Local Church Receives Grants, Recognized At Freeholders Meeting
By Elsie Walker
It’s nicknamed, “The Church in The Glen.” Many people refer to it as the beautiful stone church by the river. It is the Stanhope United Methodist Church in Netcong.
As Netcong resident and church member Leigh Ann Von Hagen said, “The church is a very recognizable landmark in the Netcong/Stanhope area. It doesn’t matter if you have ever attended services or events at the church to recognize its aesthetic and historic value to the surrounding communities. It’s a place where we can share the very space in which generations before us lived.”
Those sentiments were echoed in a presentation made in late July at a Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders meeting held in Netcong. There, Morris County’s historic preservation program coordinator, Ray Chang, briefly talked about the church and its congregation’s efforts to secure grants to preserve the building.
With the help of Morris County Historic Preservation, grants totaling $195,823 have been received and the church has successfully completed tower and window renovations so far. Members of the congregation and its pastor were in the audience as Amanda Rush of Netcong, the president of the church’s Board of Trustees, accepted a plaque for the church noting the preservation efforts and the Freeholders role in them.
The plaque reads: “The Preservation of this Historic Site has been funded in part by the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders through the Morris County Historic Preservation Trust Fund.”
Rush, who is also church historian, recently shared a little background on the church and the preservation effort. She said, “The church began in 1834 as Lockwood Methodist Episcopal Church which was on Route 206 in Byram Township. Now, the cemetery is all that is left there. In 1843, the Stanhope Methodist Episcopal Church began on Linden Avenue. Then, in 1920, the new Stanhope Methodist Church began in Netcong, as what we endearingly call, ‘The Church in the Glen.’ [As for the preservation of the church], we started in 2011 with the Preservation Plan which is when the church is gone through to see the condition of it and what needs or repairs are required. Also, before you can apply for a grant you need to be listed as a historic site, so we had that done as well.”
That effort resulted in the church being entered into the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places by The County of Morris Heritage Commission and the New Jersey State Preservation Commission.
As for the grants, those pay for 80 percent of the work done and the church must raise the other 20 percent. The 2015 grant is for the south façade. Rush noted that the scope of work includes replacement of copper flashing in kind, removal/replacement of terra cotta tile, selective raking/ repointing of mortar joints, replacement of deteriorated wood trim and removal/ reinstallation of the gutter and leader as necessary. Rush noted that the church hopes to have the work done by Sept. 2017.
She said, “The grant is good for two years. If the work is not completed in that time-frame , we can ask for a one year extension.”
During the July Freeholder meeting, Chang commented on the beauty of the church building which is in the Gothic Revival style. He also shared what that building means to the community as its anchor, which houses a food pantry, provides a meeting place for Alcoholics Anonymous and the Girl Scouts, plus much more. He praised the congregation’s effort to preserve it.
When Rush took the floor, she acknowledged those who had helped with the preservation effort. She recognized the efforts of Leigh Ann Von Hagen, who assisted in writing the grant requests, but could not be there that night.
“Her help in all of this has been great and greatly appreciated,” Rush said. Rush noted the patience of the church trustees during the grant process. She acknowledged Chang, who she called, “a gem.”
Thanks was also given to the architecture company, congregation and those people who graciously gave donations to continue the work for the Raise the Roof campaign, which helps fund the church’s 20 percent of the monies needed to do the preservation project.
Rush ended by mentioning her mother, Marion, who was sitting in the audience. Rush said that Marion and the church building have something in common: they will both be 95 years old in October. Also, Marion Rush was the first baby baptized in the church.
Later, the church’s pastor, Lynn Zaremba, reflected on the plaque presentation.
“With the assistance from the grants, Stanhope United Methodist Church is able to complete the necessary repairs that keep this historic building safe and beautiful,” said Zaremba. “As people drive through our community and see the ‘Church in the Glen’ they are reminded of days gone by and the history of Netcong. We are very fortunate to have an opportunity to receive the grants that keep Stanhope United Methodist Church in the beauty and grace of its historic era.”