Old Bergen

Chapter XXXVI.

Daniel Van Winkle

Published 1902

Web version, edited by GET NJ
Copyright 2002

IN 1750, the congregation, feeling their need of a stated pastor, determined to use their utmost endeavors to secure one. They arranged with the church on Staten Island to extend a joint call to one who should minister to the two congregations, and finally extended a call to one Petrus De Wint. In his call, the conditions were specified as a "righteous half of services and a righteous half of payment," as he was to minister to the two churches, of Bergen and Staten Island. The church at Bergen was to furnish him with firewood and a parsonage, and that at Staten Island was to give him "an able riding horse with all that belongs to it." As, under the church rules, it was necessary for this call to be approved by the Classis at Amsterdam, it was forwarded there for endorsement. Meanwhile he commenced his labors, but was never installed, as a response was received from Holland, stating that De Wint was an impostor, having presented forged credentials. He was therefore discharged June 23, 1752. This experience caused the congregation to exercise great caution in their subsequent endeavors. On the 22nd of June, 1753, a call was extended to William Jackson, who was at that time studying at Raritan. By the terms of this call, he was required to go to Holland to prosecute his studies, and be regularly ordained by the Classis of Amsterdam. During his absence, he was to be paid one hundred pounds by the churches calling him. He accepted this call, with the conditions; and sailing for Holland, remained there for nearly four years. On his return he was installed in the church at Bergen, September 10, 1757. To show their appreciation of the services of a minister, and their recognition of the obligations they had voluntarily assumed, the congregation had prepared a parsonage for him, so that he might be relieved of any anxiety concerning temporal matters.

December 20, 1771, the church was granted a charter by the English Crown, and incorporated under the name of "The Minister, Elders and Deacons," as follows




They were empowered to appoint a clerk, schoolmaster, bell ringer, etc. Thus we see that at every opportunity, and with every advance, the cause of education was brought forward prominently, and fos tered with great care. In 1773 the church accommodation was found inadequate to meet the wants of the growing congregation, and a new building was erected on the same site. As the accounts of expenditures connected with this building are incomplete, it is impossible to state just when the first services were held, or when the building was completed. From May 17 to October 17, 1773, about three hundred and sixty pounds had been expended for material and labor.

Old Church

Dominie Jackson was an uncompromising patriot, and during Revolutionary days his open and emphatic support of the cause of liberty did much to strengthen its advocates, and prevent the wavering from openly espousing the side of its enemies. So open was his denunciation of King George and his supporters, that he was arrested and taken under guard before Lord Howe, in command at New York. He there admitted the charges brought against him, but justified himself by insisting that he simply performed his duty according to the dictates of his conscience. He was released, and permitted to return to the scene of his labors.

He ministered unto the congregation with much acceptability, until there were indications of mental disturbance, and his faculties failing; the two churches requested that they be relieved from the obligation of their call, and be permitted to call a new minister. The church at Bergen secured to him, however, the use of the parsonage they had built for hirn, during his natural life, together with four acres of land adjoining, and probably the church on Staten Island likewise made some provision for him.

The great inconvenience being recognized of attempting one pastorate over these two churches, they being so widely separated, arrangements were made by the churches at Bergen and English Neighborhood for uniting in a call to some minister who could acceptably meet the wants of the two growing congregations. Consequently, on the 28th of November, 1792, they made a joint call on John Cornelisen, who accepted and entered on his ministry. Until this time, all the services in the Bergen church had been Dutch language, and the church register was continued in the same until 1809.

By the terms of his call, Dominie Cornelisen was to preach in Dutch at Bergen on Sabbath mornings, while at English Neighborhood he was required to preach in that language only occasionally. When he was officiating at the latter place, the voorleser conducted the services at Bergen.