2023 Belleville Church Steeple Repair
The Belleville Historical Society is working on several fundraising projects to help save the historic old Belleville Dutch Reformed Church, a National Historic Site. Established in 1697, along with the Dutch Reformed Churches of Jersey City, Hackensack and Passaic, they were the first and oldest churches in New Jersey. The Gospel has been preached from this site for more than three centuries. The church has been rebuilt and enlarged three times 1725, 1809 and 1853. The Belleville Historical Society has been associated with the church for almost forty years, hosting events, reenactments, lectures, conducting tours, fundraising and assisting with maintenance.
Twelve years ago the small and mostly elderly congregation, unable to maintain the property held their last service. The church then became the life work of "Pastor Mike" Ortiz and his growing and younger congregation. Since that time they have rolled up their sleeves and done incredible work restoring the old church to its former glory.
The church history is long and unique. During the American Revolution it was the site of the Battle of Second River on September 12, 1777. Sixty-eight Revolutionary War soldiers are laid to rest in the churchyard along with Josiah Hornblower who served in the Continental Congress. The brave men from the Revolutionary War, the Civil War and the War of 1812 who are laid to rest in this churchyard are the inspiration for our Military Remembrance and Restoration Project, through which we have cleaned and restored more than one hundred military monuments, memorials and plaques throughout northern New Jersey. The church also played a key role in one of the most unique chapters of history. In 1870 the church welcomed the first Chinese immigrants in New Jersey and opened the first school for Chinese immigrants. Two monuments commemorate these historic milestones in the churchyard and are celebrated every year with public events.
The greatest challenge threatening the church's survival has been the inablity to install new siding and shingles on the church steeple which is eighteen stories high. Last year the Township fined the church and had the church shut down for a period of time for failure to do the work.
To prevent the church from being shut down and fined again, a number of God-trusting individuals of very modest means obtained short-term personal loans so that a scaffold could be rented and work resumed. The scaffolding rental alone to reach 18 stories high is $60,000. Please help us with your tax-deductible donation in any amount...funds go directly to the church. And PLEASE share this fundraising campaign. Please help save this unique part of American history.
Thank you and God bless !
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Michael Perrone Belleville Historical Society
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