The History of the Absecon Presbyterian Church

 

The Presbyterian Church at Absecon may have started with just eight people, but it has grown exponentially over the years into a warm and welcoming congregation that is actively involved in the city of Absecon and the surrounding area. This church that sprouted from humble roots is now an integral part of the community.

The church is one of seven in Atlantic County organized under the leadership of Rev. Allen H. Brown, who spent his life organizing Presbyterian Churches in New Jersey in the mid-19th century. He helped gather people for Sunday worship in the historic Odd Fellows Hall beginning in 1850 as an extension of the Presbyterian Church at Leeds Point and with the support of community pillar Dr. Jonathan Pitney, who paid the rental fee. On February 12, 1959, Rev. Brown and the leadership of the Leeds Point Church met at Old Fellows Hall to officially call for the organizing of a Presbyterian Church at Absecon, which was done the following day with eight charter members.

By 1865, under its first installed pastor, the Rev. Charles T. McMullin, the church had begun construction of its first building, ending the congregation’s wandering from one meeting hall to another. On June 20, 1867, the church finished the building and held its first service in space still used today for worship. Over the next eight decades, the church struggled, at times only holding services every other week. However, the membership held the church together, relying on church groups, visiting pastors and students.

Throughout its history, the church has reflected the community it serves. In years following World War II, the church had again grown stable enough to name a full-time pastor, the Rev. Walter Dosch in 1946. Since then, the church has had five full-time installed pastors to shepherd the congregation – the Reverends Henk Vigeveno (1951-59), Bradford Davis (1960-67), Donald Hodgson (1968-1980), David Cobb (1982-2015) and Drew Mangione (2018-present). Over those years, the original church structure has remained in place, having been added onto many times to create space for a growing church congregation, fellowship gatherings, and classroom instruction.

This history of the church draws on church records and the work of Sarah W.R. Ewing and Robert McMullin in their book, “Along Absecon Creek,” copyright 1965 by C.O.W.A.N. Printing, Bridgeton, NJ.