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  • Writer's pictureBruce Ballantine

Newsletter January 2024 - First Presbyterian Ridgewood, NJ

Updated: Mar 1

First Press Jan 2024
Download PDF • 3.03MB

Dear Friends:

The year 2023 was a wonderful year at First Presbyterian Church of Ridgewood NJ as we celebrated 200 Years of God’s Grace and Glory!

The date of our 200th anniversary was January 11, 2023, and our year-long bicentennial celebration began with a kick-off worship service on January 15. On that day, Rev. Steve Huston brought greetings from the Presbytery of Northeast New Jersey; we sang our 200th Anniversary Hymn, written by Dr. Edward Schmiedecke; and the sermon The Once and Future Church included a brief look at our history. Trinity Presbyterian Church joined us for worship and gifted us with a beautiful bicentennial banner.

Also on that day, Joan Davies offered the first 200 Seconds moment during worship, sharing briefly what First Pres means to her. And I must say that each Sunday thereafter, as a different person has offered the 200 Seconds moment, I have been struck by the variety of perspectives and impressed by the common themes, such as the congregation’s welcoming nature, inspirational worship, meaningful congregational

care, and a strong commitment to mission.

During the weekend of June 9-11, we held a picnic on Friday, a hymn sing in the Memorial Garden on Saturday, and on Sunday a celebration worship service, during which Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace, Co-Moderator of the 225th General Assembly of the PC(USA), preached about the importance of Christians reflecting the light of Christ in a world that is at times dark. Afterward, we enjoyed a delicious banquet outdoors under a tent. Former pastors either participated in the service or sent video greetings, which were played during the banquet.

On Sunday, June 25, as a gift to the community, First Pres offered A Community Conversation with Jim and Ali Stroker, and more than 170 people attended.

During the course of the year, children, under the direction of MaryEllen Castaldo, created a time capsule and planted the lovely Bicentennial Memorial Garden. And our high school youth offered their 200 Seconds moments during a Youth Sunday Service.

The year included great exposure in the community, with two beautiful First Pres displays in the Ridgewood Library and a First Pres bicentennial article by Sue Dickinson and Peggy Norris in Ridgewood Living.

During the month of September, the congregation conducted a fundraising campaign to support the construction of the Aleppo Christian Center in Aleppo, Syria, raising more than $26,000 for that important project.

Yes, by God’s grace, it’s been a wonderful year at First Pres!

Bicentennial Wrap-Up: Sunday, January 14, 2024 ~ Worship, Luncheon & Pic! Join us!


We will conclude our year-long bicentennial celebration on Sunday, January 14. Worship will include 200 Seconds by a long-time member, two-anniversary hymns, and a sermon entitled The Next Chapter.


Following worship, we will enjoy a covered dish luncheon in the Auditorium! Sandwiches and beverages will be provided by the church. Bring a side dish to share. During the luncheon, members and friends can check out a display of photographs from years gone by. Bring yours to share, but be sure to write your name on the back so

they can be returned.

Group Photo

Also on January 14, we plan to take a group photograph of the entire congregation, which won’t be complete without you. So, be sure to join us on Sunday, January 14!

Our History ~ 1973-2023

Finally, several members of Team 200 have been working for months to write the next volume of our church history ~ 1973 - 2023. We anticipate copies will be available for distribution in the spring.

Grace and peace,


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