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Reformed Church of Highland Park

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Reformed Church of Highland Park
Reformed Church of Highland Park is located in Middlesex County, New Jersey
Reformed Church of Highland Park
Reformed Church of Highland Park
40°29′58″N 74°25′56″W / 40.4995717°N 74.4322106°W / 40.4995717; -74.4322106Coordinates: 40°29′58″N 74°25′56″W / 40.4995717°N 74.4322106°W / 40.4995717; -74.4322106
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LocationHighland Park, New Jersey
CountryUnited States
DenominationReformed Church in America
Architect(s)Alexander Merchant
Minister(s)Seth Kaper-Dale
Stephanie Kaper-Dale
John Bodine Thompson in the The Central New Jersey Home News on May 19, 1940.png
James Bernard Mulder in the Central New Jersey Home News on May 12, 1940.png

The Reformed Church of Highland Park is a Reformed Church in America church and congregation in Highland Park, New Jersey.[1][2]


The congregation formed in 1890. Construction of the church began in 1897 and the building was dedicated on October 1, 1898. It had been eight years since the congregation was formed.[1] They celebrated their 100th anniversary in 1990.[3]


The building was designed by Alexander Merchant (1872-1952), the architect responsible for numerous notable buildings in Highland Park, particularly in the Livingston Manor Historic District.[4][5] It was his first design for Highland Park.[6][7] The auditorium wing is circa 1920.[8]

The buildings have been equipped with solar panels.[9]


The RCHP Affordable Housing Corporation has built and mantains homes for the disenfranchised or homeless groups, among them veterans, chronically homeless adults, refugees, asylum seekers, youth leaving foster care, formerly-incarcerated students[10] including projects in Highland Park, New Brunsick, and Newark.[11][12]

Immigrant sanctuary[edit]

The church has provided sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, also called illegal aliens, since at least 2012. Notably, it gained national attention when church became a sanctuary for Indonesian immigrants facing deportation.[13][14][15][16] Again in 2018, the church received attention when some of its parishioners, who had been targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), took refuge in the church. They were visited by Phil Murphy, the New Jersey Governor and Gurbir Grewal, the New Jersey Attorney General who vowed to take up the matter.[17][18][19] Grewal later asked the United States Department of Homeland Security to clarify its policy with regard to policing 'sensitive areas' such as churches and schools.[18]

After four Christian Indonesian residents of the town had been deported in February 2017, the municipal council began considering an "immigrant inclusive" resolution, which was adopted in June 2017. It stated law enforcement would be based on New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety guidelines and would not assist or interfere with federal immigration actions.[20][21][22]


Pator Term Notes
Seth Kaper-Dale 2001 to present He is a co-pastor with Stephanie Kaper-Dale, his wife, both installed on September 30, 2001.[23] He was the Green Party candidate in the New Jersey gubernatorial election, 2017.[24][25][26][27] He won 9,849, or 0.47%, of votes cast.
Stephanie Kaper-Dale 2001 to present She is a co-pastor with her husband, Seth Kaper-Dale. They were installed on September 30, 2001.
Dennis J. Van Wyk 1999 to 2001 He served as the interim pastor until a new pastor could be found. He was born in 1947. He attended the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He served as pastor to the congregations of the Brick Reformed Church in Montgomery, New York; the Old Brick Reformed Church in Marlboro, New Jersey; he was the interim senior pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Manasquan. He died in 2002.[28]
Richard Blake 1990 (circa) to 1999
C. David Buchanan 1980 to 1990 (circa) He attended Hope College and then the New Brunswick Theological Seminary.[29]
Irving H. Decker 1956 to 1980 He was born on December 5, 1910 in Gardiner, New York. He was president of the Classis of Westchester, New York and the Classis of New Brunswick. He died on November 30, 1981 in Point Pleasant Hospital in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.[30]
James Bernard Mulder 1930 to 1956 He was born on February 1, 1888 in Zeeland, Michigan. He previously served the Second Reformed Church of Irvington in Irvington, New Jersey. He was installed on October 2, 1930 as pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park. He was pastor for the 50th anniversary celebration in 1940.[1][2] He died in August of 1973 in Highland Park, New Jersey.
Theodore Brinckerhoff 1930 He was appointed by the Classis of New Brunswick to supervise the congregation until a new pastor was chosen and installed.[2]
Anthony Luidens 1919 to 1930 He was installed on April 9, 1919. He resigned on January 9, 1930 to become the pastor at the Brighton Reformed Church in Rochester, New York.[2]
Frederick F. Shield 1911 to 1918 He was previously the pastor of the Reformed Church of Long Branch. He was installed as pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park on May 1, 1911. During his tenure 310 people joined the congregation, 130 of them in the previous 2 years. He resigned on September 1, 1918.[2]
Thomas C. Easton 1909 to 1911 He was previously the pastor of the First Reformed Church of New Brunswick. He was installed on May 9, 1909 at age 72. He resigned on January 1, 1911.[2]
Edward J. Meeker 1903 to 1908 He had been the pastor in Mohawk, New York. He was installed on December 6, 1903 at the Reformed Church of Highland Park. He resigned on August 1, 1908 after serving for 5 years.[2]
Alexander Scott Van Dyke 1897 to 1903 He was born in Manhattan, New York City on November 25, 1858 to Peter Van Dyck and Elizabeth Beirer. He was a missionary in Amoy, China for 13 years. He was installed as pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park on November 27, 1896 and served for 6 years. He resigned on October 1, 1903 to become the pastor of the Cobleskill Reformed Church.[31][2] After the death of his first wife he married ​Bertha Marie Tamm on June 5, 1912 in Bronx, New York City. He died in 1951 in Hudson, New York and was buried in Mount Pleasant Reformed Church Cemetery.
John Bodine Thompson 1891 to 1896 John Bodine Thompson was the first installed pastor of the Reformed Church of Highland Park. He was installed on October 20, 1891. He performed the first marriage of the congregation, between Deacon Alexander Merchant (1872-1952) and Margaret Beaton Anderson. He served until September of 1896. By the end of his tenure the congregation had grown from 20 families to 50 families. He died on September 5, 1907.[32][2]
Orville J. Hogan 1890 He was a student at the New Brunswick Theological Seminary due to graduate in 1893. He agreed to supervise the congregation for six months beyond the term of Corin. He donated his pay toward paying off the congregation's debts.[2]
Edward T. Corin 1890 On June 16, 1890 he was invited to be pastor. He was a professor that the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He did not wish to be bound to the church as pastor, but agreed to supervise the congregation for six months.[2]

See also[edit]

  • Sanctuary movement
  • Sanctuary city

External link[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Highland Park Reformed Church to Mark 50th Anniversary". The Central New Jersey Home News. May 12, 1940. Retrieved 2018-01-29.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 "Many Efficient Pastors Guided Reform Church". The Central New Jersey Home News. May 19, 1940.
  3. "100th Anniversary". The Central New Jersey Home News. April 21, 1990. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  4. Kolva, Jeanne (September 2003). "Livinqston Manor Historic District" (PDF). United States Department of the Interior National Park Service National Register of Historic Places Registration. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  5. "Alexander Merchant, Architect". Highland Park Historical Society. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  6. Jeanne Kolva. Highland Park in the 20th Century. Arcadia Publishing. Retrieved 28 January 2018. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  7. Jeanne Kolva and Joanne Pisciotta (1999). Highland Park. Arcadia Publishing. p. 100. ISBN 9780738563411. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  8. "Alexander Merchant". hphistory.org. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  9. "The Reformed Church of Highland Park — GreenFaith". www.greenfaith.org. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  10. "RCHP – Affordable Housing Corporation History". Reformed Church Highland Park. Retrieved 29 January 2018.
  11. "Properties - RCHP – Affordable Housing Corporation". www.rchp-ahc.org. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  12. http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2009/12/highland_park_approves_funds_t.html
  13. Kirk Semplemay (May 16, 2012). "Reformed Church Gives Sanctuary to Indonesians Ordered to Be Deported". New York Times. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  14. Pearson, Erica (2012-07-11). "NJ pastor's mission of mercy for immigrants facing deportation". NY Daily News. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  15. Kraus, Kevin (2013-02-18). "Christian Indonesians in New Jersey Leave Their Church's Sanctuary - ABC News". Abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  16. Yiwu, Liao (1970-01-01). "Saul Timisela, Refugee, Defies Deportation, Seeks Sanctuary At Reformed Church Of Highland Park". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  17. "Meet the immigrants taking sanctuary in a N.J. church amid an ICE storm". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  18. 18.0 18.1 "Gov. Murphy races to sanctuary church after ICE detains 2 in N.J. (VIDEO)". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  19. "AG criticizes ICE arrests of immigrants as kids were going to school". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  20. Draft: Borough Of Highland Park No.__resolution Upholding Respect And Protectionfor Historically Discriminated Populations And Promoting Community Inclusivity For All Highland Park Residents. Borough of Highland Park. Retrieved 29 January 2018. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  21. "Highland Park considering becoming a 'sanctuary city'". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  22. "Highland Park adopts immigrant inclusivity policy". Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  23. "Staff and Leadership". The Reformed Church of Highland Park.
  24. "N.J. pastor ready to take on the establishment in run for governor". NJ.com. Retrieved 2017-04-11.
  25. Suzanne Russell, @SRussellMyCJ 10:28 p.m. ET Nov. 1, 2016 (2016-11-01). "Highland Park pastor running for NJ governor as Green Party candidate". App.com. Retrieved 2017-04-11.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. "Green Party chooses church pastor as 2017 NJ gubernatorial candidate". Trentonian.com. 2016-10-31. Retrieved April 11, 2017.
  27. "Governor's race has more than just major party candidates". APNews.com. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  28. "Rev. Dennis J. Van Wyk". September 4, 2002. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  29. "C. David Buchanan". Linkedin. Retrieved 2018-02-01.
  30. "Reverend Irving Decker, 24 Years Area Pastor". The Central New Jersey Home News. November 30, 1981. Retrieved 2018-01-31.
  31. "Dr. Alexander S. Van Dyke Resigns". New York Times. September 2, 1903. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  32. "The Reverend Dr. John B. Thompson". New York Times. September 2, 1903. Retrieved 2018-01-28.

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