In the beginning, ours was a Church long before there was a church building. In the late 1930’s, 1940’s and early 1950’s there were a group of Christian folks who started a Sunday School in a basement room at the Brigantine School. Then the need for adult services brought together more people for worship in the homes of some. Fran Sack hauled her small organ to the Rogge’s house for many a service there. Pastors from Atlantic City gave of their time to minister to the flock – they were Lutherans, Episcopalians, Methodists, and Presbyterians, just as diversified as the worshipers. Then from the very start it was truly a community church.
Following World War II the island of Brigantine started to bloom in spite of the fact that the old bridge occasionally blew down. In the late 1940’s there were about 250 homes on the island. The group of worshipers wanted to build a church and land was given for this purpose by SD Walker, father of Betsy Rogge. John Rogge became Chairman of the Building Committee. Low bidder on the building contract was Otto Sorenson, a local builder of great skill. The Building Committee hired an architect from Philadelphia who designed a colonial church. Meanwhile there were picnics, barbeques, hay rides, and all kinds of fund raisers for the new church building. Since the Presbyterians were most supportive and helped finance the project, ours became the Community Presbyterian Church of Brigantine. There had actually been a Presbyterian Church in Brigantine years before. Presbytery sent a retired pastor, Rev. Andrew Layman to minister to the members meeting in the school. Rev. Layman preached with no notes. Although the church was established as the Community Presbyterian Church, most of the new members were not Presbyterians.
The Rev. Charles J. Hooker, Jr. was called as pastor of the newly organized church and ground-breaking ceremony for the initial construction of the Church was held November 1, 1953. Rev. Hooker was young and enthusiastic, a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, had been an engineer for GE and was a ham radio operator.
Sunday school met in Fellowship Hall where moveable screens divided the classes. It was very difficult to keep the noise level down during services. The kitchen was off to the side of the Hall. In the 1960's the Christian Education wing was built along with a big new kitchen. Construction occurred under the care of the second pastor, Rev. James MacNaughton, Jr.
The original organ in the Church was donated by Emma Walker and was a new electronic organ. The first cross was built by a Mr. Estes, a church member and it was ivory in color with gold edging. Rev. Craig W. Rule, the third pastor envisioned a simpler cross and Elder Bill Farquahr made the present cross from mahogany driftwood he found on our beach.
The original baptismal font was donated to the church by the First Presbyterian Church in Newark, NJ. It was a heavy piece of marble but was in use for many years. The small silver bowl now in use has an interesting history. It is inscribed as a gift to the Brigantine Community Chapel in the 1920's and traveled through the South Pacific during World War II before returning to Brigantine. The 5 rank Moeller pipe organ now in use, came from the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Atlantic City and was given to our church by West Jersey Presbytery. It was dismantled and brought to our church in pieces, then restored and modified by Ron Bishop of Maplewood. Fran Sack, Claire Gerber, Mabel Hughes and Frank Sanders were among the organist - choir directors of the early church.
The story of the Cross that is in the Sanctuary.
William Farquahr was a much beloved Shop Teacher during the 50s & 60s at Brigantine's North School. He was an Elder in our church. Bill often walked the beach. When Rev. Craig W. Rule was called as our third Pastor, it was his wish to replace the original more ornate cross in the Sanctuary with a simpler one. The Clerk of Session asked Bill if he would consider building such a cross, to which he replied that he had recently found a beautiful piece of mahogany on our beach. These boards of mahogany are found washed up on the tides. They are used as balast on tankers going north and tossed overboard as they approach their destination. Bill agreed to build the cross which now hangs in our Sanctuary.