, 1774.” Married by John Stancliff: “Nov. 5, 1796—Levi Hand, Jun., & Elizabeth Stites (by consent of parents)” and “May 15, 1797, James Hemmings & Sally Stites” and “June 25, 1801—Thomas Stites & Martha


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Smith—of age.” For a period of time, 1790 to 1839, inclusive, the trustee of the Church “raised the sallery of the minister” by renting the pews in the meeting house. The name of “Stites” appears on the pages of the “Pew Rentals” books, beginning with Philip Stites in 1791 for ten consecutive years, then others: Benjamin, Henry, Humphrey, Thomas, Mary Stites “of Gravelly Run,” Abigail, Patty, Thomas S., Benjamin Stites, Jr., Philip Stites, Jr., and Eliza Stites. Not only did the Stiteses contribute toward the upkeep of the ministers, but on the “Subscription paper” dated August 2nd, 1820, appear several pledges toward the “building of the new brick Meeting House” in the Baptist Cemetery. Stiteses also served on subsequent building committees for the church edifice—dedicated in 1855 and 1913. Another instance of a “Stites” being among the first, is that of Philip Stites, Jr., who in the 1850s served as first choir leader. There is a record whereby we know the congregation acknowledged his good work. During the 1800s, the membership roll continues to reveal the name of Stites: “William and his wife Prudence, Eliza, Rhoda, Mary, Martha, Hannah, Ann, Jacob, Anna, Adonijah, Slyvithia Stites (later Izard), Jacob, Julia A. Stites (later Julia Witham, and a member 67 years), Elizabeth T., Loiza, Sarah, Sabina, Roomy, Deborah, Mary C., Mary Rhoda, Rachel, Deborah (later Deborah Carey); and at the turn of the century, there were Coleman Stites, Anna, Samuel, Cornelia, Samuel Stites, Jr., and Mrs. Sue Stites. William Stites was baptized in 1897, and he and his wife, Jane B., are active members at this time. Other present-day members are: Harry W. Stites and his wife Edna; Mrs. Inez Stites May, and her husband, Howard May, and daughter Henrietta May Neu; Mrs. Elizabeth Stites Stratton and her husband, C. Taylor Stratton, Edwin Foster Stites and his wife, Jane E., John J. Stites, George N. Stites, Boyd W. Stites, and Mrs. Helen Stites (Mrs. Harry S. Stites). On September 22, 1951, Henrietta May was married to Mr. La Dell Neu, in the First Baptist Church, by Rev.

Walt Turnier and Barb Stites were married at the church on November 9, 1963.

David J. Jones—this is recorded the latest marriage of a descendent of the Stiteses, two centuries following the first record of the ceremony performed by Rev. Nathaniel Jenkins, Jr. in 1751. It is said that history repeats itself. Well, once again a building fund committee is functioning, and the Stiteses serving on this committee are Edwin F. Stites, the committee chairman, and Mrs. Inez Stites May. Mrs. Inez May is a devoted member, active in the spiritual life of the church. She is the teacher of the Foster Sunshine Bible-class, and is leader in Christian educational work and missions in the denomination. Edwin F. Stites is a member of the board of trustees. The children of the “Stites family” who are members

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May


One of the scenes re-enacted by some members of the cast of the pantomime presented during the observance of the 240th anniversary of the First Baptist Church of Cape May. Pictured in back are S. Henry Vance and Dr. John Brick. Front, left to right — W. Howard Gerald, Miss E. Christine Jones, Miss M. Jane Vance, Mrs. Howard May and Miss Janet Vance.

of the Sunday-school today are: Jay, Glenn, Edwin, Sue, Barbara, John and Sandra. So it is that two hundred and forty years have passed since Henry and Hannah Stites were numbered with those who labored to establish a Baptist Church in South Jersey. A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children. Proverbs 13:12 A pantomime “History Becomes Alive,” was presented on Monday, June 23, 1952, depicting scenes in the early life of the church. It was written by Miss M. Catherine Stauffer and narrated by Miss M. Jane Vance. Some of the scenes depicted were: § The founding of the church in 1712 § The first Board of Trustees in 1786

§ A church Business Meeting in 1835 § The resolution against slavery in 1841 § Harmony restored in 1851 after the conflict over the choir using the bass viol § The loss of the Old Brick Meeting House in 1854 § Early baptisms, 1857 § “A Mother in Israel”, a musical program in 1869 § The dedication of the present sanctuary 257TH ANNIVERSARY There were 27 members of the First Baptist Church who had been members for 50 or more years — more than half of them are shown in the photograph overleaf.


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May



Community Christian Library Mission Statement: Growing in Knowledge, Empowerment & Inspiration Edifying Believers, Enlightening Seekers to the Glory of God


n 1997, a group of women – Ruth Norton, Emma Thomson, Debbie Devitt, Lianne Loefflad, Jane Stone, Connie Schmaelzle, and Gloria Bishop had a vision for a new, updated church library where the materials were current and exciting. They began to organize and catalog new books, CD’s and videos in the former parsonage next to the church. Older materials were passed on to the county library and other churches, many in other states. The parsonage house seemed the perfect location with various rooms holding a different collection. Materials available to the congregation included Fiction, Biography, Christian Living, Parenting, and Marriage, Non-fiction, and Bible study resources for children, teens, and adults.

After a few years the library collection grew larger and the library committee thought it would be a good idea to share our wealth of material with others as an outreach of the church. They decided on the name Community Christian Library and opened the library to the public in the summer of 2001. Staffed entirely by volunteers, the library was open Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9am–2pm, with a pre-school story time at 10:30am on Wednesdays. As we opened our doors to the community, we were blessed ten fold with large donations of books. Again, what we couldn’t use we passed on to other churches. The library quickly attracted avid Christian readers, parents looking for quality, wholesome entertainment for their children, and most exciting – people seeking God’s purpose and direction for their lives. Sixty-five families had registered and about 40 items were checked out the first month and by February 2002 it had grown to 170 families, representing 62 different Opposite: Story Time in June, 2010; and, in 2004, cookies for Christmas in Court House, an annual event held on the first Friday of December, sponsored by Middle Township.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May



1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Ginny Heslinga signing copies of her book, The Wounded Dove, for Luann Arleth.

Library workers Gloria Bishop, Jane Stone, Pastor Jerry Heslinga, Emma Thompson, Connie Schmaelzle, Debbie Devitt, and Lianne Loefflad.

churches, with about 180 items circulating monthly. To get the word out about the library, we have donated baskets containing Christian material to several fundraising events for organizations such as, Hope Pregnancy Center and Family Promise, both located in Rio Grande, displayed materials at the Middle Township Harvest Festivals. Most exciting and challenging was participating in Christmas in Court House, December 2001. With the help of many of the congregation, we transformed a dismal front porch into a warm, welcoming greeting area, served refreshments, and ran a puppet show that was originally scheduled to run three times but turned into 11 by the end of the night as more than 300 people had come through. Visitors also enjoyed seeing the church decorated for Christmas and to sing or listen to Christmas carols in the sanctuary. In January, 2002 the library included hours for Saturday, 10am-1pm to attract students and those who worked. The number of items circulated continued to grow as well as the new materials. The Boy’s Challenger Pioneer Club group built the library two book shelves for reference and resource books. In May 2003 the church started a building project to connect the church and the Fellowship Hall with

a narthex in between. This meant the former parsonage and now the library was going to be demolished. This was a disappointment to the Library Committee as the house was located on Route 9 and highly visible to the public. But God is Good, the library moved to part of the Fellowship Hall, its current location, that is bigger and better than the old location. In the year 2000, a total of 371 items were borrowed, mostly by those who attend First Baptist. In 2001, a total of 1,019 items were circulated and by the end of 2002, God, through our faithfulness, placed 3,929 wholesome items into the hands of the people of Cape May County. Two outreach programs to promote reading by children were organized the summer of 2004, “Tutoring Tuesdays” that pairs volunteer teachers with children from kindergarten through second grade in one-hour individual reading sessions and a Reading Incentive Program. For eight consecutive Tuesdays through July and August, children through 2nd grade receive one-on-one help with their reading skills by certified teachers from local churches. Christian materials are used as much as possible. The children receive help with their reading skills while also learning about Jesus or Bible stories.

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The entrance to the library on Hand Avenue.

The teachers make it a fun time but a time for real learning, too. No plan books are needed by the teachers. These professionals know how each of their students can benefit from that hour each week and plan accordingly. The children enjoy coming. They bond with their teachers and by the 2nd Tuesday the kids look forward to their sessions. A small snack is provided for the kids, and they are also encouraged to sign up for the Summer Reading Incentive Program. This tutoring program has been so well received by both parents and students, that we usually have a waiting list. In 2011, the program was expanded to include critical thinking skills for 3rd and 4th grade students. The library committee is thankful for the hours donated by the teachers, and the other volunteers who participate to make the program so successful. The summer and winter Reading Incentive Programs challenge children to read. The winter program encourages them to read for 20 minutes a day and the summer program challenges the children to read as many books as they can during the 8 week program. Each child who signs up is given a reading log, and when it is completed, the child has the opportunity to select a small prize from the Treasure Chest. We encourage the children to read, read, and read!


They may go to the Treasure Chest as many times as they turn in a reading log. At the completion of the program, we have a party to celebrate their accomplishments and special prizes are awarded to the top readers. Local businesses have been very generous to donate gift certificates which are the “special prizes�. To make it interesting for the children, we have a different theme each time AND a different way of displaying their accomplishments. Children enjoy seeing their names displayed with the number of books they have read. Other programs and events include, an adult book club, scrapbook Bible study, mother-daughter book club, teen events, hosting students from Cape Christian Academy, Church Street Pre-school, and youth groups, and a book signing with Virginia Heslinga. By 2007, the library had 570 registered patrons, 6614 cataloged items, and 7658 items had been circulated that year! In 2010 they started a major rearranging and weeding of the collection. In changing with the times, the video section has been condensed to make more room for DVDs, most of the cassettes are gone and there is a separate inviting area for youth and young adults. The Community Christian Library celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2011, a year when changes were made to the borrowing policies to help with overdue items and the material continues to be updated and current. The collection now includes, 4,146 adult books, 2,825 children-youth books, 1,360 DVDs and videos, and 832 music CDs. At monthly meetings, the Library Committee continues to plan events and ways to reach the community. Besides the original Library Committee, those who have served as volunteer librarians include John Armour, Fran Charlesworth, Jean Crean, Barbara Garrison, Elena Garrison, Sally Garrison, Harry Hagan, Barbara Heinrichs, Ruth Jones, Sandy Kurtz, Alice Lord, Jackie Stites, Janet Sikora, and Peggy Verna with many others helping with story time, Reading Incentive parties, and tutoring. The Community Christian Library is a blessing to those who borrow items as well as those who volunteer. Written by the Library Committee


Clubs, Programs & Activities


n enjoyable activity held during the years of 1866 – 1877 was the Harvest Home Festival. The first one held in 1866, during the month of August, was for the purpose of raising funds to repair and paint the Meeting House and put up horse sheds. It’s not recorded where it was held but we can assume it was held on the church grounds of Stites Avenue and Seaside Road, as it was known then (a.k.a Route 9). The record reads: “The day arrived for the Harvest Home and it came off in good order their was plenty of everything to strengthen the inner man about the tables of which we noticed the sisters who was appointed to superintend the same with our interprising Sister Hetty Hand at the head and her staff to doe her bidding also in the refreshment stand we noticed the smiting countenance of our Sister Jane Hand at the head of affares and her staf officers such as Sister Jane Ann Springer Lydia

Members of the Crusader Sunday School Class making a six-foot ice cream sundae at the Teen Coffee House in 1973 — Sheila Nichols, Doris Sturm, Betty Klott.

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

2002 Youth Group: Vicky Karoso, Justin Alexander, Rachel and Kayla Klott, Brendan McLaughlin and Chrissy Arleth. The leaders were Lou and Cindy Knot.

Springer Lois A. Hamilton Abby Kernam Adaline Furgason and Henry Hand with Br. Stephen F. Hewitt to superintend the ice cream affare all so jovial that one could hardly pass by without giving them a call and leaving something with them. Right in the middle of the stand there was a most charming Pound cake of the largest size which was made a present to this Church by the Rev. Jas. E. Wilson of Blocky Church N.P. and former pastor of this. Which through the untiring energy of Br. Jas. McCartney was disposed of in shares to the amt. of one hundred forty fore at 25 cts pr share the cake to faul to the one that their name should be abrest of a certain number at the appointed time the draw was made and the luckey one proved to be Miss Emma Benizett of this place Miss E immediately presented the cake to the Church again and it was surved up in slices and sold at auctions for the of $7.50 cts the net profit of the cake to the Church was $43.50.” (According to the inflation calculator, $43.50 in 1866 would be $639.75 in 2010, the latest year for which statistics are available.)


YOUTH PROGRAMS Over the years there have been many programs for young people. Following are some from recent years. February 1, 1973 Cape May County Gazette Court House—A place for teenagers to congregate and not get into trouble known as “The Crossroads” is located in the Court House American Legion Hall Friday and Saturday evenings from 7:30 until midnight. The Crossroads is a coffeehouse ministry of the First Baptist Church of Cape May Court House and is under the supervision of Kris Gustafson who enjoys reading to them about whatever crosses their minds. Although it has been only three weeks since it started response has been favorable, according to Mrs. Betty Klott, the organization’s publicity co-coordinator. Attendance has been from 25 to 30 a night with more expected as word is passed around. Teens 14 and up will find the mood informal and friendly with candles on the tables and amplified “Gospel Rock” to sing to. Adults will always be there to help when needed.... The Coffee House Ministry was a youth group sponsored by the Crusader Class of the First Baptist Church.

Team Kid, 2005 — Leaders were Debbie Harris, Anne Brenner, Sue Conrad, Carol Murnaghan and Ethel Harrison. Kids: Quinton Flynn, Courtney Kane, Cassie Salvadore, Allora Flynn, Krista Salvadore, Heather Kane. Absent: Louis Remy, Ross Rafferty, Chrissy Arleth.


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The Rock Youth Group’s 2008 getaway at Keswick Whiting, NJ.

The Rock Youth Group The Rock Youth Group began in the spring of 2006 and continued until 2010. The leaders were Pastor Peter Thomas, Jodi Thomas, Pete and Sarah Murray, Bob and Linda Bakley and Missy Flynn. Favorite Memories of the Leaders Pastor Peter: My favorite time was Youth Getaway Weekends! One memory is all of us praising God together singing “I am a Friend of God” Linda Bakley: I loved the warm and fuzzy posters that the kids wrote on for each other during the Getaway Weekends. A memory that always makes me smile is when three of our youth leaders (Pastor Pete, Pete Murray and Bob Bakley) sang in a talent show wearing black suits and sunglasses. Bob Bakley: Youth Service: When the kids, led by Gabby Rulon and Angel Saclayan, had the congregation singing “How Great is Our God”

Jodi Thomas: One of my favorite memories of the ROCK was the first retreat that we had. I remember the kids singing “We Are a Friend of God” and everyone getting excited about what it means to be friends with the God of the Universe. Another favorite part was watching the kids and leaders build our lives in the ROCK. I’m thankful I was able to be part of the ROCK Missy Flynn: The first trip is still my greatest memory. Pastor had everything scheduled down to the minute and the kids were so full of energy. Getting to know my prayer pal, Danielle Green was a blessing to me. I never realized how competitive I could be till I played games with a bunch of even more competitive sixth graders. Our time as a group changed me forever. Some Memories from youth members... Tyler Hentges: I enjoyed meetings at the Pasto’s house, playing games, hanging with friends and enjoying the stories Pastor Pete would tell. Gabby Rulon: My favorite part of youth group was

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being able to get away for a few days with my best friends and counselors on retreats. Not only did we get to have fun playing games but we had the chance to get closer with God with our friends. I would do anything to rewind to those days. Haley Bramble: Coming into a new school and having a place to fit in was my main memory of the ROCK. On the first retreat to Lebanon, I can remember knowing only a few familiar faces but as time progressed, the many unfamiliar faces not only became my best friends but family to me. ADULT PROGRAMS The J.O.Y Club started in 1987 for older or retired folks who desired to get together and enjoy the company of others. They met once a month. Their meetings were varied; sometimes they met at the church for a lunch or dinner followed by a program. Other times they met at a restaurant or a member’s home. Once a year the men


from the club fixed a special luncheon for the members. They also planned interesting day trips. It was a wonderful way for single persons to get out and feel connected. One such trip was to Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, DE and the lovely gardens surrounding it. Another time they visited our Cape May County Historical Museum and Lou Irmler, a member of the club who was in charge of the back building, gave them a very informative grand tour. Clara A. Foster wrote this poem in April of 1989... J. O. Y. is Just Older Youth, And that is what we are, Enjoying life and fellowship, And reaching for a star. Our aims are far-reaching, And our hopes are still high. For we sure don’t give up,

Youth leaders Bob Elsey, Bob Bakley, Pete Murray and Pastor Peter at a church talent show in 2007.


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But give things a try. We must not procrastinate, But keep on moving along, Not forgetting our friendships With love, laughter and song. Just put Jesus first, others next. Yourself last, every time, There is JOY in serving Jesus And it makes you feel sublime. 1993 J.O.Y. Club Members Muriel Barron Marion Bechtold Mary Virginia Bowen Anne Brenner Dr. Robert C Brenner Eleanor Brick Dr. John K. Brick Virginia Chester Thelma Daebler Gertrude Dressel Viney Endicott Daisy Lee Engwall Dr. Jerry Heslinga Joyce Galutia Dr. Paul (Dick) Galatea Ethel Gerald Howard Gerald Betty Irmler Walter Kraus Susan Johnson Dorothy Lodge Edwin Lodge Adalene Lord

Clifford Lord Dorothy MacBride John MacBride Kathryn McPherson Doris Rich Joseph Rich Lina Schmaelzie Ralph Schmaelzle John Schofield Doris Spell Ruth Stites Marie Stone Loretta Thomas Lillian Thompson Olin Thompson Emma Thompson Jane M. Vance Eleanor Walton Harvey Walton Mary Frances Warner William Warner Hilda Wheaton

MOPS – Mothers of Preschoolers This is an international organization that began in 1973 in Colorado when eight mothers started meeting

J.O.Y. Club outing to Keswick Whiting in 1989: Tom Devitt, Phil and Dee Amundsen, Bob Brenner.

together to meet certain needs for fellowship, encouragement, and instruction. Growth began as word spread in churches, conventions, and magazine articles that explained this unique new program. Today there are more than 3900 MOPS groups meeting across the United States and in 35 countries around the world. MOPS groups are chartered through local faith-based organizations, including churches and parachurch ministries. The MOPS program is built on several foundational principles: § Community: MOPS provides an open, caring, and accepting atmosphere where women can come together to share this important season of life. § Mentoring: Mature women listen, encourage, and offer information and perspectives gained through experience. § Practical Instruction: Teaching focuses on areas of common interest, offering inspiration and information that is relevant to the life of a mother. § Leadership Development: MOPS groups are organized and run by mothers of preschoolers, as well as for

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J.O.Y. club outing to Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Delaware in 1993: Dr. Brick, Betsy Stiles, Harvey Walton, Dot MacBride, Ethel Harrison.

mothers of preschoolers. Women who are involved in MOPS gain confidence in their leadership skills through the training and experience they receive from MOPS. The First Baptist Church Cape May Chapter of MOPS, had their first meeting February 12, 1991 with six women attending, four of them were the steering committee: Cindy Klott, Ellen Wolfe, Ruth Norton, and Lianne Loefflad. By the next meeting in March that number had doubled and the group met through May. When MOPS started up again September 10, 1991, 22 moms attended. The MOPS group met the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of each month from 9-11:30am. The program included a get acquainted time with refreshments, a craft, and an instruction time with special guests speaking on a variety of subjects.

There was a $3.00 registration fee with $.50 going to the MOPS International organization, $1.50 for craft materials and $1.00 towards miscellaneous expenses incurred. There was a bulletin that let you know what was happening at that meeting, a News & Notes section, Parenting tips, birthdays of the month, and recipes. While the moms were together, the children, Moppets, were cared for by volunteer women of the church. The Moppets also had a structured program that included singing, Bible stories, a craft project, special guests, and snacks. With an average of 23 moms attending, there were usually 10 helpers taking care as many as 40 children. This was truly a church group effort that continued through 1996.


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

The MOPS program provided a relaxing atmosphere in which to grow as a person and develop new friendships that still continue. In November 2011 Bonnie Tecco hosted a mini MOPS reunion. A fun time was had reminiscing about the programs, crafts, and children.

Pat Dougherty at Women of Faith Conference in 2009.

Women Of Faith Women of Faith is a faith-based women’s organization encouraging women of all ages and stages in life to grow in faith and spiritual maturity through a relationship with Jesus Christ and an understanding of God’s love and grace through non-denominational conferences around the United States since 1996. The conference begins Friday and continued through Saturday evening. The six members of the speaker team were Sheila Walsh, Luci Swindoll, Patsy Clairmont, Marilyn Meberg, Barbara Johnson, and Thelma Wells. Each year’s content is organized around a theme. The events include messages from the speaker team, concerts by popular music artists, original dramatic presentations, and times of worship. Women of Faith events are noted for their humor, musical performances, and compelling stories. There were four women from First Baptist Church, Ellen Wolfe, Ruth Norton, Sandra Novick, and Beth Harrison, who attended the first Women of Faith conference in 1996 “The Joyful Journey” held in a large church in Maryland. They had such a great time they invited more women to join them the following year. In 1997 the conferences started being held in arenas and the closest one to us was in Washington, DC. First Baptist Church has taken as many as 125 women to the conferences with at least 50 women the last few years. 85% of attendees come in groups of 25 or more. Sandra Novick has attended every Women of Faith conference since 1996 and I have attended all but the first one. It’s a coordinated effort to get tickets and hotel accommodations for 50 plus women. Women of First Baptist Church and their friends attended the conferences in January or February in Washington, DC until 2000 when they added Philadelphia as

1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Laura Osmundsen with Luci Swindoll at the Women of Faith Conferene in Philadelphia in 2004.

one of their conference cities. We stayed in Crystal City, VA and took the metro to the arena. One year we were in same hotel as the speakers and worship team. Some of the women were approached by Patsy Clairmont’s husband as he was waiting in the lobby for her to return. He noticed our church van said Cape May Court House and he said that he and Patsy had vacationed in Cape May before. So we waited with him and got to meet Patsy and Thelma Wells when they returned to the hotel. Another memorable trip to Washington, DC started with a white knuckled church van ride in a snow storm! In 2000 we took a group to the Women of Faith conference in Washington, DC because we already had the tickets and took another group to the much closer event in Philadelphia, PA in November. We have heard special guest speakers such as Joni Earekson Tada, Gloria Gaither, Chonda Pierce, Evelyn Husband — the widow of STS-107 commander Rick, Robin McGraw — wife of TV’s Dr. Phil, Steve Arterburn — founder of Women of Faith, and Richard Stearns the CEO of World Vision. The most memorable speaker was at the Boundless Love conference in November, 200l. Lisa Beamer, whose husband had said “Let’s Roll” as


they crashed the plane in Pennsylvania on September 11, was in attendance with her church. She was invited on stage and she shared her experience since the loss of her husband. It was a very memorable and moving as she was pregnant with their third child. Musical guest have included popular Christian artists like, Sandi Patti, Nicole C. Mullen, Steven Curtis Chapman, Kathy Triccoli, Mary Mary, Nicole Nordeman, Natalie Grant, Avalon, Point of Grace, and Sierra. In 2009 Women of Faith invited group leaders of 50 or more women to attend a group leader training called All Access held in Dallas, Texas. Women of Faith paid the air fare, hotel, and all meals for the three day, two night event. It was like a mini Women of Faith conference with only 1,000 women instead of 18,000. All the team speakers were there, as well as special music, and special guests. In February 2010 we were invited to the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN for group leader training. During the day we had work sessions and got a preview of the speakers for the upcoming year. In the evening sessions we were treated to concerts by Mary Mary, Sandi Patti and Selah. The Women of Faith Message is: Beyond a shadow of a doubt, God loves you — regardless of where you are in life. Their Approach is: Humor and honesty — real women sharing how God helps them deal with real issues. Written by Lianne Loefflad



My Memories of 1938-1942 By John Schofield Our Sunday school teacher, Mr. Carroll Wilder (also principal of Middle Twp. H.S.) brought in a raw egg and alcohol and proceeded to break the egg into the alcohol. Voila! A cooked egg. His remark was, “This is what alcohol does to your brain.” On another Sunday, Mr. Wilder brought in a cigarette and a white handkerchief. He lit the cigarette and blew smoke through the handkerchief (what an awful sight!) and said, “This is what cigarette smoke does to your lungs.” By the way, Mr. Wilder didn’t drink or smoke. During the summers the church would go to the beaches in Avalon or Stone Harbor and have “hot doggie roasts.” At that time, dunes were high and all along the coast. They protected the low lands behind them. To bad it was decided to level a lot of the dunes. Anyway a large fire was built on the beach with wood found among the dunes. Sticks were secured and sharpened on the end for the hot dogs. We were very careful not to get any poison ivy vines for the fires. All enjoyed singing, sodas, hot dogs

with the fixings and a little sand for extra flavor. These experiences were obviously good experiences, which among others have been rooted in my memories all my life. Baccalaureate Services By Ada Munson (nee Chambers) I was a graduate of the class of 1948 from Middle Township High School. We were a class of about 60 graduates, and our Baccalaureate Services were held at the First Baptist Church in Cape May Court House. I was familiar with the church as I had attended it through my childhood. Hymn Sings By Ruth Stites Back in the fifties we had Hymns Sings. After the Sunday Evening Service we traveled by church bus to other churches. Boyd’s mother baby sat for us so we could go. We sang all the old hymns. Almost everyone attended. We had such a good time

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John Schofield fondly recalls his Sunday School teacher, Carroll Wilder.



1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

Sunday School Orchestra By Jane Stites Jane’s husband, Ed, was a member of the Sunday School Orchestra. When his mother, Sue H. Stites, would walk through the door, he would have the group play “Sweet Sue”. Memories By Frank Reeder Cape May Court House was a place on the map. A summer of working at Camp Ha-Lu-Wa-Sa was over and two high school camp workers had to get home. I volunteered to take them, turned the car toward Cape May. It was a road that would change my life. John and Dolly Moore had graciously invited me to stay with them overnight for bringing their son, Steve, home. I went to church with them in the morning. It was my first time in the brick structure at the corner of Stites Avenue and Main Street. It would not be my last. The vibrancy of the life I felt at the First Baptist Church of Cape May was immensely attractive. Evan John Jones was three years into his pastorate at this oldest of Cape May County churches. I was beginning my senior year at Philadelphia College of Bible and needed a place to do my internship in Christian Education. After speaking with Pastor Jones, he encouraged me to pursue working with them. So the Board of Christian Education invited me to join them for the year of 1973-74. Every Friday after school was finished, I got in my 1965 Chevy and drove back to Cape May Court House, staying with the Moore’s and working with Pastor Jones. My specific responsibilities were to work with the Sunday School teachers, helping them to develop their teaching gifts and meet regularly with the Board of Christian Education to learn and influence their culture. I was also to work with the children and youth to provide social and learning activities, and to give oversight to a major event for the church. I began by observing the teaching style of every Sunday school teacher, evaluating the way they taught and

then meeting with them for a feedback session. Though many of these teachers had been working in the Sunday School longer than I had been alive, they were open to growing. Many of them shared their expertise with me and I grew as well. I remember Dorcas Sharp, who had the toddlers and used to sing the truth of God’s Word to the children. She wrote those simple songs out on 3x5 cards for me to keep for future reference. Vera Sayre worked faithfully in the nursery and cradle role. Other teachers were Alice Stites, Sadie Bakely, Bob and Emma Thompson, Pat Salter, Cluster and Gerry Belcher, Sheila Nichols, Inez May, Pastor Jones, John Brick and Rachel Tozer. I never observed Rachel Tozer’s Comrade Class. That was too scary. Rachel used to rule from her seat in the corner of the sanctuary. The Crusader Class was the rowdy bunch of young parents. They were all at least ten years older than I was, but they took me under wing and made me a part of them. Pastor and Annabelle Jones were a part of the class, too. In 1973, these were the movers and shakers of First Baptist. The class met across the street in the Middle Township Ambulance Corps building. We were running out of room as the church kept attracting new folks to life in Christ. It was the same attraction that beckoned me. These people were a lot of fun. Their spiritual growth was exponential. And I spent a good deal of time in their homes. That was a hallmark of this era. I felt right at home by the fire at Jay and Alice Stites’ home. It was the same for Nick and Sheila Nichols. We still get a laugh out of the time I stayed with their kids while the adults went off to Highland Lake for a weekend retreat. They heated the house by the fireplace. When we got up on Saturday morning, it was cold and I lit the fire, but forgot to open the damper. The house filled with smoke and Lianne, Chris, Laura and Mitchell were hanging out the windows, gasping for clean air. I was warmly included in the family life of Dolly and John Moore and their sitting room with a pull out bed became my weekend quarters. I also stayed, on occasion, with Evan and Anne Jones, Larry and Betsy Stiles and Jay and Alice Stites. We worked on a new parsonage together. Jay

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Stites was the master builder, but everybody did something to make it happen. I will never forget being on the roof nailing shingles in place. It was no small feat for somebody who prefers being close to the ground. We didn’t just go to church. We were truly friends and these friendships have spanned a lifetime. There were two winter retreats at Highland Lake Bible Conference near Port Jervis, New York, and every year in that period of First Baptist’s history. One was for the youth and the other just for adults. After I relocated the following year to a youth pastorate at Berlin (NJ) Baptist Church, I still went to them. The youth from both churches blended well as we made the trek over snow covered roads for a weekend of Bible study, games and tubing down the hillside onto the frozen lake. At Christmas time, I was involved with the various celebrations of the classes. The class taught by Dr. John Brick was meeting at his and Eleanor’s home on Mechanic Street. I tagged along with Pastor and Anne Jones. As we were sharing gifts, the Bricks gave me an envelope. A few hundred dollars were tucked into a card for me to use towards college tuition. Dr. and Mrs. Brick were typical of the generosity of the kind folks at First Baptist. One weekend, I was in Cape May when the water pump in my Chevy started to leak. By the time I started up the Garden State Parkway, it was a gusher. So I pulled into the Gulf station just north of the bridge. The owner wanted to help and because I was a college student, he replaced the pump while I waited at cost. But it still ran me more money than I had to spare. I just about emptied my wallet. On Sunday evenings there was a service. Pastor Jones was teaching on the generosity of the Body of Christ. As the message was concluding, he told the gathered saints my story and asked for an offering to be taken to replace the money I spent on the water pump. When the money was counted, it was to the dollar amount of what I spent. As Saint Patty’s Day 1974 was rolling around, we planned a social event for the children. The Board of Christian Ed decided it would be fun to have green ice


cream. So we got a few ice cream freezers, mixed up the ingredients, added green food coloring and played games while the green mixture was mysteriously transforming into ice cream. It was more like soft serve, but it was good. Alice Stites Lord still sends me a Saint Patty’s Day card almost every year as a remembrance. One of the requirements for my internship was to plan and carry out a major event. While the wind was still blowing snow around, I visited with Herb Links, a Jewish Christian pastor with a congregation in downtown Philadelphia. He agreed to come and do the Passover Seder at First Baptist on Maundy Thursday, which also was the Passover that year. Bob and Emma Thompson were the organizers for the dinner part and did it in authentic style, going to Segal Brothers in Woodbine to get kosher meats. We sold tickets and the Fellowship Hall was full to overflowing that night as we ate to candlelight (there is to be no artificial light in an authentic Seder) and moved through the Passover liturgy. Our understanding of our rootedness in the Messianic tradition of Judaism deepened that night Evan Jones is the very best pastor with whom I have worked over the years. He also loved playing practical jokes. The impish grin would sweep over his face as he was hatching another plot. When he preached, he did it with authority and we were inspired to live our faith. Lots of Sunday afternoons, I was one of many invited to come share Sunday dinner at the parsonage. Matt, Julie, Trevor and Evan John Jones were like little brothers and a sister. Pastor Jones wanted to see me grow in my leadership abilities and got me up on the platform on a few Sunday evenings, not a place of comfort for me at the time. He told me that I was a professional and needed to gain confidence. Most everybody else was also praying for me and edifying me so I would be a fit servant of God. I credit First Baptist as the people among whom I began to see what the Body of Christ was all about. We played together, prayed together, ate together and did mission together. I really didn’t want to leave when the year’s internship was over. But the people at First Baptist did not want me to be


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comfortable. They wanted me to keep growing. In a few years, Pastor Jones would also leave the church to become an US Army Chaplain. I talked with him about his leaving and he knew God was in it, but, said he, “Sometimes I think I’m crazy for leaving such a wonderful church where I am really loved. I’ve got it good here.” I understood what he meant as I prepared to do the same thing in 1999, being called from Calvary Baptist Church of Ocean View after 18 years as pastor to go to a new place of service in Pitman. I came down from Berlin to be with the First Baptist family as Evan preached his final sermon as pastor in 1976. It was from Revelation 22. Pastor Jones was pointing us to the future when we will all be together in glory and the sun will no longer shine. No need for it “because the Lord God shall illumine them, and they shall reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 22:5) Cape May Court House was for me, a place on the map in 1973. Now, almost 40 years later, it is a place in my heart. Remembering Pastor Jones By Alice Lord In the late 1960s, senior members of our congregation, Clifford and Harriet Cathcart, had been praying for many months for a Spiritual Revival and when Pastor Evan Jones was called to our church, all the congregation was blessed but we young couples thought we were especially blessed. Pastor Jones and his wife Annabelle were young and had four young children. There were so many of us young couples with children at the time that we began to spend a lot of time together. We had progressive dinners, met in each others’ homes for Bible studies, picnicked together, camped together locally and even camped as far away as Vermont – near Sheila and Nick Nichols families. And of course there was Highland Lake, New York, where we had daily Bible studies and lots of fun including skiing, snowball fights, badminton – just wonderful memories. God blessed us in so many ways through Pastor Jones and his family and we still enjoy these memories today

as do our children. (PS: Sheila and Nick skied downhill together, Nick on the skis correctly while Sheila stood facing him standing on the front of his skis – an amazing feat – Olympic material for sure.) Pastor Jones was also quite a jokester. It seemed that Sheila and I were always on the Board of Christian Education with Annabelle and when Pastor Jones at a Bible study one night in his office, told me that Annabelle wanted to see me, I was sure it would be regarding the Board, however; she had no idea why I had been sent. When I returned to the Bible study a few minutes’ later and heard people speaking in “tongues,” – it took me a while, but I realized the joke was on me this time. Pastor Jones had set it up and enjoyed every minute of it. Pastor Jones was diagnosed with a brain tumor and died in December 2003. He asked his wife to let us know how much he loved us and to remember his message to us could be found by reading Phil. 1:2-11. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” God has blessed us over the years with Godly men in the pulpit and He is still blessing us with Pastor Steve Tecco. Pastor Jerry Heslinga grew up as a Christian in a Christian home. His life and the decisions he made always reflected his desire to serve the Lord. Many times he served quietly behind the scenes as he prayed for us or our children visited those who were sick in the hospital, or housebound. When my first husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had surgery scheduled on an icy winter day at Pennsylvania Hospital, Pastor Jerry was there with me and my two children before surgery and stayed all day through surgery praying with us even though there was freezing icy driving conditions waiting for him to drive home that evening. After surgery, Pastor Jerry visited and prayed with us every week in our home. God has blessed our church family with so many wonderful Christian leaders and I thank God that Pastor Jerry

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Skiing during retreat at Highland Lake, N.Y. in 1973. From left to right: Lynne Evans, Rhonda Kizziar, Robert Klott, Ruth Thomson.

was one of them. Pastor Jerry’s wife, Ginny also served the Lord in many capacities. One was leading Junior Choir for many years. Along with the beautiful Christian choruses she taught the children, Ginny taught them to “sign” as they sang. I’m sure those children still have that skill – what a gift she gave them and how blessed for the congregation to witness. As a reward for choir attendance, Ginny took members of the Junior Choir on trips. I was fortunate to be asked to share the fun twice as a chaperone. My first trip was to the Smithsonian in Washington DC where we

stayed overnight with Pastor Jerry’s sister in Virginia. We visited John F. Kennedy’s grave, the Viet Nam Memorial along with the space museum and other historic sites. This was the first time I had been to Washington DC since high school so who was more excited! Another trip was driving into New York City. She was knowledgeable and enthusiastic and shared it all with us. Fun! Highland Lake Bible Conference By Harry Murnaghan In the early ’70s, the infancy of my Christianity, I was asked by Dave Masterson to help prepare a used school


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bus for use by our church. We had to remove the flashing lights, fabricate blank covers and pop rivet or screw on, to comply with motor vehicle rules and regulations. With that finished, a retreat for our teens could be planned. It was decided they would go to Highland Lake Bible Conference, just north of Port Jarvis, NY. But… who would drive? Who would drive a bus full of 35-40 teens with one chaperone (it may have been two) but on the trip it seemed like NONE! Well you may have guessed by now, it was me. The evening came, a Friday evening, and 35-40 teens approached the bus. I could feel the fear building in me. Along with the teens were enough baggage, stuffed sacks, suit cases and carry-ons to support a small army for weeks. With everyone boarded, the teens, chaperones and one poor bus driver pulled out of the parking lot. On to the Garden State Parkway for about 140 miles, then across the state to High Point, north to Port Jarvis, and north from there. Growing up in New Jersey (south) and spending four years in the Navy, I did not encounter too many mountains, at least that I ever had to drive on, much less with a bus. Eventually I learned how to downshift quite smoothly, as the ride from Port Jarvis to Highland Lake was vertical, sometimes our old Ford bus would only climb in 2nd gear, no higher. We arrive, leave the bus, unload baggage and go to the cafeteria for a snack, then to our rooms. When we got there, Pastor Evan Jones met us. He had come from Pennsylvania where he grew up. Along with our group we met a group we were to be with for the weekend from Berlin Baptist, Pastor Frank Reeder in charge. How, our group of teens numbered about 60 and to be truthful, I don’t think the adults were ever “in charge”. The next day, we went out to the tubing run. A nearly vertical slide area down the hill, next to rock ledges, and finally on to the lake, frozen solid of course, this was February I think.

My first trip down the tube, I must admit, took my breath away, brought my stomach to my throat, but it was fun. It was especially fun on the large inner tubes with multiple riders… until… one of Berlin Baptist’s young boys got too close to the rock ledge on one side and banged his finger severely. I looked at it, it was broken and dislocated. This required a trip to Port Jarvis hospital, but in a school bus? The trip down was as vertical, as the trip was vertical up. Pastor Jones said “here take my car”, a Chevy V8 station wagon, certainly better than a school bus. Well, one thing Pastor Jones forgot to tell me as he threw me the keys was that on his way from Pennsylvania to New York his entire exhaust system fell off. Obviously, the Chevy wagon was not new. I felt sorry for the young man, broken finger with an ice pack, riding in a very, very loud Chevy wagon, going at break-neck speed being driven by a man he did not know, accompanied by a chaperone, Doris Sturm I think, to the hospital. His parents’ were notified, and the hospital did necessary repair. Only on thing was remaining, going back to camp in that very, very, loud, Chevy station wagon. All ended well, so well in fact, I drove the next year too. Fun with the Youth Group By Donna Snyder As a youth in the church I remember traveling on the church bus to several youth retreats at Highland Lake. I think that was the name but couldn’t tell you where it was. At that age I wasn’t really interested in the facts of where we were going or even what state it was in. I was just excited about going on a trip with the youth group where we would play in the snow, sled, and ice skate, play games, and just enjoy being together. Once we were all on the bus we were oblivious to what roads we were traveling on. We were having too much fun inside the bus to care. It was always a fun retreat filled with outdoors activities,

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Fun and games during the retreat at Highland Lake, NY in February, 1976: left, Betsy Stiles and Ann Jones and, right, Walt Turnier and Pastor Evan Jones.

group games, group meals and lots of signing. The bus ride was always part of the fun experience. As a child I sang in Clara Foster’s junior choir. We practiced once a week after school. Practice always ended with a big bag of candy. If you participated and sang you got to pick a piece of candy out of the bag. On Sunday mornings we wore royal blue choir gowns with white collars. We all sat together on the front row. My aunt Luann (Arleth) and I always sat together and often got “That Look” from my mother when we got to giggling too much. The junior choir often sang the old Christian hymns like Onward Christian Solider and Leaning on the Promises. When the choir was signing Clara would stand in the aisle and direct us with her arm movements. Clara was always glad to see the kids come to practice but demanded your total attention. I was also part of the Coffee house ministry. I loved helping out in the kitchen. We sold baked goods and beverages. The coffee house was a great place for the youth group to hang out. It was held in the American Legion hall down the street from the church. The youth loved spending time there

Highland Lake Memories By Sheila Nichols The first year we went, four couples slept nearly side by side in small cabins. We all got electrical shocks if we touched the sides of the shower stalls while showering. Emma Thompson and Ethel Gerald hid cracker crumbs in Pastor Jones’ bed. We played games to learn the value of friendships. We were in groups of four. One game was throwing others out of the boat, giving reasons why you were more worthy to survive than they were. Another game was knocking others down. We were paired with others and had to put them on the floor. Shelia Nichols flattened John Kizzar on the floor in an instant. Memories from Highland Lake Retreat By Phil Amundsen In the late 1970s, possibly 1978, we were spending the weekend on the Crusader Class Adult Church Retreat at Highland Lake, NY. When Sunday came, which would have been our normal day to travel back home, a snowstorm hit the area. We found out that it was to be much worst back home with deep snow and the possible loss


1712-2012: First Baptist Church of Cape May

of power. We were all worried about our children, so we decided to leave for home. The traveling companions in our car consisted of me, my wife Dee, Walt and Barb Turnier, and Tom and Missey Flud. The only other couple that decided to leave was the speaker for the weekend, Homer Tricales and his wife. We left soon after breakfast and were not having too much trouble but we had to go very slow. When we were going through the mountains in Northwestern New Jersey, the car suddenly went into a spin. Everyone was very quiet as we continued to spin around. When the car finally came to a stop, the car traveling behind us came to stop after bumping the front of our car which ended up facing in the wrong direction. The driver of this car just happened to be Homer Tricales and his wife. After we got our car going in the right direction we began to discuss what had just happened. Tom Flud asked me if I noticed the cliff that ran along side the highway that we had just traveled down. I had never noticed that in our skid down the hill. As we drove further south the snow continued to accumulate. While driving down the Parkway we noticed that there was no traffic and every exit was blocked by deep snow and abandoned automobiles. The only exit that we found to be open was the Exit 10/Stone Harbor Boulevard probably because it is a crossroad. We finally got to our home late in the evening traveling approximately 12 hours. The Lord was with us in that we did not get stuck nor have an accident and the only exit open was in Cape May Court House. That snowstorm had dropped 28 inches of snow in our area. Everyone else at the retreat came home on Monday with no problems. A little story about Dee: One late evening at Highland Lake, our Pastor at the time Rev. Dick Green, had all the attendees sitting in the hallway giving us a long talk about our weekend. With every pause in his speech you could hear someone snoring. The noise was coming from just behind me where Dee was stretched out on the floor

sound asleep. A cold day at Highland Lake: One really cold day, Dee and I decided to take a snowmobile ride on the lake at Highland Lake. This particular lake was frozen so solid that people drove automobiles on the ice. As we sped across the lake with me driving, the tears in my eyes froze them shut and I could not see. I had to tell Dee to take over the steering so that I could warm my eyes. Good thing I wasn’t alone. We made it back but made the trip shorter. Memories of Highland Lake By Ethel Harrison Many fun and profitable times were had at Highland Lake retreats in years past. I remember playing ping pong in the activity room and one time Alice Stites Lord and Rose Kizziar were leaving to back to their cottages and opened a door to go outside but in stead walked into a closet to their surprise. Another time we were in the worship center and Betty Lou Masterson was playing hymns on the piano while Ethel Gerald, Emma Thomson, myself and Dot MacBride were singing facing the piano with out backs to the audience. If I have forgotten someone who was singing, please forgive me. Pastor Evan Jones convinced everyone to quietly leave the room as when we finished singing and turned around there was no audience to hear us. More Memories of Highland Lake By Dolly Moore Laing Some of us stayed in a big room like a barracks and I left the room to take a shower. While I was gone, Pastor Jones convinced everyone to leave the building and when I returned I thought the rapture had come and I was left behind. It was a weird feeling to find you all alone. Early one morning, Barb Turnier and I went for a walk before the others got up. The staff warned us about frost bite. We had a nice walk but when we got back our faces were burning

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We really have a lot of good memories of Highland Lake, both spiritual and fun memories.

toasty warm that Sunday service. Praise the Lord that another disaster was adverted.

Our Adventure to “Great Adventure” By Helen Cox The church owned a yellow school which we used for trip at 1st Baptist Church. One memorable trip was with our driver, Dave Masterson, a man who organized and drove us frequently. He took a bus full of us to “Great Adventure” and a special trip through the Safari. Dave wanted to make our experience “up close and personal” so he brought cans of spray cheese and sprayed it on the bus around the windows and the sides and we got our show. Monkeys arrived and crawled all over our bus, smeared cheese on the windows, pulled on the windshield wipers, WHAT A MESS! Dave had to clean up the bus before we could travel home. I guarantee that was the last time we experienced a Safari with cheese.

Women of Faith Conference By Sue Karoso When the conference was over and the women were getting on the escalators down to the Metro, someone started singing, very softly, “Amazing Grace”. Thousands of women who filled the escalators, sidewalks, and Metro joined in almost in a whisper praising God! I still get goose bumps thinking about it.

A Disaster Averted By Bob Brenner During the pastorate of Rev. Jerry Heslinga, some of the men of the church would gather early Sunday morning for prayer. It was a nice quiet time and I always looked forward to starting Sunday morning with quiet prayer. One particularly cold Sunday morning, I walked into the church and smelled this terrific gas odor. The church had an old gas heater which always seemed to be in need of repair, so that was the first place I checked. True to form it was the culprit. Pastor Jerry called the gas company who responded in a matter of minutes. The gas man immediately shut down the main gas supply and said that what happened was that the safeties on the heater had malfunctioned and they had actually melted from the extreme heat. One of our own, Lou Klott brought over a salamander space heater and set it up in the sanctuary so that there would be heat for the morning service. It was

Finding the Perfect Church By Karen Kotecha After living in Rockland County, NY for 35 years, my husband, Bob and I moved to Cape May in June 2008 to live with our daughter, Jenny Carleo and our grandson, Johnny Carleo. We were worried about finding a new church and thought we’d have to attend 8 or 10 churches before we found a good “fit”, but God had better plans for us. Our neighbors, John and Linda Burgin with their son, Nickolas, invited us to First Baptist Church of Cape May Court House on the exact day the Bumbaugh Family gave a performance. We were delighted, on subsequent Sundays, by the friendliness of the people, the long history of the church and the wonderful ministry of music, in addition to the best, most knowledgeable and fun Sunday School teacher we’ve ever had, Harry Murnaghan. Needless to say, we never visited any other churches, Pastor Steve is a passionate, spirit-filled, godly man who makes learning God’s word understandable – and he also has a good sense of humor! I thank God each day for bringing us to First Baptist having enjoyed the many sermons we were privileged to hear and the activities we were privileged to attend.

Acknowledgements Written for the 300th Anniversary of the First Baptist Church of Cape May by Susan Armour and compiled by Susan Armour and Lianne Loefflad We wish to extend our gratitude to Ron Jones For photographing and scanning in the many photographs and documents To Rev. Robert Kobele, whose book, A History of The First Baptist Church of Cape May, was a rich resource To Dr. Robert Brenner For proof-reading and encouraging us And to all who contributed articles and photos


richly illustrated history of one of the oldest places of worship in New Jersey, the First Baptist Church of Cape May. Learn about the pastors who built the congregation over the years, the characters who occupied the pews, discover fascinating insights into the way we used to live... and the crucial role this much-loved church continues to play in its community. 

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1712-2012: The First Baptist Church of Cape May  

A book celebrating the 300th anniversary of the First Baptist Church of Cape May

1712-2012: The First Baptist Church of Cape May  

A book celebrating the 300th anniversary of the First Baptist Church of Cape May

Profile for exitzero