Our Early Years
In the 1950s, when Chatham Township began evolving from an essentially agricultural community to a rapidly-growing commuter suburb, a small group of dedicated people enthusiastically shared the vision of creating a new Presbyterian congregation.
Together, those founders held a strong faith in God and in their future as a church family. In addition, they were humble, self-reliant and imaginative. With significant support from the Presbytery including its purchase of an 8-acre site, in December 1959 more than 200 people signed the Covenant of Membership, establishing the Presbyterian Church of Chatham Township (PCCT).
In the words of one founder, “ …as a congregation, we owned virtually nothing but a plot of land, an old farmhouse next to the road on Southern Boulevard, a cloth-covered altar, a white painted cross, and what we needed to celebrate communion, baptism, and collect an offering. All of these things had to be put away after each Sunday’s service, which was held in the gym of Southern Boulevard Elementary School.”
Some have described these early church members as “do-it-yourselfers.” They gathered wildflowers to decorate the chancel, hosted Christmas Eve services in private homes, hand-crafted property signs and built the cross that still graces our sanctuary today.
Growing as a Congregation
Over the years, the congregation has steadily increased in membership, benefiting from noteworthy stability, including the inspiring leadership of two long-time pastors. PCCT sequentially built three now-connected buildings – pleasant, but practical and flexible – to provide a home for our congregation and a meeting place for the community. More importantly, the congregation has built a deep and enduring commitment to faith, fellowship and service through shared experiences and sacrifice, including:
- Meaningful worship enhanced by relevant and thought-provoking sermons. This helps us process everyday life and recognize significant spiritual, personal and community milestones.
- A vibrant and varied music program, incorporating the gifts of adults, teens and children to create worship and promote a deeper expression of our collective faith.
- Wide-ranging programs and fellowship groups, developed and led by members seeking to respond to the evolving needs and interests of the congregation. Traditional gatherings like Women’s Circles evolved over time into a Young Mom’s Group and the popular Next Act fellowship and study group. Women’s Ministries now hosts seasonal gatherings and mission fundraisers that have long been a part of Presbyterian Women. Bible Studies, prayer gatherings and support groups have helped gather members around common interests and shared struggles, while social events in members’ homes have helped make our multi-generational church feel more intimate and welcoming.
- A shared responsibility to pass on our faith to the next generation. Over the years, PCCT has built vibrant children’s ministries, with traditional elements such as Vacation Bible School and Church School – where children “Gather, Give, and Grow” – supplemented by creative and inter-generational opportunities. Breakfast Club, our Sunday morning class for middle school youth, intentionally draws youth into the relaxed, non-threatening environment of a shared meal, allowing relevant and timely topics to be discussed from a perspective of faith. Confirmation nurtures young people in faith, action and commitment, inviting them to receive God’s freely given love, accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and choosing to pursue God’s call on their lives.
- Sending senior high youth on week-long mission trips to aid communities in need, including New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina), Colorado, Atlantic City, and Pine Ridge, South Dakota. In recent years, trips have focused on disaster relief work, including hurricane damage in Florida, flood relief in North Carolina, and aiding ranchers in eastern Washington State.
- Prioritizing mission and service projects that focus on addressing hunger and housing needs as we offer volunteer and financial support to organizations such as the Community Food Bank of New Jersey, Family Promise of Morris County, and more recently, Refugee Assistance Morris Partners (RAMP). Over the past 15 years, our Pumpkin Patch has garnered community-wide support. This all volunteer effort raises on average $35-40,000 annually, with 100% of the proceeds going to three worthy non-profit organizations.
- Investment in international mission partnerships, such as the Presbytery of Newton’s Nairobi Partnership and more recently, our growing relationship with Foundation for Peace in Haiti. Over the course of eight short-term trips, PCCT has contributed to building the Men Nan Men vocational school in Ganthier and a church in Kwa Kot.
- Engaging the local community in times of need. PCCT opened its doors on September 11, 2001, to offer our stunned community a place to share grief and receive support. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the church provided meals and respite to linemen working to restore power to local neighborhoods. The following two summers, the church housed out-of-state work teams so they could help with long-term recovery efforts in nearby Staten Island.
With a deep sense of gratitude for God’s many blessings, we continue to grow and evolve as together we Worship, Connect, Serve and Learn. These four pillars uplift, energize and guide us forward into our future as we seek to live out our mission.
To offer a welcoming church community to all people, wherever they may be on their journey of faith, celebrating the glory of God through worship, fellowship and service.
PCCT people aspire to follow in our founders’ footsteps by praising God and making a difference in our world through our collective dedication, diverse skills, unique experiences and can-do spirit.
We invite you to learn more about our history:
Pastors through the Years