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"Service to God and Community"
A History of the Clinton Avenue Reformed Church

The Clinton Avenue Reformed Church, known as The Friendly Church, had its beginning in the home of Mr. & Mrs. Rudolph Illig, on September 30, 1923. Services were conducted by Rev. F. K. Shields, Sr., Bergen County Classis Missionary. Sunday School services were held preceding the Church Service.



The Board of Domestic Missions of the RCA procured a plot of land at the corner of Clinton Avenue and James Street, and the cornerstone of the Chapel was laid on November 18, 1923. Dr. Spring of the Old North Reformed Church conducted services until the Chapel was completed and 50 families gave assurances of support.

Mr. Harry Olson replaced Dr. Spring, and the Church was formally organized under the present name on June 22, 1924, with 86 charter members. On the Church's first anniversary, there was a membership of well over 100 and a Sunday School of 192. The Church was incorporated on July 26, 1925 and Pastor Olson was ordained and installed on July 11, 1926.

As the population of Bergenfield grew, an addition to the Chapel was added in 1925. The present Church building was completed and dedicated on October 10, 1937. On May 21, 1939, The Reverend Willard Wullschleger was installed and began a deeply appreciated pastorate that was to last until 1968. Pastor Willard and his family are fondly remembered by many of the present members of the Church. He was named Pastor Emeritus of the Church, a title held until his death in December of 1998. During his pastorate, there was continued growth in both the congregation and the Sunday School. This growth led to the need to demolish the original Chapel, and a new Church and School was constructed and dedicated on October 19, 1958. In 1968 a steeple was added, completing the present Church building. On November 5, 1989, the Education Wing of our Church was dedicated in honor of The Wullschleger Family.

On September 22, 1968, the Reverend David Risseeuw was installed as the Pastor. He served during a difficult time of social turmoil within our nation and a time when the role of the church in American society was being re-evaluated. Under his leadership, the Church grew in its ecumenical and community witness through the creation of the E.C.U.M. a relationship with the South Presbyterian Church and the Adelphi Program with Community Leaders in Bergenfield. During this time, our Church was part of the effort to provide a Street Minister for our community, the Reverend Randy Peabody.

On September 7, 1975, the Reverend Norman Kolenbrander was installed as Pastor. He served with distinction until 1983. During his time as pastor, Pastor Norman was deeply involved in getting our Church more involved in the ministry of the Englewood Hospital and Medical Center's Chaplaincy Committee. Our Church has remained involved in this ministry and the past chaplain, the Reverend Calvin Tysen and his family were active members of our Church Family.

In 1983, our Church was blessed to have Reverend John Buteyn serve as the Interim Pastor. Along with his wife Marge, the Buteyn Family had a brief but very positive ministry here at Clinton Avenue Reformed Church.

On September 23, 1984, the now Reverend Doctor Stephen Giordano was installed as Pastor. Along with his wife Carla and their daughter Maria, the Giordanos followed in the footsteps of our former pastors and their families, as well as blazed some new trails. During the 20 years of his pastorate, The Clinton Avenue Reformed Church continued to maintain its strong witness both as a church and as a Sunday School. During this same time, the Clinton Avenue Reformed Church served as a founding member of such ministries as: the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless, the Interfaith Brotherhood and Sisterhood Committee, the Community Response Team of Bergenfield, the Bergenfield-Dumont Clergy Association, The Bergen Record's Religion Task Forceand was President of the Bergen County Coucil of Churches where he had a signicant influence.  During his time at the Church, Pastor Steve earned his Doctorate in Ministry and as his thesis he established the Bergenfield Cares Porgram. Through these associations and others, our Church has been able to extend our ministry and work with others to improve the quality of life for all of the residents of our Community.  Due to family health needs, Pastor Steve and his beloved family relocated to Massapequa in September 2004.  This was a wonderful 20 years of ministry for the Church.

As of November 1, 2004, the Reverend Bruce Jon Hoffman began his term as the Interim Minister for the Church. 

Reverend Hoffman served as the Senior Pastor of the Second Reformed Church in Wycoff for 32 years.

As the Interim Minister, Reverend Hoffman was responsible for preaching, administration, and conducting baptisms, weddings and funerals. He also taught our youth in the Confirmation Class, adult education, pastoral counseling and community involvement. With assistance of Reverend George Kaden, our Supervisory Minister, Reverend Hoffman assisted us in the search process for a permanent minister.

On September 1, 2006 we welcomed our new pastor, Reverend Mark W. Ennis.  Reverend Ennis has been a minister for over 25 years and has most recently been serving as pastor for the Third Reformed Church of Albany, New York.  Reverend Ennis studied at Hope College inHolland Michigan and then went on to earn his Master of Divinity at New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Reverend Ennis is also a published author.

As we reach this significant point in our Church's Service to God and Community, we are grateful to our past members who have built this Church. We are grateful also to the present generation who continues that service today. With confidence in our heritage of faith and the grace of God, we look forward to continuing to serve God and our community in the coming years ahead.