Historical context

The word reformed means "change for the better". We are part of a denomination (church brand) called the Reformed Church in America. In the 1500s groups of Christians, opposed to any authority or practice that they believed could not be supported by a careful study of the Bible, set themselves apart from the established church of that time. They began praying and worshiping and working together under a new umbrella: Reformed, changed, according to the Word of God.

The reform movement of the church in Europe would itself splinter over differences in belief or practice, often by nationality. Some groups kept the name Reformed; others called themselves Presbyterians or other names. But the influence of the reformation as a whole continued to spread, first across northern and central Europe and then across the ocean, with the first of the settlers in the New World. Our denomination has its roots in the Netherlands.

In this constantly changing world, the Reformed Church in America likes to say we're "reformed and reforming according to the word of God." We embrace fresh ideas and hold on to what's best about our deep, rich past. We are the oldest European-based church body in North America with a continuous ministry.

The History of

the Colts Neck Reformed Church

In April of 1628, only eight years after the Pilgrims landed, the first congregation of the reformed Protestant Dutch Church was begun in America in New Amsterdam (Manhattan). By 1699 services in Dutch were being held in our part of central New Jersey.

In the 1770's while the colonies struggled with the questions of independence, the denomination struggled with whether the Protestant Dutch Church in America should gain independence from the Netherlands. In 1771, a compromise was achieved whereby in all practicality the American churches gained independence from the Dutch Church, while on paper they were still united. 

During the same era, the American Dutch Church moved to ensure adequate numbers of clergy. During the first 150 years of the American Dutch Church almost all the clergy were educated in The Netherlands. However, the difficulties of intercontinental travel often meant that a congregation would not get a needed and promised minister. The solution they opted for was to educate these young men destined for the ministry at home. So, by order of King George III, on November 10, 1766, the charter for Queens College (Rutgers University) was granted for this purpose.

The Reformed Church in America is presently at work with other major denominations throughout the world in medical, educational, agricultural, as well as evangelical mission. As a founding member of the The National Council of Churches of Christ, USA, and as a founding member of the World Council of Churches, the Reformed Church in America has played an important role in conversations with caring Christians around the world.

Preaching in our community during the 1800's was done in homes, barns, and in the Scobeyville schoolhouse. On April 22, 1856, the Colts Neck Reformed Church was established as an outgrowth of the First Reformed Protestant Dutch Church of Freehold (Old Brick Reformed Church of Marlboro). In that same year, our original building, measuring 40 x 60 feet, was constructed on donated land. Sunday School was in session only during the warm months, and weekly prayer meetings were held in the school room on Saturday evenings. In August of 1866, the first Harvest Home Supper was held. That tradition continues today as the annual Election Day Luncheon, Dinner and Craft Bazaar.

In 1906 our congregation was busy adding a Chapel to the church building; the six original stained glass windows came in 1911. It was not until decades later, however, that - with the sustained growth of the community - the church grew significantly. During this period an educational building was built; the Sanctuary was enlarged; the Chapel was replaced by a new addition; the organ was increased to 22 ranks; and four more stained glass windows were installed.

In 1994 an elevator and barrier-free bathroom were installed in the Community Center to assure full accessibility. In 2013 a Ministry Center was built to accommodate our growing ministry. This Ministry Center houses our church offices as well as classrooms and meeting space.

As the Reformed Protestant Dutch Church became the Reformed Church in America in 1867, so the flavor of our congregation has changed to become every ecumenical. The traditional "Dutch Reformed" church member is today far outnumbered by those whose background is within the Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, and Roman Catholic traditions. There are also a number of people who are new to a relationship with Jesus. Our diversity continues to be one of our greatest assets, as it frees us to be committed together to Jesus Christ our Lord.