175th Anniversary celebration of the Old Clove Church is held

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:16

    WANTAGE-After the squalling rain and blustery conditions that the tail end of Hurricane Ivan visited on the Northeast for the first half of the weekend, Sunday afternoon brought golden sunshine that cast the long shadows that are harbingers of autumn. It seemed fitting that such a beautiful afternoon should present itself for the 175th Anniversary celebration of the Old Clove Church in Wantage. As Elsie Trudgen, a member of Friends of the Old Clove Church, stood in the doorway of the church greeting those arriving for the service, she was dressed as her counterpart might have been back in 1829. And if it had not been for the SUVs and minivans parked in the adjacent lot, one could not be blamed for thinking that she had been transported back in time. The Old Clove Church was built in 1829 for $3,000 by Andrew McNish, and with the exception of some necessary renovations, has remained unchanged. "Everything is pretty much the same, but in 1887 a Gothic style chandelier was hung and large Victoria stoves were installed for heat," said Rebecca Schwarz, secretary of Friends of the Old Clove Church. By 1914, the congregation was declining as many denominations were building their own churches, and services were held only during the summer and led by theological students who boarded with local families. By 1928, an annual service was held with a guest minister, and the church building and cemetery were owned by Newton Presbytery. In 1972, Newton Presbytery wanted to sell the church property, and a group of friends and old members raised the $7,000 to purchase the building and land. The deed was transferred to the Sussex County Historical Society. Ten years later, the church building was accepted on the National and State Registers of Historic Places. Eventually, in 1992 the church deed was transferred from the Sussex County Historical Society to the committee which is known today as The Friends of the Old Clove Church. The anniversary service was conducted by the Rev. Charles F. Holm, who was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Sussex from 1977-1980 and is currently pastor/head of staff of the First Presbyterian Church in Easton, Pa. The Estey organ, manufactured circa 1870 in Brattleboro, Vt., was played by Linda Tartar and her husband, Clyde. Also taking part in the celebration were the Sussex County High Point Harmonizers, an all-male chorus who have been performing recreationally and competitively for 23 years. The Old Clove Church has only one service a year now but is available for other events. "The church is available for weddings from May 1- Oct. 31," said Schwarz. "After that we really can't do it because it just gets too cold, there is no plumbing or heat her except for the pot bellied stoves. It really is very primitive." This year, eight couples were married in the Old Clove Church. For more information, call 973-875-3555. For more information on the High Point Harmonizers, who are looking for members, call 983-819-6613 or stop in at the Sussex Elks building on Route 565 in Sussex.